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HP Compaq Business Desktop d530 review: HP Compaq Business Desktop d530

HP Compaq Business Desktop d530

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida

Editors' note: We incorrectly calculated the overall rating for this product when this review originally posted. Using our new weighting system for business PCs, the overall editors' rating is a 7.3.


HP Compaq Business Desktop d530

The Good

Versatile, space-saving design; LCD can pivot; very expandable for a corporate system; includes Microsoft Office; excellent warranty.

The Bad

Average performance; poor monitor contrast; no IT or antivirus software; phone support expires after three years.

The Bottom Line

Though not a performance champ, the d530's versatile design and outstanding warranty make it ideal for corporate environments.
Ostensibly a run-of-the-mill corporate system, the $1,711 HP Compaq d530 ($1,909 with all reviewed accessories) offers a design and accessory bundle that deftly caters to call centers and customer-service operations. It comes with everything from a headset to a pivoting monitor to a carrying handle for easy desk-to-desk mobility. There's even a Bluetooth radio built into the optional port replicator base. And while the d530 lacks the horsepower to run games or high-end software, it's admirably expandable, and it's backed by one of the best warranties we've ever seen with a corporate PC.
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The Integrated Work Center Stand turns the HP Compaq d530 into a makeshift all-in-one unit.

The HP Compaq d530 is as notable for its operator-friendly accessories as it is for its attractive, black-and-silver, pizza-box case. The latter can sit flat or stand upright on a plastic base, or it can be mounted behind an LCD monitor, thanks to HP's Integrated Work Center Stand, which creates a kind of poor man's all-in-one system. The stand makes for a somewhat odd appearance, as you see cables running sideways from behind the monitor, but it's a decidedly space-saving approach. Plus, the stand lets employees adjust the vertical height of the LCD, a potential plus for those who work at counters rather than desks.

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The stand from the rear, with the system unmounted.
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It's a tight fit, but you can add memory and/or upgrade the hard drive.

Then there's HP's Desktop Access Center, which, except for its built-in Bluetooth radio, functions as a port replicator. It sits beneath the Integrated Work Center Stand and provides side-accessible USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and other controls. It also comes with a drive bay (compatible with only HP's MultiBay drives), a comfortable Labtec headset, and telephone pass-through jacks for easy compatibility with Voice over IP systems.

Some organizations may find the stand and the Access Center accessories superfluous, especially since they each add $99 to the overall price of a system that's already fairly compact and easy to expand. The d530 case has headphone and microphone jacks up front and requires very little desk space whether it sits beneath the monitor or next to it. Plus, with two USB ports in front, four in the rear, and its own drive-swappable MultiBay, this system offers users plenty of flexibility to add components.

A tool-free side panel allows easy access to the cramped case interior, where you can swap out a hard drive or add a memory module (the d530 has two SDRAM sockets, one occupied). There's even a single PCI slot that can accommodate full-height expansion cards.

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An integrated Bluetooth radio and MultiBay slot makes the Desktop Access Center more than just a simple port replicator.

The HP Compaq d530 offers about what you'd expect from a corporate system: average performance and basic components. One noteworthy exception is HP's 15-inch L1530 LCD, which not only raises and lowers via the stand, but also pivots 90 degrees for portrait-oriented computing. We think its image quality is more than adequate for corporate use, but we found that colors were washed out because of the less than stellar contrast.

The d530 itself runs on a 2.8GHz Pentium 4, 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, and a 40GB hard drive. This configuration should prove sufficient for most call-center and corporate software, though adding another 256MB of system memory would add some zip to overall performance. Even with extra RAM, the d530 isn't the machine for after-hours gaming: its integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 chip offers nowhere near enough muscle, despite borrowing 64MB of system memory.

Similarly, the d530's single built-in speaker was not designed with entertainment as a priority. It's suitably loud and clear for the bloops and bleeps of day-to-day business use, but if you want to enjoy some background music, plan on plugging in a pair of headphones or some external speakers.

