From carton to cubicle in minutes--that's the secret wish of every IT staffer who has to deploy 100, 50, or even just 20 systems. The Acer Veriton 5200D-N1700A, a no-frills workstation aimed squarely at the corporate market, is simple to install and more expandable than the competition. Unfortunately, its lackluster performance and peripherals make it a choice full of compromises. From carton to cubicle in minutes--that's the secret wish of every IT staffer who has to deploy 100, 50, or even just 20 systems. The Acer Veriton 5200D-N1700A, a no-frills workstation aimed squarely at the corporate market, is simple to install and more expandable than the competition. Unfortunately, its lackluster performance and peripherals make it a choice full of compromises.
The Veriton's beige and blue case recalls the Baby AT style of yesteryear, though it's not quite small enough to qualify as a true compact PC. The Veriton is designed to sit on a desk beneath a monitor, or it can stand sideways like a tower. A pair of captive thumbscrews allow for easy access to the interior. IT departments and desktop users who feel constrained by the near lack of expandability in true compact desktops such as the cheaper Compaq Evo D500 or the more powerful HP e-PC 42 will appreciate the extra elbowroom in the Veriton; three PCI slots, one memory socket, and one drive bay are free. Rear expansion ports are basic: parallel, two serial, and two USB, the last of which are occupied by the keyboard and the Logitech optical mouse. Two additional USB ports adorn the front of the case alongside headphone and microphone jacks.
Acer skimps a bit on the peripherals that come with the Veriton. The AC701 monitor offers sharp text and a bright picture at 800x600, but with the resolution cranked up to 1,024x768, images and text become noticeably fuzzy--and that's at a resolution far short of the monitor's max of 1,280x1,024. In addition to quick-launch and CD-playback buttons, the multimedia keyboard sports a terrific volume-control dial that doubles as a Mute button. Too bad there's no volume to control; no speakers come with the system. Also, the Mute button won't work on the 52X CD-ROM drive, which (typical for its speed) creates quite a din while spinning.
Free to choose
The Veriton offers one more flexible feature, but it has a trade-off. When you first boot the system, you can install either Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional. The Veriton loads your choice from an image on the hard drive. While IT departments are sure to appreciate the initial convenience, the extra time (roughly 10 to 15 minutes) needed to install the OS could hold up the deployment of multiple systems.
The Veriton's biggest problem lies in its overall performance. Acer stocked the system with a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor and 128MB of DDR SDRAM, but a slower 5,400rpm, 40GB hard drive, and an aged Nvidia Riva TNT2 AGP video card stranded the system at the bottom of the curve. The Veriton could probably handle a mainstream application or two without difficulty, but multiple office-suite apps and other resource-hogging software would do much better with a faster processor, more memory, and a 7,200rpm hard drive. Ironically, the Veriton's gaming performance, though still abysmally slow, is better than that of many other corporate systems with integrated chips.
At your service
Acer includes exactly the right software for a corporate system: Norton AntiVirus 2002 and Intel LANdesk Client Manager. The company also provides the perfect warranty: three years for parts and labor, 24/7 toll-free phone support, and a year of onsite service. A thorough, well-illustrated, system-specific manual rounds out the picture.
Acer's solid support policies add to the Veriton's appeal, but a few drawbacks dampen our overall opinion of the system. Though adequately speedy and expandable, the Veriton 5200D-1700A lacks the value and the power of corporate workstations such as the Compaq Evo 500 and the HP e-PC 42. The Veriton may be a competent system, but it won't give your organization much of an edge.
100=performance of a test machine with a PIII-800 processor, an Intel 815EEA motherboard chipset, 128MB of 133MHz SDRAM, a GeForce2 with 32MB DDR, ATA/100 hard drive, Windows 2000 with Service Pack 1, and Windows' display properties set to 1,024x768 and 16-bit color at 75Hz
Longer bars indicate better performance
Acer Veriton 5200D-N1700A
Windows XP Professional; Pentium 4 1.7GHz; 128MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; 32MB Nvidia TNT2 M64; Seagate ST340810A 40GB 5,400rpm
Dell Dimension 8100 reference system
Windows XP Professional; Pentium 4 1.7GHz; 256MB RDRAM 800MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce2 Ultra; Maxtor 5T060H6 60GB 7,200rpm
Though stocked with a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor and 128MB of DDR SDRAM, the Veriton 5200D-N1700A performed at the bottom of the curve compared to systems with similar specs. Office suites and other resource-hogging software would do much better with a faster processor and hard drive, as well as more memory. Ironically, the Veriton's out-of-date Nvidia Riva TNT2 AGP video card delivers better performance than the integrated chips found in many other corporate systems, though it's still abysmally slow.