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10 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying an HP Envy Desktop: An Expert Analysis

Are you in the market for a new desktop computer? If so, you‘ve likely come across the HP Envy series. With sleek designs, powerful processor options, and attractive bundles that include a mouse and keyboard, HP Envy desktops may seem like a compelling choice. However, as a computer expert with over a decade of experience in the industry, I must caution you to think twice before making this purchase – especially if you‘re interested in gaming, graphic design, video editing, or other graphics-intensive tasks.

In this in-depth analysis, we‘ll closely examine the specs, performance, upgradeability, and value of HP Envy desktops, with a particular focus on their graphics capabilities. I‘ll share insights gleaned from benchmarks, customer reviews, and my own professional experience to help you make an informed decision. Let‘s dive in.

HP Envy Specs Overview

First, let‘s take a look at what you can expect to find under the hood of a typical HP Envy desktop:

Component Specs
Processor Intel Core i5, i7, or i9
Memory 8 GB – 32 GB DDR4 RAM
Storage 256 GB – 2 TB SSD, 1-2 TB HDD
Optical Drive DVD-writer or Blu-ray player
Operating System Windows 10 Home

On paper, these specs seem fairly robust for a pre-built machine. However, the critical weakness lies in the graphics card options. Most HP Envy desktops come with either integrated Intel UHD Graphics or a lower-end dedicated GPU such as:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
  • AMD Radeon RX 5500

While these cards are sufficient for basic gaming and graphic design tasks, they will struggle to keep up with more demanding workloads, especially at higher resolutions and quality settings.

Graphics Card Limitations

To put the graphics performance in perspective, let‘s look at some benchmarks. According to UserBenchmark, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 outperforms the GTX 1650 by a staggering 222% in gaming tasks. Even the more affordable RTX 3060 Ti beats the GTX 1650 by 190%.

What does this mean in practical terms? Here are some fps (frames per second) comparisons for popular games at 1080p resolution on high settings:

Game GTX 1650 RTX 3060 Ti RTX 3070
Fortnite 85 fps 189 fps 205 fps
Apex Legends 88 fps 186 fps 202 fps
PUBG 71 fps 150 fps 163 fps
GTA V 78 fps 160 fps 175 fps

As you can see, the difference is night and day. With an RTX 3060 Ti or 3070, you can expect buttery smooth performance even on the most graphically intensive titles. The GTX 1650, on the other hand, barely manages to scrape by at 60+ fps on medium to high settings.

The gap widens even further for content creation tasks like video editing and 3D rendering. In PugetBench tests for Adobe Premiere Pro, the RTX 3070 nearly doubled the performance of the GTX 1650. For Davinci Resolve, the RTX 3070 was almost 3 times faster. If you work with 4K or 8K video, complex 3D models, or high-resolution textures, the limitations of the GTX 1650 and even the RTX 3060 will quickly become a bottleneck.

Lack of Upgradeability

The graphics card limitations of the HP Envy series would be less of an issue if you could simply upgrade the GPU later as your needs and budget allow. Unfortunately, HP makes this exceedingly difficult, if not impossible in many cases.

Unlike traditional desktop towers that use standard ATX motherboards and power supplies, HP Envy desktops often use proprietary components that limit compatibility with aftermarket parts. The motherboard may not have the necessary PCIe slots or BIOS support for a newer, more powerful graphics card. The power supply may not provide sufficient wattage for a high-end GPU. And the case may not have enough physical clearance for a larger graphics card cooler.

Even if you do manage to find a compatible graphics card upgrade, HP‘s software and BIOS limitations can still handicap its performance. For example, many HP desktops will not boot with a GPU that exceeds 75 watts power draw without a BIOS update, which may not be available for your specific model. Some users have reported that even after a successful GPU upgrade, they are unable to adjust fan speeds or access other critical settings due to HP‘s software restrictions.

High Price for Mediocre Specs

The lack of meaningful graphics card options in the HP Envy series would be more forgivable if these desktops were budget-friendly. However, HP charges a significant premium for the Envy line, often with specs that are easily outclassed by cheaper alternatives.

For example, consider this HP Envy Desktop configuration:

  • Intel Core i7-10700
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
  • Price: $1,249.99

Now, let‘s compare that to a custom-built PC with similar specs:

  • Intel Core i7-10700F
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1 TB NVMe SSD
  • Price: $1,187.95

For roughly $60 less, you get a significantly better graphics card, faster storage, and a CPU that is nearly identical in performance (the only difference being the lack of integrated graphics, which is irrelevant when you have a dedicated GPU). Plus, you have the flexibility to choose your own case, power supply, and other components to fit your specific needs and preferences.

