The HP Slimline 290, as the name suggests, is a slim, small form factor desktop computer. The 290-p0014 is a Best Buy SKU for $800, although I haven’t seen it on display on the store shelves.
The form factor of the recent Slimline series (270, 290) has been a good balance between performance and foot print. It’s small enough to be unobtrusive when placed on the desk; and large enough to accommodate high-performance CPUs such as the Intel Core i7-8700. It’s also a lot easier to move than a traditional ATX tower if you ever need to relocate it.
Speaking of performance, the i7-8700 is a very fast CPU. Its Turbo Boost clock is only 0.1 GHz (2%) behind the well-reviewed i7-8700K, which is generally regarded as one of the best consumer CPUs for the better part of 2018. You can expect the same responsiveness in everyday tasks as the i7-8700K. I expect its performance to remain competitive going into 2019 even with the release of 9th gen Core CPUs, due to the lack of Hyper-Threading on the newer models.
The Slimline 290 is a direct successor to the Slimline 270 which I also owned. Besides the obvious change from the 7th-gen to 8th-gen Intel Core CPUs, there are many other subtle changes that make the Slimline a much more mature and polished desktop computer.
8th-gen Intel Core is a major step forward
The performance improvement going from 7th-gen to 8th-gen is much greater than what these two numbers seem to suggest. In fact, it’s more like going from 4 to 6. After using a quad-core architecture for mainstream processors for (too) many years, Intel finally moved to a hex-core architecture. Expect 50% improvement more or less in heavy workloads.
Higher wattage CPU
Not only is the CPU better architecturally, they are now 65-Watt TDP parts vs. 35-Watt TDP parts on the 270. Higher TDP allows for higher clock speeds, which translates especially well into a computer’s responsiveness and “snappiness”. The higher power budget or thermal headroom is enabled by a beefier heatsink and redesigned air duct that improves the air flow inside the case.
Redesigned keyboard and mouse
Input devices are not to be overlooked if one cares about the user experience. The keyboard and mouse that came with the old 270 were THE worst input devices I had over used. The keyboard had all keys cramped together without clear functional separation. The mouse buttons require way too much a force to actuate. The looked atrocious, too.
The set that comes with the 290 is much improved and is above average. Quite sleek actually.
Dual-slot PCIe expansion
The Slimline 270 had only a single slot for PCIe expansion card in the case. The 290 increases that to 2 for better compatibility with, say, discrete video cards. The GTX 1050 Ti looks like a great option here if you want more graphics processing power. The slots also support tool-less installation.
M.2 slot for PCIe NVMe SSD
Just like the 270, the 290 has a M.2 slot that takes PCIe NVMe solid state drives. It has been relocated to the front of the motherboard to make room for the additional PCIe 1x slot, which made it a little more difficult to access compared to the 270.
Higher-efficiency power supply unit
The PSU is now 80 Plus Gold rated. The 270 had a 80 Plus Bronze rated unit. It’s great to see higher efficiency components in OEM computers.
Rubber feet vs. Metal feet
For whatever reason, HP used 2 metal feet and 2 rubber feet on the Slimline 270 (and many other desktop products). I don’t like this design because it could easily scratch desk surfaces. The Slimline 290 has all rubber feet.
Redesigned front panel connection
The 270 had a standalone front panel assembly that uses cables to connect the USB ports, headphone jack and card reader to the motherboard. It was well thought out, as all the cables that just the right length, but did increase the cable clutter in the case. The 290, on the other hand, has front panel ports built right into the motherboard. This made the internals much cleaner, and you don’t need to worry about the internal connectors not plugged in correctly. However, if for some reason the front panel ports needs repair or replacement, one now needs to replace the whole motherboard, which could be much more expensive than simply a passive device.
Excellent front panel audio output
The audio codec chip has been moved from the rear of the motherboard to the front of the motherboard, right next to the front panel headphone/mic jack. I personally use front panel audio far more frequently than the rear ones, so I think this is a great change that will reduce the interference on the front panel output. In fact, the front panel output is indeed dead silent when nothing is playing. This may sound trivial, but it actually requires some engineering to achieve that. The rear output on this computer cannot do that; Lenovo ThinkCentre M700 Tiny desktops cannot do that. On these, you would hear a background humming noise even when nothing is playing.
