- Review Date: 07/20/11
- Bottom line:
The HP Pavilion Elite h8-1010 is a capable Core i5 desktop with a handful of nice features, including wireless networking, a spacious hard drive, and a dedicated, albeit low-end, video card. But there are better performing systems in this price range.
Reasonably priced. Dedicated graphics with HDMI out. Big hard drive. Wi-Fi enabled.
So-so performance. No Blu-ray. Bloatware.
Although the HP Pavilion Elite h8-1010 ($779.99 at Staples) gives you Intel's new second-generation Core technology and discrete graphics for under $800, it's not quite an "elite" desktop system. It's certainly a capable home productivity PC, but its graphics performance isn't quite game-worthy, and it lacks a few features found on similarly priced systems, such as a Blu-ray drive and a speedier CPU.
Design and Features
The h8-1010 uses a black mid-tower case with big HP logos stamped into both side panels. If for some reason you're still not brand-aware, the silver HP badge attached to the front panel will remind you. The top of the case is slightly concave rather than flat, and the front panel is done up in the same glossy black finish as the Pavilion p7-1010.
At the top of the front panel behind a bezel are two USB 2.0 ports and two audio jacks (headphone and microphone). These ports are facing backwards and are not visible from the front of the PC. Indicator lights for hard drive and Wi-Fi activity are embedded in the uppermost panel, and below that are two optical drive bays. One holds a DVD multi-drive with LightScribe labeling technology and the other is vacant. A Blu-ray drive would be a welcome addition here. Behind a sliding panel are a card reader with support for 15 media formats and two USB 2.0 ports. A strip of reddish backlit trim separates the lower drive bay from the sliding panel and adds a splash of color to the all-black finish. At the rear of the case are four more USB 2.0 ports (for a total of ten), an Ethernet port, and three audio jacks. Video output comes by way of a dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card, which gives you DVI and HDMI connections.
Access to the interior is simple: Turn one thumbscrew, slide off the side panel, and you're in. Here you'll find 3 available PCI Express (PCIe) x1 slots and one PCIe x16 slot (in which the video card is installed). Both memory slots are populated with 4GB RAM modules for a total of 8GB, the maximum for this system. As with Dell's Inspiron i620-3708NBK, the h8-1010 offers wireless networking via an 802.11n radio, but unlike the Dell, the radio circuitry is part of motherboard and does not use up a PCIe slot. The power supply puts out 300 watts, which is adequate for this configuration and will handle one or two additional components, such as another hard drive or optical drive. But if you decide to upgrade to a more powerful video card you'll want to replace the power supply with one that has a higher yield. The h8-1010 comes with a fast (7,200rpm) 1TB hard drive, and there's room for one more storage drive and a 3.5-inch drive (as well as the aforementioned secondary optical drive).
The system comes with a full-size keyboard and an optical scroll mouse (both USB) and Windows 7 Home Premium. There's lots of bloatware, including eBay and Netflix adware, Norton Internet Security and Norton Online Backup trialware, dozens of games, and Microsoft Office Starter 2010 with advertising. You also get HP's LightScribe labeling software, which lets you etch custom labels directly onto specially designed LightScribe media.
With its second generation Intel Core i5-2390T processor and 8GB of RAM the h8-1010 delivered decent, but not spectacular, scores on our benchmark tests. Its PCMark 7 score of 2,400 trailed the Dell Inspiron i620-3708NBK by more than 300 points and lagged the HP Pavilion h8-1020 by nearly 500 points. The Asus Essentio CM6850-07 topped them all with a score of 3,038, thanks to its more powerful Core i7 CPU. The h8-1010 scored 3.01 on the CPU intensive CineBench R11.5 test, trailing all but the Core i3-powered Dell i620-228NBK, and needed 3 minutes 32 seconds and 1 minute 39 seconds to complete our Photoshop CS5 and Handbrake multimedia tests, respectively.
Although the h8-1010 is equipped with a discrete video card, it isn't a very powerful one. The system managed 28.9 frames per second (fps) on our DirectX 10 (DX10) Crysis test, at 1,024-by-768 resolution and using medium quality settings, but at the more demanding test with higher resolution and graphical details it could only muster 2.4fps. The h8-1020, which uses a more powerful Radeon card, gave us 69fps (1,024 by 768, at medium quality) and 29fps (1,920 by 1,080, very high quality); the Asus Essentio CM6850-07, powered by Nvidia's GeForce GT 530, scored 50fps and 7fps, respectively. Bottom line: You'll get a decent gaming experience as long as you do it in low resolution with most of the effects turned off, but if you want to experience games the way they are meant to be played you'll be disappointed. If gaming is a must, stick to older games with this desktop.
The HP Pavilion Elite h8-1010 will have no trouble handling your typical home productivity tasks such as burning CD and DVD projects and editing photos, and it is more than capable of handling the basics such as email, document and spreadsheet creation, and wireless Web browsing. But despite having a discrete video card, it just doesn't have the muscle needed for today's action games. The Asus Essentio CM6850-07, on the other hand, gives you a better-performing Core i7 processor and a more powerful Nvidia video card for only $50 more.