How to Upgrade the HPE Phoenix

When I first talked about the HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix, I don’t think there’s any question about who is being targeted: Someone that likes games and can appreciate power…..but doesn’t want to dig inside their PC all that often. In short, the Phoenix is built for a more mainstream crowd that is cool with a single-GPU system. You know, because maybe they are OK with playing games at 1920 by 1080 resolutions….

 

I took the HPE Phoenix for a couple quick tests and it performed pretty well. However, a couple questions kept popping up both in my head and in the forums: How tough is this thing to upgrade? How far can you really take the Phoenix?  Why would I need to upgrade the graphics in this machine? Can my giant-sausage fingers fit inside this tight case? All fair questions…..that I'm about to answer with a quick video....

 

 

Q: How tough is this thing to upgrade?

In previous stories I've noted that there's this big crossbar that sits in front of the graphics card - it is there primarily to keep the card secure when it's in transit (whether it’s getting from the factory to your house or if you're lugging this to a LAN party). In order to do the card swap, it really wasn't too big a chore. 

 

  1. Undo the two screws keeping the retaining bar in place.
  2. Remove the exterior plate that keeps the cards in place (another two screws).
  3. Unplug power to whatever card you have in there.
  4. Unseat the old card. (This is the only part that may take a second or two because you've got cramped quarters in a tiny PC and the cabling comes over the graphics card. Once you get past that, it's a breeze)
  5. Plug in the new one.

 

All said and done, maybe two minutes of your time. If you don’t take a drink break. Like I did.

 

You know what? How about I just show you how it’s done, then you’ll see I’m not blowing smoke.

 

 

 

Q: How far can you really take the Phoenix? 

Well, unlike competing small form-factor PCs I’ve seen lately, this guy has a 600 Watt power supply. That means it has ample horsepower to run your PC fast…and still handle a solid Graphics board. While the Phoenix’s case is a restructured HPE, it remains small and manages to squeeze in all the pieces you need. Recently I’ve been running tests and I’ve had no problem swapping in and out cards – like AMD’s Radeon HD 7950 and NVIDIA’s GTX 580. (As I just demoed in the video).

 

If you want, you can expand the RAM up to 16GB and there’s enough room to strap in 3 storage drives if you need to the room.

 

Q: Why would I need to upgrade the graphics in this machine?
Hey I get it, not everybody plays games. If you’re not a gamer, your gut is probably telling you that you won’t need to upgrade the graphics. It’s true that you might not need it right this minute – gaming is constantly evolving and demanding more – but plenty of other demanding programs exist and Windows 8 is just around the corner with an even frostier interface that looks gorgeous. This is what can help speed along compressing / encoding video and the newest revs of Adobe’s creative suites are full of hooks into GPU-based processing, for example. Just throwing it out there

In short, upgrading graphics (and RAM) is just a smart way to prolong the PC you bought.

 

And if you really want to get more out of the graphics card you already have, I highly recommend you check out these common sense graphics card tips I laid out a little while back: Know Your Graphic Limits.

 

Q: Can my giant-sausage fingers fit inside this tight case?

That’s more of a personal question.

 

You can scale up the Phoenix and see where you can take it right here.

 

 

Any other questions I can answer? i'm here for you!

Comments
by FattysGoneWild
on ‎04-23-2012 01:22 AM

Question for ya. Gleason says the big metal bar is for transit. Yet in a video. He mentioned it is for stability and to put less stress on the mobo from heavy cards. Can you clarify this? I own a Phoenix as well but mine is a h9t. Great machine. All in all. I don't know if the bar should remain or take it off. I have a Evga Superclocked GTX 560 in mine.

by GizmoGladstone
‎04-23-2012 02:03 PM - edited ‎04-23-2012 03:01 PM

First, thanks for the question.

 

I had the chance to catch up with John Gleason live so that I got the answer straight for you: That crossbar is to help put less stress on the mobo from heavy cards...in transit.

 

In John's own words: "If a customer does not need to remove it, we recommend that they just keep it in place. There would be little need to remove it unless the graphics card was being replaced. Always use it when transporting the PC."

 

 

Also, glad to hear that you're digging the Phoenix!

 

-D

by FattysGoneWild
on ‎04-23-2012 10:59 PM

Thank you. Looks like I will just go ahead and leave it as is. Since it does not seem to be hurting any thing.

 

P.S.

 

On a unrelated note. Are you by chance active in the HP forums as well? I have tried to bring this to the attention of HP and Phoenix owners. Specifically owners with the SSD option like myself that came with a 160gb intel ssd. Mine came with the older firmware. Which can cause the ssd to basically become a brick. HP has updated firmware for it. But, not letting customers know about it. Here is my thread. http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Desktop-Hardware/ALERT-for-new-HPE-Phoenix-h9-series-owners-with-160gb-... I updated to the new firmware the first day I got it. 

by bshor
on ‎04-24-2012 11:28 AM

Can the Phoenix handle more than 16Gb of memory, say using 4 8Gb DIMM's? Either using Sandy Bridge E or the new Ivy Bridge chips?

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎04-24-2012 03:57 PM

@ FattysGoneWild -- thanks for the head's up. I've flagged that with a couple people over here and let people know. DEFINITELY appreciate you letting me know!

 

@bshor - the short answer is yes. If you're getting a Phoenix that's packing a Core i7-3930K or Core i7-3960X CPU, then your machine has a Sandy Bridge E mobo. So in that case you are able to get that upgraded to 32GB w/ 4x 8GB DIMMs. My setup at home *only* has a measly 16GB.... Smiley Wink

by FattysGoneWild
‎04-25-2012 02:01 AM - edited ‎04-25-2012 02:04 AM

Do you know if HP will do a bios update to allow UEFI? I see it as an option for the bios application. But, when selecting it. Nothing happens. I assume HP disabled it for some reason? Its such a nice machine. I was quite surprised only seeing the old school bios.

