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Review of the HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd

by Martin de Boer

Because of the incredible bargains during the Steam summer / winter sales, I have acquired 42 games over the last 6 years. My old openSUSE system was never able to play these games in a decent manner. Intel HD Graphics 4000 will only get you so far… I have looked into building a new AMD PC, which would allow me to run Linux / Steam games at high settings and 1080p. Recently I noticed a promotion for the HP Pavilion Power 580 desktop, equipped with a Ryzen 5 1400 processor and with a Radeon RX 580 graphics card. Heavily reduced in price. So I took the plunge and got myself a brand new desktop PC.

Design and hardware

The case of the HP Pavilion Power desktop looks pretty good. Its a very small case: 36.4 cm in height, 16.5 cm in width and 37.8 cm in depth. The front has some sharp triangular edges that make the desktop pleasant to look at.

One issue with the case is airflow. There are 2 side vents in this case. The fan in the back of the case blows in cool air. This is used by the processor cooler and hot air will immediately move out of the case. Which means the CPU is adequately cooled. The graphics card also gets cool air from below, but dispenses this air to an area where it cannot easily get out of the case. It needs to find its way out towards the top side vent located far to the left. It would have been better if there was an air vent directly in between the graphics card and the power supply.

Specifications and benchmarks

The specifications:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 1400 CPU
  • AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128 GB M.2 SSD
  • 1 TB 7200rpm HDD
  • 1 x HDMI  port
  • 3 x Display port
  • 1 x Type C USB 3.0 port
  • 3 x Type A USB 3.0 port
  • 2 x Type A USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x DVD re-writer
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 2 x Audio-in jack
  • 1 x Audio-out jack
  • 1x Microphone jack
  • 1 x LAN port
  • 1 x 300W 80 plus bronze PSU

On the front side, there is a DVD re-writer, a SD-card reader, an USB 3.0 type-C port, an USB 3.0 type-A port and a headphone jack. So this case is very well equipped from the front to handle all your media. The backside of the case is less prepared for the job. It has 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports. It has the regular ports for audio in, audio out and microphone. The graphics card provides 1 HDMI port and 3 display ports. And it has an Ethernet port. I think that there are not enough USB ports on the backside. I have a wired keyboard and mouse that take up the two USB 2.0 ports. Which leaves me with 2 USB 3.0 ports for everything else. To combat this issue, I have connected a TP-Link UH700. Which provides me with 7 additional USB 3.0 ports.

The power supply is a 300W and its 80 plus bronze rated. It is sufficient, but I would be more comfortable with a 450W or a 550W unit. That would give the machine a bit of headroom.

For benchmarks, I always look at the benchmark scores on the websites: cpubenchmark.net and videocardbenchmark.net. In the table below I compare the HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd with my previous PC, the Zotac ZBOX Sphere OI520. The CPU of my new desktop is 2,5 times faster then the CPU in my previous PC. The GPU is a whopping 18 times faster. So that means that this new PC will provide me with a big increase in overall performance.

Zotac ZBOX Sphere OI520

HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd

Benchmark score CPU

3287

8410

Benchmark score GPU

455

8402

Installing openSUSE

I have wiped Windows from the system and installed openSUSE Leap 15. The installation went without a problem. However, there were some annoyances to resolve directly after installation.

The biggest one is sound. I hit an issue where the speakers ‘pop’ every time that a new video (YouTube) or new audio file (Amarok) started playing. This loud ‘pop’ was very annoying and not good for my speakers. I am not the first person to encounter this issue, as it was also posted on the openSUSE forms. The proposed solution by John Winchester resolved this issue for me. I now only hear this ‘pop’ during the startup of my PC.

Another issue is that my Bluetooth adapter is not recognized. I have installed the bluez-auto-enable-devices and bluez-firmware and bluez-tools. If I run the command “sudo rfkill list all”, it does find the Bluetooth adapter and indicates that it is not Soft blocked and not Hard blocked. But according to the KDE Plasma 5 desktop applet, no Bluetooth adapters have been found.

Furthermore the amdgpu-pro driver is not yet available for openSUSE Leap 15. The open source AMD driver is performing okay. But I did hit an issue where I cannot get the display to turn on again, a few hours after it was (automatically) switched off. This could very well be related to the graphics driver. I have now configured my PC to suspend after 3 hours. When I restart the PC from this suspended state, I don’t encounter this problem.

