HP’s Envy Phoenix desktop is built to play well with HTC’s Vive

HP's Envy Phoenix desktop is a pre-built PC that I might actually want to buy. Sure, that might sound crazy from someone who's always built his own systems. Unlike some Godzilla-villain-alike systems available from other companies right now, though, the Phoenix offers a subdued exterior with just enough blinginess to suggest powerful components under the hood. HP says it worked with HTC to make this system ready for the Vive VR headset when those goggles become available, too.

For the most part, the base specs of the Phoenix (at least those of the 860-170VR model that we're concerned with) don't betray its sinister-yet-stealthy shell. CPU options are limited to a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-6700K right now. HP says owners can overclock the unlocked Skylake chip. A Radeon R9 390X is the only choice available on the graphics-card front, but HP indicates that a GeForce GTX 980 Ti will become an option in the future.

8GB of DDR4 memory and a 1TB mechanical hard drive are a little disappointing for this machine's $1299 base price, but buyers appear to be able to add an M.2 SSD or 2.5" SATA drive of their own after purchase. HP offers a 256GB M.2 SSD as an option for $175, and there appear to be provisions for up to three 3.5" mechanical drives inside. For its part, HP says the Phoenix is easily upgradeable.

The Envy Phoenix also comes with a pair of customizable light bars on its front panel for extra gamer cred, some vague Bang and Olufsen audio mojo, DVD or optional Blu-ray drives, and a built-in card reader.

Comments closed
    • DreadCthulhu
    • 4 years ago

    Assuming the relative price HP pays for processors is about the same as we consumers pay, it would have been more sensible to drop the CPU down a notch to the 6600K, which is $120 cheaper, and use the money saved to shove in a 250ish GB SSD boot drive & up the base RAM to 16 GB. That would result in a system that cost HP pretty much exactly the same to make, and for almost all real world tasks would be more pleasant to use.

    And that is why the only pre-builds desktops I would recommend are refurbed business machines for someone who needs a basic book report, facebook, & youtube computer. Otherwise you end up with very unbalanced systems.

    I will say the case on these looks quite nice though. Maybe someone could get HP to sell it separately?

    • Thresher
    • 4 years ago

    As someone whose PC tastes veer towards minimalism, I actually like the looks of these. I do not care for boy-racer cases that are one-sticker away from looking like something NASCAR built. Understated power is what I like and this fits the bill.

    • libradude
    • 4 years ago

    I caught this in the specs of the lowest-priced Phoenix – 860-014(?):

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 (4 GB DDR3 dedicated)

    You should see the face I’m making right now. (It’s not pretty)

    C’mon HP, DDR5 or don’t bother. And this on a system with 12GB.. is the card just for the extra video outputs?

      • Chrispy_
      • 4 years ago

      LOL, good spot.

      [quote<]HP says it worked with HTC to make this system ready for the Vive VR headset[/quote<] So, Valve and HTC are joined at the hip as SteamVR/Vive development partners. It's interesting that the 750Ti, a card three times as powerful as the.... [quote<]NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 (4 GB DDR3 dedicated)[/quote<] ...also fails the SteamVR readiness test with a score of 0.

    • LightenUpGuys
    • 4 years ago

    Why release a “new” PC based on ancient 28nm GPUs and say its ready for VR? Maybe they got a deal on all the 28nm AMD and Nvidia GPUs and are packaging them in a PC with no SSD?

    Come on.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      Because there are no shipping GPUs past 28nm?
      The market doesn’t just stop when things aren’t new.

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    No SSD is the height of stupidity, because it is the single most important change to the user experience this decade. At $60 a 2.5″ SATA SSD is hardly frivolous, especially when the 1TB drive has to cost at least half that already.

    Nobody spending that much has any right to tolerate a mechanical boot drive, and anyone at HP thinking that is a sensible build needs to be relieved of their position. Being charged $175 for a M.2 is also insulting when they’re actually one third that cost.

      • VincentHanna
      • 4 years ago

      Fortunately, SSDs are cheap and easy to install. I remember when PC manufacturers stopped including monitors, mice and keyboards with base systems. It was disappointing, but I got over it. I’d rather pay $60-100 for an after market SSD than pay an extra $400 to have HP “upgrade” me, any day of the week.

      • slowriot
      • 4 years ago

      Except… they can absolutely ship a workable and usable system that doesn’t suffer in terms of game performance by going with the 1TB HDD in lowest trim.

