Pros: Mid-tower BTX case; very quiet; great performance, easy to maintain.
Cons: None really.
The Bottom Line: The Pavilion A6150E Media Center Mini-tower is powerful home workstation that is more then adequate for Media Center duties, but also serves well as a small business server platform.
64-bit computing, it has been slow to catch on in both the personal computer arena and in the business environment, but it is the wave of the future. When it came time to migrate my Microsoft Exchange 2003 server over to Exchange 2007, my only choice was a 64-bit platform.
I spent a week on-line configuring different systems that both fit my specifications (dual-core processor, SATA hard drive backbone, dual channel memory, and DVD/RW drive) and budget parameters. I needed a box that was robust enough to run two principle Microsoft server applications: the aforementioned Exchange 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 64-bit Edition. I looked at Dell, Gateway, and Hewlett Packard, but in the end I settled on the Hewlett PackardPavilion A6150E mini-tower computer with a AMD Athlon dual-core processor.
--Processor Family: AMD Athlon x64 X2 4000+ Dual-Core @ 2.1GHz --Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit) --Installed RAM: 2 GB --Hard Drive Capacity: 250GB --Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce 6150E --Primary Optical Drive: Lightscribe 16x Max DVD+/-RW --Secondary Optical Drive: None --Audio: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (D) Sound Card with Dolby Digital 5.1 and IEEE 1394; --Monitor Type: Digital LCD --Screen Size: 19 inches
HP designed the Pavilion A6150E as a mid-level Vista (Home Premium) computer with an eye on Media Center functionality. The Pavilion A6150E incorporates the new BTX design into its mid-tower case. The case itself is a sleek black and silver BTX cassis. The BTX design calls for more venting slots in the case and a single large fan to keep the innards of the computer cool. The result is a very quite system and I have to strain to hear.
HP decided to offer only (fast) AMD Athlon processors in the Pavilion A6150E, including the new AMD Athlon 4000+ x64-bit with dual-core technology. The AMD Athlon 4000+ incorporates two execution cores in a single processor chip greatly enhancing the computers performance. The AMD Athlon 4000+ runs on an 800MHz FSB (Front Side Bus), feature 2.1GHz core speed, 2MB of cache, and accept 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM in either single or dual channel operation.
The system can be ordered with as little as 256MB of RAM; I choose 2.0GB and later bought 2GB more from Crucial.com and saved a bundle over the RAM HP wanted to sell me. The maximum amount of RAM the Pavilion A6150E will accept is 4GB in (4) DIMM slots.
I ordered my Pavilion A6150E with a 250GB SATA drive; there is space to add another drive if needed. There is a single PCIe x1 slot available for future expansion, and indeed I filled it with an Intel Network Interface Card (NIC). The Pavilion A6150E also ships with two 32-bit PCI slots and a AGP slot.
The Pavilion A6150E has six USB 2.0 ports (two in front and four in back) and a (front) FireWire port, as well as front audio and microphone jacks. And along with this HP has included a rather impressive array of features including a 19-inch digital LCD display, and a Lightscribe dual-layer DVD burner; I opted out of the second DVD/CD drive.
I like the Pavilion A6150E; its size is manageable, expandability good, and performance stellar thus far. I like that HP decided to move the front-facing USB ports to a high position on the tow where they are much more user friendly. The same is true for the audio outputs and Firewire ports.
That being said let the buyer beware, if you purchase the unit with a 32-bit Operating System (OS), putting your hands on 64-bit drivers will prove problematic. I install Microsoft Windows Server 2003 64-bit on the computer and ended up with hardly any drivers for video, audio, USB, and the built-in 10/100/1000 NIC. It took me two days to hunt down the drivers for everything except the NIC, for that I finally ended up purchasing a new Intel Pro NIC, for which I downloaded drivers from Intels web site. Before I installed the Intel NIC, I disabled the on-board adapter.
The Pavilion A6150E also includes a 56K modem, but I will not use it.
Cracking open the Pavilion A6150E is a very simple process thanks to a removable (lift-off) side panel. Once inside you will note that like the chassis itself, all internal components are tool-less, and not as densely packed as some PCs I am used to working on. The path from the hard drive controller connector in the rear of the machine, and the SATA hard drives also in the rear of the computer is short, so installing a new hard drive will be pain free. The six USB version 2.0 ports (four in the back, two in the front) are a welcome addition especially the two in the front which are hidden behind a cool hinged door. However, I would like to have seen the number(s) increased and revised somewhat; i.e. four in the back and four in the front. Increasingly, the devices that utilize USB ports are portable in nature and having to continually move the Tower in order to access them can become a pain. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the two USB 2.0 port in the front of the tower, though they are quite close together which might hinder the use of more then one at a time.
After I received the Pavilion A6150E I immediately reformatted the drive and install Windows 2003 Standard Edition 64-bit, so I could use the computer as a server. Despite it stated purpose, the Pavilion A6150E if outfitted with more memory makes an excellent server platform for small business use. The processor is certainly up to the task as is the bus and memory, and certainly the hard drive. Backing up the system is not a problem; I utilize external high capacity (400 - 750GB) Seagate hard drives for the purpose; they work rather well and cost far less than a comparable taps backup unit.
Service and Support
The Pavilion A6150E comes standard with a 1 year of hardware warranty support, giving you 24/7-access to phone and online help. For added peace of mind, you can choose to upgrade your warranty to a full 1, 2, 3 or 4 years.
The HPPavilion A6150E Media Center Mini-tower is powerful home workstation that is more then adequate for Media Center duties, but also serves well as a small business server platform. For the price ($654.00 including 19 flat panel monitor) the HPPavilion A6150E is a relatively inexpensive high performance workhorse that more than meets my current computing needs and fits into my network-centric environment with ease.
Amount Paid (US$): 564.00 Operating System: Windows Processor: AMD Athlon (K7) Processor speed: over 1000 RAM: More than 256 Internal Storage: DVD Hard Drive (GB): Over 50
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