HP Pavilion a1640n & a1630n: Intel vs. AMD?

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The small size (approximately 15"h x 7"w x 16"h) of these systems puts them roughly on par with short tower retail case such as the Antec NSK 3300/3400 or Silverstone TJ08. They are small enough to be place atop most desks without looking too obtrusive, unlike bigger midtowers. What's very clear with just a glance at the front panel is that these PCs are well equipped for connectivity and portable data transfer. This is confirmed by the detailed specifications on the previous page.

One of the PCs had all the promotional stickers on it still.

Each PC is equipped a 16X DVD LightScribe drive that can handle a wide variety of 12cm optical media, and even print labels direct to the disc. Each PC also has a 9-in-1 memory card reader with four slots and an extra USB2 port tossed in for good measure. Beneath a slide down door under the card reader is a port for HP's Pocket Media Drive, which is a 2.5" notebook drive (80 or 120gb capacity) in a proprietary case that can be plugged in and out easily, much like a backup tape cassette or a big floppy disk. The plug-in interface is a standard USB port, which allows the Pocket Media Drive to be used with a USB cable with other computers and devices not equipped with a Pocket Media Drive port. Also under the silding door are the audio connectors, and IEEE1394 (Firewire) and USB connectors. All of this connectivity and portable media accessibility seems quite extensive for PCs priced well under $1,000.

The back panels of the two systems were just about identical in terms number and type of ports. It's obvious that they are equipped with different model fans, but other than that, they are just about identical. The number of PCi slots identifies them as having MicroATX motherboards.

A SPDIF input on the a1640n is the only difference; the same PSU model is used.

Only the right panel can be removed, by removing a single thumbscrew. The panel itself measured 0.9mm thick, fairly substantial for a modest sytem. The fit was not particularly good, however. This is what you see inside the two systems:

HP Pavilion a1630n

HP Pavilion a1640n

A Bestec 300W ATX power supply is used in each system. It is a conventional 80mm fan cooled unit with very open intake vents on the back and underside of its casing. It has a manual 115/230 VAC switch, and it does not have Active Power Factor Correction. Two 1024mb sticks of RAM are used in each PC; each has two more memory slots. The CPU heatsink/fan in each system is a generic all-aluminum type. The one in the a1630n comes from AVC and the one in the a1640n comes from Asus (which happens to be the maker of both motherboards). The PSU fan, 92mm case fan and the CPU heatsink fan in both systems are all ball bearing types — the buzzing from each makes this abundantly clear, especially when powered up without the hard drive.

The front vent probably doesn't do much.

There is a slot vent under the bottom edge of the front bezel, and some perforations on the inner front panel, but it's not likely that much air flows though these because of the long distance to the fans. Most of intake vents are on the side cover; they are much closer to the fans. The CPU fan certainly draw most of its air through the side, and probably much of the intake flow for the back panel fan is also same vent. This means the HDD doesn't really get much direct airflow, but again, there is a vent on the side just below where it sits, so the systems are quite well ventilated.

The three side vents are the main intake air sources for the power supply, CPU/motherboard, and the HDD — in that order, from top to bottom.

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