Bloatware and Software Issues

Another frustrating aspect of HP Envy desktops is the amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed. HP bundles these machines with numerous unnecessary software packages, including:

  • McAfee LiveSafe trial (antivirus)
  • ExpressVPN trial
  • Dropbox promotion
  • Microsoft Office 365 trial
  • HP JumpStart (startup guide)
  • HP Support Assistant (notifications and driver updates)
  • HP Smart (printer software)
  • HP Documentation (user manual links)
  • HP Accessory Center (ads for HP products)
  • Wild Tangent Games (game demos and trials)

Not only do these unwanted programs take up valuable storage space, but they can also slow down your system with background processes and annoying notifications. Removing them can be a time-consuming process, and some (like McAfee) are notoriously difficult to uninstall completely.

Even more concerning are the reports of severe performance issues apparently caused by faulty HP drivers and software. Affected users have experienced problems like stuttering, freezing, blue screens, and audio glitches that persist even after a clean Windows reinstall. In some cases, the only solution is to perform a BIOS update and completely avoid installing any HP software or drivers – a ridiculous workaround that defeats the purpose of buying a pre-built PC.

Questionable Longevity and Build Quality

One of the main reasons to choose a pre-built desktop over building your own is the promise of better reliability and customer support. Unfortunately, HP falls short in both of these areas.

HP has a long history of using lower-quality components and cutting corners to save costs, resulting in poor longevity and a higher likelihood of hardware failure. Common issues reported by HP desktop owners include:

  • Overheating due to insufficient cooling or thermal paste
  • Hard drive failures within the first year of use
  • RAM slots and USB ports failing
  • Cheap power supplies dying and taking other components with them
  • Flimsy plastic cases that crack and break easily

This is reflected in HP‘s abysmal customer service reputation. A quick search of online forums and reviews reveals countless stories of HP failing to honor its warranties, taking weeks or months to repair defective machines, and providing scripted, unhelpful responses to customer inquiries.

In a 2019 study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, HP ranked dead last among all PC makers with a score of 72 out of 100, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with the company‘s products and support. This is especially concerning for expensive purchases like gaming PCs, which are more likely to require repairs or replacements down the line.

Environmental and Ethical Concerns

In addition to the practical drawbacks of HP Envy desktops, there are also environmental and ethical reasons to avoid supporting HP as a company.

HP has a poor track record when it comes to sustainability and labor practices. In 2014, the company was fined $58.8 million by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for bribing government officials in Russia, Poland, and Mexico to win contracts.

In 2016, the Electronics TakeBack Coalition gave HP an F rating for its failure to meet its own recycling goals and use of environmentally harmful materials like PVC plastic. The company has also been criticized for its use of low-paid, exploitative labor in developing countries to manufacture its products.

By contrast, companies like Dell and Apple have made significant strides in recent years to improve their environmental impact and labor practices. Dell, for example, has committed to using 100% renewable energy by 2040 and recycling an equivalent product for every one sold. Apple has transitioned its entire supply chain to 100% renewable energy and implemented strict audits to ensure fair labor practices among its suppliers.

When you choose where to spend your money on a new computer, it‘s worth considering the broader impact of your purchase. Supporting companies that prioritize sustainability and ethics can help push the industry in a more positive direction.

Better Alternatives for Your Money

If you‘re looking for a pre-built desktop PC that can handle demanding games and creative workloads, there are plenty of better options than the HP Envy series. Here are a few recommendations at different price points:

Budget ($800-$1000)

  • NZXT Starter PC – AMD Ryzen 5 3600, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super, 16 GB RAM, 500 GB SSD
  • Skytech Archangel – Ryzen 5 3600, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super, 16 GB RAM, 500 GB SSD

Mid-range ($1000-$1500)

High-end ($1500+)

  • MAINGEAR VYBE – AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD
  • Origin Neuron – Intel Core i9-11900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, 32 GB RAM, 2 TB SSD

All of these options offer significantly better performance than similarly-priced HP Envy desktops, with more powerful GPUs, more RAM, and faster storage. They also come from companies with better reputations for quality control, customer support, and warranty fulfillment.

Of course, the best value for your money will always be to build your own PC. This allows you to choose the exact components you want, tailor your build to your specific needs, and avoid the bloatware and compatibility issues that often come with pre-built machines. Building a PC may seem intimidating at first, but with the wealth of online guides and resources available today, it‘s easier than ever for even complete beginners to assemble a custom rig.


While HP Envy desktops may be tempting for their sleek designs and all-in-one convenience, they ultimately fail to deliver meaningful value for anyone who needs serious graphics performance. Their weak GPU options, lack of upgradeability, high prices, and bloatware make them a poor choice for gaming and content creation.

Add in HP‘s history of poor customer service, questionable build quality, and unethical business practices, and it becomes clear that there are much better ways to spend your hard-earned money. Whether you opt for a more reputable pre-built brand or take the plunge into building your own, investing in a quality machine with a powerful GPU will pay dividends in both performance and longevity.

As a computer expert, my advice is to always prioritize function over form. Don‘t be swayed by flashy marketing or the lure of brand-name recognition. Do your research, read reviews from trusted sources, and choose a machine that will truly meet your needs and provide lasting value. Your wallet – and your sanity – will thank you in the long run.