PC

HP scores with gaming surprise Envy Phoenix

Its modest mid-tower chassis belies the HP Envy Phoenix's powerful computing hardware within. The gaming PC also tops the charts in a benchmark for common real-world tasks for home users such as Web browsing and photo editing.
Its modest mid-tower chassis belies the HP Envy Phoenix's powerful computing hardware within. The gaming PC also tops the charts in a benchmark for common real-world tasks for home users such as Web browsing and photo editing.PHOTO: HP

It is one of the most powerful gaming PCs off the shelf, at a price in line with rivals'

This desktop computer is one of the most powerful gaming PCs you can buy off the shelf.

But what surprises me is that it is not from the usual suspects such as Alienware or Asus. It is made by HP, which is not known for its gaming PCs, though older folks may recall that HP acquired gaming PC maker VoodooPC a decade ago.

HP says that the Envy Phoenix desktop PC provides the ideal virtual reality (VR) experience. This is because the computer's Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics chip comfortably exceeds the minimum GeForce GTX 970 requirement stated by VR headset makers.

Local buyers, however, will find it difficult to assess this claim for themselves, as Singapore is not one of the launch countries for VR headsets from Oculus and HTC.

What they can do is to run a game on the Phoenix at ultra-high 4K resolution. After all, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti is one of just two Nvidia graphics cards that are deemed powerful enough to run the latest games at 4K resolution with all the visual effects enabled.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $3,299

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700K (4GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB GDDR5

    STORAGE: 128GB SSD and 3TB HDD

    RAM: 16GB

    CONNECTIVITY: 3 x HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort, DVI, 4 x USB 3.0, 6 x USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4 /5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Although I did not have a 4K display on hand to verify this, I have seen numerous benchmarks online that attest to this.

At the typical 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution, the Phoenix simply blew away the competition in Crysis 3. The PC scored around 96 frames per second (fps) at Very High setting. Our ST Digital custom-built PC with a GeForce GTX 980 graphics card could manage only 79fps.

The Phoenix also topped our charts in the PCMark 8 benchmark, which puts the computer through workloads that reflect common real-world tasks for home users, such as Web browsing and photo editing. The Phoenix scored 4,468, compared to 4,015 for our ST Digital PC. It probably helps that the Phoenix uses the latest Intel Core i7 chip that supports overclocking, along with 16GB of RAM.

The Phoenix's impressive computing hardware is packed in a surprisingly modest mid-tower chassis that, if not for its front LEDs, could be mistaken for a typical office PC.

Using the preloaded HP Phoenix Control software app, you can tweak the LED colours. A useful option lets you set the LED colour to reflect the CPU temperature. As the CPU heats up, for instance during a gaming session, the colour changes from a cool blue to a warm red.

However, HP does not include any software tools to overclock the CPU or graphics card, unlike other gaming computer brands such as Asus.

The Envy Phoenix costs $3,299, compared to an estimated $2,600 if you custom-build a similar system from Sim Lim Square retailers.

Whether it is worth paying more for the Phoenix to avoid the hassle of troubleshooting technical issues and handling warranty claims for a DIY system is something you will have to decide for yourself.

However, the price of the Phoenix appears to be in line with those of gaming PCs from other vendors. The Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 is priced at $2,699, albeit with a slower GTX 970 graphics chip. Alienware's Area 51 gaming desktop looks more flamboyant, but prices start at $3,999.

• Verdict: Suprisingly powerful gaming PC that will run your games at 4K resolution.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'HP scores with gaming surprise Envy Phoenix'. Print Edition | Subscribe