Although much of the spotlight has lately been focused on ultrabooks and all-in-one systems, desktops have steadfastly continued to remain a viable option, especially for users on a budget. This rings especially true in the case of the HP Pavilion P7-1235 ($539.99 list), an affordably priced general desktop PC whose perks—like USB 3.0 connectivity and a spacious 1TB hard drive—help elevate it above a standard bare-bones budget system. That said, its so-so AMD A8-550 CPU and lack of an included monitor serve as a reminder that, ultimately, better options exist.
Design and Features
The P7-1235 comes in a relatively unassuming black matte-finished chassis that measures 15 by 7 by 17 inches (HWD). Like the Acer Aspire AM3970G-UW10P and the Asus Essentio CM6870, a glossy black plastic face complements its metallic body, providing a mild aesthetic flourish while also serving the practical purpose of housing an optical drive (a SuperMulti DVD burner, in this case) and an array of card readers (xD/Smart Media/Compact Flash/SD/MMC/Memory Stick); the lower portion of this plastic panel slides down to reveal headphone and microphone jacks as well as a pair of USB 3.0 ports. Aside from a silver trim lining the edges of the plastic face, the P7-1235 more or less resembles a traditional, old-school desktop that could fit in 2002 just as easily as it does in 2012.
Unlike the Acer AM3470-UC30P or Acer AM3970G-UW10P, the P7-1235 does not come bundled with a monitor, which is understandable at this price point but nonetheless belies the notion of affordability since it forces users to shell out extra cash to obtain one. It does, however, come with a wired mouse and keyboard, and there are plenty of available USB ports to plug them into. In addition to the ports found on the front of the system, the rear houses two additional USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, VGA and DVI ports, an Ethernet port, and several audio outputs to accommodate front and side speakers as well as a subwoofer. There isn’t an HDMI output, though, so users looking the port would be better served with the Gateway DX4870-UR11P or add a graphics card with HDMI capabilities sometime later.
Beneath the hood, the P7-1235 offers some potential for expandability. There’s an available internal 3.5-inch bay for a second hard drive as well as an empty 5.25-inch bay for adding an internal optical drive like, say, a Blu-ray player. Meanwhile, the Pavilion P7-1235′s 8GB of SDRAM occupies all four of the motherboard’s DIMM sockets, so anyone looking to upgrade to the maximum 32GB RAM will have to discard some of the included memory in order to do so. The 8GB should be enough for most home users, even the ones who edit their snapshots. The motherboard also features one free PCIe x16 slot as well as three available PCIe x1 slots, though users looking to upgrade the P7-1235 with a beefier GPU should heed this critical caveat: the system’s 300W power supply limits the options to midrange graphics cards, which don’t consume as much power as their high-end counterparts.
The P7-1235′s 1TB hard drive comes loaded with software. While this isn’t much of a surprise for a system in this price range, it still means that users must initially contend with the usual bevy of bloatware (unnecessary toolbars, games of questionable value) trialware (30-day trials of Norton Internet Security, Norton Online Backup), as well as the occasional useful program (Office Starter 2010). The Pavilion P7-1235 also comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The P7-1235 is equipped with a 3.2GHz AMD A8-5500 CPU, which is one of AMD’s second-generation A-series (otherwise known as “Trinity” in tech circles) accelerated processing units (APUs), which combines the Pavilion P7-1235′s CPU and its integrated AMD Radeon HD 7560D GPU onto a single chipset. As compared to another APU-equipped system in its class—namely the Acer AM3470-UC30P—the P7-1235 fared well in our benchmark tests. However, when stacked against systems equipped with second- and third-generation Intel Core-equipped systems, the P7-1235 struggled to maintain equal footing. This much is evident in its PCMark 7 score of 2,548 points, which easily breezed past the Acer AM3470-UC30P (2,081 points) but fell short of the rest of the pack, including the Acer M3970G-UW10P (2,611 points) and, to a greater extent, the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (3,540 points). Its multimedia performance similarly fell flat compared to others.
The P7-1235 completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in 1 minute 59 seconds, which outpaced the Aspire AM3470-UC30P (2:33) but came nowhere near the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (1:05) or the Asus Essentio CM6870 (1:03). The Pavilion P7-1235′s Cinebench R11.5 score of 2.76 points, meanwhile, came within striking distance of the Acer AM3470-UC30P (2.93 points) but withered in the face of its competition, like the Acer M3970G-UW10P (4.91 points) and the Essentio CM6870 (7.50 points). The 5 minutes 5 seconds it took the P7-1235 to complete our Photoshop CS5 test was slightly faster than the Acer AM3470-UC30P (5:55) but, once again, was outgunned by comparable Intel Core-equipped systems such as the Acer M3970G-UW10P (3:28) and the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (2:50).
The P7-1235′s integrated AMD Radeon HD 7560D GPU, on the other hand, allowed it to cross the 30 frames per second (fps) playability threshold in medium-detail settings. Accordingly, it churned out 49fps in medium-quality settings in our Crysis benchmark test, which trumped most of its class, save for the Asus CM6870. In very high quality-settings, its performance of 7fps landed between the Aspire AM3460-UC30P (5fps) and the Asus CM6870 (11fps). The P7-1235′s 3DMark 11 scores surpassed the rest of the litter (1,732 points in Entry-level mode; 338 points in Extreme mode), including the Acer AM3470-UC30P (1,567 and 283 points, respectively), and only fell short of the class-leading Asus CM6870 (2,832 and 532 points, respectively).
For users on a budget, the HP Pavilion P7-1235 is a decent system that doesn’t entirely skimp out on niceties like USB 3.0 ports, light to moderate 3D prowess, or hard drive capacity. However, better options exist, especially for users who don’t already own a monitor. For only $60 more, the Editors’ Choice-winning Acer AM3470-UC30P sports a similar processor and comes with a generous 23-inch monitor. Users who already have a monitor, meanwhile, would be better served by a system that sports more robust Intel Core processing power, like the Gateway DX4870-UR11P.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the HP Pavilion P7-1235
Compare the HP Pavilion P7-1235 with several other desktops side by side.
More desktop reviews:
|Primary Optical Drive||DVD-R SuperDrive|
|Processor Family||AMD A8|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 7560D|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1000 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc