HP Pavilion Mini review

Is this the Windows-toting answer to a Mac Mini?

HP Pavilion Mini review

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With an increasing selection of small form factor PCs it's, this market is becoming an increasingly tough one for any one brand to dominate. Looks, price and performance vary wildly, and HP caters for a range of price and performance requirements with the Pavilion Mini, while rivalling Apple for looks, even though it's of plastic construction rather than Cupertino's trademark sleek aluminium.

We liked

The Pavilion Mini is a compact package that looks the part, and could happily find itself either at home fulfilling the job as a media portal or homework PC, or in the office, crunching through office documents with ease.

HP has spread itself widely with the range of specifications on offer, with a £249.99 ($269 or AU$349) starting point seeming pretty competitive in light of the competition from Acer and Apple. Compared to some competitors, the variety of ports and plentiful USB connections is a pleasant surprise for such a small form factor.

While the benchmarks didn't blow us away, neither did they massively disappoint, and they suggest that the mid-range model we were reviewing has sufficient grunt for any slightly more intensive tasks you may ask of it.

We disliked

HP has crammed an awful lot into this compact package, and despite the multiple ports on offer upgrade options are very limited. The only component you could even consider upgrading is the RAM, and doing this requires exposing the delicately stacked innards.

The bundled selection of software was thoroughly uninspiring. I would have hoped for more apps that play to the potential qualities of a miniature PC as a home streaming hub or cloud computing companion, rather than the numerous awful games.

Final verdict

If you're looking for a mini computer to look smart in the office, sit surreptitiously under your TV or meet the compact requirements of a kid's homework needs, then the HP Pavilion Mini is a smart contender.

While the base specification may not meet the requirements of gamers (who will want to consider the Maingear Spark or Alienware Alpha), or more intensive tasks, the higher-end model more than meets the needs of those looking for a home entertainment computer, and it's priced favourably against the Acer Revo RL85.

The mid-range specification of the model we reviewed compares favourably against similarly priced but less powerful competitors like the Intel NUC, and the good looks make it a smart Windows alternative to the Mac Mini.