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HP HPE h8xt-1070t desktop computer "review"

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    HP HPE h8xt-1070t desktop computer "review"

    I thought someone who's looking to purchase a new workstation for Revit might benefit from my most recent purchasing experience.

    Our office needed a new workstation, and for various reasons, I've kind of had it with Dell, so after a ten year hiatus, I decided to go back to HP. While I’m an experienced system builder, I’ve refrained from rolling my own for our office since I’m an architect first, and the firm’s IT guy second, and when I'm busy with architecture, I can't be taking time out to mess around with a broken computer. I always get the 3-year on-site service warranty.

    I ordered the HP Elite h8xt configured with the following:
    i7-2600 (3.4GHz)
    8 GB RAM
    1GB Radeon HD 6450 (to be replaced - see below)
    600w PSU
    1.5 TB HDD (free upgrade from 750 GB)
    Blu-ray drive (free upgrade)
    Windows 7 x64

    I ordered separately an Intel 510 120GB SSD and a MSI Nvidia GeForce 560 Ti video card from newegg.

    The HP Elite is a "consumer" oriented desktop, generally available through HP's Home/Home Office channel. Large firms that need to order through HP's Business channel are probably out of luck - I don't believe this computer is available outside the Home/Home Office channel.

    I ordered it with the entry video card, but upgraded to the 600w PSU because I knew I wanted to replace the video card with my own selection (frankly, the 460w PSU option would have been more than adequate). I could have gotten an Nvidia GF 550 Ti with the stock system, and in retrospect, I should have stuck with that if for no other reason than to see if I could discern any difference between the 550 Ti and 560 Ti. Surprising, an SSD isn’t offered as a configuration choice.

    It was very easy to install the new hardware. But when it came time to reinstall Windows onto the SSD, I realized that the computer doesn’t come with a Windows disc. So I went online and ordered an official “Windows Restore Kit” for $25... before realizing that I could create my own restore discs from the computer's original HDD. The restore kit came as 5 CDs… rather than on a single DVD… idiotic.

    What turned out to be even more idiotic was two-fold. First, I discovered there was no way to direct the restoration kit to install Windows on the SSD instead of the HDD (I had both drives installed). Even swapping boot order in the BIOS didn’t work. It may be possible with separate utilities or a little trickery, but I figured the most straightforward way would be to temporarily unplug the HDD.

    But then even more frustratingly, I discovered that the restore kit would not install to a drive smaller than what I had ordered the computer with… apparently the partitions sizes are fixed as part of the restore kit. So even though there's obviously plenty of room on the SSD, it doesn't match the size of the 1.5 TB HDD that came with the computer. UGGGHHH!

    So, then I had to order a copy of Windows 7 Pro (OEM) as well (newegg again).

    Other notes… HP’s product website is a mixed-bag as well. While I found it far easier to find and compare systems on HP’s site, and there systems had better configurations than Dell's (IMHO), the “product support” portion is just as frustrating. When I went to look for drivers to download, I searched for HPE h8xt and got a list of product numbers, but no way to identify which product number corresponded to my computer model. I checked the computer itself, the product invoice, and the product page where I originally configured it. I finally found it on the actual shipping box carton… the only place to this day that I’ve seen it. And the product “documentation” is useless for anyone other than those who don't know how to turn it on. Also, while the computer comes with two USB 3.0 ports, they stopped functioning after a misc. Windows update (this is unrelated to anything I did). I haven't taken the time to look into fixing it, but after a little googling, I discovered a number of other users have this same issue.

    So, would I do it again? I would probably stick with the Nvidia GF 550 (and the 460w PSU along with it)… I have a strong suspicion that the GF 560 is overkill. That would also knock about $120 USD off the system price. I’d definitely do the SSD again, but I would stick with the pre-configured Windows “Home” version, and then order a W7 x64 Pro separately. That only adds ~$75 USD to the system configuration - well worth it to side-step HP's nonsense and all the crapware that comes with it.

    The system itself, now that it's up and running, is hard to beat. The computer's case is professional enough looking for an office, and is quiet enough for a typical office environment to not be noticed. Recommended!

