HP offers two different designs in its selection of desktop computers. The Envy is a tower PC, which requires a separate monitor and can generally fit under a desk. The HP Pavilion is an all-in-one PC, which integrates a monitor into its design. It takes up less space and looks elegant on a desk or table, but does not have the speed or power of a tower. All-in-one PCs are available with a standard LCD monitors or with a touch-screen monitor. Keeping in mind what you need a computer to do and what you might not need is key to choosing the model that is right for you.
1Needs and Usage: Consider your needs and how you plan to use your new computer. If you play video games, you will want an advanced graphics card, a powerful processor and plenty of RAM memory. A photographer will want a large hard drive to store digital photos. A student in a dorm room will want something affordable that doesn't take up too much space, and won't need extra processor power and memory just to browse the Web and write papers.
2Fundamentals: With the all-in-one HP desktops, what you save in space you generally pay for in performance. At the time of publication, the HP Envy tower PC comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and up to 16GB of RAM. The Pavilion All-in-One uses an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor and a maximum of 8GB of RAM. Additional options are limited by the Pavilion's motherboard and sleek form factor. For example, the Envy comes with up to a 3TB hard drive with an option for a second 1TB hard drive. The Pavilion accommodates only a single hard drive, to a maximum of 1TB. The Pavilion graphics card -- the NVIDIA GeForce 610M -- is built onto the motherboard. The Envy gives you a choice of several video cards, with up to 3GB of video RAM -- a priority for graphic designers and gamers.
3Peripherals: If all you need to connect to your computer is a keyboard and mouse, printer and a smartphone, you can't go wrong with any of the HP desktops. They all come with at least two USB ports, which you can expand with a USB hub if needed. To connect the computer to an HDTV, you should select a model that includes an HDMI or DVI-enabled video card, like the Eyefinity Radion on the Pavilion. The Pavilion also has an option for a built-in TV tuner and remote control, which the Envy does not offer.
4Budget: When comparing models, keep in mind that HP all-in-one PCs include a monitor, while the towers do not. If budget is an issue, but you still want to get the most powerful PC you can, it's generally best to get the system with the best processor you can, while opting for less memory and hard drive space. Having a couple of empty RAM slots means you can add more later. You can also build onto your storage by adding an external hard drive later, or adding a second internal hard drive if the system accommodates one. Upgrading processors, on the other hand, is a more involved proposition. It means discarding the one you bought before and, in some cases, it means replacing the motherboard as well.