The HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t ($1,800.89 list, as configured) is a Windows 8-equipped gaming rig that gives gamers a robust and more affordable alternative to pricier custom-built systems from boutique PC manufacturers. It’s packed with enough horsepower for handling high-end gaming and media creation as well as day-to-day computing tasks without breaking a sweat. For these reasons, it’s our latest Editors’ Choice for mid-level gaming desktops.
Design and Features
Measuring 16.34 by 6.89 by 16.22 inches (HWD), the h9-1320t is a dead-ringer for the HP Pavilion HPE h9-1120t Phoenix, and its black metallic chassis is accordingly replete with touches of a more industrialized design that differentiates it from your standard desktop. The system’s front consists of a glossy face layered over a metallic silver-colored plastic and glowing red LED lights that combine to create an aggressive look that’s not quite as over the top as some of the more customized gaming rigs like the Cyberpower Zeus Thunder 3000SE.
In contrast to the plastic accents on the front and top of the system, the sides of the h9-1320t’s tower sport a standard black metallic finish. While both sides feature perforated vents, the right side sports a transparent plastic window that allows the interior’s red LEDs to emanate through the side of the system.
The system’s front panel houses a Blu-ray reader optical drive, an expansion bay that can accommodate a second optical drive, and a door that slides open to reveal four USB 2.0 ports and a few card reader slots that are compatible with several memory formats. The top of the tower, meanwhile, sports a slightly curved surface designed to hold whatever peripherals that users may choose to connect through the pair of USB 3.0 ports located above the front panel. Headphone and microphone jacks can also be found alongside these USB 3.0 ports.
The rear of the system hosts a slew of additional ports, including four more USB 2.0 ports and an extra pair of USB 3.0 ports. There are also DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs, regular audio outputs, and an optical connection for digital 7.1 surround sound, which is enhanced by the h9-1320t’s integrated Beats Audio . An Ethernet port is also located at the rear, though the system’s integrated 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi ensures that you’ll be able to connect to the gaming grid even if you set up shop without a router nearby.
The h9-1320t’s chassis is conveniently toolless, so upgrades can be accomplished with relative ease. Popping open the chassis merely requires removing a single thumb-tightened screw. One of the first things you’ll notice after opening the tower is a liquid cooling system, which increases efficiency while keeping the system quiet since it lets the fan spin at a slower speed. Another thing you’ll notice is that, unlike the Alienware X51, there’s plenty of room for expansion here, and braided cables help keep the interior organized while the 600W power supply easily accommodates more hardware. The PCIex16 slot is occupied by the 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU, leaving two available PCIe X1 slots. The 12GB of RAM occupy all four of the motherboard’s DIMM sockets with a pair of 4GB and 2GB modules, respectively. In addition to a free 5.25-inch bay for an additional optical drive, the interior also features two vacant 3.5-inch bays for extra hard drives to add on top of the 2TB 7,200rpm Seagate Barracuda.
The h9-1320t’s 2TB HDD comes preloaded with Windows 8. Unlike gaming rigs purchased from a custom outlet, there’s a hefty serving of preloaded software. While some of the software is useful (Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, a fifteen-month subscription to Norton Internet Security, CyberLink media suite), that fact is overshadowed by the large amount of bloatware (links to Netflix, eBay, WildTangent games, Windows Live Essentials) and the avalanche of proprietary software (HP Games, MyRoom, Connected Music, and so on). Gamers aren’t exactly a patient lot, so one can’t be too surprised if the prospect of having to remove this slew of software after the initial set up elicits a fair share of grumbling. The h9-1320t is covered with a two-year warranty with limited hardware support.
With a 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-3770K processor and 12GB RAM, the Envy Phoenix h9-1320t has the chops to pump out solid performance across the board when compared with similarly-priced gaming rigs. Its PCMark7 score of 4,033 points outflanked both the Alienware X51 (3,055 points) and HP HPE h9-1120t Phoenix (3,808 points) while falling short of the Cyberpower 3000SE (5,283 points) and Dell XPS 8500 (5,458 points). Its Cinebench R11.5 score of 7.49 points, meanwhile, fell short of the class-leading Cyberpower Zeus 3000SE (9.03 points) but trumped the rest of the pack, including the Dell XPS 8500 (7.46 points) and the Pavilion HPE h9-1120t Phoenix (7.29 points). With this much raw processing power, the h9-1320t has the muscle to chew through even the most demanding of applications without slowing down.
The h9-1320t displayed just as much agility in multimedia creation as it did in consumption. It completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in a class-leading 31 seconds, breezing past the Cyberpower Zeus Thunder 3000SE (55 seconds) and Dell XPS 8500 (1:04) with élan. Even if gaming isn’t your forte, the h9-1320t is still worth checking out if you regularly work with visuals.
Armed with a discrete Nvidia GTX 680 GPU with 2GB of dedicated memory, the system had little difficulty breaching the 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier on our high-end gaming benchmark tests. It banged out impressive frame rates on Lost Planet 2 (194fps in medium-quality settings at 1,366-by-768 resolution, 89fps in high-quality settings at1,920-by-1,080 resolution), surpassing the HP HPE h9-1120t Phoenix (130fps and 57fps, respectively), the Alienware X51 (86fps and 35fps, respectively), and the Dell XPS 8500 (125fps and 48fps, respectively) while only falling short of the Cyberpower 3000SE (157fps and 125fps, respectively) in high-quality settings. The h9-1320t’s performance in both our Heaven (136fps in medium-quality settings at 1,366-by-768 resolution; 59fps with the settings maxed out at 1,920-by-1,080 resolution) and Aliens Vs. Predator (136fps in medium-quality settings at 1,366-by-768 resolution; 58fps with the settings maxed out at 1,920-by-1,080 resolution) further demonstrated its ability to handle high-end gaming with aplomb. The numbers don’t lie: If you’re looking for a robust gaming rig, the h9-1320t certainly won’t disappoint.
The HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t is a powerful ready-made gaming desktop that’s worthy of serious consideration for power users and high-end gamers alike thanks to its considerable processing power, room for expansion, and built-in Blu-ray player. It’s a shoo-in as our Editors’ Choice for mid-level gaming machines.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t
Compare the HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t with several other desktops side by side.
More desktop reviews:
|Primary Optical Drive||Blu-Ray Disc|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i7|
|Graphics Card||nVidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||2000 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc