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Maximum PC Staff

Sep 24, 2013

HP Envy 23 TouchSmart

At A Glance

Envy

Sharp screen; beefy HDD.

Greed

Underperforming GPU; overpriced.

Clean-and-simple design at a premium price

We have to hand it to HP . Despite all the trendy all-in-one PC/tablet hybrid designs coming out, its new HP Envy 23 opts for a more traditional space-efficient AiO.

The included keyboard and mouse can be neatly tucked under the monitor.

The 23-inch panel sits atop a sturdy base and is adjustable to 40 degrees. A 3-inch gap between the monitor and the 17x8-inch base lets you stow the keyboard under the monitor when not in use. Though hardly innovative, it gets the job done.

For amenities, the Envy 23 offers a slot-load Blu-ray combo drive and an HDMI-out port on the right; four USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, an external audio-out on the back; and two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone/mic jack, and an SD card reader on the left. Finally, the power button is located on top of the display, which isn’t exactly ideal, as we found ourselves accidentally turning it off when adjusting the monitor.

The monitor itself is a 1920x1080-resolution TN display that looks sharp and sports a very glossy, mirror-like finish. The panel’s vertical off-axis is OK; its horizontal off-axis wasn’t particularly impressive, but that’s par for the course for TN panels. The display supports 10-point touch and is fairly responsive, but compared to, say, this month’s Razer Edge tablet, it was perceptibly slower when dragging a digit across the screen.

Beneath the screen, the Envy 23 is equipped with a 3.1GHz Core i7-3770S, 12GB of dual-channel DDR3/1600, and a GeForce GT 630M. Our particular unit was also loaded with a beefy 3TB hard drive, which is much heftier than our zero-point’s Asus ET2300 1TB solution.

The Envy’s Core i7 processor allowed it to easily lump up the ET2300’s quad-core Core i5-3330 in all of our CPU tests, especially in the multithread-hungry TechArp x264 benchmark, where the Hyper-Threading gives the i7 a 37 percent advantage. To our surprise, though, despite the Envy and ET2300 both sporting GeForce GT 630M GPUs, HP’s offering lagged by 15.5 percent in both our Metro and 3DMark 11 graphics tests. Why? It might be because the Envy’s 630M features a slightly slower .2 GTexel/s texture fill rate and 10MHz slower GPU clock, or it could simply be driver differences. Note to those who want reference drivers: Neither the Asus nor the HP allowed us to run the latest reference drivers.

As a more real-world game workload for the box, we played Portal 2, a nontaxing Source game, and achieved average frame rates in the low 30s on max settings at native resolution, but inconsistent dipping makes this setting ill-advised. On BioShock Infinite, we got an average 31fps on the lowest settings at 1080p, which suggests the game is only playable if you scale down the resolution.

On the audio front, the Envy 23 features Beats Audio, which gives the built-in speakers a nice bassy low end, which even works with headphones plugged-in. The speakers sound better than the ET2300’s flat-sounding thumpers, but they still pale in comparison to a quality 2.1 speaker setup.

The included wireless keyboard is a bit flimsy, but it does its job. The mouse is equally competent, though you’ll probably want to adjust the sensitivity out of the box. Whereas our zero-point features a detachable USB dongle that occupies a USB slot, the Envy’s dongle is built into the PC itself. While that does free up a USB port, it also means you won’t be able to use the peripherals on other computers.

The Envy 23 doesn’t aim to reinvent the wheel and ends up being a decent PC in the process. While it certainly won’t replace your gaming rig, it is a capable workstation/family PC. But at $1,840, it costs a whopping $540 more than the ET2300 without giving our zero-point much to be envious about.

$1,840, www.hp.com

Benchmarks
 Zero-point

Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) 1,192983.0
ProShow Producer 5 (sec) 1,8411,779
x264 HD 5.0 (fps)
9.9
13.6
Metro 2033 (fps)
2218 (-15.5%)
3DMark 11 (min)1,3331,127  (-15.5%)

Our zero-point all-in-one PC is an Asus ET2300 with a 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-3330, 8GB DDR3/1600, 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive, a GeForce GT 630M, and Windows 8. Metro tested at 1280x768 with Medium settings, Tessellation enabled.

Specifications
CPU
3.1GHz Intel Core i7-3770S
GPU Nvidia GeForce GT 630M
RAM 12GB DDR3/1600
HDD 3TB (7,200rpm)
Optical
Blu-ray combo drive
Display23-inch LED backlit TN LCD 1920x1080 (10-point touchscreen)


THE VERDICT

HP Envy 23 TouchSmart

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