      If they ship it with just an SSD alone they would have to target capacities greater than 250GB. 250GB is not remotely sufficient as a sole drive. Which would drive up prices or eliminate the already very thin margins desktop PCs have. Dual drive solutions (SSD+HDD) would also be too costly for the base trim, plus would increase number of potential failure points, plus increase all the component sourcing that never, ever gets considered on TR.

      My point isn’t to justify HPs choices per se but to say… man I’m tired of all these “OH GOD THIS IS SO OBVIOUS” posts which frankly don’t even begin to look beyond the spec sheet.

        • auxy
        • 4 years ago

        I submit that this is your opinion: [quote<]Except... they can absolutely ship a workable and usable system that doesn't suffer in terms of game performance by going with the 1TB HDD in lowest trim.[/quote<]The difference between Windows on SSD and Windows on HDD is stark enough that I personally would call an HDD-only system at this time "unworkable." Call me spoiled, call em privileged, but it doesn't change anything. You'd never catch me recommending these to anyone, and I recommend things to a lot of people. That said, I'd [i<]almost[/i<] never recommend a pre-built desktop to anyone, ever. Outside of ultra-SFF and low-end there's very little reason to put up with the lack of control over component choice. It's the main reason I so vehemently hate laptops.

          • slowriot
          • 4 years ago

          Forgive me, but I find these endless discussions where we only consider what is ostensibly a singular viewpoint, “the enthusiast,” as how we judge all products to be mind numbing. I don’t have a spinning disk in anything but my mass storage NAS. But to pretend like HP could legitimately ship a system with maybe 150GB free storage for gaming purposes is beyond me. It’s not realistic at this time. Maybe in a year, or even the end of this one, we’ll see 500GB SSDs fall into a range where it is doable from a product planning stand point but we’re not there.

          But enthusiasts love to repeat themselves and hear the echo back.

            • auxy
            • 4 years ago

            That’s a lovely strawman argument you have there. Tell me more about how they can only have one disk. (*’▽’)

            • slowriot
            • 4 years ago

            The customer is welcome to add more themselves or pay for additional storage up front. We are talking about the base configuration offered by HP.

            • Spunjji
            • 4 years ago

            $1299 is a hell of a “base” price.

            • Chrispy_
            • 4 years ago

            And yet an iPad with 16GB of total storage or a convertible with 32GB of storage is not only fine, it’s the norm.

            Your argument is so full of holes there’s none of it left.

            If HP shipped a PC with a 128GB SSD and left only 80GB free, that’s still 80GB of space. The machine still works and if you want additional storage you can either buy it up front or add it [b<]easily[/b<] later. Open case, insert drive into tool-free tray, connect the two cables that are already in-place for most of these pre-built systems and the drive is ready for formatting. By contrast, installing an SSD has the added complication of cloning the system partition and bootloader onto a smaller drive from a larger 1TB drive. Not all cloning software handles that gracefully and not all cloning software is leyman-friendly. What if you have more than 128GB of data on your system partition when it comes to clone? Does your leyman have a clue how to resize partitions and seperate their OS folders from their data folders? Is the Windows install supported under HP's leyman-care warraty after a user moves their OS and something goes wrong? Basically you object to a machine that has limited free space, like every other product in the market now - but you endorse saving a few bucks to make the user experience slow and painful, and add complexity and risk to any storage upgrade? How is that an argument you even [i<]want[/i<] to make, let alone are making?

            • slowriot
            • 4 years ago

            An iPad is not expected to install games which routinely ship with 50GB+ install sizes. HP wouldn’t hear the end of it if customers could barely manage to install a couple of games before running out of space ON THEIR NEW GAMING PC.

            We are talking about an OEM shipping a complete system to customers that 9/10 times isn’t going to be upgraded by the customer until at least its out of warranty, if ever. And you’re here trying to make an argument around the difficulty of cloning drives.

            Do you not get tired of posting this same crap over and over and wondering why OEMs continue not doing your “obvious” things? I guess not, in fact, I get the impression you love doing it.

            • Spunjji
            • 4 years ago

            You seem to be missing the point that this is a premium gaming system. If they have to charge $100 (or more likely $60) more to get an SSD in then they bloody well should do.

            Nickel-and-diming is why HP backed themselves into a corner with their consumer business and why Apple are still growing market share with their hilariously overpriced products.

            • slowriot
            • 4 years ago

            If you want the SSD so bad you’d pay $100 then… DO IT. It’s an option!

