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- Review Date: 06/05/2012
- Bottom line: The HP Pavilion p7-1125 makes a name for itself with decent 3D performance using integrated graphics. It's a bright spot on an otherwise run-of-the-mill tower desktop.
- Pros: Some expandability. Quad-core processor. DX11-compatible integrated graphics with decent performance. Wi-Fi. 8GB of memory and 1TB hard drive.
- Cons: Slower on Photoshop. Bloatware. No eSATA, USB 3.0, or HDMI video ports. Only 4 USB ports.
The HP Pavilion p7-1225 ($589 list at Staples) is one of those desktop systems that's just a bit over the $500 entry-level price point, but also gives you a little more for your money. It has DX11-compatible 3D graphics on its AMD A8-3820 APU (accelerated processing unit, or a CPU with integrated graphics in AMD-speak). It's basic, but capable of playing light to moderate 3D games right out of the box. Ultimately some shortcomings keep it from the top of the heap, but it's worth considering next time you walk the aisles of your local big box store.
Design and Features
The Pavilion p7-1225 follows other p7 series systems like the HP Pavilion p7-1120 and the former midrange Editors' Choice HP Pavilion p7-1167cb. It's a tower with a glossy black front panel, neither too outré nor too staid in its appearance. That said, its middle of the road appearance is still a bit more unique looking than some of the other plain boxes. The system has a 15-in-1 media card reader on the top, audio and two USB 2.0 ports hidden under a door on the front, and a DVD burner facing you. On the back, there are two more USB 2.0 ports, more audio ports, Ethernet, VGA, and DVI. It's a little too basic, and we'd like to see a couple of next generation ports like HDMI and USB 3.0 on future systems.
Inside the system, there's quite a bit of room for upgrades, including three PCIe x1 card slots, a PCIe x16 graphics card slot, and space for two hard drives and one optical drive. The system's two DIMM slots are filled, but you can replace the existing 4GB memory sticks if you need more than the included 8GB. There are only two free SATA ports on the motherboard, so you can either install two additional hard drives or a hard drive with one optical. The lack of USB 3.0 nor eSATA means that you can't use a quick external drive unless you plug in a PCIe adapter card. You can install an entry-level graphics card in the system's PCIe x16 slot, but enthusiast cards are out of the picture because of the p7-1225's relatively low powered 300W power supply.
There's the usual amount of bloatware and clutter on the desktop. There are about ten extra icons, including Rara music, HP Games, Office 2010, HP Support Agent, HP Magic Canvas, Snapfish, Zya music, eBay, HP Download store, and the recycle bin. The desktop comes with a 60-day trial subscription to Norton Internet Security, which should be longer. It's much more useful to provide 12 to 15 months than only two. While retail systems like the p7-1225 come with this clutter standard on the Windows 7 desktop, we hope that Windows 8 will help alleviate the clutter later this year.
For an entry-level/midrange system, the p7-1225 returned middling benchmark results. The system's Handbrake (2 hours 29 seconds) and Photoshop CS5 (6:16) results lag behind other systems with Core i5 processors like the Lenovo H420 (7752-1YU) ($699.99 list, 4 stars) (1:40 in Handbrake; 3:50 in CS5) and the Acer Aspire AM3970-UR11P ($599.99 list, 3 stars) (1:20 in Handbrake; 3:26 in CS5). This is likely due to the system's AMD A8-3820 processor. Though the A8-3820 is a quad-core processor, it's a little slower overall than the Intel Core processors when running multimedia apps. The A8 processor's integrated AMD Radeon HD 6550D graphics, however, are much better than Intel's HD Graphics 2000 equivalent. The p7-1225's gaming tests return almost playable 45 fps on Crysis and 24 fps on Lost Planet 2, which is a lot better than the low teens on Crysis on the Editor's Choice Gateway DX4860-UB33P ($599.99 list, 4 stars) (The Gateway couldn't play the DX11 Lost Planet 2 test at all). This means that if you're into playing older 3D games, you may not need to upgrade the p7-1225's graphics at all.
Compared with the current EC, the Gateway DX4860-UB33P, the HP Pavilion p7-1225 puts in a good showing with much better 3D performance, but ultimately the Gateway DX4860 holds on to the crown a bit longer, as it has many more livability upgrades like USB 3.0, HDMI, and the top-mounted tray for your electronic devices. Pricing is similar, so it's essentially a case of more for the money. If you know you won't ever upgrade graphics or anything else internally, the Pavilion p7-1225 is decent out of the box, but ultimately there are better systems.