HP Pavilion desktop PC review

The HP Pavilion range focuses on busy homes and schools, which means these PCs on solid components, straightforward design, and reasonable prices. HP bolsters the core range with a Pavilion dedicated to gaming, and you can also buy an all-in-one system with an in-built screen – perfect if you don’t have the space or money for a separate monitor. If you’re on a budget, this could be one of the best home computers for you.

We’ve pored over the specifications of the entire range to find out which machines are the best options for everyday computing, more challenging work scenarios, and gaming. We’ve not just looked at the hardware, though: we’ve also examined the design and customer service, and we’ve delved into customer reviews. It all provides a well-rounded image of the HP Pavilion range, so you can see if these PCs are worth your time and money.

HP Pavilion: Specs

The most expensive Pavilion uses Intel’s Core i7-10700, which is a powerful processor with eight cores and a peak speed of 4.8GHz. A 256GB SSD, 16GB of memory, and a 2TB hard disk complete the specification.

That’s an ideal specification for strenuous workloads. It’ll take on photo-editing and other content-creation tasks, and it won’t have any problem with office applications, web browsers , and email clients. The dual-channel memory improves performance, and the SSD keeps the PC responsive.

The middle machine uses a Core i5-10400F processor with six cores and a peak speed of 4.3GHz, and it’s paired with 8GB of memory, a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard disk. Not bad, but this might be seen as a lower spec machine across other manufacturer’s ranges.  

The Core i5 processor will handle office applications, email clients and tab-filled web browsers, making it an ideal processor for everyday web-browsing, school and office workloads. It’s not powerful enough for photo editing software and other content creation, though – you’ll need the Core i7 processor for that.

The 8GB of memory is ample for these tasks, too, although the use of just one memory stick does hinder performance a little. The SSD keeps Windows feeling snappy, but it’s not very big, so you’ll only be able to use it to store a handful of critical applications.

In some territories, this Pavilion comes with Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 graphics, while in others it uses the processor’s UHD Graphics 630 core. While the proper Nvidia graphics card offers more power, it’s still only capable of playing casual games and current games at low quality levels.

The most affordable Pavilion uses an Intel Core i3-10100. This part has four cores and its peak speed sits at a relatively modest 4.3GHz. The rest of the specification includes 8GB of memory, Intel’s integrated graphics core and a 512GB SSD, but no secondary hard disk.

This modest hardware is ideal for tackling browser-based tasks, Office applications and emails. Still, it can’t take on tougher scenarios, like photo editing and video creation, and it’s not great for multi-tasking either. Nevertheless, it’s a reasonable option for very basic work.

All three Pavilions include Gigabit Ethernet, a dual-band 802.11ac wireless card and Bluetooth 5.0. That’s an acceptable specification for home use, but the lack of Wi-Fi 6 means that you won’t get great wireless speeds and the Pavilion will struggle in busy homes filled with lots of wireless devices.

The trio of Pavilion models are suitable for home use, but there are some areas where these systems are underwhelming. Improved wireless connectivity would have been nice, for instance. The Intel processors used here are all a little old now – Intel’s more modern CPUs are faster.

It’s also a shame that more Pavilion models are not available with AMD Ryzen processors. There is one machine produced with an AMD Ryzen 5 3400G, and that chip is a better productivity option than the Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs, but availability is very patchy.

If you’d prefer a system that can handle gaming, then HP produces a specific Pavilion Gaming PC. The big change is the deployment of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super graphics card. It’s not a modern card, but it does have the power to handle esports titles and mainstream single-player games at 1080p and decent quality levels, so it’s a good option if you want a machine that your kids can use to play games like Fortnite. For 4K gaming, though, you need to look at more specialized (and expensive) options like the Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition .

HP Pavilion: Design

Who is it for?

The three core HP Pavilion machines are all capable when it comes to handling schoolwork, office applications and mainstream office tasks. The Core i3 and Core i5 versions are ideal for those everyday tasks, and the Core i7 system is better if you want a machine that can handle tougher workloads, like photo editing.

All three are suitable for people who want a PC to plug in and use with no issues. They’re ideal for people who don’t have a lot of space, too.

The gaming variant is a good option for people who want to play esports titles and mainstream games on a Full HD screen with minimal fuss.

If you want a PC that you can tinker with and upgrade, the Pavilion is mediocre – there are upgrade paths, but bespoke system builders will deliver PCs with more upgrade potential and interior space. And don’t opt for an HP Pavilion if you want top performance levels, because these machines all use older components.

The Pavilion’s front panel uses a slab of bright, brushed metal, with a sleek HP logo in the bottom corner. HP’s machine weighs just over 13lbs and it’s 6.1inches wide and 13.2inches tall, so it’s easy to fit into confined spaces, and it sits horizontally or vertically.

The front panel has a whopping four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports alongside an SD card reader, a USB Type-C connection, and a DVD drive. That’s great versatility, and the port installation at the top of the case makes them easier to reach.

The HP is surprisingly versatile on the inside, too. Slide off the side panel and you’ll find two M.2 connectors, extra 2.5in and 3.5in hard drive bays, and two PCI connectors. Some of those connectors may be occupied depending on your PC’s specification, but it does mean that you’re going to have some space for adding storage. The HP isn’t designed to be opened, but there is more upgrade potential than on most small systems.

