Having reviewed lots of ASUS desktops in the past few days it was refreshing to take a little break from them. This time I found a new prey, HP Pavilion 500-321, selling for around 500 bucks making it a perfect victim for Tech For Pennies official Board of Scrutiny. The desktop’s price/performance ratio doesn’t seem too bad at a quick glance, but it’s too early to say anything conclusive just yet…
The main components
HP Pavilion 500-321’s processor is Core i5-4570, a bit older Intel model. It was released in the first half of 2013, although it still keeps up rather well with newer CPUs and scores high rankings in benchmark tests. The processor’s base clock speed is 3.2GHz but the Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology will overclock it momentarily up to 3.6GHz when need be. There are also four cores present so doing many things at the same time (multitasking) shouldn’t be a problem.
While the amount of RAM is not superb it’s still probably enough for you. HP Pavilion 500-321 has 4GB of DDR3 memory. There are two memory slots in total and upgrading the RAM all the way to 16GB is possible.
Hard drive is 500GB 7200RPM one with SATA interface. A disk this size is usually seen in these budget desktops. To give you an idea, 500GB can host movies in low hundreds if you decide to store them on your hard drive. It’s surely a lot, although these days people tend to steer away from downloading so much data to their computer. Instead, streaming services like Netflix are getting popular where you actually don’t have to download the full movie to your computer, thus making the size of your storage drive less important factor.
The graphics of HP Pavilion 500-32 are handled by its processor. The Core i5 contains Intel HD 4600 integrated graphics chip. It’s indeed a faster model in the Intel HD family (the model numbers start at 2000 and go all the way to 5600 at the moment). Playing some less demanding games – think about new Fifas, Sims 4, Minecraft – is not a big deal at all for this chip. Problems arise if you want to enjoy smooth frame rates and high settings on some heavier titles. If you’re a fan of those newer, full-of-eye-candy games, getting another desktop might be good choice for you.
How about connectivity?
HP Pavilion 500-32 has in total 8 USB ports with 4 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0 ports being in the back panel. In front there are 2 USB 3.0 ports respectively. VGA and DVI-D outputs are also present, allowing you to use a dual monitor configuration. Sadly, there’s no HDMI output here. If you want to connect this HP to a HDTV, a workaround for this would be DVI-HDMI adapter or cable. The image quality on DVI and HDMI are the same, but DVI doesn’t sound carry audio where HDMI does. So in addition to DVI-HDMI adapter/cable you’d need another cable for the sound to your TV.
For network connectivity there are both WiFi and Ethernet adapters. The WiFi is 802.11 b/g/n single-band one, and the Ethernet supports up to 1000Mbps speeds. While some HP Pavilions 500 models have Bluetooth, this exact model doesn’t support it out of the box.
There’s also a memory card reader supporting SD, SDHC, SDXC, MS, MS Select, MS Pro and MS MagicGate standards.
What else to keep in mind?
The operating system of HP Pavilion 500-32 is Windows 8.1 64-bit edition. There are some software pre-installed on it, including McAfee and Office trials. Indeed, to continue using them after 30 days you’ll have to pay.
There’s a 16X DVD burner installed so reading and writing CDs and DVDs works on this HP. However, since the computer case is a small mini-tower, there’s not much space for expansion. Adding another optical drive (or hard drive to that matter) would be impossible since both 3.5″ and 5.25″ slots are already taken by the existing drives.
HP Pavilion 500-32 doesn’t differ that much from other 500 buck desktops. To be honest, all of them are quite similar because of the limited amount of components you can use with that price. However the HP has some things you should consider. First, it doesn’t feature HDMI port which is inconvenience for those wanting to connect the desktop to a HDMI monitor. Second, the expandability of such a small computer case is limited. Third, the graphics chip is faster compared to other budget desktops.
So should you get it? I would say yes, if you don’t mind the missing HDMI and Bluetooth support. They can be installed via adapter/cable or USB dongle. Anyways, there’s certainly enough performance in HP Pavilion 500-32 for most kind of uses, including some gaming due to the above mentioned factors.