So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a desktop PC
A reasonably priced mid-range HP desktop PC
- Reasonably priced, good performance, comprehensive connectivity
- Difficult to upgrade hard drive, preinstalled software is largely unnecessary
The HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a has a few design flaws and a lot of unnecessary software, which could irk tech-savvy users. However, as a basic homework and multimedia desktop PC, it's a well-priced option that delivers good performance
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
The HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a desktop PC is small and well-priced, though it doesn't come with a monitor. It's equipped with a mid-range Core i3 processor, which is more than enough for homework and even some light video editing, while its graphics card will handle older, DirectX 9–based games.
As its name suggests, the HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a isn't a full tower PC. Like the Dell Inspiron 545s, this is a small form factor desktop PC, which means it has an emphasis on looks and space-saving rather than upgradeability. It looks attractive, though it's likely to sit in a corner or under a desk rather than in plain sight, so its aesthetics aren't particularly important.
Connectivity, however, is important — and here the Pavilion Slim S5380a certainly excels. There are eight USB 2.0 ports (two are accessible from the front), Gigabit Ethernet, 6-pin FireWire, as well as DVI and HDMI ports. You can directly insert SD, MemoryStick and xD memory cards through a reader on the front. Audio outputs include a headphone jack on the front, as well as an optical TOSLINK port and surround sound 3.5mm jacks for a 7.1 speaker setup.
The HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a desktop PC has integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi. A wireless keyboard and mouse combo is bundled with the PC, though you'll need to plug in a USB dongle for the peripherals to work.
Though we understand the desktop PC's lack of expansion options, we would have liked swapping out the hard drive for greater storage (or in case of failure) to be easier. It's easy enough to open the side and front panels, but Torx head screws on the interior fan and optical drive brace make it hard to upgrade the hard drive.
Configuration and performance
The HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a desktop PC comes equipped with a dual-core Intel Core i3-530 processor clocked at 2.93GHz, along with 4GB of DDR3 memory. Like the Core i5-661, the Core i3-530 has an integrated graphics controller, and the enclosure even has a spare DVI port that could be used in conjunction with the CPU. However, HP has blocked this port and forgone the integrated graphics in favour of an ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics adapter with 512MB of dedicated memory.
The desktop PC also comes with a 500GB 7200rpm Seagate hard drive and a DVD burner with LightScribe capability.
|Model||Price||WorldBench 6||3DMark06||3DMark Vantage||iTunes Encoding
|HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a||$1199||121||3574||P818||54s||50s|
|Apple Mac Mini||$999||N/A||N/A||N/A||1m 33s||N/A|
|Dell Inspiron 545s||$1199||88||1780||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|MSI CR620||$1199||93||1665||N/A||1m 15s||1m 9s|
|HP Pavilion All-In-One MS212a||$1199||58||N/A||N/A||3m 5s||2m 27s|
|Medion akoya P4010||$1299||87||1316||N/A||1m 21s||1m 23s|
The HP Pavilion Slim S5380a performed particularly well when loading cached Web pages and multitasking, but fell behind during processor-intensive tasks like 3D rendering. It also performed much better than computers with lower-specced Core i3 processors, like the one used by MSI's CR620 notebook, particularly when encoding media.
Graphics performance isn't too bad for a low-end machine. While the Pavilion Slimline S5380a won't cope with the latest games, it will be able to play older DirectX 9 games like Half-Life 2. Unfortunately, the low-profile enclosure limits expansion options for those who want a little more grunt.
Like many current HP desktop PCs and notebooks, the Pavilion Slimline S5380a is littered with preinstalled software, most of which you'll probably never use. Some of it is useful; the MediaSmart software, for example, provides a good central dock for viewing multimedia and it even has a surprisingly good entry-level video editing suite if you just need to compile separate clips. However, the inability to choose which software is included when setting up the computer and HP's customised setup process itself initially make this desktop PC harder to use than it should be.
The Pavilion Slimline S5380a sits at a reasonable price point considering its performance. Though it doesn't come with a monitor, it's a great value option for most homes.
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