Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion Elite m9090a PC (GQ564AA)

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Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion Elite m9090a PC (GQ564AA)
  • Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion Elite m9090a PC (GQ564AA)
  • Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion Elite m9090a PC (GQ564AA)
  • Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion Elite m9090a PC (GQ564AA)
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Combination HD-DVD/Blu-ray player, HP Easy Backup button, front access ports, Wi-Fi adapter, HDMI output

Cons

  • Not a strong gaming machine

Bottom Line

This machine is one of the more feature packed units available. It has something for everyone in the family and doesn't cost an exorbitant amount of money.

Would you buy this?

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Yet another vendor has seen the light, or rather has seen that there's no light at the end of the high-definition tunnel. The HP Pavilion Elite m9090a PC is the second PC we've tested that includes a combination HD-DVD and Blu-ray drive, allowing you to play movies from either format, which eliminates the need to make a choice over which format to buy.

Making the choice for one format over the other is impossible. What's most ridiculous about this whole situation is that many movies will only be available in one format or the other, as many studios and vendors have taken sides. Some titles will only be available on either HD-DVD or Blu-ray. If you own this system or another like it, the problem just goes away. We tried both formats and each worked perfectly, though the system needed to download an 80MB update before it would work.

However, the HP Elite isn't just elite because of the combination HD drive. It's also quite a powerful little machine on its own. The Pavilion Elite m9090a has an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz CPU, 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a GeForce 8600 GT with 512MB of GDDR3 memory at its disposal. It also offers the perks of HP's latest generation of Pavilion PCs. These perks include the HP Media Drive and Pocket Media Drive bays; external hard drives that slot neatly into proprietary drive bays at the front of this PC. These come in varying sizes and prices, such as 500GB ($399), 120GB ($279) or 80GB ($199).

These are great for transferring or backing up important data, and the feature is further reinforced by HP's Easy Backup button on the front of the PC. Pressing this button brings up a menu giving the option to create a regular backup, backup right now or restore a backup. Any or all backups can be done across a network, to the local hard drive or to an external drive. You can select what types of files to save, such as pictures, documents, music or many other types.

This machine also acts a little like a media centre, offering easy access RCA connector ports on the front panel, along with an S-Video output. On the back panel, as well as a DVI port, the graphics card has an HDMI output, which makes connectivity to modern TV and home theatre systems quite easy. As we've come to expect from HP Pavilion PC's there is also a 15-in-1 media card reader. There is also a TV tuner built in, making it easy to watch or record live TV onto the 2x 500GB (1TB total) hard drives. Another key feature of this unit, especially as a media centre, is its wireless network adapter. This offers support for Wi-Fi 802.11b and g standards, but not draft-n, though you can always network it using the gigabit Ethernet connection.

In WorldBench 6 it scored a reasonable 103. This is not top of the line, such as we see from gaming machines, but it still has some grunt and will more than suffice for some home video or photo editing, and of course your everyday applications like Microsoft Office and Web browsing will run smoothly.

Gaming performance is reasonable, too, though it's not at the high end of things. In 3DMark 2006 this system achieved a score of 3718. This will be enough to play new games at medium to low settings. In 3DMark 2001 SE it scored 26,081, plenty for older games. In our MP3 encoding tests it performed well, taking 69sec in iTunes to encode 53 minutes worth WAV files to 192Kbps files. In Cdex (which uses just one of the four cores) it took 112sec.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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