If you're a casual user of PCs - someone that just browses the web, sends a few emails, listens to music and watches the the odd video - buying a PC can be a complete minefield. On the one hand you don’t want to spend more than you need and on the other you don’t want to be stuck with a complete melon. And, god forbid, you might even want something that looks quite nice too.
Of course, there are plenty of systems to be had for very little money but they tend to fall short in the looks department or they include unnecessary extras like speakers and TV tuners. For some reason few companies seem to get it quite right. However, HP is hoping to change all that with its latest slim and sleek line, the Pavilion S3000.
The S3000 is aimed squarely at the home user who wants a computer with enough horsepower for all those normal tasks but with none of the extra frills and, perhaps most importantly, that they’d be happy to have sitting proudly on their desk.
The model range is split up into two lines, one using Intel CPUs and chipsets and the other using AMD CPUs and nVidia chipsets. Each range offers a cheaper single core version (around £350) and a more expensive dual-core version which also has more RAM, a larger hard drive and better graphics. Whether you choose AMD or Intel I’d always recommend forking out the extra for the dual-core version as that extra core makes a huge difference even for the lowly tasks that most of us perform.
The particular model I’m looking at today, the S3040, uses AMDs dual-core Athlon 64 X2 3800+, and comes with 2GB memory, a 320GB hard drive, nVidia GeForce 7300 LE graphics, and a multi-format CD/DVD rewriter drive with LightScribe technology - this allows you to flip the disc over when it's done burning and etch your own custom label. Coming in at £475 for the lot, it isn’t the cheapest computer on the market but it more than makes up for it in style and performance.
Measuring just 27.5cm high, 11cm across, and 33.5cm deep, the S3000 series chassis is among the smallest we’ve seen for a fully featured PC, and, once you’ve taken the stickers off, it’s got to be one of the best looking as well.
The subtle tilt imparted by the extended fascia lifting the front of the PC off the desk is one of those design elements that at first you don’t notice but you later realise lends a lot to the overall appeal. The actual purpose of leaving a gap underneath the case is to enable air to flow under it and into the ventilation mesh on the underside. It’s this clever doubling up of form and function that is evident throughout the case and, in particular, continues on the front of the fascia.