EVER SINCE THE first PC came out, nearly every single one has come in a rectangular box, and few manufacturers have made any efforts to innovate on the design. So it’s refreshing to see HP do something a little different with the Pavilion Wave: built into a triangular case with rounded edges, it looks very different to your average tower.
In fact, from a distance, you wouldn’t even think the Wave was a PC at all. With its soft material finish, the Wave looks more like a fancy Bluetooth speaker rather than a traditional PC. The B&O sticker on the front certainly doesn’t dispel that image. We rather like this design and the Wave is one of the few PCs that we’d happily have on display.
Rather than the high-end speaker branding being for show, the HP Pavilion Wave is designed with audio in mind. A single speaker at the top of the case fires upwards into a cone, distributing audio in a 360° arc.
Sound quality is rather impressive. With a single speaker, there’s no stereo separation, but the Wave produces powerful audio.
A surprising amount of bass, decent midrange and no distortion at maximum volume make this PC easy to listen to. In fact, we’d go as far to say that in most cases there’s no need for external speakers, and that the Wave is good enough by itself. That’s some going for a small computer.
Our general worry with this kind of PC is that the small body comes at the cost of performance. Fortunately, the Wave is capable of running most applications with ease. Inside is a quad-core Intel Core i5-6400T, which runs at a base speed of 2.2GHz (it can Turbo Boost to 2.8GHz when there’s enough thermal headroom).
This is a low-power processor, designed for enclosed spaces. Unlike super low-power CPUs intended for ultra-portable laptops, the 6400T is a proper desktop CPU.
Combined with the 8GB of DDR4 RAM, the Wave scored 59 in our benchmarks. It struggled a little in the multitasking test, scoring 40, which shows that this PC isn’t ideal for powerful computing tasks, but regular use and photo editing will be easy.
Graphics are provided by the processor’s integrated Intel Graphics 530 chip. This is fine for a bit of low-detail 720p gaming, but the GPU can’t handle more demanding games at higher resolutions.
HP has installed a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard disk. Both are configured as separate drives, so you’ll need to manage the space carefully. We suggest using the SSD for Windows 10 and standard applications, and the hard disk for games, documents and large applications.
This combination has the advantage that the Pavilion Wave boots quickly and feels responsive while providing plenty of storage for most people’s needs.
There’s no way to upgrade the RAM or storage, as the HP Pavilion Wave is sealed. Inside, the design is rather clever, with one side of the triangle used for the hard disk; one side used for the motherboard, processor and SSD; and the last side used for the cooling system. HP has used copper pipes that extract heat and move it towards the thermal system. This, in turn, blows the extracted heat across cooling fins and out the top. Despite the fancy cooling, the PC is audible at all times, with the fan constantly on. We didn’t find the Wave too annoying, but we’d have preferred it to be silent when idle at the least.
A surprising amount of bass, decent mid-range and no distortion at maximum volume make this PC easy to listen to
Expansion is limited to the ports provided. At the front, there’s one USB3 port, but you’ll find two more at the back and a USB3.1 Type-C port, too. An integrated SD card is nice to see, and great for photographers.
For once, a PC manufacturer has done the right thing, and included a bundled wireless keyboard and mouse that use the Wave’s Bluetooth receiver, so there’s no need for an ugly external dongle. The keyboard is rather nice and has an internal battery that’s charged via Micro USB. It’s pretty much full size, although the number pad has been shifted right next to the main keys. We found it quick and fast to type on, with the keys proving to be very responsive. Only the half-sized Return key threw us off a little.
The bundled mouse isn’t up to the same quality and isn’t rechargeable. It’s a basic affair with two buttons and a scroll wheel. It will do for light use, but better options are available.
There’s nothing quite like the HP Pavilion Wave. If you’re after an attractive PC that can handle all the jobs you throw at it, it’s an excellent choice. If you’re happy with a traditional, boxy tower PC, though, you can get better performance for less.
PROCESSOR Quad-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-6400T • RAM 8GB • FRONT USB PORTS 1x USB3 • REAR USB PORTS 2xUSB 3,1x USB3 Type-C • TOTAL STORAGE 128GB SSD, 1TB hard disk • GRAPHICS CARD Intel HD Graphics 530 • DISPLAY N/A • OPERATING SYSTEM Windows 10 • WARRANTY One year RTB • DETAILS www.hp.com
A good-looking and great-sounding PC, this is one computer we’d be proud to have on display