When we heard HP was building its latest TouchSmart with Intel’s Core i7 processor, we figured it was game-over for the competition: Lenovo and Sony use quad-cores, too, but they both tapped Intel’s Core 2 Quad. MSI picked an even less capable Core 2 Duo (and priced its machine accordingly). But when the benchmarking dust had cleared, HP sat in third place across the board. What happened?
We should have remembered that HP likes to use mobile processors in its TouchSmart line. In this case, a 1.6GHz Core i7-720QM. That’s a capable enough proc, but the older (and cheaper) Core 2 Quad that Lenovo and Sony picked is a desktop model running at 2.66GHz. So even the larger cache, integrated memory controller, Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost technology, and other goodies tucked inside the Core i7-720QM don’t compensate for the mobile proc’s lower clock speed.
HP stays at the top of the all-in-one heap by virtue of its excellent touch-screen display and software that takes great advantage of it.
HP uses a discrete mobile GPU: Nvidia’s GeForce GT 230M paired with 1GB of dedicated GDDR3 memory in a mobile PCI Express module (the same graphics configuration used in the TouchSmart 600-1055 we reviewed in March). The mainboard is a Pegatron E66 with Intel’s HM57 chipset. Our eval unit came equipped with 6GB of 1,333MHz DDR3 memory (one 2GB stick and one 4GB stick running in dual-channel mode).
The TouchSmart 600-1155 is priced $280 higher than the fastest all-in-one we reviewed (Lenovo’s IdeaCentre B500-08873AU sells for $1,400) but it’s $320 cheaper than the second-fastest rig (Sony’s VAIO VPCL117FX, which at $2,000 was the most expensive all-in-one here). The TouchSmart, however, was twice as fast as MSI’s budget offering (the Wind Top AE2220, priced at just $950). So why exactly are we calling this match for the HP? Because it delivers many more features than you’ll encounter in other all-in-one designs. The entries from MSI and Sony feature touch-screen displays (Lenovo’s does not), but HP is the only manufacturer to take the technology to the next step with both a touch-optimized user interface that sits atop Windows 7 and applications—including Hulu and Netflix clients, a custom web browser, and more—that take maximum advantage of that UI.
All four machines feature integrated webcams, but the one built into the TouchSmart delivered far superior image quality and it tilts, so you can use it seated or standing. All four machines come with TV tuners, but only HP thought to include an IR emitter and A/V inputs, so you can control and record from a cable or satellite set-top box. All-in-ones aren’t gaming powerhouses, but only HP, MSI, and Sony thought to include an HDMI input, so you can plug in your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and use the computer’s display.
Best-in-breed touch-screen; excellent webcam; IR emitter; 6GB DDR3.
Relatively slow CPU; relies on external power brick.
Intel 1.6GHz Core i7-720QM
Intel HM57 Express
6GB DDR3/1333 in dual-channel mode
Nvidia GeForce GT 230M with 1GB memory
23-inch multitouch LCD, 1920x1080 resolution
Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth
1TB Hitachi HD721010SLA360
Blu-ray player / DVD burner combo drive
HP TouchSmart 600-1155
Premiere Pro CS3
144 sec (-.7%)
Our test bed consists of a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, two EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX cards in SLI mode, a Western Digital 150GB Raptor and 500GB Caviar hard drive, an LG GGC-H20L optical drive, a Sound Blaster X-Fi, and a PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad. OS is Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.