HP's easy-on-the-eye P6627uk is an excellent choice for first-time PC users, with a good deal of interactive help and a generous software bundle.

HP’s proprietary case design is a little unorthodox – the motherboard is upside-down when compared to conventional setups, so the P6227uk's case opens from the right rather than the left. It’s easy on the eye, however, and comes with a card reader and smart, concealed drive bays.

Unique to the P6227uk is HP’s Pocket Media Drive Bay. This custom bay allows you to slot one of HP’s external Pocket Media Drives (an external 2.5in hard disk) directly into the front of your PC.

A pair of front-facing USB ports and audio jacks are concealed behind a sliding flap, while the case’s black-and-silver finish continues to the monitor. Both share illuminated power buttons.
The HP P6227uk's monitor is an HP-branded 21.5in model. It’s a nice-looking screen, but it’s also the first full-HD monitor we’ve seen without a digital video input.

Although the HP P6227uk comes with a Core i7 860 processor and 6GB of DDR3 RAM, its three memory modules don’t work in three-channel mode as they would on a Core i7 920 system. In fact, the top 2GB of RAM reverts to single-channel mode.

Nonetheless, the HP P6227uk performs very well. The Intel CPU provides an excellent balance of speed and affordability, and this system’s WorldBench 6 score of 135 is just a single point lower than some competing PCs fitted with the Core i7 920.

The exception to this is gaming performance. The nVidia GeForce GT 220 can’t keep up with the competition, performing around five times slower at Crysis and resulting in unplayable framerates. However, older games titles such as Fear run without a hitch on the HP P6227uk, as does the large selection of preinstalled games trials.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (issue 176)

  1. Eclipse Evolution i792R585
  2. Chillblast Fusion Eclipse
  3. Arbico Elite 9257 HD
  4. CyberPower Infinity i7 Andromeda Elite
  5. HP P6227uk

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

HP's easy-on-the-eye P6627uk is an excellent choice for first-time PC users, with a good deal of interactive help and a generous software bundle.

Power desktop PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel's Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It's a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine. However, Core i7 chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices elsewhere.

The latest Core i7 800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7 900-series on performance.

Dual-core CPUs are still available, but the time has come to switch to the quad-core architectures.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you're buying a Core i7-based system, however, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such machines install memory chips in threes). The Core i7 800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices falling, it's more typical to find 1TB at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Display: 22in or 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens in order to leave more room in the budget for other components, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

A screen with a response time of 8ms or less will minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important.

A digital input can preserve picture quality, so think twice about displays that provide analogue inputs only.

If you're a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9 format 22in-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in model.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen support and supports DirectX 11.0.

You'll also find good deals on nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even GTX 280). Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory. nVidia cards offer some unique features, including support for 3D gaming with compatible monitors and glasses.

The GTX 260 and HD 5850 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

Ready-made dual-card solutions are available but can be more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W unit at this price point; 750W upwards if you plan to add another card. A known brand is also likely to give better stability. Overclocking also demands a high-quality power supply.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

HP P6227uk: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-G33-DS3R
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 300W Lite-On PSU
  • 21.5in HP 2159v (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express HP GeForce GT 220 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 26/7fps
  • Fear 71fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 8x/8x/2x/2x (DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW)
  • one-year warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-G33-DS3R
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 300W Lite-On PSU
  • 21.5in HP 2159v (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express HP GeForce GT 220 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 26/7fps
  • Fear 71fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 8x/8x/2x/2x (DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW)
  • one-year warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135

OUR VERDICT

Perhaps the best feature of the HP P6227uk is its interactive help for novice users, and its bundled software. Such users will appreciate the HP’s user-friendly setup, and are unlikely to know what they’re missing out on when it comes to games.

Find the best price