Hands-On: HP TouchSmart 520 PC

HP TouchSmart 520 AIO Consumer PC_Front Left_Close Up.jpg

A couple weeks back, when we unveiled the TouchSmart 520, I gave you the quick line on what the all-in-one desktop was all about. Where that story sports slick marketing videos that showed how the 520 looks and works, what you’re about to read here is all about the results.  I got my hands on the 520 and now, after kicking the tires for a week, I’m ready to report back.


In addition, I threw out the call on the blog: Ask me what you want me to look for and test on the TouchSmart 520. Well, I took a couple suggestions from the crowd….below are some of those results. Read on to see how the 520 fared with my tests -- and yours!


My test unit turned out to be the TouchSmart 520xt. Under the hood it’s got….


CPU: Intel Core i7–2600S at 2.8GHz (starts with i5-2400S)
RAM: 8GB (4GB RAM Standard)
HDD: 2TB 5400rpm HDD (starts with 1TB 7200 rpm drive)
Display: 23-inch touch screen w/ 1920 by 1080 native resolution
Video: 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6550 (Integrated graphics, standard), 1 optional HDMI-in
Audio: 1 headphone-out, 1 mic-in jack; HP Pulse subwoofer Out, Beats audio
Interesting I/O: I like the two side-mounted USB 3.0 ports!



Before I say anything here, I’m going to let the Windows Experience Index do a lot of the talking.


TouchSmart 520 WEI.jpg


As you can see, it’s got some guts. Where the scores dip slightly is the hard drive speed department. A 5400rpm drive gives you a lot of value, but doesn’t access data as quickly as a 7200rpm drive. That actually affects some of the performance you see in-application. So, for example, if you’re stashing tons of MP3s and photos, a 5400rpm drive is fine. If you’re more into editing video or playing higher-end videogames, hard drive speed can impact performance. Just something to keep in mind. (If I were to buy a 520, I’d make sure to buy one with a 7200rpm hard drive).

Here’s what wound up happening in some of my tests:


Boot to Windows 7: 58 seconds
System Shutdown: 15 Seconds
System sleep:  3 seconds
System wake-up: 3 seconds


Quick Gaming Tests:
Total War: Shogun 2
720p Balanced, DirectX 11 Benchmark: 25.75 fps (Frames per second)
1080p Balanced, Direct X 11 Benchmark: 9.22 fps


Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II – Retribution
1600 x 900,  settings at high – to – ultra (translation: looks purty!): 23.16 fps
1360 x 768, settings at high – to – ultra: 31.55 fps


The People’s Review: For AdriaticBlue


AdriaticBlue asked me to test out a couple apps on a baseline model of the 520t (Intel Core i3, integrated graphics). So, the obvious problem is that I was given a fairly higher-end machine compared to what Adriatic had in mind. Questing through the labs, we found a 420 with similar specs: Core i3-2100 CPU, Integrated Graphics and 6GB of RAM.


On Adriatic’s test request list….


…Creating vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator CS5.  A free trial is available for download.  If Illustrator is not an option, please test with CorelDRAW X5 which also has a free trial available. If you have a lot of time on your hands, test both. :-) 


CIMG0198.jpg…Running one of the most popular R/C Flight Sims available, RealFlight G5.  There is a G5 demo download available for free. Note: This demo may require that you're logged in as Admin and that you set G5 to run in Admin mode.  http://www.realflight.com/free-g5-demo.html. [Hey Adriatic: That's actually a fun little demo, thanks for tipping me off to it! - Darren]


Here’s the short version: Illustrator works as far as I can tell – but I’m by no means an artist. My idea of vector graphics involves a Star Wars arcade cabinet from the 1980s. But I can report that I didn’t have a problem running the flight game on the 420.


Honestly, the machine is up-to-snuff and scores well on the Windows Experience Index – out of a possible 7.9, the 420 scores 7.1 on processor and 7.3 on RAM. But for graphics, it nets a 5.6. Not bad for your everyday use, but I always favor stepping up the graphics on any all-in-one machine you consider.


These TouchSmarts look sweet, sure. They are awesomely fun to try touch-screening apps where you’d normally use a keyboard and mouse. Just think carefully for the future when you configure this machine and you can get some good mileage out of it.  (I’m actually working on a couple stories chock-full of upgrading tips – for before you even buy a PC. Stay tuned for those!)


 If you have questions, fire away! And if you have more test suggestions for future Hands-On tests, let me know!

by the_haus
on ‎10-04-2011 11:03 AM

While I own a 610 (and think its awesome), this blog sucks. 1 or maybe 2 updates a week?  Ugh.  I hate how you all used the launch (or so called launch) of "information" about updates on touchpads to advertise your psuedo-blog.  This thing is one of the worst I've ever read and I really do try, I keep up pretty frequently just to see what you might have to say because one day it might actually be worth it.  It is laughable that you get 0-2 comments now per article and the touchpad one is a bunch of idiots that keep asking to be put on the list.


I mean for real, easter eggs for a **bleep**ty old calculator?!  Cutting Edge!  The Diablo III thing was ok as was you doing what this blog does best (nothing) inside that trailer for some movie.  What you really need to do is kill this blog and just stick to twitter most importantly for the 160 char limit where you should definitely get a pay cut bc lord knows no matter how much you get paid for writing this it's wayyy too much. 


As for your touchpad?  I did really want one, then you **bleep** the bed and pretty much everything else possible so I bought an ASUS TF101 and it murders whatever you had been trying to do. 

by GizmoGladstone
‎10-04-2011 12:35 PM - edited ‎10-04-2011 12:45 PM

@the_haus....thanks for the....well....comments. And that you like the TouchSmart 610. 


Let me try to address some of the stuff you're talking about since you went to the trouble. We're trying to keep up a steady flow of stories when it makes sense. 


We did the calculator stories for people that are honest-to-god fans of calculators around a pretty significant milestone for those guys. They do exist. Sorry it isn't for you. I am in the middle on working on a bunch of things that I can't talk about yet, but there is some cool stuff coming.


Generally speaking, we're trying to provide additional context to stuff we're making, not pretending to be an engadget or gizmodo and cover everything under the sun here. I'm trying to go into products and give more than a press release. I'm actually sharing honest feedback on how a product works and things to be mindful of when making any purchasing decisions. Y'know, like in the above story you just posted a comment on. 


If you want to share some insight and feedback on the site, that's cool. We're always looking to make TheNextBench better.  



by mistercr0wley
on ‎10-05-2011 07:28 AM

Looks to be an all around solid machine. I would agree that the hard drive time is a factor. But does it REALLY affect game that much?


I would love to have the 520. Beggars can't be choosers....

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎10-05-2011 10:25 AM

I don't have benchmarks in front of me to show the differences (I don't have many low-rpm drives on-hand at the moment), but I can tell you this much, mistercr0wley: When I stepping up from a 5400rpm HDD to 7200rpm you can tell the difference....depending upon your usage. Basically, that speed is how quickly it is pulling data from the hard drive. So, if you have a high-end CPU and tons of RAM, your computer could potentially be twiddling it's virtual thumbs waiting on a slow hard drive if you're trying to push high-end activites like video editing / high-end gaming. If you're going for general-purpose use, you might not notice it as much.


THAT SAID, you can always manage performance. For example, play games at lower resolutions or toggle things like triple buffering in options so that you can have things pre-loaded.


and don't let me scare you, there are definitely options here to spec out a 520 with a 7200rpm drive -- that's by default. It's just that my test rig didn't have it.


Hope this helps!

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