HP Touchsmart 520 All-in-One PC Review

Article Index

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: All-in-one machines aren't known for their raw performance, but such is the march of technology that a system like HP's TouchSmart 520-1070 can exist. Our gamut of benchmarks and subjective analysis of real-world performance reflect the hardware's capabilities, not the form factor. And in terms of the former, the 520 brings some serious components to the all-in-one party, including a Core i7-2600S, AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics, and 8GB of DDR3-1333 memory. The GPU isn't going to warrant a second glance from serious gamers, but as evidenced by our PCMark, 3DMark, and Left 4 Dead 2 benchmarks, there's enough pixel pushing power to handle a bit of gaming, something not every AIO can claim. The 520 even held its own in the Cinebench benchmark.

Content creation, light gaming, and multimedia chores are where the TouchSmart 520-1070 really excels, and while we would have preferred a faster spinning hard drive or, even better, a solid state drive + HDD combo, HP opted to give users oodles of storage, probably banking on the fact that this will end up as a multi-user PC for the whole family. There's an argument to be made there, we just hate to see an otherwise strongly equipped machine miss an occasional step.

It won't be until Windows 8 launches presumably later this year that touchscreen computing on the desktop really has a chance at taking off, but in the meantime, companies like HP are finding ways to manipulate Windows 7 with custom overlays more suited for touch interaction. HP's answer is Magic Canvas, a well thought out UI that deserves recognition as more than just a gimmick. We don't know how well it works on other systems, but on the TouchSmart 520-1070, HP's Magic Canvas software is smooth, responsive, and full of tricks that enhance the Windows experience for touch computing, which is likely one of the reasons you're considering an all-in-one PC in the first place.

If not, there's still a lot to like with this PC. This isn't an underpowered machine content to settle on a space saving form factor and call it a day. There's some strong hardware inside this thing, and it's flanked by robust connectivity options, a TV tuner, Blu-ray burner, and an audio solution (Beats Audio) that you won't be embarrassed to fire up in front of company. We wish the storage subsystem was a little faster, and the discrete graphics, while superior to what you'll find in most all-in-one systems, isn't suited to high end gaming. But it will handle some games, even at the display's native 1920x1080 resolution. We also have to give HP major props for making it so easy to remove the back panel to service or upgrade some of the parts, like the hard drive and RAM. OEMs have only recently begun trusting its customers to handle a screwdriver, by making their machines more accessible to home servicing, but it's a level of trust rarely found on the AIO form factor. It's just another area the TouchSmart 520-1070 separates itself from the pack.

In this economy, the TouchSmart 520 is a bit steep at $1,400 direct from HP, though it's often marked down several hundred Benjamins via other retailers and HP itself, bringing the price down closer to $1,200. Either way, this is a solid machine for the money and a great example of how to build an all-in-one PC.

 

  

  • High-end hardware not typically found in most all-in-one systems
  • Discrete graphics opens the door to game play
  • Lots of storage space
  • Wireless mouse and keyboard
  • HP's Magic Canvas software works extremely well with the touchscreen
  • Beats Audio works wonders with the integrated speakers
  • You won't be playing overly demanding DX11 titles on this
  • Slow spinning hard drive

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