A powerful rig that is perfect for out-of-the-box gaming.
I spend a great deal of my time playing video games. Not just because it’s part of my job, but because I’ve been gaming for as far back as I can remember. To this effect, I have to confess that I’m a console gamer, simply because I don’t have a rig that’s powerful enough to run the latest games with all the bells and whistles. So my colleagues take it upon themselves to regularly poke fun at my dinky 11” laptop and how great their awesome custom-built machines are at playing games. Well, this week I had the last laugh as I unboxed the HP Phoenix HPE h9 PC, HP’s foray into the world of PC gaming.
Build Quality & Design
The HP Phoenix PC comes in a rather compact case, so sized up against some of the mammoth PCs setup in our office, it looks quite diminutive. However its smaller footprint means that it’s easier to hide under your desk or out of sight, although its sleek design ensures that this is one PC you might want to keep in the spotlight.
The Phoenix PC features red lighted accents around the case, as well as a transparent window on the side to showcase the PC’s internals, also illuminated with red lighting. The front of the machine features glossy black plastic, which melds well with the overall design, but somehow makes the PC look a little bit cheap. Plus it’s a great fingerprint and dust magnet over time. In terms of ports and connectivity, you’ll find USB ports and Beats-powered headphone jack at the top of the case, however these are strangely hidden from view and are set at a bit of an incline. The bottom part of the front panel slides down to reveal more USB ports as well as slots to read various memory card formats. At the back you’ll find more USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports as well as the standards such as audio, Ethernet, and video connectivity options depending on the cable being used. The Phoenix also surprisingly ships with built in Wi-Fi, which performed with little to no lag when setup a short distance from my router.
Overall the build quality is quite good, with the metal case being fairy easy to open via one thumbscrew at the rear of the case. Removing the side cover uncovers the unique setup that HP has opted for this PC. For one thing, the motherboard has been turned around so that the video card and expansion slots are near the middle of the case, while the processor sits towards the bottom. No, this wasn’t a design hiccup but the alternative arrangement means that air can flow more freely over the processor, which is essential in keeping this PC as cool as possible. Where the case does have a hiccup is with the metal bar that runs across the length of the inside – this makes it awkward to reach the motherboard or swap around components, so although this bar was made to reinforce the case, it just gets in the way of things at times.