The HP Pavilion a5060a looks sleek and has an interesting new feature - a removable hard drive bay, which gives casual PC users some useful functionality that's usually reserved for enthusiasts. It runs fairly quietly, allows for some basic upgrades, and will handle a number of everyday tasks, making it a good all-round machine.
The glossy black finish and silver trimming gives this machine a stylish look and feel. The most important and commonly used ports are easily accessible from the front panel, including two USB 2.0 ports, audio connectors and FireWire. There's also a colossal 15-in-1 media card reader, supporting CF I/II, SM, MMC, SD, MS,MS-Pro, Micro Drive, xD Media, miniSD, MS Duo, MS Duo Pro, RSMMC, MMC+ and MMC Mobile, so there's almost no chance of owning an unsupported card.
The Pavilion has an Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz CPU and 1GB of 533MHz DDR2 RAM and comes pre-installed with the Windows Vista Home Premium edition operating system. It also has a GeForce 7500LE graphics card which scored 10495 in 3DMark 2001 SE. This is enough power to run older games and will run the Aero interface within vista. The graphics card also has support for both DVI and VGA monitor connections.
In our encoding test, which tests the CPUs ability to encode 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, the HP Pavilion a5060a managed to complete the task in two minutes and twenty six seconds. This isn't an excellent score for a desktop PC, but will do for casual users.
The removable hard drive bay is designed to be used exclusively with the HP Pocket Media Drive. This is a proprietary hard drive designed by HP with up to 120GB of storage capacity. The Pocket Media Drive slots into the bay on the front of the PC and ejects at the press of a button. The device has a USB interface, so it can be connected to PCs without the drive bay, and is handy for transporting large amounts of data.
A 250GB (7200) hard drive is used for the main system drive and the LightScribe DVD re-writer can handle all your optical storage requirements. The single hard drive cage is mounted in a vertical position, and can be removed by way of two screws and a release lever. The cage has space to add another hard drive as well, for future upgrades. Adding or removing optical drives and external 3.5in drives, such as Floppy drives, require the fascia to be removed, which is an easy process, and can be easily slotted in and out using the tool-free clip and lever system. One 5.25in drive bay is free for any additional optical drives.
The motherboard is an ATX form factor, but has been mounted on the opposite panel in the case to where it is normally positioned, and is mounted upside down. The theory behind this is that the hottest parts of the computer, the expansion cards, are at the top, while the CPU is down the bottom with the coolest air. It's a good idea, but seems unnecessary in this PC, as there's little heat emission. Also, the only extraction fan is placed on the rear panel at the bottom of the case so it can cool the CPU but since the hot air will rise to the top of the machine, this fan is rather redundant.
The PCI Express 16x slot is occupied with the GeForce 7500LE graphics card, but this can be replaced by any top end card with a PCI Express interface. A further three PCI slots are available for other devices, such as TV-tuners and wireless cards. A 300watt power supply (PSU) comes with the system, so a more powerful PSU should be purchased if any serious hardware upgrades are to be done.
The rear panel has a further four USB 2.0 ports, another FireWire port, and analogue ports for 7.1 audio, as well as coaxial ports for digital audio in and out. There is also a LAN port, which supports 10/100 Ethernet connections and a wired multimedia keyboard and mouse are also included.