Most corporate users probably don't need to burn CDs or watch DVDs, hence the d530's plain-old 24X CD-ROM drive. However, HP offers a variety of CD, DVD, and combo drives--recordable and otherwise--as options.

In addition to Windows XP Pro, HP supplies only Microsoft Office 2003 Basic Edition, which includes Word, Excel, and Outlook. While Office is a worthwhile inclusion, we are surprised that this corporate system doesn't come with any antivirus software or IT-management tools. Other hardware and software options, though no management apps, are available on HP's Web site, but the configurator is irritatingly designed, with a floating, real-time price-update panel that is slow to refresh and that clutters up the margin regardless of a user's attempts to scroll away from it.

Application performance
Most business systems rely on low-cost (read: low-end) hardware, and the HP Compaq d530 is no exception. With a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 and 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, the d530 won't win any performance contests. Taking into account that the 2.8GHz P4 is running on a 533MHz frontside bus (and not at 800MHz), the d530's SysMark 2002 score of 253 is around what we expected. However, compared to the MPC ClientPro All-in-One and its 512MB of system memory, for example, the d530 doesn't quite measure up. Still, the d530 will run business applications and perform other tasks to most corporate users' satisfaction.

Application performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2002 rating
SysMark 2002 Internet-content-creation rating
SysMark 2002 office-productivity rating
Sony VAIO PCV-RS430G (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
Gateway 510X (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
MPC ClientPro All-in-One (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
HP Compaq d530 (2.8GHz Intel P4, 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
Gateway E-4100 (2.4GHz Intel P4, 256MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)

To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2002, 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
Budget corporate systems such as the d530 are rarely the right choice for someone looking to play games or run educational titles with heavy-duty 3D graphics demands, since most budget business PCs use integrated graphics solutions, which typically lack significant 3D graphics power. Without its own dedicated video memory, the d530's Intel Extreme Graphics 2 chip borrows from the system RAM, hampering overall system performance and making 3D-intensive game-playing nigh impossible, evidenced by the d530's 13-frames-per-second score on Unreal Tournament 2003.

3D gaming performance (in fps) (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768
MPC ClientPro All-in-One (ATI Mobility Radeon 9000)
Sony VAIO PCV-RS430G (ATI Radeon 9200)
HP Compaq d530 (Intel 865G)
Gateway E-4100 (Intel 865G)
Gateway 510X (Intel 865G)

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. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled. At this color depth and resolution, Unreal is much less demanding than 3DMark03 and is therefore 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.

System configurations:

Gateway 510X
Windows XP Home; 2.8GHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; integrated Intel 865G 64MB (shared memory); Seagate ST3120023A 120GB 7,200rpm

Gateway E-4100
Windows XP Professional; 2.4GHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 865G 64MB (shared memory); Maxtor 6E040L0 40GB 7,200rpm

HP Compaq d530
Windows XP Professional; 2.8GHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; integrated Intel 865G 64MB (shared memory); Seagate ST40014A 40GB 7,200rpm

MPC ClientPro All-in-One
Windows XP Professional; 2.8GHz Intel P4; SIS 645DX chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Seagate ST3120023A 120GB 7,200rpm

Windows XP Home; 2.8GHz Intel P4; Intel 865PE chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon 9200 128MB; Seagate ST3120022A 120GB 7,200rpm

HP's exemplary warranty lasts for three years on everything: parts, labor, and next-business-day onsite service. Unfortunately, the 24/7, toll-free phone support also expires after three years; after that, you'll have to pay a per-incident fee for phone support, with the amount determined by the incident, according to HP. The alternative is online help via HP's Web site, which includes live support chat, full documentation, and a number of other troubleshooting tools. And you'll need the online docs, since little printed material beyond a quick setup guide is included in the box.

You can extend the warranty for another year for $129 and upgrade the onsite-service response time to a 4-hour window between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for $159 or to a 24/7, 4-hour-response window for $199.


HP Compaq Business Desktop d530

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 5Support 9