HP TouchSmart 520 review

Price when reviewed

HP was an early champion of the touchscreen all-in-one, with its first TouchSmart model appearing in PC Pro back in 2007. These days, though, the all-in-one market is largely dominated by the Apple iMac, and HP, Sony and the rest will be hoping Windows 8’s touch-focused revamp will provide a boost to popularity when it arrives later in the year.

Until then, HP is concentrating on doing up its own touch software. The TouchSmart 520 features a new tablet-influenced front-end, dubbed Magic Canvas, which relocates the familiar carousel of icons from the middle to the bottom of the 23in screen, with the bulk taken up by Android-style horizontally scrolling homescreens.

Those screens are decorated with the usual touchscreen all-in-one notes, doodles and graphics, and all of your standard desktop files and shortcuts are also reproduced ready for tapping on the Magic Canvas. The Carousel hosts a range of familiar music and video playback tools and a photo organiser, along with links to touch-optimised Facebook and Twitter clients.

HP TouchSmart 520

The Magic Canvas and its apps are all perfectly competent, and it rarely stutters or slows down in use, but there’s little here that we haven’t seen on a slew of touchscreen systems in the past. There’s also no sign of the kind of apps that we’d like to see on these do-it-all PCs, such as Netflix or other streaming media services – although that’s hardly a criticism we’d level solely at HP. Generally, we still prefer Sony’s touch software, which is smoother and comes with both touch media controls and webcam-based gesture control.

The HP’s glossy 23in, 1,920 x 1,080 panel is as responsive and accurate as any touchscreen we’ve used, and it’s also clean and sharp to look at. An average Delta E figure of 5.1 means colours are pretty accurate, but neither the measured contrast ratio of 825:1 nor the 225.7cd/m2 brightness really jumps out. Images therefore lack the punch and vibrancy of the best we’ve seen from Sony or Apple.

Inside, the Core i3-2120 is low on Intel’s CPU roster, but its pair of Hyper-Threaded 3.3GHz cores ensures it’s got the power to cope with everyday applications. It scored a reasonable 0.7 in our Real World Benchmarks, not at all bad for an all-in-one.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity1,000GB
RAM capacity4.00GB
Screen size23.0in


CPU familyIntel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency3.30GHz
Processor socketLGA 1155


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec


Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free0
Memory sockets total2

Graphics card

Graphics cardIntel HD 2000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetIntel HD 2000
Number of graphics cards1

Hard disk

Hard disk usable capacity931GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Cache size32MB


Optical disc technologyDVD writer


Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080

Additional Peripherals

Speaker typeHP Beats Audio
PeripheralsWireless keyboard & mouse, remote control


ChassisHP proprietary
Case formatAll-in-one
Dimensions580 x 217 x 457mm (WDH)

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)4
PS/2 mouse portno
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports2
Front panel memory card readeryes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardHP wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows 7
Software suppliedHP Magic Canvas

Noise and power

Idle power consumption49W
Peak power consumption82W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings24fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.70
Responsiveness score0.89
Media score0.76
Multitasking score0.44

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