The review model we were sent had the capable 1.9GHz i3-4025U processor rather than the bog-standard Pentium 3558U some models are stuck with.
Alongside the base model and the model we reviewed, HP also offers a nippier Mini in the form of an i5-5200U coupled with 8GB of RAM, rather than the 4GB in our model. 500GB or 1TB storage options are available (with our model featuring the latter, larger drive).
Depending on where you purchase the Pavilion Mini from, you may find a HP-branded keyboard and mouse thrown in, although it's a pretty cheap wireless combo that doesn't exactly match the Pavilion Mini's Apple-esque aesthetics.
The full specifications of the model we reviewed are as follows:
- CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i3-40255U.
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500.
- RAM: 4GB 1,600MHZ DDR3 SDRAM.
- Storage: 1TB 5,400rpm HDD.
- Optical drive: N/A.
- Ports: 4 x USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, headphone/microphone jack, SD Card.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet.
- Size: 144mm x 144mm x 52mm (W x D x H).
- OS: 64-bit Windows 8 (Upgradable to Windows 10)
On paper the specification doesn't look bad for such a diminutive unit, and indeed real-world performance was better than I had anticipated from such a tiny package. The Pavilion Mini booted in just a few seconds, and video streaming at 1080p didn't seem to be an issue.
After dabbling in a few of the bundled programs I wasn't ever left feeling like HP's mini PC was being massively overworked, although this is certainly no powerhouse of a machine.
More powerful options are available for a very similar price to the mid-range Pavilion Mini, including the equally white and curvaceous, but slightly larger, Acer Revo R85L, or even the Mac Mini, both of which come in at around £399 (Around $499 in the US, or AU$620).
It's unlikely that anyone would buy the HP Pavilion Mini with 3D gaming or other high-end tasks like video-editing in mind, but to make a fair comparison with other mini PCs we ran it through the usual range of tests.
Here's how the HP Pavilion Mini performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
- 3D Mark: Cloud Gate: 3489; Sky Diver: 2,212; Fire Strike: 477
- Cinebench: CPU (single): 60 points; CPU (multi): 116 points; Graphics: 18fps
- PC Mark 8 (Home Test): 2,347 points
I was pleasantly surprised to see Futuremark's Cloud Gate benchmark play out at a reasonable frame-rate, and while the more intensive Sky Diver and Fire Strike tests ran at considerably lower speeds (rarely making it out of single-digit frame rates), they did at least run, which is more than can be said for some miniature PCs we've seen.
Of course, scores are considerably lower than the gaming-centric Maingear Spark, which managed over 5,000 in the Cloud Gate demo, but the Pavilion Mini wiped the floor with the cut-price Asus EeeBox, which only managed less than half the score.
In Cinebench the Pavilion Mini managed CPU scores that were about on par with the Intel NUC, although GPU scores were considerably better, proving that the Intel HD 4400 graphics are far from being the laughing stock they were only a few years ago.
The HP Pavilion Mini comes loaded with Windows 8.1, and can easily be upgraded to Windows 10. While Windows 8 may not have been everyone's operating system of choice, the second iteration of Microsoft's outgoing OS copes well on lower-end configurations such as this, even if it generally feels like it's more suited to touchscreen interactions.
HP has never been one for offering its PCs with a barebones Windows install, and an almost obese range of applications are pre-installed, many of which you'll likely want to uninstall straight away.
McAffee's suite is the antivirus of choice (though it is just a trial), while a selection of Cyberlink media applications offer photo and video playback and light editing.
A large number of casual games are also ready to play from WildTangent, although you won't find any triple-A titles here. The best of the bunch is probably Plants VS Zombies, although I consider even this a waste of valuable storage space.
Other Windows 8 apps such as TripAdvisor, The Weather Channel and Evernote are frankly bloatware.