Saturday, February 11, 2006

HP Pavilion S7320n Slimline Media Center

HP unveiled their new Pavilion Slimline s7300 Series PC on January 4th of this year at CES which according to their press release "gives consumers all the power of a fully loaded PC in one-third the size of traditional tower PC."

Interestingly HP has selected an Intel Celeron M processor, normally found in low end notebooks. This also means low power consumption, low heat, and potential for a very quiet machine.

Unfortunately this series seems to be avaliable only in the US at this time, so I can't offer any first hand experience. However from the limited user reviews online, all the feedback has been quite positive. Razzl mentions "does all of the things my recently expired full-size desktop did, only silently--no fan noise deafening you"; westernwoman26 mentions "extremely fast and quiet"; and even a SPCR poster Aglio mentions "This thing is very quiet. I'd be surprised if it's 25db at 1m; the loudest thing about it is HDD seek noise. My external HDD makes more noise." Even this Pc Mag review review rates it as "very quiet". Of course the ambient noise level and tolerance for acceptable noise is different for everyone, but initially this sounds promising.

The size although still large for a SFF, at roughly 9.75" x 4.5" x 13.25" can still be considered quite compact. It's roughly twice the volume of the ASUS Pundit, but it's vertical orientation means it could fit nicely under the desk or even on top without occupying too much desktop/floor space. Also the PSU is built in so there is no extra power brick. The more spacious interior also means the possibility of better airflow and more modding options.

An additional plus for this system is that it is very good value. For the higher end s7320n model, this is being sold online for US$550 (excl monitor) and HP is also offering a $50 mail-in-rebate. At only $20 more than the system I built using the Pundit barebone, this system includes a larger 200GB HDD, a faster 16X DVD writer with Lightscribe, and in addition has a 56k modem, 9-in-1 memory card reader, SPDIF connector, and comes with Windows XP Media Center Edition. If purchased seperately an OEM version of MCE sells for around $120, the Celeron M 380 1.6ghz CPU another $120, and around $150 for a 200GB HDD, Lightscribe DVDRW, and card reader. That leaves around $110 for the cost of the remaining barebone which really isn't too bad.

The PC Mag article reviewed the lower end s7310n with a slightly slower Celeron M 360 (1.4Ghz) processor and 512MB RAM. The Sysmark2004SE performance compared to a Sempron 3400+ desktop it was roughly 20% slower, but pretty much on par with a Celeron 340 (2.9 Ghz - non M) desktop. Also it seems that the one PCI slot in this system is occupied by a modem card, if you don't need that function potentially you can replace it with a low profile TV Tuner card or offer other expansion options.

Pictures from PCMag.

More information on the s7320n can be found on HP's PDF spec sheet.


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