HP Pavilion P6130f Has Good Performance, But Less Expensive PCs Undercut It
At a Glance
HP's Pavilion P6130f desktop ($600, as of November 15, 2009) goes toe-to-toe against the Gateway DX4200-11 value PC, but loses out to the Gateway's better design and stronger overall configuration. Elsewhere in the value PC category, similarly priced PCs--including one of HP's own Pavilions--outperform the P6130F as well.
HP slips one of AMD's older chips, the 2.4GHz Phenom X4 9750, inside the slick, black shell of this midsize tower system. That CPU is slightly more powerful than the Gateway DX4200-11's 2.2GHz Phenom X4 9550 processor, but it falls short of the 2.6GHz Dual-Core E5300 found in the HP Pavilion A6710T desktop--a system that outperforms the P6130f for roughly 80 percent of its price. Rounding out the P6130F's core components are 8GB of DDR2-800 memory and a single 750GB hard drive.
Don't expect to do much gaming on the P6130F. At its most dialed-down settings (1024 by 768 resolution and normal quality), the system's integrated nVidia GeForce 9100 chipset struggled to a barely playable frame rate of 22 frames per second in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. To be fair, the HP A6710T managed only 25 fps on the same test at the same settings. The P6130f's WorldBench 6 score of 88 is good for a value PC at its price, but the A6710T reaches a far more impressive score of 98.
The P6130f adopts the standard chassis design that HP has used for many of its Pavilion-series PCs recently. The case's form-fitting covers for optical drives and front-panel connections give it an elegant, smooth front surface. The internal wiring job is somewhat inconveniently clumped, making the task of installing a new 5.25-inch device in the system's free bay a bit more difficult.
The single free spot for an extra, vertically mounted hard drive is even harder to deal with because installing the drive requires you to use screws. The two free PCI Express x1 slots are suitable for a narrow range of devices; x4 slots would have increased your options. On the positive side, a free PCI Express x16 slot sensibly anticipates an upgrade to discrete graphics.
True to form, HP doesn't load this inexpensive value PC with external connections. On the back, you get four USB ports, a single FireWire 400 port, a 10/100 ethernet port, integrated 7.1 surround sound, and an external coaxial S/PDIF connection. The P6130f's front connections consist of two USB ports and a multiformat card reader.
A generic, corded, two-button mouse came with our review system. The system's keyboard has a standard, uninspired layout featuring three additional buttons for volume controls.
For its price, HP's Pavilion P6130f delivers surprisingly good performance and adequate upgradability. But you can find better builds (and performance) on less expensive PCs--including some from HP.