Useful information on the 290-p0014
Have to say I myself am moving back to using a desktop PC more then my laptop. Mainly because of the horrible scaling Windows 10 does with my 1080p Dell XPS 13. A wonderful laptop for sure, but scaling up to 150% just to get text readable makes things less then crisp. At least with a desktop monitor 1080p looks great because its at 100% which is probably where everything should be. The other plus to a desktop is the performance per dollar which is much better over all these low powered chips in notebooks these days.
Absolutely true. Sometimes for review and benchmark purposes I have to kinda force myself to use a laptop as my primary device, but my productivity always suffers. Screen real estate is a big part of it. With 150% scaling on 1080p you really only have 1280*720 effective area, and that’s just not enough, especially in the vertical direction.
I am quite excited about the upcoming 17-inch version of the LG gram if it retains the lightness like other gram devices. That way I get to use 100% scaling (assuming 1080p panel), have a big screen for productivity but not have to pay the weight penalty like all the other 17-inch devices.
Does this desktop actually support GTX 1050 low profile graphics card? Or do you have to get a higher capacity psu? I’ve looked into a GTX 1030 LP as well and its advised to upgrade the psu to atleast 300 watts but i can’t find a compatible psu that would fit inside the hp 290-p0014.
I have a GT 1030 in mine right now and it works fine. I have not personally tested a GTX 1050, but as long as the card does not require PCIe auxiliary power and physically fits, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. That said, a GTX 1050 even without PCIe auxiliary power would be pushing a 180W PSU to the limit, so I personally wouldn’t do it if you’re gonna be pushing it very hard for extended periods time. There could be cooling limitations too.
And I’d advise against swapping the PSU even if you find one that may work. Chances are you’re gonna run into some other unexpected problem elsewhere. It’s a rabbit hole with SFF cases in general not to mention it’s OEM on top of that. Build from scratch or get a larger OEM desktop. You’ll save time and money in the long run.
That’s a relief that you were able to get a GT 1030 to work. I was worried about having to swap out PSUs because I’ve done it before and failed miserably. Have you upgraded the PCIe x1 slot as well? I was thinking about getting a 2 ports USB 3.0 5gbps or a 3.1 10gbps PCIe expansion card .
Not yet. A USB 3.1 gen 2 expansion card sounds like a great idea! Just remember to get a single-slot video card. Some GT 1030 heatsink would block the x1 slot. Mine is GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile 2GB, GV-N1030D5-2GL
Did you have any issues putting on the low profile bracket on the Gigabyte? I’ve heard they can be difficult to put on. I got the MSI version, its a little bigger but it should be snug. But yea ill definitely get a USB 3.1 expansion card.
I don’t recall having any issues with the bracket. BTW just curious what made you buy this computer? What do you use it for?
I do a bit of multi tasking, photo editing, writing, streaming but not too much gaming so i don’t need a high end gaming rig. I just need something up to date and compacked.
Have you had issues with your power supply? I had mine replaced once and the new one died again after two weeks of being replaced. I read that a lot of people are having similar issues. The system is nice, especially for the price that Best Buy had it for ($500), but the issue with the power supply is a no go.
Sorry to hear that. Mine has been working fine so far, with an added NVMe SSD and GT 1030. Did you get the replacement PSU from HP? What was the process like?
Yes, I had to ship it back to them for the replacement. The process was not bad at all. I initiated an online chat with tech support and they had me do some of the usual troubleshooting just to make sure it wasn’t some other issue. They then created a ticket and had a box delivered to my house. I put the pc in the box and stuck the included shipping label on the box and dropped it off at a Fedex location. They kept me updated on the status through text messages. The turnaround was a couple weeks. The power supply does not use a standard 24 motherboard cable, otherwise I would have just replaced it myself since I have 3 power supplies at my house that are not in use.
I bought the 290 a few weeks ago, i haven’t set it up yet because i ordered additional ram, GT 1030 and an SSD. I hope i don’t run into an issue with the psu, having to replace it every now and then doesn’t sound appealing.
Interesting gear info – thanks for sharing. For anyone interested, I saw these
Lenovo ThinkCentre M900 Tiny Form Factor Micro PC Barebone w/ Power Adapter Wifi @ $135 they are a pretty good buy – if you are willing to add CPU/ HD/ RAM. Same setup, can have both NVme and SATA together in the rig, supports vPro etc.
Not sure which CPU would be best re price/ perf, might get one soon.