The HP Pavilion D4000e is a reasonable choice for any business or individual seeking an economical power system rather than a top-notch gaming or graphics platform.
At $2465, the midsize tower we tested is more affordable than most power systems on this month’s chart–but its performance also lags behind most of those same models. HP built our review D4000e around a 2.4-GHz Athlon 64 4000+ processor with 1GB of DDR400 SDRAM; it earned a WorldBench 5 score of 101, about in line with what we would expect from a system with this configuration. Although Micro Express’s MicroFlex 40A has the same processor and scored 118 in the same test, that model included twice as much memory as this HP unit. In our gaming graphics tests, the Pavilion D4000e achieved 139 frames per second (ninth overall) in Return to Castle Wolfenstein and 247 fps (twelfth) in Unreal Tournament 2003 at a 1280-by-1024 resolution. Those results should satisfy most casual gamers who want a system that packs some punch but at a lower price than most power systems.
The silver-and-black D4000e came with DVD±RW and DVD-ROM optical drives, plus a nine-in-one media card reader with a USB 2.0 port–all easily accessible in the front of the sober-looking case. The DVD writer also supports HP’s LightScribe technology, which lets you burn labels directly on LightScribe-enabled blank media. I tested this feature by creating a label that included text and graphics (two color photos). It took the unit about 30 minutes to complete burning just the LightScribe label, but I was happy with the overall quality of the results, even though the technology converts color graphics to grayscale.
The D4000e has two additional USB 2.0 ports, three audio ports, and one FireWire port on the lower front, plus four additional USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port in back. Removing the side panel and adding components in the interior requires tools. I found all of the wires and cables neatly tied together, but left hanging; if they were pulled out of the way, it would be a bit easier to work inside. Three of the six externally accessible drive bays are open, and two of the three internal bays are also available. Other expansion options include two open memory slots, four open PCI slots (two of which are on a riser card), and one open PCI Express (X16) slot.
The 17-inch LCD (HP’s Vs17) that came with our test system had a mixed appeal. I liked the well-marked controls on the side of the monitor (which also has small built-in speakers) and the easy, on-screen menu display. But I was disappointed that the LCD lacks a DVI input (for an all-digital connection) and supports only VGA input–especially since the installed graphics card (an NVidia GeForce 6800) provides both DVI and VGA ports. Although graphics screens displayed vivid color and nice details overall, text displays, though reasonably legible, were not particularly sharp. The image quality of DVD movies, on the other hand, was pleasing, with smooth action and rich colors.
The standard keyboard and optical mouse that HP provided worked fine; however, neither of these tethered devices are as flexible or fun to use as the wireless versions that accompany many of the power machines we’ve reviewed. The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 three-speaker system we received with our test unit provided strong, good-quality sound during our CD music and DVD movie playback tests. (According to HP, future D4000e systems priced the same as our test model will ship with the Altec-Lansing VS2121 three-speaker system.)
HP includes several well-written user manuals that describe various Pavilion models in general, but are not entirely specific to the D4000e. However, because many of these models do share similar features and functions, some sections (troubleshooting, in particular) are quite helpful.
The reasonably priced HP Pavilion D4000e power system is a proficient performer. We’d like it more, however, with a better monitor and wireless input devices.