One thing to keep in mind: the HP only has a 180W power supply, which is not particularly generous. If you want to add a graphics card, it’ll have to be a pretty modest model.

The one area where the HP doesn’t impress is at the rear. The HP does have four USB 2.0 ports here, but they’re slower than the connectors on the front, and so only suitable for peripherals rather than storage devices.

The Pavilion gaming system has the same internal design as the consumer machines, but the front panel uses slatted black plastic, and there’s a customisable RGB LED. The gaming rig has a better power supply to accommodate the graphics card, but it has no optical drive.

All of these machines include a keyboard and mouse set. The peripherals included with the Pavilion are comfortable and snappy enough for everyday use, but keen gamers or typists will want to find more robust and satisfying hardware.

What about the HP Pavilion All-In-One?

The HP Pavilion range doesn’t just include tower systems. HP also produces a couple of all-in-one machines with this branding.

The Pavilion all-in-one systems come in 24inch and 27inch guises, and both have 1080p displays, so they’re ideal if you don’t have the space for a desktop tower and a separate screen. They’re a great option if you don’t want the size and hassle of a tower PC, or if you want to slot a more stylish computer inside your living room. They’ve been designed to look like iMacs too, and are very stylish.

Because all-in-one systems have to cram components into smaller spaces, they use laptop hardware on the inside. That is not necessarily a problem: HP offers Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 processors inside these rigs, and they’re all capable of handling everyday browsing, office tasks and schoolwork. The Ryzen 7 and Core i7 CPUs can tackle more demanding tasks like video editing software , too.

Elsewhere, the all-in-one desktops have 512GB SSDs, 8GB of memory and integrated graphics cores, so they’re suitable for everyday tasks but not gaming. They’ve got dual-band wireless, Bluetooth 5.0 and Gigabit Ethernet, and they come with a keyboard and mouse, just like the desktop towers.

HP’s all-in-one systems don’t have quite as many USB ports as the desktop towers and they don’t have SD card slots or DVD drives, and internal access is restricted compared to a desktop PC. So if you need these things, you’ll have to get external peripherals. An all-in-one is a trade-off, then – you lose connectivity and access, but you gain a good-quality screen and a sleek, smart design.

HP Pavilion: User reviews

Customers review HP Pavilion machines on HP’s website and the websites of third-party retailers, and it’s a great way to gauge how the real-world performance of these systems.

Plenty of people are impressed with the rapid performance of these PCs, with ample speed for everyday tasks. Customers also praised the broad choice of ports, the small and light case design and the system’s quiet operation. Lots of people were also pleased with the easy-to-understand setup instructions and the quiet, comfortable keyboard.

People also noticed downsides. Lots of customers found that the Pavilion had mediocre build quality, with some flimsy metal panels, and others wished these machines had larger hard drives. That’s something we definitely noted – the SSD sizes simply aren’t as generous as with the Dell Inspiron range , for example.

HP Pavilion: Customer service

HP’s support section takes your PC’s model or serial number and loads a selection of customised content, which is useful.

You can easily access your system’s drivers, updates and utilities, with an extremely comprehensive selection of software available. There are manuals to download and guides for solving common problems. HP also offers diagnostic tools that fix problems without any user intervention required, which is ideal for people who aren’t tech-savvy. There’s no sign of a forum here, though, which is a shame.

A standard one-year warranty covers the Pavilion, but it’s possible to buy the HP Care Pack, which provides one or two years of extra coverage alongside improved phone support, access to hardware repairs and a door-to-door service.

HP’s support section is more comprehensive than Acer’s offering, which feels bare in comparison. However, companies like Dell still go further in this regard, with a busy forum and slicker software.

Should you buy an HP Pavilion?

The HP Pavilion range serves up effective everyday computers, but nothing special or standout in any area. The three core machines can handle web browsing, schoolwork and office applications, and the Core i7 version is suitable for content creation. The Pavilion looks good, has solid connectivity and is small, and it comes with a keyboard and mouse, which does save you some money. If you’re searching for unfussy and effective daily driver, the HP Pavilion is ideal.

The all-in-one version is a stylish and capable machine, too, and it looks sleeker than the desktop rig – it’s ideal if you don’t have much space. The gaming variant is worth considering if you want a small home PC to handle esports titles and mainstream games, but we really wouldn’t recommend HP for serious gaming.

As ever, though, these affordable home PCs aren’t suitable for all situations. If you want to run top-end games or tough work tasks, then you’ll be better off looking elsewhere, and other PCs will be more suitable if you want a computer that you can upgrade easily in the future.

Which HP Pavilion PC should you choose?

If you need a computer for basic everyday tasks, like browsing the web and checking emails, the Core i3 option is effective. The Core i5 variant is perfect for busy households where parents need to get work done and kids need a system for homework, and the Core i7 specification is the best choice if you want a system to tackle tougher situations, like photo editing.

The gaming version is the only viable option if you want a system that can tackle esports and single-player gaming alongside your everyday home use, but they’re not as powerful as proper gaming PCs.

That leaves the 24inch and 27inch all-in-one machines. The AMD Ryzen 5 models are suitable for everyday use, while the Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 specifications are good options for a broad range of tasks, from running browser-based tools to handling photo editing.

Both all-in-one systems are stylish options for the living room or home office, and the choice comes down to which components you need – and which size is more suitable for your situation.