HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in Review


Gaming laptops are all the rage right now, but many people might still prefer the lower cost and greater flexibility of a desktop PC. After several years of neglect, with barely any branded options in the market, gaming desktops are making a comeback. Nearly every major brand now has a gaming line with powerful hardware and of course a bit of design flair thrown in. Of course this is great not just for gamers but also for those who want a powerful PC with the assurance of a brand name and warranty, and without the hassle of choosing and buying individual parts to build one yourself.

A desktop won’t be portable and will occupy quite a bit of room, but the main advantage is that you have plenty of options when it comes to the configuration, and upgrades should be easy. You can choose a large monitor and your own keyboard and mouse for comfort.

HP offers its Pavilion Gaming desktops and laptops which slot in below the Omen line. With prices as low as Rs. 45,000 (excluding taxes), the appeal is clear. Today we’re reviewing the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in which is officially priced at Rs. 64,990 in India before taxes and still features decent specifications. Read on to see if this is the right PC for you.

The LED lighting is not RGB and there are very few options for effects

 

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in design

HP has gone with a modern, compact case design for the Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in. It isn’t anywhere near as extravagant or showy as most gaming hardware these days, but it definitely still has an edge and will not blend in. You won’t mistake this for an office PC. Measuring 33.74cm tall, 15,54cm wide and 30.7cm deep, the Pavilion Gaming Desktop is considerably smaller than you might expect, and will not take up too much room on your desk.

The front panel is slightly raised in the centre and has a ridged V-shaped pattern. There’s no optical drive but you’ll immediately notice the line of ports down the right – there’s a surprisingly comprehensive selection made up of a 3.5mm combo audio socket, two USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps) ports, two USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gbps) ports, an SD card slot, and one USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps) Type-C port. This is a level of convenience that should suit gamers and pro users alike.

The power button has a purple LED, and there is purple accent lighting in the crevice at the bottom which will reflect across your table. This can be disabled in software, though it will always light up when the computer is booting. The shiny circle around the HP logo on the bottom right also has a slight purple tint, as do the port labels.

You don’t get RGB lighting, a transparent window, or any of the hallmarks of the current “gamer” aesthetic, which to many people will be a good thing. The sides of the case are simple black metal. You’ll have to complete the look with your own monitor, keyboard and mouse. HP does sell its own accessories in India but none that are designed specifically to match.

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You get a surprising number of useful ports on the front panel

 

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in specifications and software

You can choose between an Intel Core i5-9400F, Core i7-9700, AMD Ryzen 5 3500, and Ryzen 7 3700X. It’s hard to say for sure whether Intel or AMD options would be better suited to different peoples’ specific workloads, but both should be more than adequate for gaming and content creation as well as general productivity.

We’re reviewing the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in, which is the variant with the Ryzen 7 3700X and GeForce GTX 1660. The combination of AMD CPU and Nvidia GPU has been popular in affordable gaming laptops for a while now. AMD’s current desktop lineup is based on the 7nm ‘Zen 2’ architecture, while HP has chosen Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660, an entry-level GPU that’s best suited for gaming at 1920×1080 or lower resolutions, and doesn’t support RTX ray tracing effects.

This PC comes with 8GB of DDR4-2666 RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 1TB hard drive. A little digging revealed that HP has used a single 8GB RAM module rather than two in a dual-channel configuration, but at least the SSD is a speedy NVMe unit, not old-fashioned SATA.

The rear port cluster includes two USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports and two USB 2.0 ports as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port and three assignable 3.5mm audio connectors. There are blanking plates where other models might have video outputs, but since the AMD Ryzen CPU does not feature integrated graphics, you should ignore them – HP should have covered up the labels to avoid confusion though. The video outputs you’ll need are all on the graphics card – one HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI port.

HP preinstalls Windows 10 Home and Microsoft Office Home and Student, which is not subscription-based and so won’t require any additional expense. There’s quite a bit of bloatware as well, including Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Booking.com, Adobe Photoshop Express, PicsArt Photo Studio, the WildTangent Games store, a few freemium games, and McAfee Personal Security. Some of these are downloaded from the Microsoft Store when you click on them. You also get 25GB of Dropbox space free for a year.

There are several HP utilities as well – curiously, you get the HP Omen Command Center which lets you monitor temperatures and control the purple front panel lighting – but you get only “breathing” and “blinking” effects which are too distracting, and no brightness control. I chose to simply turn the LEDs off. The software also should allow you to stream games across a home network to another Windows PC or a smartphone, but I was unable to try this.

Some of HP’s other software is quite pointless, such as Jumpstarts, which is a collection of promotions and extremely basic guides. Support Assistant offers some diagnostics, driver updates, and service and warranty information. HP Smart lets you manage an HP printer or scanner.

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The interior is well laid out and there is some potential for upgrades

 

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in interior

HP has good a good job with the exterior design of the Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in and it looks as though the construction quality is also quite solid. One look at the back will tell you that the company has not used entirely standard components – the motherboard port layout is unusual and the power supply is compact. You can pop the left panel off with a single screw, but there’s a Kensington lock slot if you need to secure it for any reason.

I quickly confirmed that the motherboard and power supply are in fact custom designed, which will limit repairability and future upgrades. The power supply has a 310W maximum power output rating and only the bare minimum of connectors, but it is at least rated 80 Plus Gold for efficiency. There’s a single 8-pin PCIe power connector for the graphics card and only one spare SATA connector.

The next thing that jumped out at me was the relatively small CPU cooler and fan – this is definitely not as beefy as the stock Wraith Prism cooler that AMD ships with the Ryzen 7 3700X, and also understandably lacks the RGB LEDs.

The RAM, NVMe SSD, graphics card, and hard drive are all standard. There’s a mount so you can add one more SATA hard drive or SSD, and a second RAM slot for dual-channel kits. One free PCIe 1x slot might come in handy, but that’s about it for expansion potential. There’s also a standard Wi-Fi module and the antennas are neatly routed to the plastic front panel, keeping them concealed but perhaps not as effective as repositionable external ones.

Airflow might be a bit of a concern. The case has perforations for air intake on the left panel but no fan on the front. There’s only a single 90mm fan on the rear panel, plus the graphics card has its own blower. On the positive side, cable routing is very neat and efficient.

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The small CPU heatsink, single RAM module, NVMe SSD, and spare SATA mount are visible here

 

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in performance

With Windows 10 preinstalled, all you have to do is plug in your peripherals and turn the power on. I ran through the setup process and allowed the latest updates to be downloaded and applied. HP has implemented an automatic BIOS update system, which while handy, seemed to happen upon a reboot without any user prompt. This could alarm users who aren’t expecting to see dire warnings about allowing the process to complete without power being interrupted.

I used an Asus PB287Q 4K monitor and an ordinary desktop keyboard and mouse set. All settings were left at their defaults. Having reviewed the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 GPU as standalone components before, it should be interesting to see whether HP’s design and implementation allows them to meet their full potential.

Thanks largely to the NVMe SSD, Windows boots quickly and there’s no perceptible lag at all with running day-to-day tasks. I had over 20 tabs open in Google Chrome, streaming HD video and working on large documents simultaneously, with no trouble at all.

The PCMark 10 benchmark put up scores of 5,619 in its standard run and 6,656 in its Extended run. CineBench R20’s single-core and multi-core tests returned 439 and 2,431 points respectively. POVRay’s default benchmark took 1 minute, 9 seconds to complete, while the Corona Renderer benchmark ran in 2 minutes, 18 seconds. Compressing a 3.24GB folder full of assorted files took 2 minutes, 42 seconds. Transcoding a 1.3GB AVI file into H.265 took 49 seconds.

