Not the first time HP desktops have been reviewed on this site, we decided to take yet another one under examination. This time the choice was HP Pavilion 500-490, a quite affordable desktop featuring Windows 7 for the delight of many. However, it’s not the operating system that means everything, there are other factors to consider too. Below we’ll tell you what these factors are and how are they represented in this HP.
The main things
Intel Core i3-4130 processor is the heart of HP Pavilion 500-490. A capable CPU of two cores and 3.4GHz clock speed, there’s no question this i3 wouldn’t be able to deal with tasks lightweight and heavy. That being said, some desktops in the same price range feature i5 processor which is faster than this one.
There’s four gigabytes of system memory available, a good amount to start with, and more can be added up to 16GB. One memory slot should also be free on the mainboard, allowing you to install more RAM without replacing the old chip.
The storage solution is a terabyte hard drive. Chances are you won’t run out of space fast – to give you an example, DVD movies in low hundreds could be hosted there. The drive also runs on 7200RPM which is tad faster than regular 5400RPM ones. This is, of course, still nothing compared to solid-state drives, but unless you’re already used to SSD speeds, you won’t regard conventional hard drives slow.
As you might’ve expected, such a budget desktop isn’t a top-notch gaming rig. It houses an Intel HD 4400, a graphics chip integrated to the processor, which performs rather poorly for modern games. You can probably run heavy titles such as Watch Dogs, Thief, GTA: IV on it, but expect laggy environment even on low settings. Depending on your preferences, that might be just enough for you. Naturally, the older and less demanding the game is, the more and more playable FPS you’ll get. Expect most pre-2013 titles run smoothly at least on low settings.
HP Pavilion 500-490 offers alright connectivity for a budget desktop. It comes with 8 USB ports, four being USB 3.0 and two of those located in the front panel. The rest USBs are in the back, along with VGA and DVI-D outputs for displays. Having the two video outputs should allow for a dual monitor setup. HDMI output is not available, but using an adapter or special cable is a possibility.
In front, there’s also a 16x DVD burner and media card reader that reads from and writes to SD, SDHC, SDXC, MS, MS Select, MS Pro and MS MagicGate cards.
Internet access can be attained with Gigabit Ethernet or single-band 802.11 b/g/n WiFi. The wireless card doesn’t support Bluetooth, so to get that you’d have to use USB dongle or install a PCI card.
What other things to keep in mind?
As said in the beginning, the operating system of HP Pavilion 500-490 is Windows 7 Professional (64-bit). That’s an excellent choice for somebody who doesn’t want to make the switch to new and scary Windows 8 yet. There will also be other software installed in the system, most probably bloatware, but some is actually useful like the 30-day trial for MS Office.
The system unit is shipped with basic USB keyboard and mouse. No monitor is however shipped with it.
The power supply is a 300W one, obviously giving enough power for the current setup, but perhaps not so if you upgrade the desktop. Information about free PCI-e slots on the mainboard wasn’t available, although RAM can be quadrupled from the current 4GB to 16GB. Both 5.25″ and 3.5″ drive bays are already taken, so installing more drives is not possible. After all, the case is rather small at 14.5″ height, 6.9″ width and 15.5″ length, which limits the expandability but also translates to a small footprint.
HP Pavilion 500-490 is not a bad computer at all. An i3 processor, four gigabytes RAM and 1024GB hard drive are some solid specs for a home or small office computer. The problem isn’t really the performance, but the value this desktop offers. There are computers that cost the same than this HP while featuring more powerful components, such as i5 CPU and 8GB memory. As such, if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, this HP isn’t probably for you. It’s quite a powerful desktop per se, but for the value-minded people most likely an undesirable choice.