- Review Date: 10/4/2011
Intel Core i7 processor and AMD graphics make for a powerful hardware combination on the gaming grid or while working with media. USB 3.0, Blu-ray, and TV Tuner are present. Wi-Fi built-in. Huge 1.5TB hard drive. Included IR remote helps flip through media.
Hard drive spins at a slower 5,400rpm than other desktops at this price. Bloatware.
The HP Pavilion Elite h8-1050 ($1,299.99 direct) is a media decked out with all the right components to satisfy power users. Blu-ray, TV tuner, and a powerful hardware tag team made up of an Intel Core i7 processor and AMD discrete graphics card is just the tip of the iceberg for this PC. All these features make it the power user's dream PC and our new Editors' Choice.
Design and Features
This mid-tower chassis is predominately made up of black aluminum. It's broken up by the glossy black plastic on the front panel, which will attract finger prints and smudge marks, but otherwise gives the HP h8-1050 a sleek look. There's a discrete indent on the top of the PC for holding hard drives, MP3 players, and the like while plugged into the nearby USB 3.0 ports. There are also separate headphone and microphone jacks next to the two USB 3.0 ports. On the front panel a sliding door reveals two USB 2.0 ports and a a media card reader (xD/Smartmedia, Compact Flash I/II/III, MS/PRO/Duo/PRO Duo, and SD/mini/RS/Plus/Mobile). The BD-ROM drive allows you to watch Blu-ray movies, as well as regular DVDs. The back of the desktop has two DVI-I, HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPorts to connect your PC to external monitors and HDTVs. There's also a TV Tuner, S-video and Left and Right speaker, Ethernet, and four USB 2.0 ports, one of which is occupied by a plug-in USB receiver to connect the keyboard and mouse to the PC. There's also an IR remote included in the packaging that is helpful when flipping through Blu-ray menu screens, particularly if you're considering putting this PC in your living room.
Cracking open the case, you'll see there's not much room to expand. There's one PCIe x1 slot open (the other is taken up by a TV Tuner), and there are two SATA ports open to connect another optical drive or hard drive. But given that the system has a 1.5TB, 5,400rpm hard drive, it's unlikely you'll need more storage space anytime soon. It should be noted that most desktop PCs in this category and price range come with a faster 7,200rpm hard drive. Each of the four memory slots are filled to the brim with 10GB of DDR3 RAM (can hold up to 16GB) and the PCIe x16 slot is filled by an AMD Radeon HD 6850 (1GB) discrete graphics card. There's also an 802.11n Wi-Fi card installed. In short, this PC is pretty packed. If you do plan on expanding this desktop in the future, you will have to work within the constraints of the 450W power supply.
Unfortunately, there's a considerable amount of bloatware on the desktop that includes HP's own suite of software along with Bing Bar, three different e-readers (Blio, Kobo, and Zinio Reader 4), Netflix, Hulu, and eBay. I'm of the mind that a new computer means a fresh start, and when there's extraneous software on it, it seems tainted.
The h8-1050 has a powerful list of components that include a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600 processor, the aforementioned 10GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon HD 6850 GPU. These components add up to a powerful media manipulation machine (i.e. Photoshop and video editing) that will also play mid-range game titles. The h8-1050 completed our Photoshop CS5 image test in 2 minutes 57 seconds, the same time as the Dell XPS x8300-5215NBK ($1,099.99 list, 4 stars). In Cinebench R11.5, both systems were only 0.6 points apart, the h8-1050 (6.82) being the higher of the two.
In gaming, the h8-1050 was clearly the superior machine. Comparing its Radeon HD 6850 GPU to the Dell XPS x8300's Radeon HD 5770 is no contest. The h8-1050 garnered playable frame rates on our Crysis in DirectX 10 (98.9frames per second) and Lost Planet 2 in DX11 (77.6fps) on medium settings at 1,280 by 720 resolution, as did the Dell XPS x8300. With the resolution turned up to 1,920 by 1,080 neither systems were able to average out a playable frame rate, but the Pavilion h8-1050 was the better.
The HP Pavilion Elite h8-1050 definitely has a leg up on the Dell XPS x8300 when it comes to features. The TV tuner, Blu-ray player, and USB 3.0 ports will entice those looking to make this machine their media hub, which is why it's our Editors' Choice. However, the Dell XPS x8300 offers up a desktop with similar performance numbers when it comes to media creation (but not gaming) that's $200 cheaper. So, really it all depends on if you list of needs/wants include things like a Blu-ray and USB 3.0if not then you may want to consider the cheaper option. The Dell XPS x8300 will give you great media performance without the extras (and that includes bloatware), but the h8-1050 is the better of the two systems.