A Deep Dive Into The HP Pavilion 690
This machine is a gaming computer, meaning that on top of functioning as an ordinary personal computer, it also has the processing and graphics power to run the massive programs that are part and parcel of nearly all modern video games.
Anything remotely realistic these days will take up tens if not hundreds of gigabytes. Gaming computers are often loaded with extra memory, dedicated graphics cards, and the most powerful processors on the market to handle these mammoth functions.
These added components are, of necessity, larger and heavier than their more pedestrian counterparts, to the point where this added bulk is visible from the outside. These machines are invariably heavier as well, although that would be more relevant for a gaming laptop than a tower computer. They will tend to run hotter, too, if only because they can; this gaming computer can easily create temperatures that will make it dangerous to touch the fan cover without lagging or glitching at all.
Because gaming computers need to connect controllers, consoles, and other media besides just a mouse and keyboard, you can expect to see far more ports than a regular PC might include, and in a much greater variety. Of course, physical connections aren’t all this computer has to offer; both Bluetooth and Wifi are enabled alongside a physical ethernet connection, allowing plenty of options for online play and connecting any ancillary device you need for a given game.
See Also: Lenovo IdeaPad 320 Celeron Review
Each of these connectivity options has automatic channel selection, which detects the demand from any device and adjusts the channel bandwidth accordingly. This allows you to keep your devices hooked up without sending more bandwidth than necessary to each one, saving extra channel power for higher demand.
The default operating system is Windows 10 Home, known around the world for being a brisk and flexible enough system for even the most demanding titles at high settings. It comes with 5.1 surround sound enabled, letting you plunge straight into your favorite game or movie with 3D audio reproduction that can make you feel like the sound is coming from anywhere in the room, giving a vastly more immersive experience than a simple front-facing speaker or even a soundbar.
There are three distinct parts to this computer’s memory, each one of formidable power and performing a different task for the user. First up is a two-terabyte hard drive, capable of storing all of your favorite games and other media with room to spare; these are all processed by a 32-gigabyte processor that can handle the massive amounts of data needed to run a detailed video game, and 4 GB of dedicated graphics processing that handles nothing but your visual experience.
The last piece is of course a 512GB solid-state drive; these drives are many times the speed of ordinary disks and are used for the system partition and regular browsing files, letting you call them up in a hurry without taking up space on your main disk. This gives the Pavilion incredible startup time; the solid-state drive loads the system in a second or two, letting you begin using it without waiting for the hard disk to spin up and read the operating system.
All chips are made by AMD, including the graphics card and the CPU; both are easy enough to upgrade if need be, and there are three other slots for dedicated processing units to be installed. Please note that changing components is almost certain to void any warranty on this device, either from the seller or the manufacturer, and should be done only by experienced technicians and under workshop conditions.
Serious gamers are also advised to visit the manufacturer’s web site and check their favorite titles against the official list of games that this computer can support. Trying to run an unsupported game can mean anything from losing your online redemption code to actually bricking your computer.
These expensive and frustrating consequences can be easily avoided by a quick cross-reference of the HP Pavilion 690 with whatever games you usually play or intend to get; if you can’t find it on the manufacturer’s website, check the came itself, or seek out online help based on the specifications of both the game and the Pavilion.
Who’s It For?
The simple answer here is ‘gamers’, of course, but even within that category, there are those who will and will not appreciate the Pavilion. This is a relative midrange model, making it most ideal for casual gaming or high-performance office work. Those intending to play competitively or wanting to hook up multiple players might need to look elsewhere.
As a family computer or office workstation, this is a bit of overkill; you would be spending a fair amount on graphics and connectivity that simply won’t get used enough to justify the expense. It has a certain amount of potential as a host machine if you are intending to run a website; the many network connections and active bandwidth monitoring make it a good choice for handling server traffic both in and out.
This computer is, of course, a PC, and so is unlikely to replace your gaming console without considerable prior effort to back up and transfer all games in question. It can form an excellent core for a home theater or smart home; the added audio and video power will work just as well on your favorite shows and movies as they do for video games, and the many different I/O ports mean that you can hook up your entertainment system with minimal added parts or labor.
What We Like About The HP Pavilion 690
As obvious as it may sound, one of the best things about this machine is that it works well as a gaming computer; the processors and performance handle demanding titles with minimal difficulty and seem to be up to the task of high graphics and demanding online play. There is plenty of space on the computer too, so you can load it up with all your favorite diversions and not need to worry about deleting one while installing the next.
The wealth of ports on this computer is a big plus; along with the audio and USB jacks you’d expect on any computer, there is also an integrated SD port, USB-C, and HDMI to widen your connectivity options. Don’t feel ‘tethered’ to the ports, either; this machine supports up to 1000 bit Ethernet, 802.11 WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2 in case struggling with cables isn’t on your to-do list.
A solid-state drive for the system partition is a welcome inclusion in any computer, keeping boot times short and clearing up the full power of the hard disk to handle your games. The selection of Windows 10 means that buyers will be getting a relatively recent operating system that is likely to stay supported for a while.