            But nope, the concept that maybe they did some market research and saw an opportunity to hit a specific price point is beyond us all apparently.

            Again, your statement like Chrispy and auxy is in the enthusiast echo chamber. The ONLY THING you all are considering is your personal ideas of what is acceptable performance wise. And not any of the realities of who buys these systems, at what price points, under what kind of purchase terms, how you source and supply the components… NONE of it.

            Comments along the lines of “Welp, for me its only $60 to buy a 250GB SSD so why won’t HP JUST DO IT?” are ignorant as hell. It takes in absolutely zero of the business side of this equation into consideration. You’re not even attempting to have that conversation. If you want to discuss with these type of things in mind then I welcome it, but we’re not. We’re stuck in the echo chamber.

      • Spunjji
      • 4 years ago

      Having worked with them in the Enterprise sector, HP are f***ing useless when it comes to SSD adoption. They don’t use them by default in the majority of their servers, or notebooks, or workstations, or desktops… and if you want to add them they overcharge monstrously.

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 4 years ago

    I’m sure HP loves it when TR does a news-vertisement of one of their products and none of the comments have anything really positive to say about it…

    And here’s something else negative – I can live with 8GB of ram, but don’t try to sell me a $1300 computer without an SSD. For probably $1400, including a windows license, you can build a very similar PC, with an almost certainly better Mobo and PSU, plus add in at least a 256gb SSD. The extra cash is well worth the getting higher quality parts and a beefier PSU.

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 4 years ago

      Can you tell them to send me a check? Sure would be nice.

        • DrDominodog51
        • 4 years ago

        I know some people…

        • southrncomfortjm
        • 4 years ago

        I think the checks only come when we actually think the product is good. The price on these isn’t terrible, but they aren’t really that great out of the box.

    • Anovoca
    • 4 years ago

    Looks cool on the outside but that doesn’t mean the mobo isn’t some OEM pile with poor components, no vrm heatsinks, and limited fan control in the BIOS.

    • BillyBuerger
    • 4 years ago

    The style actually doesn’t look bad. But then I saw a [url=http://ssl-product-images.www8-hp.com/digmedialib/prodimg/lowres/c04714631.png<]picture of the back[/url<]. So it looks like a crappy OEM case with a nice looking cover on it. And a voltatge switch on the PSU? Not even active PFC? I think I just threw up a little.

      • BillyBuerger
      • 4 years ago

      Oh, that’s actually the 860se. So maybe not 100% representative of what the 860-170VR is. But probably close.

      • blastdoor
      • 4 years ago

      I think the front looks pretty bad too.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 4 years ago

    I expect it to cost $2000+, knowing OEMs. (for the 980 Ti version)

    • DrDominodog51
    • 4 years ago

    I’m willing to bet it ships with a 600 Watt Bronze PSU to go with the 390x.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      …with a 3000-rpm, 80-mm fan that sucks the life out of the room and the dust out of the case.

        • brucethemoose
        • 4 years ago

        The 390X’s leaf-blower cooler will almost certainly outdo the CPU fan (which is probably 120mm since it’s an AIO).

      • brucethemoose
      • 4 years ago

      What’s wrong with that?

        • NovusBogus
        • 4 years ago

        The other components in the system will need to get some power too. 🙂

          • brucethemoose
          • 4 years ago

          A 290X system drew 350W under load in TR’s review:

          [url<]https://techreport.com/review/25509/amd-radeon-r9-290x-graphics-card-reviewed/12[/url<] 600W should be more than enough, even with a healthy OC.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 4 years ago

            PSUs are most efficient when they’re not under max load. I think 600W is appropriate, given that example of 350W draw (and knowing that’s still probably around 310-320W internally since TRs PSUs are more efficient than what’s likely to be in here).

        • DrDominodog51
        • 4 years ago

        To make bronze requirements, a PSU must be 82% efficient at 100% load or 85% at 50% load. HP will most likely cheap out on said PSU and have the OEM who can make it for the cheapest manufacture the PSU. The components in said PSU will be questionable at best. When a realistic stress test (i.e. Broken game menus that cause the GPU to go 100%) comes along, said PSU will barely be able to keep up with the 390x and 6700. Naturally the PSU will be very hot during this period due to its low efficiency. Stay in a game menu for too long for too many times and the questionable components will fail.

        Also, I was right about the 600 W PSU part, but I’m not sure of about the efficiency of the PSU

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