capsule review

HP Pavilion Elite E9120f: Nice Storage Specs, Underwhelming Performance

At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion Elite E9120f Value Desktop PC

The HP Pavilion Elite E9120f is built around a 2.6GHz Phenom II X4-910 processor--one of AMD's newer chips. Unfortunately, the Phenom II X4 CPU doesn't enable the E9120F to rise above its Intel-based value PC rivals--even after you factor in the system's 8GB of DDR3-1333 RAM and 1TB hard drive.

Its "elite" designation notwithstanding, this $830 (as of November 15, 2009) system can barely run modern games at playable speeds. We had to dial down our Enemy Territory: Quake Wars tests to 1024 by 768 resolution to achieve a frame rate of 43 frames per second at high quality. Likewise, on our Unreal Tournament 3 tests, the Pavilion Elite E9120f sputtered through frame rates of 39 fps and 27 fps, respectively at resolutions of 1024 by 768 and 1680 by 1050 resolutions (and high quality). The $800 Gateway LX6810-01 value desktop fared much better at these lower resolutions.

On our WorldBench 6 test suite, the Pavilion Elite E9120f's score of 90 falls significantly short of the $520 HP Pavilion A6710T's mark of 98, the Gateway LX6810-01's 105, and the $700 Micro Express MicroFlex 82B's 117.

The system's interior is so cluttered that inserting an additional hard drive into the system's free bay is a daunting challenge. I wish that HP had upgraded the two free PCI Express x1 slots to x4 slots at least. To upgrade the system's graphics, you'll have to replace the included ATI Radeon HD4350 video card (assuming that you can get a larger card to rest snugly in the system's rat's nest of cabling.

The front of Pavilion Elite E9120f's chassis has room to accommodate HP's proprietary expansion drive modules. The smooth case front conceals a snazzy Blu-ray optical drive and a separate DVD burner.

HP opted for quantity over quality with the Pavilion Elite E9120f's external connections. The rear of the system houses four USB ports, one FireWire 400 port, integrated 7.1 surround sound, and a coaxial S/PDIF port. The front holds three USB ports, a second FireWire 400 port, and a multiformat card reader.

Our test machine came with a generic, two-button mouse and a similarly bland keyboard with three extra buttons for controlling volume levels.

The HP Pavilion E9120f's standout features are Its Blu-ray drive and its 1TB hard drive. But while they keep it in the converstaion with Gateway's LX6810-01 and Lenovo's IdeaCentre K220, the overall picture isn't terribly interesting.

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At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion Elite E9120f Value Desktop PC

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