    :thumbsup:
    Last edited by iru69; July 29, 2011, 06:58 AM.

    #2
    But can it run Crysis?

    No serious though, good review.. I'm personally hoping to be the next in the office to get a new computer, might just be one like this.. :beer:

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      #3
      What was the cost of the base HP system, not including the extras you added?

      Comment


        #4
        Funny, the first 75% of that review sounding like a commercial for Macs. Knowing that HP still shags their customer with crapware is certainly worth knowing. In the end, I am a firm believer in doing my own install, no matter what the machine's provenance. Once you have the process of building an image down, it really save a huge amount of time at install, and later with maintenance and troubleshooting. Would just be nice if Microsoft made it a little easier to do.

        Gordon
        Pragmatic Praxis

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          #5
          The HP as ordered was $1,060 USD (not including tax) + $130 for the 3 year service plan.
          The GF 560 Ti was $250. The SSD was $285. Windows 7 Pro x64 was $135. $1,860 total (that includes essentially paying for Windows 7 Pro twice).

          If I was doing it again, I'd probably go with the stock GF 550 Ti, 460w PSU, Windows 7 Home, which would have been $1,100 + $130 for the 3 year service plan. Add in the SSD and W7 Pro, and that's $1,650 for a very fast workstation.

          Yep, the Windows world is full of junk... it's like being forced to eat at a fast food restaurant everyday. IMHO, most people who think Windows "rocks" just haven't owned a Mac (recently). If only Revit were OS X native.
          Last edited by iru69; July 29, 2011, 09:09 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by iru69 View Post
            Yep, the Windows world is full of junk... it's like being forced to eat at a fast food restaurant everyday. IMHO, most people who think Windows "rocks" just haven't owned a Mac (recently). If only Revit were OS X native.
            ... or linux/ubuntu Maya has been running on linux for years now.

            thanks for the review iru.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by iru69 View Post
              I’ve refrained from rolling my own for our office since I’m an architect first, and the firm’s IT guy second, and when I'm busy with architecture, I can't be taking time out to mess around with a broken computer
              1) Didn't you lost more time reinstalling, buying, upgrading etc then building the computer from scratch (parts)?
              2) How cheaper would you have come if it was made by you?
              3) Do you still have the 3 years warranty if you changed the PSU, video card and SSD? (Is the warranty on individual parts or on the computer as a whole)?

              Regards,
              Lucian.
              Revit Architecture 2013 Certified Professional

              Comment


                #8
                1. Under the circumstances that played out, it might not have taken all that much more time to build a computer from scratch. However, that doesn't change my reasoning or conclusion.

                2. I put together the exact same system (spec-wise) from scratch for a friend for ~$1,500 about five months ago. Prices have come down a bit since then on some of the components. You can obviously spend more or less depending on the case, PSU, MB, etc.

                3. The PSU came as part of the HP, so I didn't replace that on this system. I replaced the video card, which can easily be swapped back for the original one. The SSD can be taken out in ten minutes, if need be. The original HDD is still set pretty much as it was from the factory (I've done this a few times now - I typically create a new partition for data and just hide the original boot partition). However, neither replacing the video card or adding an SSD voids the warranty.

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                  #9
                  Just wanted to thank iru69 for the good review of the HP HPE, which I just purchased from HP last week, for a very good price. Like his desire to put a SSD in the mix, but not wanting to purchase another Windows 7 install disc, I took some time to see what might work. Long story short, the xxclone.exe application solves the problem, by only copying the files from the original boot drive to the SSD, a 111GB 6Gb/sec. version in my case, plugged into the 6Gb/sec port (0 and 1). Of course, there may be other free applications that will do the same thing, but having tried quite a few I wanted to make sure people knew about this utility. I know there will be others involving an SSD and will find this utility very helpful. Took 17 minutes to make the complete transfer from the Western Digital 7200 rpm drive.
                  -Rod

                  UPDATE - I can confirm that this process also works fine with WindowsXP Pro and a 3Gb/s 120GB OWC SSD in an older PC running an Intel E8600 C2D, configured today (1/26/12).
                  Last edited by rodpaine; January 26, 2012, 08:59 PM.

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