Gaming

This is the area where my new PC excels! I can run all games on very high settings and get frame rates higher than 60 Frames per Second. I would have expected some higher frame rates from the open source games that I tested. Some of these games are not very graphically intensive. But even with the RX 580, the frame rates are just good, but not great. The exception is Xonotic, a super fun FPS that not only looks great, but shows very high frame rates. And I must say that SuperTuxKart looks amazing with all settings at the highest level (6). I have listed the frame rates that I see on average below:

  • OpenArena – 90 FPS
  • Urbanterror – 125 FPS
  • Xonotic – 90 to 200 FPS
  • SuperTuxKart – 60 FPS
  • SpeedDreams – 25 to 150 FPS

I can now play games on Steam that I couldn’t play before. I play these games on very high settings and 1080p. The frame rates are good, certainly considering the advanced graphics of these games. I have listed the frame rates that I see on average below:

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – 50 FPS
  • BioShock Infinity – 90 FPS
  • Half Life 2 – 90 to 120 FPS
  • Road Redemption – 60 FPS
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2 – 60 FPS

Multitasking

The HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd is a great multitasking machine. For fun, I tried opening LibreOffice Writer, LibreOffice Draw, Darktable, Amarok, Dolphin, Dragon Player, GIMP and Steam at the same time while playing music in Amarok. Programs opened instantly and the CPU cores / threads used very little of the available CPU power. In the future, I will use this desktop for testing various Linux distributions on Virtualbox, for developing photo’s with Darktable and for making movies with Kdenlive. So I will use a bit more of the available power. For ‘normal’ desktop usage this machine has plenty of power to spare.

Conclusion

The HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd packs a lot of power for a price that is hard to match when building your own PC. However, it might surprise you that I would not recommend this exact machine to others. The reason is that Nvidia cards are still better supported on openSUSE Leap 15. I feel that for most people, the HP Pavilion Power 580-037nd would be the better choice. This machine features an Intel i5-7400 CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and has 8 GB of RAM. The pricing is very comparable. And the outside of the machine is the same.

For me personally, this machine was absolutely the right choice. I am very interested in the AMD Ryzen CPU’s. I also like AMD’s strategy to develop an open source driver for its GPU’s (amdgpu) for the Linux kernel. I was looking for an AMD machine and this HP Pavilion Power 580-146nd fits the bill and then some.

Published on: 3 September 2018

Review of the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T

I have recently bought a new 14″ laptop, the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T as it is called in the Netherlands. On the ASUS.com website, this model is known as the ASUS VivoBook E402NA. Although this is a budget laptop, its a big improvement over my previous laptop (the Acer Aspire One 725). Both machines happily run openSUSE Leap 15. This review provides an overview of the new hardware and how it performs when running openSUSE Leap 15.

Design and hardware

The ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T has a matte black plastic body that flexes when you bend it. You will see your fingerprints on the laptop its body. This is especially visible on the track-pad. It is quite light with 1,65 kilos. The screen looks good and has vivid colors. The viewing angles are not great, when you flip the screen, the colors distort. Professional reviewers will probably have more to say on the screen. In my opinion, it looks good when browsing the web, watching YouTube or playing games. The best thing about the laptop is the keyboard. I think that its a very pleasant keyboard with good key-travel and a nice sound when you type. The touch-pad is also very nice. It has a large area and responds well to your finger movements. It allows for multi-finger gestures like two finger scrolling. The touch-pad doesn’t have real buttons. The left click works perfectly, but the right-click sometimes doesn’t register. This is not a problem with the touch-pad, but rather with the length of my fingers, as I regularly hit the touch-pad slightly above the designated area. The speakers are OK. The volume is not very loud, but its enough for filling a small room with music. The speakers don’t deliver any bass. The mid tones sound fine. On the high-end tones, the speakers sound a bit metallic. These speakers are not very good for playing R&B, rap and rock (because of the lack of bass), but they sound fine when playing classical music or pop music.

Specifications and benchmarks

The specifications:

  • Intel Pentium N4200 CPU
  • Intel HD Graphics 505 GPU
  • 4GB SDRAM, Onboard Memory (not expandable)
  • 128 GB SanDisk SATA3 SSD (SD8SBAT128G1002)
  • 14.0″ FullHD LED backlit display (1920×1080 pixels)
  • 1 x LAN port
  • 1 x HDMI  port
  • 1 x Type C USB 3.0 port
  • 1 x Type A USB 3.0 port
  • 1 x Type A USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x Microphone-in/Headphone-out jack
  • VGA web camera
  • 2 cell Polymer Battery
  • Security lock

This laptop has great connectivity. It has 3 USB ports, a SD card reader, a HDMI port and a LAN port. I don’t think you can ask for more. And best of all, the USB type C port is not used for the power adapter. Instead, this laptop has a separate power connector. (The downside is that its simply not possible to charge via USB type C.)

The battery is not very good. Its only a 2 cell battery and will last around 3 hours. If you use the laptop for gaming, the battery will empty much quicker. This laptop will serve you well if you work from home, from an office or from a coffee shop (Starbucks / Coffee corner) where there is an ability to connect to a power source.

One thing to mention is that you can replace the SSD. At the bottom of the laptop, there is an hatch that can be easily removed. I would recommend anyone who will be using this laptop as his/her main PC, to install a bigger SSD. For instance the 256 GB SanDisk X600 2,5″ SSD (SD9SB8W256G1122), which currently sells for €90 at Amazon.de or the 512 GB SanDisk X600 2,5″ SSD (SD9TB8W512G1122), which currently sells for €170 at Amazon.de. I haven’t tried them out, but the specs look very comparable to the 128 GB SanDisk SSD drive. For my personal use, the 128 GB SSD is enough.

