HP Pavilion a6560T
Everything about the Elite a6550t screams "efficiency," from its businesslike black-and-silver décor to its solid, comfortable black keyboard and mouse. The interior is nicely finished, all cables are neatly tied off, and a single free 5.25-inch bay awaits an additional optical drive. The case interior similarly offers a single open, vertically oriented 3.5-inch bay to accommodate a second hard drive.
Built around Intel's 2.6-GHz Core 2 E4700 processor, the Pavilion Elite a6560t couldn't quite match the performance of the Q6600-based Dell Inspiron 518 or Micro Express's MicroFlex 82B, but its 103 WorldBench 6 effort puts it well above the median score for value systems. Our test unit came configured with the same 3GB of PC6400 memory as the 518, but yoked to a slightly less efficient 8MB cache version of a 300MB Western Digital Caviar Blue (Dell's like-size Caviar sported a beefier 16MB); this could explain some of the 5-point difference in WorldBench performance score.
Despite having an nVidia GeForce 9300 GE graphics card on board, the a6560t managed mediocre gaming frame rates, ranging from about 20 frames per second to about 60 fps, depending on the test. That's good enough for occasional low-resolution forays with Doom, but not for any seriously graphics-intensive games. Otherwise, 2D rendering looked sharp on the bundled 20-inch HP w2007 wide-screen display. With that LCD, the A6560T was priced at $1030 as of October 10, 2008; that price includes a copy of Windows Media Center and an NTSC/ATSC tuner card. Without the monitor, the desktop costs $750.
While testing the system, we discovered a bit more junkware (see "Junkbusters") on the Windows Vista Home Premium desktop than we'd have liked, but a couple of minutes with Add/Remove programs and the trash bin took care of things. Beyond that, you get all the accouterments of a name-brand system, including nice documentation and support.
HP Pavilion a6560T
This is a nice value system with good mainstream performance and a TV tuner.
- Solid performance and design
- HDTV Tuner
- Mediocre gaming performance
- Too much junkware on the desktop