HP DX2710

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Businesses looking to roll out desktops won't be let down by the solid HP DX2710 small form factor PC, but watch out for the short one-year warranty.

Test Procedure
PCMark2005, 3DMark06, and Sandra Lite provide us with our hard performance scores when testing. Aside from raw performance, we also consider a number of physical design issues. PCMark assesses the machine's overall performance with specific scores given for CPU, memory, graphics and hard disk drive; this gives us a useful indicator of performance dealing with typical office tasks.

3DMark is an indicator of the machine's graphics capabilities, while Sandra Lite gives us specific figures on processor, memory and drive performance. We also take a look at the usability of the PC, such as the location (and type) of ports and buttons, and the construction elements such as case material quality and ease of opening for maintenance and upgrades. Sound quality is another factor considered along with the software included with the machine.

Design and Features
Designed to stand upright, the DX2710 has a slimline case and a stand which elevates the machine to improve air circulation. Or if you prefer to lay the machine flat, small, rubber feet are on the side of the PC. Black is clearly still in vogue and the rounded face plate could almost serve as a mirror.

Not so long ago a 3GHz single core processor was a marvel. This machine has an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz — and we, in this new era of quad-core processors, nonchalantly think of it as nothing special! Also on-board is 2GB of Samsung RAM and a 160GB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm hard drive. (We believe this last feature describes half the current PC market given the sample we've had to deal with over the past few months — Seagate must be doing something right.)

This is a well engineered machine with quick release drive cradles set on a mounting which swings out for easy access to drives and RAM. (Just remember to remove the face plate before lifting the cradle mounting.) On the other hand, HP probably doesn't want you peeking inside anyway given the need for a star-tip screwdriver to remove the access panel. The interior is well laid out with neat cabling and good ventilation.

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At last someone has discovered that unsightly front-mounted ports can be hidden behind doors that open easily and are not liable to break at first touch. One hatch hides two USB ports plus microphone and headphone jacks while two more hide the optical drive and a 3.5-inch drive bay.

At the rear of the machine we find a generous though traditional selection of ports: PS2 x2, serial, parallel, VGA, Ethernet, line-in/out and microphone jacks, plus eight more USB ports.

HP is prepared for expansion with two PCI slots and one PCIe x16 slot, and the 2GB of RAM can be expanded to 4GB. Only one of the four available memory slots is used; HP would be kinder to provide 2x 1GB memory units so as to improve performance, but plugging in a single unit is less work for their technicians. A wide range of processors can be supplied with the DX2710 series — including quad-core.

Benchmark Test Score
PCMark05 Score 5035
CPU 7660
Memory 5756
Graphics 1476
HDD 5747/td>
3DMark06 Score 221
CPU 2687
Sandra Pro Lite 11.17 Processor, Arithmetic 25,603MIPS¹; 21,713MFLOPS²
Processor, Multimedia 19,433 it/s³; 90,294 it/s
File System 62MBps; 7ms
Memory Bandwidth 4.98GBps
¹ — Million instructions per second
² — Megaflops
³ — iterations/second

Someone at HP was apparently having a bad day when this machine was shipped to us. The official Microsoft sticker claims that this machine is supplied with Windows Vista Business edition, but it actually arrived with XP Pro installed. However, it has a Vista Business licence.

No monitor is included in this package, but the keyboard and mouse supplied were of reasonable quality. These are basic black and silver models — no frills, but they work well.

Verdict
As expected for an office-based machine, the DX2710 performs well in standard office tasks where drives, CPU and memory are the main factors affecting performance; however, advanced graphics applications such as CAD or gaming would not be well served.

Attractive slimline designs continue to fetch considerably higher prices than more traditional models. This unit is priced at AU$999, while the FH066PA variant of this machine, which appears similar except for a larger case, costs AU$300 less. These prices do not include a monitor. The warranty is for one year and includes parts and on-site service. The HP website offers a range of online support options including "Livechat" messaging, forums and documentation.

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