HP Compaq dc7600 Ultra Slim review

£459
Price when reviewed

HP’s diminutive dc7600 Ultra Slim is the smallest PC on test. It can sit unobtrusively beneath a monitor, but there’s a clever optional stand (£37) that allows you to attach it to the back of a TFT display with a standard VESA mount.

HP Compaq dc7600 Ultra Slim review

Cramming everything into such a small space isn’t an easy task, and under the hood is yet another superb design in this month’s Labs. Everything is tool-less; green plastic tabs abound and, although we had to refer to the diagrams the first time round, after that it’s possible to dismantle the machine in a flash.

HP has adopted the picoBTX layout, with the outlet from the front-mounted CPU cooler blowing air across the board and out the back. On the way it passes a PCI Express 16x slot and a PCI slot. Even half-height cards won’t fit because of the 75mm height, but you can still fit a full-height graphics card or PCI card by buying one of the optional risers.

There are eight USB ports (two at the front) and an integrated tweeter eliminates the need for separate speakers. Performance from the 2.8GHz Pentium 4 521 CPU and 512MB of DDR2 RAM is on a par with the near-identical Dell: both scored 0.72 overall in our 2D application benchmarks. It’s plenty for office tasks. Memory is split across two of the three DIMM sockets and you can add an extra 2GB stick if needed. Power cables obscure the third slot, but it’s possible to manoeuvre around them.

The use of a notebook optical drive saves space, but we were disappointed to find only a CD-ROM included at this price. Underneath the drive, the 80GB hard disk unclips easily for replacement. It’s connected to the motherboard’s single Serial ATA/300 port.

As an extra, there’s a software tool that lets you configure the BIOS from the Windows Desktop and a TPM 1.2 module for data security (you’ll need the optional ProtectTools to use it, though). Another plus is that HP took the Desktop PC Award in our most recent Reliability & Service Awards, so you can rest assured that customer support will be of a high standard.

The dc7600 doesn’t excel enough to win an award this time, but if your top priority is saving space this is a PC worth considering.

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