The $719 (as of 2/7/08) HP Pavilion Slimline s3300z shares the same ultracompact design as other models in HP’s Slimline series, but it’s not as fully loaded as pricier versions, such as the Intel-based Slimline s3200t. The s3300z we tested uses a 1.9-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2300 processor and two sticks of 1GB DDR2 memory (2GB total) seated in an Asus M2N61-AR motherboard, with integrated nVidia GeForce 6150SE graphics. The unit also had an average-size 250GB Western Digital combo DVD/CD writer that supports LightScribe labeling, and a multiformat memory card reader.
This bundle also includes the excellent HP w2007 20-inch wide-screen LCD (1680 by 1050 native resolution), which has received high marks in our monitor evaluations for its stylish design, great graphics, and text quality. The bundled HP PS/2 keyboard and two-button optical mouse are both easy enough to use, but provide little beyond basic functions. Unlike with the fixed configurations of some other value PCs in this group, you can choose components for the s3200z at HP’s site. For example, you can add a 256MB ATI Radeon 2400 Pro graphics card for $60 extra.
The s3300z’s WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 62 was about 13 percent lower than the average of the other budget systems we’ve recently tested. Still, this PC did a fine job running Vista Home Premium, and it’s certainly fast enough for surfing the Web, watching videos, listening to music, and viewing digital photos. In its graphics tests, however, the s3300z’s performance was as underwhelming as in the other value systems using integrated graphics, making it a poor choice for gung-ho gamers, unless you add a discrete graphics card.
The s3300z’s small black case (about 13 by 4 by 11 inches) is convenient for small spaces, such as a den, home office, or dorm room, but also means limited expansion options. The s3300z has no free internal or external bays, except for the proprietary removable hard drive bay (included in all Slimline models), which works with a portable 160GB or 250GB HP Pocket Media Drive ($150 and $190, respectively).
The convenience of its small size and the excellence of its LCD aside, the unimpressive performance and limited expansion options of the s3300z make it difficult to recommend–especially when for $20 less you can get better performance and better expandability with the Dell Inspiron 530.