- Review Date: 8/19/2013
- Bottom line: The HP Envy 700-030qe is a member of the class of systems that used to be called high-end multimedia desktop PCs. The fact that you can get all that power for over a $1,000 less than you used to is amazing.
- Pros: Good gaming performance. Excellent day-to-day performance. Blu-ray drive. Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. 802.11b/g/n WiFi
- Cons: Could use a data storage drive. Locked CPU. Some bloatware.
The HP Envy 700-030qe ($1,179.99) is a high-performance system that is well suited to the user who is interested in the graphics arts, video editing, and a bit of 3D gaming. It's one of those systems that would've been called a high-end multimedia system back in the day, though these days it's strictly a mainstream system. It has a speedy solid-state drive (SSD), fourth-generation Intel Core processor, and a midrange enthusiast Nvidia GeForce GTX 645 graphics card. If you want to replace a five-year-old $2,500 system, you should start here.
Design and Features
The Envy 700 chassis shares a lot of its DNA with older systems, like the Editors' Choice winning HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t ($1801). It's a tower chassis with the usual black painted side panels and glossy black front panel with red accent stripe. As a result, you'll find a good deal of internal room for future expansion, including space for an additional optical drive, two hard drives, two more memory DIMM modules, and two PCIe x1 expansion cards. The system already has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, so you don't have to install a wireless networking card unless you're exclusively using 5GHz Wi-Fi or the newer 802.11ac at home.
The tower comes with a 460W power supply, which is totally sufficient for the included Nvidia GeForce GTX 645 graphics card, but a little slim for that card's more power-hungry brothers like the flagship GTX 780. The outside is pretty well equipped for future expansion, with two USB 3.0 ports on the top panel, which are convenient for external hard drives. There are two more USB 3.0 ports on the back, along side two USB 2.0 ports (for the included keyboard and mouse), Ethernet, TOSlink for digital audio out, a set of surround analog audio ports, as well as DisplayPort, DVI, and HDMI on the GeForce GTX 645 card. This system is well equipped for the mid-level gamer as well as the multimedia maven.
There's a Blu-ray player/DVD burner combo drive built in, which is about what you can expect for a multimedia system. You can use the drive for watching Blu-ray movies, and you can burn DVDs and CDs. The system comes with quite a few pre-loaded software packages, most of which you can find for free on the Internet. The system comes with eBay, Netflix, HP Games, Solitaire, Mahjong, Box (cloud storage), Snapfish, HP+, Kindle, HP Connected Music, an ad for Microsoft Office, HP MyRoom, and Norton Internet Security. Notably, the version we reviewed came with full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 and Adobe Premiere Elements 11, both of which push the ENVY 700-030qe into multimedia powerhouse territory. Competing systems like the current Editors' Choice for multimedia mainstream desktops Velocity Micro Vector Z25 ($999) and gaming systems like the Digital Storm Bolt ($1599) don't come pre-loaded with software at all, beneficial or bloatware.
There's a 256GB SSD that works a as boot drive and primary storage. While this does helps performance, it may be a little smallish if you ever need to edit video or a library of photos. We recommend adding a 1TB data drive when you configure this system to order for an extra $90.
A stated above, the 256GB SSD totally helps performance, as does the fourth-generation Intel Core i7-4770 processor, 12GB of DDR3 memory, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 645 graphics card. Together, the components return an excellent 6,143 points on the PCMark7 test, which measures day-to-day performance on everyday tasks. Likewise, the GeForce GTX 645 gives the Envy 700-030qe playable frame rates on the Aliens vs. Predator and Heaven game tests in the middle quality settings. Like the midrange Velocity Micro Vector Z25, the Envy 700-030qe isn't great at the higher-resolution settings. You really need to move up to a true gaming system like the HP Envy Phoenix h9-13020t to play at the higher settings. As expected, the Envy 700-030qe excels at the multimedia tests like Handbrake and Photoshop CS6.
Essentially, the HP Envy 700-030qe is a competent and compliant multimedia desktop. It gives you what you'd expect at this price point: very good multimedia benchmark performance, a good amount of day-to-day performance, and some gaming prowess. However, the Velocity Micro Vector Z25 holds on its mainstream Editors' Choice, thanks to a lower price point and having more storage to hold all those video files that you'd be working on. The HP Envy Phoenix also holds on to its gaming EC, since it's a much better system on the game grid. Besides, that's the reason why you want a higher performance system in the first place, right?
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.