Dell, HP, and iBuyPower Back-to-School PC Roundup

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Our roll call begins with HP's Elite Pavilion H8 1050. This system comes to class with a built-in TV tuner that first-year college students can use to watch television on their desktop monitor rather than rationing off a portion of their grant money for a dedicated TV set. There's some value there for home users as well, especially if you're into the whole HTPC scene.


HP Elite Pavilion H8 1050
Specifications and Features (as tested)

Model

Pavilion Elite H8 1050
CPU

Intel Core i7 2600 with air cooling
Memory

10GB DDR3 1333MHz
Graphics

AMD Radeon HD 6850
Storage

Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB (3Gbps, 5400 RPM)
Optical

Blu-ray Reader/DVD Burner Combo
Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
Internet

10/100/1000 Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Front Panel Ports

2 x USB 2.0; 2 x USB 3.0; Memory card reader; Headphone and mic
Rear Panel Ports

4 x USB 2.0; GbE LAN; Optical SPDIF; Audio inputs
Sound Integrated 7.1 surround sound
Power Supply 460W
Weight

24.20 pounds (unpacked)
Keyboard / Mouse HP wireless keyboard and mouse
Dimensions

6.88" x 16.34" x 16.22" (WxDxL)
Warranty

1 Year Limited
Price

$1,300 (as configured)


This is an interesting mix of parts that seems to suggest HP had a tough time deciding how much power to inject into a mainstream system. Clearly a solid state drive would be too much for a system of this caliber, but we think a 7200 RPM hard drive would have better suited the Core i7 2600 and AMD Radeon HD 6850 foundation. The other thing that sticks out is the oddball RAM configuration. That's not a typo, the Pavilion Elite H8 1050 ships with 10GB of DDR3-1333 system memory in a 3x2GB and 1x4GB configuration.

Not listed in the spec sheet is the elephant in the room that comes with every HP system. We're of course referring to HP's recent announcement to shop its PC business. There's a cloud of uncertainty that hovers over HP as it looks to sell or spin off its Personal Systems Group (PSG) division, and the OEM recently posted a list of FAQs addressing some concerns you might have with purchasing an HP system. For example, will HP continue to honor warranties after severing its PC arm?

"Yes. We absolutely stand by our PC products and will continue to honor all warranties and provide support as you need it," HP stated in its FAQ.

We're willing to give HP the benefit of the doubt on that one, though the situation is admittedly awkward.

Contents

  • HP wireless keyboard
  • HP wireless mouse
  • Power cord
  • Quick Start Guide and related documentation
  • DisplayPort adapter
  • IR Remote control and accessories
  • VGA-to-DVI adapter
  • S-Video to Composite adapter
That's a fairly generous bundle, though it lacks any driver discs or restore media. You can, however, create your own restore media using HP's included software, and we recommend doing so.



It took us 57 seconds to load the desktop from a cold boot and 10 seconds to power down completely. Once inside, we were hit with a single pop-up offering us a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2011. HP shoveled a medium-sized scoop of bloatware onto our system, though it was kept in check by not automatically loading with Windows and sucking up resources. Other included software falls under the 'Utility' designation, such as HP's LinkUp software, which you can read in more detail here.

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