GCN LAB REVIEW: HP Compaq dc7900

Pros: Small form factor, good access
Cons: Subpar performance, limited upgrade capacity.
Performance: B
Upgradability: B
Ease of Access: A-
Features: B+
Value: B+
Price: $969

HP put forth the only small-form-factor computer in the review, the HP Compaq dc7900. Although this configuration does lend itself to cramped spacing, HP has made the most of it.

In addition to the standard array of ports, the Compaq has a parallel printer port and DisplayPort. Its ATI Mobility Radeon 2400 XT graphics adapter can control two separate VGA monitors. Of course, the Compaq comes with a suite of HP security software that is easy to use and fairly comprehensive. The power supply is 85 percent efficient, making it one of the more green computers in the review.

Sometimes, the small form factor means tight quarters and therefore difficulty accessing components. Although the former is true for the dc7900, the latter certainly is not. Once the side panel is removed, without the need for tools, the power supply and drive bays swing out, allowing complete access to the hard drive and memory behind it. Also, every component in the dc7900 can be removed without tools. Unfortunately, the nature of the beast is that computers with this configuration usually have cables going every which way, and the dc7900 is no exception.

The dc7900’s capacity for upgrades is limited, but better than some. It has only one 3.5-inch external drive bay. The motherboard has one PCIExpress slot, one PCI slot and one PCIe x1 slot open. However, these are only for half-height peripheral cards, and the printer port takes up the opening for the PCIe x1, so you would need to move or eliminate it. However, it does have two open memory slots, allowing for the addition of as much as 16G before anything needs to be replaced.

In our performance benchmarks, the Compaq dc7900 performed decently for a small form factor. Its score of 915.2 was technically the second lowest in the review, although it was closer to the next highest than the lowest. Its 3.00 MHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor was slower than some and was responsible for a good chunk of its subpar performance grade. Its Serial Advanced Technology Attachment optical drive definitely contributed positively to its performance but not enough to counter other factors.

HP has listed its Compaq dc7900 for $969, which is definitely a good price for what you get. It would be a good choice for an office where desktop space is a consideration — and, really, who couldn’t use a bit more room?

Hewlett-Packard, 800-474-6836, www.hp.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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