HP Compaq dc5850 review

We’re accustomed to seeing HP producing some impressively miniature business PCs, such as the dc7800 Ultra Slim, but it does old-fashioned tower cases too. Size-wise, the dc5850 is more in line with the long-A-Listed Fujitsu Siemens Esprimo P5925, and it packs plenty into a very attractive price tag.

It’s been quite a while since we saw an AMD-based PC, so the HP’s Athlon Dual-Core 4450B processor is a welcome sight. Running at 2.3GHz, it’s a 65nm low-power Athlon 64 X2 with a 45W TDP, and in case AMD’s ever-changing naming structure doesn’t make it obvious the B stands for Business-class.

With 2GB of DDR2 memory to back it up the dc5850 did reasonably well in our benchmarks. An overall score of 1.01 is slightly behind the 1.05 of the Fujitsu – and far behind the quickest consumer PCs of today – but it won’t have any issues with the business software it will predominantly be running.

This score is helped slightly by the use of the less demanding Windows XP Professional rather than Vista, although the first thing you’ll notice is the usual Vista license sticker on the case. Like many disgruntled business PC manufacturers, HP is selling the dc5850 as a ‘downgrade from Vista Business’, meaning you have the disc and license to install Vista should you wish (or get HP to do it for you) at no extra charge.

Whatever operating system you settle on, the HP offers a nice mixture inside the micro-tower case. The motherboard uses is of BTX design, so it’s mounted on the opposite wall to usual (left as you look at it from the front) and air is funnelled from a fan at the front directly across the CPU. There’s a further fan at the rear, but with so much room in the case, cooling is unlikely to be an issue.

This specification comes with a 250GB Western Digital hard disk, which should be more than enough for business use. It’s mounted so that you can slide it out sideways once the side panel is off, with a small hook towards the rear unlatching it for removal. There’s room for another hard disk in that cage, as well as an extra optical drive to go with the DVD writer, which is unusual in that it connects via SATA.

Two more SATA ports are free for upgrades, and you can also make use of the expansion slots, all of which sit empty. The PCI-Express 16x graphics slot may not be of much use – the integrated Radeon 3100 graphics barely managed our Low 3D test, but this is not a PC meant for gaming – although the PCI slot and pair of PCI-Express 1x slots will open more useful avenues of expansion. And cards can be fitted easily thanks to the hinged gate on the back of the case – no screws required.


Moving outside the case, the front features three USB ports, and a card reader for all major formats, including xD-Picture and mini-SD. There’s no monitor included, but the inclusion of VGA and DVI ports on the rear means hooking the HP up to existing TFT screens or CRTs will be simple.

A Gigabit Ethernet port sits beneath them, along with six USB and a pair of PS/2 ports for the bundled keyboard and mouse. They’re standard HP wired models, so nothing spectacular in terms of design and extras but as comfortable and reliable as you’d expect.

And that description could be applied to the dc5850 as a whole. There’s nothing particularly innovative here, with a bare minimum of parts in a fairly well-designed chassis. But when you bring the price into the equation its appeal skyrockets: it costs just £328, significantly less than the current price of the Fujitsu, yet it offers similar performance, twice the RAM and three times the storage.

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