HP dc7600 Series – Small Form Factor review
Even without choosing the latest Pentium 4 6-series processor option, the Small Form Factor models are the most expensive in the range. The specification we saw had a 3GHz Pentium 4 630, making it even more costly.
On the plus side, it’s also the only PC here to have a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive rather than just a CD-ROM. The chassis itself is less innovative than the Ultra Slim Desktop. Airflow is slightly more of an issue, as although the plastic duct to pass fresh air over the CPU is still present, there’s no clear path for it to exit the machine.
The optical device is full-sized rather than being a notebook-style device, and there are two free DIMM sockets free as opposed to just one on the Ultra Slim. You also get a free 3.5in internal bay.
The PCI slots are still half height and, unlike the Ultra Slim Desktop, it isn’t possible to fit a riser card to squeeze in a full-sized card horizontally. The entire case is tool-less: even the PSU lifts up easily to reveal the hard disk. We have slight reservations about the location of the hard disk though, which fits snugly under the PSU and so doesn’t have particularly good airflow around it.
The fact that such a small chassis has so many upgrade options is an advantage, but its greater expense is a drawback. Of course, you can specify it with lower-end components to bring the cost down, but the Small Form Factor ultimately occupies a difficult no-man’s-land between upgrade potential and size, reducing its appeal.
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.
The dc7600 range has a three-year worldwide on-site warranty. It’s next-business-day to minimise potentially costly downtime, but note that telephone support is provided for the warranty period only. For in-house maintenance, however, each machine is virtually screw-free, so opening them up to replace or upgrade components is incredibly simple.