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎04-25-2012 02:33 PM

Our motherboards are all UEIF, according to Gleason. I don’t know what you're seeing -- maybe put up a screenshot here so I can see what you're talking about? 

by FattysGoneWild
on ‎04-25-2012 04:44 PM

Upon boot up. When you hit ESC. Menu options come up. You will see a item that says UEFI Application. When clicking that. Nothing happens. Unless I am completely miss understanding it. I thought it would take you to a fancy UEFI interface for the bios. I don't see or have that. Just the old blue style of bios. Mine came with bios V7.12 The UEFI interface also includes mouse support. Here is the guide and screenshot of the bios from HP. http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c03080063&tmp_task=useCategory&cc=us&dlc=en&lang... No mention of the option or what it does. Just a screenshot. That is why I seem to think. HP stripped the fancy interface out of the bios or it was not included in my bios by mistake. 

by FattysGoneWild
on ‎04-30-2012 01:19 PM

Any update or information about this?

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎04-30-2012 01:46 PM

No updates on that quite yet.

by FattysGoneWild
on ‎04-30-2012 03:12 PM

Thanks. Please let me know when you find something out. Would really appreciate it.

by hafdasa
on ‎05-01-2012 11:18 PM

Hi...is it possible to put a fan for the processor and a liquid cooling for the GPU(instead of the processor) in Phoenix?

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎05-02-2012 09:40 AM

Hey hafdasa: I know that there is a fan-option version of the Phoenix that places a fan near the CPU, but I'm not aware of the ability to get a phoenix with the liquid cooling elsewhere. Like sitting near a GPU. But I'll definitely pass your thought along to the guys here.

by hafdasa
on ‎05-02-2012 02:56 PM

It's just a closed-loop liquid cooling for the GPU...that can go right above(the place for the GPU) the red LED fans.

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎05-02-2012 03:00 PM

Oh, I understand, hafdasa. I haven't tried doing that on the test one I had available to me. I am just talking about how it's offered upon purchase.....

 

But the way the case is laid out here, it could be a little tricky. (see the video so you can gauge the room required)

by hafdasa
on ‎05-02-2012 08:52 PM

Also, I'd like to know if the hot air exhaust(LED fan) can absorb the hot air from the CPU and at the same time cools the liquid for the GPU. Sorry if I'm very naughty lol. Smiley Tongue

 

Thanks Gizmo..

 

by GizmoGladstone
‎05-03-2012 08:42 AM - edited ‎05-03-2012 08:43 AM

hasdafa: never hurts to ask, right? well, here's a pic of what's happening when you go for the liquid cooled option...

 

IMG_1342.JPG

 

The liquid cooling system has piping going underneath the GPU, but running into a chamber over the CPU.The exhaust fan on the GPU blow air up, then circulates out of the case. That's the best answer I can give on that front. From my own personal experiences -- testing multiple GPUs at max settings, its been running pretty quiet and reasonably cool.

by hafdasa
on ‎05-03-2012 02:35 PM

Oh yea I reallly appreciate it thanks! So, I guess I'll just stick with the CPU liquid cooling solution. I'm still hoping to see a fan and a liquid cooling combo for this small machine.

 

 

 

 

 

by FattysGoneWild
on ‎05-06-2012 12:57 AM

Got a few questions for ya. As you know. I done a "clean" install of Windows 7 right away when getting my machine. Before doing so. I made my backup discs. Is there any way to get the drivers/apps. off of the restore discs instead of restoring the whole pc? I did not see an option when running the disc? Only to do a full system restore. Atm. Besides drivers and my programs/games I use daily. I only have HP support assistant installed. I wanted to know this information for future reference. Smiley Happy

 

Next up. When doing a full factory restore using the discs I had created. When you have a different video card installed that did not come with the pc. Example. My Evga superclocked gtx 560. Is it okay to go on with the restore? Or would I need to put back in the 550 Ti that came with my pc? Finally. Since my pc came with a ssd and hdd. When doing a factory restore with the discs I created. Does it erase everything off of my second drive as well?

 

Reason why I ask this. When I done a clean install of 7. I had to unplug my hdd during install and plug it back in once it was done. Or windows 7 would put the boot file on my hdd instead of my main drive which is the ssd. Its just something that windows will do if you try to install windows 7 with 2 active drives during install. So, I was wondering if HP some how got around this when using system restore discs.  

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎05-07-2012 10:51 PM

Hey there, FattysGoneWild - I'm gonna try to tackle all your questions....as I understand 'em. If I'm not getting it right, I blame my sleeplessness. Smiley Wink

 

All the apps that get installed on your PC? the installers sit in a backup folder in your computer (and, obviously, the system restore). To find it -- look on your "C" drive for a folder called SWSETUP. That should have all the files you're looking for as they were when your PC shipped.

 

Now as for your other questions, if I understand 'em, about system restores and backup drivers and whatnot. When you do a system restore -- and, I believe, with the backup discs you create -- you're basically operating with the factory image. Any additional drivers you grab, you'll need to grab again. (little trick: I jam 'em in the rescue partition, if there's enough room....and on the slave drives in your system. Which lead me to....

 

....if you have multiple drives in your system and opt for a factory restore, you're restoring the boot drive. Anything that saved / installed / whatever to the other drives remain. Obviously, the restored boot drive won't know to look for apps you installed on other drives (you'll need to reinstall those).

 

I've asked around about that last question you had with the restore discs and if I hear anything else on that one, I'll let you know.

 

-Darren

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