HP Compaq dc7100S review

Price when reviewed

The dc7100S is HP’s latest attempt to persuade you to kit out your offices with HP PCs. It retains similar black-and-silver styling to previous Compaq desktops, so should blend in with older machines you may already have.

HP Compaq dc7100S review

Being a small-form-factor PC and with a 3GHz Pentium 4 and 512MB of RAM, the dc7100S impressed in our benchmarks. A score of 1.68 places it third in terms of PC performance, just behind the Fujitsu Siemens E620. Quality components continue with the Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 hard disk. It has a Serial ATA interface and an 80GB capacity that will be more than enough for office work. LG’s GCC-4481B CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive provides the only removable storage; although there’s a floppy disk controller on the motherboard, there’s no room in the case to install one. You’ll find a spare Serial ATA channel and internal 3.5in bay, however, so a second hard disk can be added.

Plenty of peripherals can be connected thanks to the eight USB 2 ports, all of which are free because of the PS/2 keyboard and mouse. There’s also the usual complement of parallel, serial and Ethernet ports on the rear, plus headphone and microphone sockets next to two USB 2 ports at the front.

The motherboard also boasts Broadcom’s NetXtreme 5751 gigabit Ethernet chip and a basic audio chip. Graphics are provided by Intel’s GMA 900 GPU, which take 128MB of system RAM. Should you want to, the on-board graphics can be disabled and a PCI Express 16x graphics card added. There are also a 1x PCI Express slot and two PCI slots spare, all of which are half-height. The two free DIMM sockets mean that a maximum of 2GB of RAM can be added to the memory already installed.

Removing the drives from the dc7100S is easy enough. The top of the case slides off forwards once the release buttons have been pushed. The optical drive is mounted on a rail that allows it to simply slide out, but it needs quite a lot of force. Removing the hard disk is rather more involved, as it’s mounted underneath the PSU. Everything is tool-less, but other machines are slightly less complicated to work on. However, wires have been kept to a minimum, so they don’t hinder access as with other machines.

Plenty of effort has been made to maximise airflow in order to keep fan noise down. The CPU has a 92mm fan with a dedicated air duct and an efficient heat-pipe heatsink, while the hard disk shares the PSU’s fan. When idle, the dc7100S generated just 29.7dBA, and when searching the hard disk a louder 34.2dBA. As with all of the PCs this month, these results mean that the HP will be inaudible in an office with air conditioning, and will only be audible at all in places where background noise is all but silence.

The bundled HP 1702 TFT is one of the weaker panels on test. We’re unimpressed that it has a captive D-SUB cable, but our main gripe is that the auto setup couldn’t properly lock onto the analog signal. Our monitor tests revealed some rippling in moire patterns, but for general office work you’ll notice black characters have a strange white halo around them. Manually changing the clock phase didn’t help either. At least contrast and brightness are perfectly good – you probably won’t want to use maximum brightness as whites can be dazzling.

The other peripherals are nothing special. The keyboard has a dated design and the keys are spaced slightly too far apart, making typing tricky for those with small hands. The mouse, in an effort to save money, has a ball instead of having an optical sensor, but you can upgrade to an optical version for £4.50.

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