All the chips are made by AMD, which reduces compatibility errors and allows the customer to turn to a single support service for any issues with this machine. If you decide to switch to Intel or upgrade to a more powerful chipset, the Pavilion is built to be highly user-serviceable; the graphics card especially can be swapped freely, and there are multiple other dedicated processor slots just waiting to be put to use.
Check Also: 12 Best Gaming Tablets Under $200
What We Don’t Like About The HP Pavilion 690
One flaw that is immediately obvious is the price; even among comparable gaming computers, this machine is quite expensive. In fact, it’s almost double the price of its nearest competitors, enough to make even the most dedicated gamers think twice before buying.
The lack of a VGA port is disappointing, especially at that price; one would expect a certain amount of compatibility with other generations. Adapters are readily available, of course, but this level of computer should come with at least one such port integrated into the device.
Having the system, memory, and processor all on different drives would be much more helpful if they all worked together properly, but this is not always the case; many users report the need to rearrange certain files between drives to feel the full benefits of that setup, a tricky process that can cause irreversible damage if done incorrectly. This problem is compounded by the graphics card, which creates yet another distinct storage drive and processor unit to be integrated into the system.
Although all of these components are expected in a high-end gaming PC, not all gamers will be happy with those included. The gaming community has for some time turned to NVIDIA and GeForce as the best graphics card providers, and the Intel processors are generally the more sought after ones when compared with AMD.
Despite being a gaming computer, gaming hardware such as controllers or joysticks are not supported by default and require added driver installation before use. Pairing with WiFi and Bluetooth is also touchy; like most desktop computers, the Pavilion does its best work when hardwired to whatever is being connected.
Emissions are as much of an issue here as they are on any high-performance gaming setup, whether PC or console. Although the computer itself will continue performing normally, the fan noise and temperature can rapidly reach unacceptable levels during longer rounds in front of the screen.
- Multiple connectivity options
- Good performance
- Solid-state drive with a system partition
- VR gaming supported
- Unified chipset reduces customer service complications
- Higher emissions than usual, especially when under load
- Nearly double the price of comparable machines
As with most computers or computer accessories, the bulk of the value is going to be in the product itself; this package contains only the computer tower, power cable, and a mouse and keyboard to go with it.
Some of the more immediately noticeable omissions are the monitor, or even the cables to connect to a visual display; although you are in fact buying the tower and not the display, you’ll hardly be gaming without a screen. Even an HDMI cable to connect with would have been an improvement.
No audio solutions are included, either headphones or speakers. While these are not as critical to a gaming experience as the screen, no one will deny that they add a considerable amount to the experience and will be sorely missed by buyers hoping to sit down and play in a hurry.
There’s one last thing missing, a lot smaller but in some ways just as important – an adapter set for older accessories. Many gaming consoles or PC’s come with some way to hook up older technology; this tower doesn’t, which could be a problem for gamers hoping to get their golden oldies up to speed.
The product bears the same physical description as many computer towers, that of a sleek black box; it measures 11” x 6.7” x 13.3” and weighs 11.4 lbs with no modification. At the moment, it is only available in HP’s trademark Shadow Black matte finish.
Despite the gaming community’s widespread preference for other manufacturers, the chipset in this machine is made entirely by AMD and consists of a Ryzen 32 GB DDR4 processor and a two-terabyte Radeon hard drive. There is also a 512 GB solid-state drive containing the system partition and a certain amount of pedestrian memory or smaller files such as text.
That solid-state drive is actually one of the causes of discontent with this model; although it does make boot times drastically shorter by loading the native Windows 10 operating system much faster, it can cause compatibility issues and lead to a user saving a file not only to the wrong folder but the wrong drive. While not irreversible, that does make it exceptionally hard to find the file in question.
The DVD drive can both read and write to a hosted disk, as can the full-size SD card slot. Other physical ports include an HDMI screen hookup, USB B and C, and audio jacks for both speakers and mic so that you can stay connected with your team.
There are plenty of ways to link up with this computer even if you don’t have anything that suits those ports; with 802.11 WiFi supported, you can take advantage of the cloud without worrying about a relatively fragile modem or internet connection. For more local devices, such as your mouse or keyboard, you can rely on the Bluetooth 4.2 receptor to keep multiple devices acting smoothly in tandem.
HP packages this computer with a keyboard and mouse, as well as a power cable; while all are serviceable and should hold up to regular use, they are not gaming accessories and will likely disappoint should they be subjected to the high-speed and high-pressure keystrokes of competitive gaming.
Audio isn’t the main feature of a gaming computer of any kind, but this one still packs a full in and output audio and supports 5.1 surround sound for an immersive gaming experience. The graphics card is to a certain degree the opposite and acquits itself quite nicely while delivering Radeon RX 580 graphics performance over even relatively heavy titles.
You probably shouldn’t cover this thing, especially when using it for more demanding games or videos; the fan struggles even to maintain a temperate temperature, much less a cooler one. The Pavilion’s noise output is also higher than one might otherwise expect – or tolerate – but drops quickly once you take the high graphics offscreen.
