Aimed at businesses on a budget, the $1,169 HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000 delivers 3.0EGHz Pentium 4 performance with minimal frills. While the spartan approach theoretically should keep your costs down, we suggest you keep shopping. You get a bit more performance from the dx2000, thanks to its processor, but we've seen more fully equipped PCs for less, something that's particularly vexing if you're a small-business or home-business user searching for a work PC that will serve double duty as a home system. Just as "jumbo" olives aren't all that big, the microtower case for the HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000 isn't really that small, although it's certainly smaller than a standard tower case. It still has room for a few full-size expansion cards and disk drives, but the hallmark of this design is a simplicity that small-business users will appreciate.
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|Three PCI slots offer some upgrade space in the dx2000. You can forget about adding a decent graphics card, though: there's no AGP slot here.|
Our test configuration came with all three of its PCI slots empty but with no AGP slot. You'll have to connect your monitor to either the integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 graphics adapter or a PCI graphics card. Two of the four DIMM slots arrived filled with 333MHz DDR SIMMs for a total of 256MB, although you can add up to 1GB of 400MHz memory. Only three drive bays open to the outside: two 5.25-inch and one 3.5-inch, with two additional 3.5-inch bays on the inside (both unfortunately obstructed by the CPU fan). In our test configuration with a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive, an (optional) floppy drive, and a scrawny 40GB hard drive, only one external 5.25-inch and one internal 3.5-inch bay remained empty. We would recommend opting for independent CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives rather than the combo unit, since in doing so, you'll not only avoid tying up one of them when you might be able to use both, you'll also save $10.
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|The microtower's cramped interior forces you to remove the CPU fan to take out the hard drive.|
The sculpted and louvered front panel is simple but attractive--staid enough not to rock the boat in a work setting. Two USB 2.0 ports on the front panel complement the six additional USB 2.0 ports in the back, where you'll also find a sparse array of legacy ports, audio jacks, and a network adapter. The notably absent FireWire interface may not be an issue if you have no digital video-related plans for the dx2000, but we wish HP had included at least one. We also found it difficult to insert a floppy disk all the way into the drive because of the deeply recessed and tapered opening. The pair of thumbscrews holding the side panel in place come off easily, but removing the panel itself is a chore because of the box's slick metal finish and the shallow depression for grasping.
The HP Compaq dx2000 starts at $388 with a Linux operating system, but our upgraded Windows XP Pro review unit and the optional 15-inch LCD that came with it ran the price up to $1,169. Other nonstandard components include a 3.0EGHz Pentium 4 processor, the 48X/32X CD-RW/DVD combo drive, and the optional floppy mentioned earlier. This configuration is reasonable for the price, but considering the significantly more capable and its sub-$1,000 price tag, we think HP could have configured a better deal.
Our unit came with the default small, 7,200rpm 40GB drive, but larger drives are available as options. The dx2000 also has an integrated 10/100BaseT network interface, but no dial-up modem. The L502 15-inch LCD monitor, a $349 option, is a straightforward, analog-only model. We noticed hue shifts on the screen when we changed our vertical viewing angle, but horizontal perspective changes didn't alter the image much. Either way, the display is adequate for most small-office environments.
The dated Microsoft Works Suite 7.0 budget productivity collection forms the basis of the dx2000's software bundle, a collection of mostly work-oriented titles. Also included, Retrospect Express from Dantz performs backup duties and Roxio handles CD-recording tasks. Symantec , complete with a free 60-day subscription to updates, should help keep your system free of virus mischief. You'll also find InterVideo WinDVD for watching movies, one of the few nods to nonwork-related activities.
The rest of the dx2000 package is rather plain. You get an HP-branded keyboard and mouse in black plastic to match the computer case. You'll also find three fans: one on the CPU heat sink, another on the power supply, and a third mounted on the back of the case above the expansion slots. As they spin, the fans emit a soft but audible high-pitched whine, not a deal breaker but annoying if you're especially sensitive to noise. One component you don't get is stereo speakers; instead you're left with a single internal speaker connected to the sound system. While it has a tone quality better than most monitor speakers', this lone speaker is best suited for sounding e-mail alerts and other businesslike functions. It falls short for entertainment, so you may want to add a pair of external speakers if you like to listen to music while you work.
The HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000 won't win any performance contests, but it holds its own for a business system. Its SysMark 2004 score of 152 topped similarly configured (and priced) budget systems we've seen recently, such as the Dell Dimension 2400 and the eMachines T3085. Compared with MPC's slower, low-end business system, the ClientPro 345, you can see the effect that processor speed has on application performance. Both systems had the same allotment of memory running at the same speed, along with the same size and speed of hard drive and the same Intel chipset. The dx2000's SysMark score was 11 percent faster than the ClientPro 345's score of 137, which we attribute to the 400MHz difference in processing speed (3.0EGHz vs. 2.6GHz). To sum up, the HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000 will ably perform in most office environments.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
With an integrated graphics solution, a business system is rarely the right choice for games or educational titles with heavy-duty 3D graphics demands. The HP Compaq dx2000 is no exception. On our low-end 1,024x768 Unreal Tournament 2003 test, it produced only 14 frames per second (30fps is the bare-minimum frame rate for smooth gameplay at this resolution). To be fair, the HP Compaq dx2000 wasn't built with gamers in mind. Still, if your office requires any sort of high-end graphics work, you'll want to shop elsewhere and buy a system with a dedicated graphics card or at least an AGP slot for future upgrades.
|Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768|
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth and at a resolution of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X respectively during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, Unreal is an excellent means of comparing the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs technician David Gussman.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows XP Home; 2.66GHz Intel P4; Intel 8645G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; integrated Intel 845G 64MB (shared memory); Seagate ST3120026A 120GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 3000+; Nvidia Nforce-2; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; integrated GeForce4 MX 64MB; WDC WD1600BB-00FTA0 160GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Professional; 3.0EGHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 256MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 865G 64MB (shared memory); WDC WD0400BB-60DGA0 40GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Professional; 2.6GHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 256MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 865G 64MB (shared memory); Seagate ST340014A 40GB 7,200rpm
MPC ClientPro 545
Windows XP Professional, 3.2GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 256MB; two Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
HP backs the HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000 with a one-year limited warranty that includes parts, labor, and next-business-day onsite-repair service, not an overly generous plan, but at least HP includes some form of onsite coverage. You can increase the coverage to various lengths, ranging from three years of CPU-only coverage for $79 to five years for $319, about average for warranty-upgrade prices. You'll also get a set of system-recovery discs, including a separate CD that lets you repair the Windows operating system without nuking the entire hard drive.
The printed documentation that comes with the system is rather limited in scope, but you'll find additional information on a bundled CD. The company Web site also has plenty of helpful information, from documentation and drivers to FAQs and other troubleshooting help. Technical support is available either through e-mail or a toll-free number, reachable 24/7.