Many gamers agree that PCs allow you to better tailor your gaming experience to your needs. Plus, the overall feel of playing with a mouse and keyboard is often better with more competitive games, whether you’re running through rounds in Overwatch or gearing up for another fight in your favorite MOBA.
While our review of the HP Pavilion gaming desktop will speak for itself, newcomers to the PC gaming world have a bit to learn before getting started. And if that sounds like you, it can be helpful to start with a pre-built gaming PC. It allows you to get the full experience of gaming on a PC without the hassle of tracking down and installing every component (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
Before we call out the specifics of the HP Pavilion gaming desktop, let’s do a quick overview of what you should look for as you shop for your gaming desktop.
What to look for in a gaming desktop
When you’re investing in a new gaming desktop, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. To help you out, let’s look at the more crucial internal and external components you need to know about.
Size and design
Gaming PCs come in all shapes and sizes. The HP Pavilion gaming desktop is quite small as gaming PCs go, at just over 13 inches tall, so it doesn't take up a lot of space. Nor does it weigh much; right around 13 lbs. In contrast, some gaming PCs can be incredibly heavy, weighing from 60 to 80 lbs depending on the components. They also often take up more than twice the space of this HP gaming desktop, with some of the largest towers close to two feet tall.
In other words, gaming PCs don’t stick to a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to consider the size of the tower and how much space it will take up when evaluating the overall specs of the gaming PC.
There are certain must-have components when it comes to gaming PCs. These include a powerful processor of 3.5 GHz or more, a discrete 4GB graphics card, at least 8GB of RAM, and a hard drive (or solid-state drive if you can swing it) with enough storage space to hold your games. Altogether, these components make sure your favorite games run at peak efficiency.
Gaming desktop or laptop?
If you are truly serious about PC gaming, we recommend that you invest in a gaming desktop computer as opposed to a gaming laptop.
Before we get into why, it’s important to note that a high-end gaming laptop is a great option if you need a portable device or simply don’t have the room for a desktop PC. We have great options available for this exact case, including those in the high-powered HP OMEN family.
The long and short of this debate comes down to this: the components can be switched out or replaced far more easily in a gaming desktop PC so it is simply easier to upgrade. If you game on a laptop, you may exhaust its specs at some point and need to buy an entirely new device.
It’s actually pretty easy to upgrade many of a desktop’s components yourself. And the HP Pavilion gaming desktop is specifically designed to make upgrading a simple process.
HP Pavilion gaming desktop review
While there are many high-end HP gaming PCs where you can drop a ton of money, HP® has numerous mid-range gaming PCs available as well. Chief among these is the HP Pavilion gaming desktop, which offers impressive value for its cost. It has all the specs you need to start gaming right away with your favorite current-generation titles.
To help you decide whether this computer is the right one for you, here's our complete HP Pavilion gaming desktop review.
Size and measurements
Since the HP Pavilion gaming desktop is diminutive in size, it also doesn't weigh as much as typical gaming rigs. Its dimensions come in at a mere 6.10 x 11.42 x 13.27 inches, and it weighs a mere 13 lbs.
These features make it the ideal computer for those who are tight on space or who don't want a massive tower that takes up a large area on the side of their desk. It’s also a great choice for eSports players who want to bring their gaming rig with them to events, but don’t want to make a chiropractor appointment within a few days of transport.
Accessibility and looks
All it takes is a quick glance to see that the HP Pavilion gaming desktop is one sleek machine. That compact design really strips it down and allows it to do what it does best - function as a great PC for gamers.
The machine tower itself boasts a slim, shadow-black front bezel, along with a stylish acid green chrome HP logo. From there, you have a selection of ports including a combination audio jack, a 3-in-1 media card reader, 4 USB Type-A 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and 2 DIMM slots for RAM.
The extra RAM slot actually gives you a 5% increased efficiency over models with a single DIMM slot. And really, this is about all the functionality you'll ever need on a gaming PC, because you have slots for a high-end gaming mouse, keyboard, gaming headset and microphone, and any other accessories you'll need.
Better still, you can customize your HP Pavilion gaming desktop even more if you need to. It’s actually one of the most customizable pre-built rigs on the market. You can slot in up to 9 USB ports, and you can tinker with the colorful LED lights and other such components.
Processor and memory
The HP Pavilion gaming desktop comes loaded with plenty of computing power. It’s preloaded with an NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 dedicated graphics card, 8GB of DDR4-2666 SDRAM, and the 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 9400 processor. And if that’s not enough, you can upgrade all of those if you need an even more powerful machine.
The HP Pavilion gaming desktop is no slouch when it comes to actual power. It comes standard with 310W, but you can easily move up to 400W of power if you need additional watts after upgrading additional components. Its energy efficiency is also EPEAT® Bronze registered, which means it is independently verified as using sustainable power components by the Green Electronics Council, a leading global ecolabel.
As for the cooling system, this PC uses an enhanced thermal solution. It includes a number of thermal fans that work to keep the PC components at reasonable temperatures during peak performance and feats of gameplay.
Customization is where the HP Pavilion gaming desktop really shines. It offers 3 pre-built customization options that you can further tinker with based on your needs. The options are listed under the labels of Casual Gamer, Campaign Hero, and eSports Pro. You can also opt for a build-your-own customization.
The “For Casual Gamers” label is pretty much self-explanatory. You'll get all of the components and systems needed to be able to play current games on lower graphics settings. However, if you want your PC gaming experience to offer true immersion, we recommend considering the other upgrade options.
A step up from the more standard build, Campaign Hero upgrades virtually all of the components. The aforementioned Intel Core process is swapped out for the higher-powered Intel Core i7 9700 processor, and you also go from 8GB of SDRAM up to 16GB.
That is as much processing power and RAM as you will need to run modern-day games at medium or, in some cases, high graphics settings. In addition, the Campaign Hero build also includes 256GB of SSD storage along with an option to add up to 3TB of secondary HDD storage if you need some extra room for more games, video footage, or anything else.
If you need the best of the best, the eSports Pro build is for you. Keep in mind that you will be paying more, but the price reflects the computer’s increased power. This build further increases the memory to 32GB of SDRAM and throws in an excellent graphics card, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super 8GB (GDDR6 dedicated). This is one of the best graphics cards on the market, and it will definitely help render your favorite high-end PC games in 4K.
Keep in mind that when you customize your HP Pavilion gaming desktop, you actually don't have to use any of the preset builds. If you know what you want and what features you are looking for, you can pick and choose your specs to reach the best combination for you between efficiency, performance, and price.
Accessories to up your game
To really get in the game, you’ll also want a top-notch monitor and accessories to complete your purchase. The HP Pavilion gaming desktop comes bundled with a standard HP black wired keyboard with volume control and a wired optical mouse.
This keyboard and mouse setup is fine for casual gamers, but those looking to up their game may want to upgrade. Fortunately, HP® has got you covered here with the HP OMEN gaming line featuring a number of great options.
Mouse and keyboard
For mice, we recommend the HP OMEN mouse. This is a great mid-range gaming mouse that allows you to adjust things like the DPI and polling rate. It’s a particularly strong choice for first-person shooter fans where hand-eye coordination is crucial because it comes with an optional "Sniper mode" thumb button function to improve your aim.
For a gaming keyboard with the additional capabilities you want, consider the equally stylish HP OMEN keyboard. This mechanical keyboard is crafted specifically for gaming, and it makes keystrokes more fluid than ever. It also lights up with red and white LED lights to indicate the most important keys and provide easy access to them.
Monitor and headset
Two more must-buy items are a gaming monitor and a gaming headset, primarily because neither is included with your PC purchase. For a monitor, we recommend an HP gaming monitor. It’s a comprehensive, stunning display that works seamlessly with the HP Pavilion gaming desktop. Alternatively, an HP OMEN gaming monitor, such as an HP OMEN monitor, is a great option as well.
For a gaming headset, you can't go wrong with the HP OMEN Mindframe prime headset. It offers excellent sound and mic quality, along with earcup cooling technology to keep you comfortable when you reach the final few squads in Fortnite or Apex Legends.
Who could use the HP Pavilion gaming desktop?
The HP Pavilion gaming desktop is a great choice for those looking to try out PC gaming. It has numerous features that give it capability beyond other mid-range gaming PCs for its price point. This includes the quality of the components as well as the level of customizability. It also is quite the compact machine, making it the perfect gaming PC for those in a college dorm or in a starter apartment.
While there are other gaming PCs on the market, you’ll struggle to find one that provides this amount of value at the HP Pavilion’s price point. That’s why the HP Pavilion gaming desktop is the perfect machine for those who are looking to get started in PC gaming to see if it is truly for them.
Plus, more serious gamers can easily upgrade and customize this gaming PC to their specifications, essentially turning it into a powerhouse that rivals other high-end gaming PCs on the market. Whether you’re a newbie or a PC gaming vet, you really just can't go wrong with the HP Pavilion gaming desktop.
Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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