HP Pavilion A650e
At a Glance
The HP Pavilion A650e performed well against comparably priced and outfitted systems, making it a good choice for the home office user who wants a little more oomph for the money.
For the $2564 price tag, this HP is configured with a 2.4-GHz Athlon 64 3700+ processor, a 250GB hard drive, and a gigabyte of RAM. The A650e scored a solid 97 on our WorldBench 5 tests, and it offers a decent combination of features. To start with, it has DVD+RW and CD-RW drives, and behind a nicely flush sliding panel sit audio outputs, a FireWire port, and a media-card reader. There is one USB port on the front panel; four other USB ports are on the back of the case. Also on the back are a gigabit ethernet port, a second FireWire port, audio connections, and a modem jack. The case's interior doesn't provide a lot of room for expansion, however: You'll find one open 3.5-inch drive bay and three open PCI slots, but the graphics card blocks access to one of those slots.
The system produced satisfactory, but not overly impressive, text and graphics on the 17-inch HP Pavilion F1703 LCD monitor. Similarly, frame rates on our video game tests were below average. The small pair of Harman/Kardon speakers sounded good, though slightly tinny, and left us wishing the system had come with a subwoofer.
The HP keyboard that comes with the system has nine macro keys and provided good tactile feedback during use.
Documentation was more than adequate for the system, including a setup poster, Microsoft XP Professional documentation, and a guide on how to burn CDs and DVDs. Bundled software included Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003, preinstalled system recovery software, Quicken 2004, video editing and DVD creation software, and Symantec Security.
This home-oriented system offers nimble performance and a moderate price for the features, though the monitor is merely adequate and audio quality isn't exceptional.
Victor R. Garza