HP dc7600 Series – Ultra Slim Desktop review
Due to its internal PSU, the Ultra Slim Desktop isn’t as small as Dell’s USFF model. But it’s still only 7.5cm wide and can be hidden unobtrusively under most desks or, for those really pushed for space, attached to HP’s Integrated Work Center; this is then itself attached to a VESA-compliant monitor.
The motherboard is well laid out, but you’ll need to disassemble the system more to get unobstructed access to it. Thankfully, it’s all tool-less: the side panel is held on with a captive thumbscrew and although removing the front panel and optical drive is more involved than the Convertible Minitower, it’s all logically explained via stickers adorning the interior of the chassis. The notebook-style optical drive itself is easy to remove, and there’s also the option of installing a permanent spacer to stop foreign objects finding their way inside.
Smaller systems usually have serious problems with heat build up, but the interior design of the Ultra Slim Desktop is excellent. The CPU is located at the front of the machine, and the heatsink fan draws air in from the front via a plastic duct, over the heatsink, before blowing it out of the back of the machine. Consequently, the chassis remained both quiet and cool throughout our testing. Installing a hot-running PCI card via the horizontal riser would potentially cause airflow problems though.
Compared to the Minitower, the Ultra Slim lacks upgradability, but its size, plus the zero footprint option, makes it an attractive proposition. With the low price of £459, the Ultra Slim is excellent value for money.
HP dc7600 Series
If IT managers had their way, every PC would be precisely the same. With each new configuration, the time it takes to update software, install new applications and keep Windows up to date increases exponentially.
In the real world, of course, a single configuration isn’t practical – employees have vastly contrasting needs, and under- or over-specifying on expensive hardware is a great way to haemorrhage your budget. Fortunately, Intel has an answer to the problem in the form of its Stable Image Platform Program (SIPP). Based around a single core component – the Intel 945G chipset in this case – it can be used as a common foundation to build upon.
There are no fewer than 23 configurations of HP’s dc7600 available, with differences as significant as processor series and as small as the optical drive. The key advantage is that a single disk image will work on all of them, so deploying 40 PCs will be far less painless than needing to keep a dozen disk images available for different platforms. HP can install a custom disk image on a dc7600 for around £12 per unit.
The dc7600 range varies in size from the diminutive Ultra Slim Desktop to the full-size Convertible Minitower unit. Internally, they vary in specification from a 2.8GHz Celeron 336 to the high-end 3.2GHz Pentium 4 640, although other options may be available through your chosen reseller.
The Small Form Factor and Ultra Slim Desktop machines have an ATX-style motherboard, albeit with a corner ‘cut off’ to allow it to fit the smaller case, while the Convertible Minitower machine is more of a standard desktop unit, complete with a full-size ATX motherboard. Each machine has two 512MB sticks running in dual-channel mode for a total of 1GB of RAM – plenty for most tasks. The hard disks are SATA units with a standard capacity of 80GB. However, you can specify a larger disk if you want.