HP Compaq Presario SR1440UK review

Price when reviewed

It’s been a while since we last saw a Compaq Presario-branded PC in the Labs, but it’s still going strong, particularly in the US. This incarnation, which is exclusive to PC World, shares a similar microATX tower design to others on test, and the specification is closest to the Evesham and Mesh.

This means there are two optical drives (a dual-layer DVD writer and a DVD-ROM), a generous 250GB hard disk and a quick CPU. But HP goes one step further than both Evesham and Mesh with its choice of processor: the driving force behind this PC is AMD’s Athlon 64 3400+. Arguably, this is overkill in a second PC or basic office machine, as is the 1GB of RAM, but they did combine to score a whopping 2.23 in our 2D application benchmarks. Unfortunately, they also combined to push up the price: the Presario is by far the most expensive system here.

Another reason for the Presario’s premium is the inclusion of discrete graphics: a GeForce 6200 Turbo Cache card is installed into the PCI Express 16x slot. It scored 56fps in Far Cry at 800 x 600 at medium quality; a good result compared to others here and one that makes this a viable machine for a bit of light gaming.

Otherwise, the Presario is very similar to the competition. For example, the motherboard is based on the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset. A V.92 modem uses up one of the three PCI slots, leaving two free. Two memory sockets are also free, as are two 3.5in bays for hard disks. All bays are quick release, and the entire front panel pops off for easy maintenance.

Even with an 80mm rear fan, the Presario wasn’t too noisy at idle (33.2dBA to be precise), and the Seagate hard disk is also a quiet seeker. Another welcome feature is the 9-in-1 card reader, which supports all major cards, including xD-Picture. There are also line-in, headphone, microphone, USB 2 and FireWire ports at the front.

However, it was disappointing to find that the mouse had a ball inside it. Then there’s the short one-year collect-and-return warranty, which is poor when both Evesham and Mesh offer three years’ on-site cover for less. The 17in TFT is a basic model too, with a captive VGA cable and unremarkable image quality. It’s fine in day-to-day use, but PC World can’t guarantee this Compaq model is the one you’ll get – it could be another brand with the same specifications.

The Compaq is expensive for a second PC and isn’t ideal as a primary machine. It’s still a respectable PC and performs very well, but if you’re looking for a capable system on a budget there are others here that give better value.

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