HP Compaq dc5850 desktop PC

This diminutive desktop PC from HP has low power consumption and is easy to maintain

The HP Compaq dc5850 is a small form factor desktop PC for businesses. It has a tool-less chassis and uses standard PC components (bar its power supply), which makes maintenance easy. Its expansion options and appealing price tag (for a business PC) make the Compaq dc5850 a decent choice for offices.

The Compaq dc5850 desktop PC has a standard small form factor (SFF) chassis which cuts down on its footprint while also providing some room for expansion. The PC's front panel is home to two USB ports and microphone and headphone jacks, all of which are flush with the case, as well as a DVD burner. There is space for a floppy drive or a media card reader.

On the back of the case are two PS/2 ports, a serial port, six USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection and DVI and VGA ports.

The Compaq dc5850 desktop PC is designed to sit horizontally. Its top panel is held on with latches on each side of the case, and the design allows for mostly tool-less maintenance. There is space for one PCI expansion card, two PCI-Express x1 cards and a PCI-Express x16 expansion card, though low-profile cards will be required. Both the optical drive bay and proprietary power supply are attached to the chassis by hinges, allowing them to be lifted up for easy access to the memory modules and hard drive. The hard drive itself is held in by a sliding tray and secured by a latch, which stops vibrations during disk operations and makes it easy to replace.

HP offers a variety of configurations for the Compaq dc5850, which is based on the AMD 780V chipset. This chipset supports a range of AMD CPUs, from low-power, single-core Sempron CPUs to quad-core Phenom CPUs. Our review unit came with an AMD Sempron LE-1300 65 nanometre CPU, which runs at 2.3GHz. It also came with 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, a single-platter 80GB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm hard drive, integrated ATI Radeon 3100 graphics and the 32-bit edition of Windows Vista Business.

In our benchmark tests, the Compaq dc5850 desktop PC produced poor results, but this was expected. Blender 3D took 3min 19sec to render our test image, and iTunes encoded 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s in 2min 49sec. It scored 55 in WorldBench 6, which is about what we would expect from an ultraportable notebook with a low-voltage processor. All three of these performance tests indicate that the Compaq dc5820 has enough power for light multitasking and basic office duties like word processing, Web browsing and occasional image editing.

The Sempron LE-1300 CPU has a comparatively low maximum power consumption of 45 Watts, compared to the 65-95W required for higher-power processors such as the quad-core Phenom. We found the PC consumed 2.4W when turned off but still plugged in, 48W when idle and around up to 70W during intensive operations.

Airflow in the Compaq dc5850 case is quite good. A front-mounted vent feeds air directly to the CPU and allows it to flow all the way through the case and out of the perforated back plate. This also produces good airflow for the other components in the chassis and as a result, the Compaq dc5850 runs almost silently; noise was only noticeable from the optical and hard drives.

We would have preferred to see a low-performance configuration like this in an ultra-small form factor case like the Acer Veriton L670G in order to cut down even further on its footprint. HP offers one or three year warranties on the Compaq dc5850. Given that it is easy to maintain, this PC should outlive its warranty period.

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