On average, all our CPU-bound test results ran about 13 percent slower on the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in than on the open test bench I used when reviewing the Ryzen 7 3700X CPU. This could be down to the premium components I used for the latter, especially the faster dual-channel RAM and more capable cooler. The difference doesn’t mean that the HP desktop’s scores are bad – in fact the experience is pretty great overall – but it does show that there might be more potential to be tapped.

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The motherboard’s video outputs are blocked but still visible and potentially confusing 

 

Coming to graphics and games, I managed to get scores of 5,479 and 2,444 in 3DMark’s Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme runs. The Port Royal test returned a score of 1,401 and Fire Strike Ultra put up 2,919 points. The PC also scored 9,881 in the Unigine Superposition test running at 1080p (Medium). These are actually comparable to what I saw with a standalone Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G graphics card, which interestingly enough was tested with a Ryzen 7 2700X CPU.

The choice of GPU suggests that 1920×1080 is the target resolution for modern games and so that’s what I used for all tests. I fired up Far Cry 5 and chose the High graphics quality setting, which allowed for a very playable average of 75fps with minimal stuttering in the in-game benchmark. Similarly, Shadow of the Tomb Raider managed an average of 78fps using its High preset and performance was generally quite smooth.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War also ran relatively well, pushing out 57fps on average using its High preset. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey also ran at an average of 57fps but there were fairly noticeable dips in the frame rate with the minimum falling as low as 27fps in one or two spots. You can manually tweak individual quality sliders and settings in many games, which might help smoothen out the video.

Metro: Last Light Redux hovered at around 101fps when benchmarked at its Medium setting, AND 78fps at the High setting, both with 4X AF and SSAA enabled. Civilization 6 required settings to be chosen manually, and with nearly everything maxed out, the average frame rate worked out to 82.56fps which is quite good.

Doom is now fairly old and can be trusted to run vey well even on entry-level hardware. I was easily able to push past 140fps in a manual runthrough, with the frame rate dipping only to 100fps or so in intense battles. As an experiment, I pushed the resolution up to 4K and was still able to get between 50fps and 75fps with no trouble. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt wasn’t as forgiving, but still averaged 52fps at 1920×1080 with the quality set to Ultra.

The HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop ran quietly when not stressed, but after just a minute or so of gaming, its fans really ramped up. The graphics card blower in particular got loud enough to be distracting when running at full speed. I also noted that the metal sides and top of the cabinet got very hot, with the upper right in particular often becoming too hot to touch for more than a second or two. As feared, HP’s airflow and cooling designs aren’t ideal.

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The HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in delivers good enough performance for 1080p gaming

 

Verdict

If you aren’t sure about which components to choose and don’t want the bother of building yourself a gaming PC, HP has some interesting configurations available. You don’t get very premium hardware with the Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in but it’s more than enough for running today’s popular titles at full-HD as well as productivity and content creation. It’s compact and looks good, and it won’t cost an arm and a leg. Plus, there’s only a single warranty and support network to deal with.

You’ll need to add the cost of a monitor, keyboard and mouse, plus of course taxes on top of the MRP. I’d suggest popping the lid and adding a matching 8GB RAM module in the second slot.

I’d prefer less bloatware, but that can be dealt with. The biggest downside is this desktop’s thermal design. The AMD Ryzen 3700X CPU is capable of better performance, and the noise and heat are disappointing problems to have to deal with when HP has paid so much attention to aesthetics. It’s good to see more desktop options in the market, but companies need to understand how to treat high-end hardware.

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop TG01-0203in 
Price:
 Rs. 64,990 plus taxes (as reviewed)

Pros

  • Compact, looks good
  • Capable enough for 1080p gaming
  • Lots of ports and connectivity
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Gets hot and loud when stressed
  • Single-channel RAM

Ratings (out of 5)
Design: 4
Performance: 4
Software: 3.5
Value for Money: 4
Overall: 4



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