For benchmarks, I always look at the benchmark scores on the websites: cpubenchmark.net, videocardbenchmark.net and harddrivebenchmark.net. In the table below I compare the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T with my previous laptop. The new laptop is 4 times more powerful than the old one, so that’s a big improvement for me.

Acer Aspire One 725

ASUS VivoBook X402NA

Benchmark score CPU

564

2022

Benchmark score GPU

138

616

Benchmark score HDD/SSD

481

2712

HDD/SSD size

320 GB

128 GB

Screen size

11,6″

14″

Resolution

1366 x 768

1920 x 1080

Installing openSUSE

I have installed openSUSE and it runs without any problems. I installed it without turning off secure boot. It automatically asked me to add the openSUSE key. WiFi worked out of the box. The touch-pad works without issue. However, that is not to say that there is nothing to improve. When trying out the gaming capabilities, I noticed very low frame-rates. When looking into the issue, it became clear that openSUSE Leap 15 doesn’t install the xf86-video-intel driver by default. This is easily remedied by searching and installing this driver via YaST and rebooting.

Gaming

As stated before, I tried running some Open Source games on my new laptop. This is certainly not a gaming laptop, but Open Source games are not very demanding. I tried OpenArena, Xonotic and SuperTuxKart. Both OpenArena and Xonotic performed admirably. The frame-rate ranged between 30 and 60 fps, mostly hovering around 45 fps. SuperTuxKart doesn’t run well. In full screen mode, you really need to turn down the graphic fidelity. And even in a smaller (1368 x 768) windowed mode, the frame-rate still ranged between 15 and 30 fps.

Multitasking

The ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T is a good machine for tasks like web browsing, document editing or photo editing. However, it doesn’t like to do all these things at the same time. For fun, I tried opening Firefox, Dolphin, Gwenview, Darktable and LibreOffice Writer, while playing music with Amarok in the background at the same time. The image below shows the result. The laptop needed some time to work out all these things at the same time (and was not responding in the mean time). After all programs were running, the CPU load decreased and continued to hover around 40% on all 4 cores. Even though this is a quad-core machine, it definitely has more difficulty running all these programs than my desktop PC, which has an Intel Core i5 4200u CPU. Interestingly, 4GB of memory was enough to handle all of these tasks.

(More powerful) alternative Linux laptops

Its very clear that the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T is not a gaming rig. So what if you want a bit more performant hardware? There are several companies that sell laptops with Linux pre-installed. Most of them include the Intel i5 8250U and the more powerful Intel i7 8550U CPU, combined with the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. These are: Dell XPS 13, Entroware Apollo, Slimbook PRO2 and the System76 Galago Pro. All of these laptops are way more expensive (> €1.000) but do have a better build quality and a better CPU and GPU. These laptops have much better multitasking capabilities. These CPUs are on average 4 times more performant than the Intel Pentium N4200. Although the GPU is a step up from the Intel HD Graphics 505, they are still not great for gaming. From these 4 alternatives mentioned, I would personally be most interested in the Slimbook, because this company offers to pre-install openSUSE. Dell, Entroware and System76 will ship with Ubuntu by default.

One step up is the Entroware Kratos laptop, which has a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU. That one already offers a big improvement in gaming abilities. Another step up, you will find the Entroware Zeus or the System76 Oryx Pro laptops, which have dedicated Nvidia GTX 1060 GPUs. As you can see from the benchmark scores in the table below, these laptops will satisfy high-end Linux gaming needs.

Intel i5 8250U / Intel UHD Graphics 620

Intel i7 8550U / Intel UHD Graphics 620

Intel i5 8300H / Nvidia GTX 1050

Intel i7 8750H / Nvidia GTX 1060

CPU benchmark

7658

8325

9374

12575

GPU benchmark

993

993

4579

8974

Conclusion

Would I recommend the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T? That depends on your use case. This laptop is a good pick if you use it mainly for web browsing, document editing or photo editing. The keyboard is great and touch-pad works well. There are loads of ports (3x USB, SD card reader, HDMI, LAN). CPU performance is good enough. Sound quality is average. openSUSE Leap 15 runs well, as long as you keep the multitasking limited to 3 or 4 programs at the same time. WiFi works out of the box. Light 2D games will work fine. But light 3D games will max out the GPU, even with the graphic fidelity set to low. And you need to make sure that you have a power outlet nearby at all (or at least most of the) times. Because the battery will only last for 3 hours. One big advantage of the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T is the price. In the Netherlands this laptop retails (currently) between €439 and €479. It might not be the best 14″ laptop on the market, but it does offer a lot of bang for your buck.

Published on: 25 July 2018