Once again HP has refreshed its Pavilion range of desktop machines and this time HP has introduced AMD's new Phenom processor into the mix. We took a look at the Pavilion a6360a, HP's only current model to include the new CPU, and were happy but not blown away with the results of our benchmarks.
- LightScribe DVD re-writer, Pocket Media Drive slot, 15-in-1 media card reader, HDMI port
- Not a powerful performer
The new range of HP Pavilion PCs doesn't vary greatly from the previous, but they maintain good performance with some handy features.
Price$ 1,600.00 (AUD)
Intel has certainly got the lion's share of the market for both desktop and notebook computers and despite Phenom's noted performance improvements over the previous generation of AMD CPUs (see our review on the Phenom X4 9600 and the Phenom 9900), they're still a step behind the Intel chips.
The Pavilion a6300 series is HP's mid-range selection, of which the Pavilion a6360a is the top model, offering the most storage at 500GB and the most powerful graphics with an NVIDIA 8500 GT (512MB of DDR2 video RAM). We also like the fact that the graphics card has one DVI ouput and one HDMI port. A 2.2GHz Phenom 9500 processor is installed and 2GB of DDR2 RAM has been included. Oddly enough it falls short on the networking side of things, offering only a 10/100 Ethernet port, rather than a gigabit Ethernet port.
Admittedly the Pavilion a6360a is not built for super-speed. Rather it's a good balance of size, features, noise and performance that will best suit a family home – covering the needs of multiple family members. The kids will be able to play some games, as can be seen by the 3DMark benchmark results. In 3DMark 2006 the Pavilion a6360a scored 2395, barely enough to run newer games, but managed a healthy score of 15,361 in 3DMark 2001 SE, showing it's capable of handling older games without too much trouble.
The 15-in-1 media card reader placed in the front of the PC makes it simple to copy photos from just about any camera type and the DVD re-writer with LightScribe functionality is great for when you run out of space and need to start burning files onto discs. LightScribe drives allow you to burn creative labels into special LightScribe discs by using the DVD drive's laser. If you're likely to have piles of discs with photos or music you'll find this is a great tool.
Another handy feature of the Pavilion range is the availability of HP's Pocket Media drives, small external hard drives that can be used as backup drives or for transferring data from one place to another. The Pocket Media drive slots into a bay at the front of the machine and come in various storage capacities, though none is included for the price. They are typically more expensive to buy than normal external hard drives, but are easy to use, especially if you're not as comfortable with computers as some.
In WorldBench 6, our own benchmark that tests a PC's ability to run a range of common tasks under Windows Vista, the Pavilion a6360a's score of 77 is not notably high, but for the price it's acceptable. It may not be the top score of all time, but it does suggest this machine can handle anything from word processing and Web surfing to photo editing and even some video encoding. We also ran an MP3 encoding test to see how fast the CPU could convert 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files. Using iTunes it took the HP Pavilion a6360a 80sec to convert the files, while in Cdex it took 121sec.
One advantage of this PC being a mid-range performer is its fairly quiet operation, which makes it far more pleasant to have around, especially if it's going to sit on top of the desk. If you do want to get a little extra performance out of this machine, a RAM upgrade is possible and you could even add another hard drive.
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