Despite being a gaming computer, this does not come with most device drivers installed for common brands of PC game controllers, an oversight given the time and effort needed to manually locate and install them from a trusted source. While this leaves controllers, joysticks, and proprietary game hardware such as music game sets out in the cold, a notable exception is a virtual reality; the Pavilion is VR ready, so you can jump in immediately if you happen to have your headset on hand.
As already mentioned, the chipset is not the favorite brand of many gamers, but it is all from a single manufacturer, granting a helpful level of performance consistency and reducing the number of customer service centers to call should something go wrong. In polite deference to their secondary market, the manufacturer has made all of the chips involved readily accessible and easily serviceable, so an experienced user or technician can swap the components out in the space of an hour or two at the most.
If you are not such an experienced individual, do not attempt this yourself. Removing components or placing them improperly can cause serious and permanent damage that leaves your computer ‘bricked’, a euphemism for any accident that damages the device to the point where it will not turn on.
The main appeal of this computer is that it actually is an excellent game engine, capable of running your fastest games and highest particle rates as long as it takes you to beat whatever level you’re stuck on. The audio and video processors are both well up to the task, and there is enough memory to hold all the biggest games on the market.
When considered against most of the competition, though, the Pavilion loses a fair amount of its shine; it is more expensive and contains a less-used chipset than most, and lacks a degree of backward compatibility that is generally expected in gaming PCs at this level.
It is worth noting that its capacity for highly demanding games is only as of this writing; newer and better games are coming out all the time, and most of the big production studios are in perpetual competition to create the most detailed and demanding game on the market. Gamers should be prepared either to upgrade this computer or get a new one as new titles become available.
Getting a gaming computer means laying out a significant amount of money; these computers are designed to compete with large, dedicated gaming consoles, and their commensurate added cost is inevitably passed on to the buyer. Before selecting one, take a long moment to ask yourself if it is really within your price range; too many people find themselves out too much money by telling themselves ‘we’ll just live without a few things’.
Additionally, you may want to consider a gaming laptop instead of the HP Pavilion; it is virtually guaranteed to be smaller and lighter and has the added advantage of a battery that will let it survive power outages. This is especially true if you happen to find one with comparable specifications; even if you can’t, perhaps a slight dip in the game quality will be worth the added mobility nonetheless.
Such a significant expense is definitely worth shopping around for; check for stores with sales and look for online coupon codes that might make your purchase a little easier. Additionally, if ordering online, try to ask for a live representative; many vendors authorize salespeople to reduce the price unilaterally if they think it might close a sale.
If you do not already have them, buy some kind of nonskid mounting for the feet on the bottom of the computer, and a rubber mat for it to sit on. This will give a nearly impenetrable friction effect to hold your computer in place wherever it is stationed, protecting you from a careless child or pet knocking it over on their way past.
It is absolutely worth getting a warranty for something this big, and as soon as possible. Ideally, the vendor should sell it with a warranty; if they don’t, the manufacturer certainly does, and you as a buyer should never be afraid to demand one or put the product back on the shelves.
One more point for buyers to be aware of, as mechanical as it may seem: gaming computers contain a lot of exceptionally powerful computer drives and are heavier than they look. Once you’ve picked yours off the shelf, make sure you are lifting with the knees and not with the back.
Although this is more a matter of backseat versus actual driving than it is a matter of buying the computer. If the store will let you, go for an installment plan, or get a trial period to determine whether or not this computer is right for your house.
Frequently Asked Questions
How well does this play VR games?
VR games are a relatively new trend and the quality of a user’s experience is more likely to be dictated by the quality of the headset than the computer tower it’s linked to. As long as it’s one of the VR headset models with a preinstalled driver, this computer should handle a virtual reality environment as well as any other that you ask it to play.
What are the options for cross-platform compatibility on this computer?
Cross-platforms are tricky unless the game disc itself is for multiple platforms or the game as released on a generic service like Steam. In most cases, you will need to find and run an emulator program to ‘trick’ the game into thinking it is being run on the console for which it is designed; If the game has a unique controller, there is a good chance a physical adapter will be necessary to make it playable on the Pavilion.
Are there any applications besides gaming that would justify this computer’s price tag?
Only to the extent that it will still run them; if you are not planning on using the gaming capacity, then there really isn’t much left of the Pavilion. There are a few things you could try, of course; nearly any level of home entertainment system will be glad to see the audio and video capabilities that this computer’s game-ready processors can provide.
If by some chance you have high-performance work to do, like compiling code or heavy video editing, you might be able to get some use out of the Pavilion for that as well. Although originally intended to host large gaming parties on a single match, the web connection is also strong enough for this computer to serve as a server if you happen to be hosting a website.
Is there anything for which this computer is definitely the wrong choice?
This is far from being a family computer; while it does technically come with the Windows 10 Home operating system and can support multiple accounts, the value of the product simply isn’t in being a family workstation for school papers. For the same reason, it is not recommended for any public uses, such as a library or classroom.
The other hard no for this computer is when shopping on a budget; while this might be the computer you want, there are other models to go for if money is at all an issue.