LOOKS GOOD FROM AFAR, BUT IS FAR FROM GOOD HP Pavilion Wave
If there’s another segment almost as popular as ultra portable convertibles, it’s mini-PCs. Both have been driven forth by the ever decreasing amount of power required by today’s CPUs, not to mention SSDs as small as a row of stamps. One of the more intriguing miniPCs
to cross our desk lately is the HP Pavilion Wave.
The most interesting facet is the custom-case. It’s covered in ‘Audio fabric’,
which makes it look more like a speaker than a PC. It’s also darned small, with a height of just 25.9cm, and a width of 16.8cm. To be honest, it’s the sexiest, least-PC looking mini-computer we’ve ever seen. If only it wasn’t so damn slow.
But before we get into the woeful performance, let’s take a closer look at that extraordinary design, which HP refers to as the ‘Tesla’ design. Thankfully HP has included a wireless mouse and keyboard with the PC, as the number of USB ports isn’t exactly prolific. There are
twin USB 2.0, a single USB 3.0, and finally a USB 3.1 Type C on the rear of the case,
along with a single USB 3.0 Type A on the front. There’s also a HP 3-in1 card reader.
Tucked away at the rear are the video outputs as well, with a single HDMI and DisplayPort, though there’s no mention whether they can handle 4K at 60Hz. We tried watching several Sony sample 4K videos, and the framerate hovered around 10fps. It’s no surprise really, given that they’re the visuals are powered by a rather lowly AMD R9 M470 with just
2GB of dedicated memory. It’s also most definitely not up to the task of playing
anything more demanding than Solitaire. Making matters worse, we couldn’t even
run 3DMark, as the machine would crash every time, even after updating the AMD
and HP drivers.
The entire chassis operates as a speaker, with sound pumped out from the top vent. It use’s Bang and Olufsen ‘Play’ internal speakers, and they’re not too shabby. The lack of subwoofer means it won’t be rattling any desks, but for integrated speakers they do a decent job. The 1×1 Wi-Fi antennae/receiver is a little disappointing, given that 2×2 is the standard these days, but there’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port on the rear to ensure fast file transfers.
Given the interior capacity is so small, it’s no surprise that this unit isn’t upgradable. So you’re stuck with what your $999 gets you, which to be frank isn’t a whole lot. Intel’s Core i5 6400T is the beating heart of the system, though it’s more of a struggling pump than a
healthy source of power. This chip design is almost two years old, though it is thankfully a quad-core design (there’s no HyperThreading though). The main issue is its frequency, with a base of 2.2GHz and a Turbo of just 2.8GHz. HP has endowed this with a mere 8GB of DDR4-2133MHz memory, but where things really slow down is the hard drive. Rather than go with the super-speed, ultra-small SSDs that are now commonplace in mini-PCs, HP has favoured quantity over quality.
The Seagate ST2000DM001 2TB Barracuda Desktop drive is a scary throwback to the days before SSDs. Using the Wave is like going back in time three years, where it would take more than a few seconds to open even the simplest of applications. We’re positive that
upgrading this to a snazzy NVMe would improve the speed of this unit no end, but alas instead you’ll spend most of your time admiring this machine’s stunning good looks as you patiently wait for it to do the simplest of tasks.
Mini-PC that it at least five times faster than Wave for a cost that is just 40% more. What you’re paying for with the Wave is the immensely beautiful Tesla chassis… and
that’s about it. We’re sorry, but when performance is this bad, we simply can’t
recommend it, no matter how damn good it looks. Although, we do look forward to seeing what savvy modders will be able to build inside such a unique case once they gut it.
- Intel Core i5 6400T (quad-core, Turbo 2.8GHz)
- 8GB DDR4-2133MHz
- AMD R9 M470 w/ 2GB GDDR5 GPU