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PCs Reviews
15,670 Reviews

HP TouchSmart 520 review

£849 inc VAT

Manufacturer: HP

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The HP TouchSmart 520 is an excellent all-in-one PC with premium specs for less than £900.

If you're in the market for an all-purpose all-in-one PC, look no further. HP has done a fantastic job on its HP TouchSmart 520 Big Screen All-in-One PC - it's got pretty much everything you need, including a Blu-ray disc drive and USB 3.0, and it's one of the best performers we've seen in the category.

Our review model, priced at £849, features an Intel Core i5-2390TS processor, 4GB of RAM (upgradeable to 8GB), an AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics card, and a roomy 1.5TB hard drive. Besides the Blu-ray burner, it has built-in Bluetooth and a built-in webcam and microphone, and it runs a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. It sports a glossy 23-inch touchscreen.

The HP TouchSmart 520 performs very well for the AIO category. In our WorldBench 6 test suite, the HP TouchSmart 520 scored an impressive 142.

Graphics performance is acceptable, but much less impressive than the TouchSmart 520's general performance. In PCWorld's Unreal Tournament 3 graphics test, the TouchSmart 520 managed a frame rate of 61 frames per second at medium-quality settings and 1024-by-768-pixel resolution, and 28.1 fps at the same quality settings, but 1680-by-1050-pixel resolution. By comparison, the aforementioned Idea Centre B520 managed over 70 fps in the medium-quality/1680-by-1050-resolution test.

See also: Group test - what's the best all-in-one PC?

The touchscreen is highly responsive but not terribly attractive to look at. The screen isn't very bright, even at its brightest setting, and it has a slight bluish tint. This drawback is unfortunate, because the screen's touch functionality is excellent - it's one of the more accurate and responsive touchscreens I've tried.

Surrounding the touchscreen is a slim black, matte bezel that sits on a silver, easel-like frame. A small curved silver stand supports the system, and you can tilt the screen back and forth easily by pressing or pulling on it. While the easel design looks and feels sturdy, I don't find it that attractive. The TouchSmart 520 is mostly undecorated, save for a few unassuming logos - HP in the lower left, Beats Audio in the upper left, and the make and model number in the lower right corner.

The TouchSmart 520 comes with a wireless mouse and keyboard. They're both basic: The keyboard has flat, Chiclet-style keys that are widely spaced and easy to type on. The mouse is a bit big and blocky, but it's fine for basic work.

In ports, the TouchSmart 520 is well-equipped for an all-in-one. It has two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports (both 3.0 ports are on the left side, for easy access), plus a gigabit ethernet port, a TV tuner, a line-out port, and a Kensington lock slot. Headphone and microphone jacks are on the left side, as is a multiformat card reader. On the right side is a slot-loading Blu-ray drive, as well as some basic settings buttons (input, menu, and so on) and an HDMI-out port. All the ports are easy to access, including those on the back, which are all together in one corner.

Multimedia playback on the TouchSmart 520 is good - video is decent, though the dimness of the screen is definitely annoying, and audio is excellent thanks to the built-in Beats Audio technology. HD video streaming is very smooth, and I saw very little artifacting or blurriness in my testing. Playback from Blu-ray discs looks great, but DVD upconversion is less impressive. In my testing I saw significant loss of detail and slight artifacting in DVD scenes.

The speakers, located below the screen, are very loud (almost too loud), and decently full when you don't have the Beats Audio technology turned on. Beats Audio makes sound on the TouchSmart awesome, though - full, deep, with lots of bass, plus a good surround-sound simulation. You can turn on Beats Audio by pressing the dedicated Beats Audio button on the wireless keyboard.

This HP AIO isn't too loaded down with bloatware. It does come with the HP TouchSmart software suite, which is designed to make your user experience a little easier. The suite includes a user manual, as well as help and support software.

HP TouchSmart 520 Expert Verdict »

Windows 7 Home Premium 64
Intel Core i5-2390T, 2.7Hz
Beats audio console
High Performance speakers
Slim Tray Load SuperMulti Drive
23in touch-enabled diagonal Full HD widescreen BrightView WLED
resolution: 1920x1080
AMD Radeon HD 6450A
1.5 TB SATA 3G (5400 rpm)
4 USB 2.0
2 USB 3.0
1 Beats stereo audio line out
1 Beats headphone/mic combo
1 Beats subwoofer out
Wireless keyboard
6-in-1 memory card reader
Supports up to 8 GB DDR3 memory
11.7 kg
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Despite the slightly blue, dim screen, we recommend the TouchSmart 520. It's decently priced - at £849 inc VAT - and it packs a nice assortment of high-end features, and it makes a decent Blu-ray machine.

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