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HP's Z2 G4 Mini does an impressive job of squeezing workstation levels of performance into a compact desktop design, but the Xeon processor and high-end GPU of the Z2 would be a definite case of overkill for running general productivity software such as Mirosoft's Office 365. For more routine office work, HP provides the small form factor (SFF) and mini-tower designs of its EliteDesk range. There are several models in the range, but the
EliteDesk 705 G5 Desktop Mini PC is by far the most compact model -- and, thanks to its use of AMD Ryzen processors, it's the most affordable too.
In fact, HP refers to the EliteDesk 705 G5 as a 'USFF' PC -- ultra small form factor -- as it measures just 177mm wide by 175mm deep by 34mm high, and weighs a modest 1.26kg. It even beats Apple's Mac Mini at its own game, as the Mini is slightly larger at 197mm wide and deep, 36mm high and heavier at 1.3kg. The low-profile design will sit under your monitor (not included) with no trouble at all, but HP also includes a small stand with the EliteDesk so that you can stand it upright if you prefer. And, if you really need to save space, the EliteDesk is small enough to be mounted on the back of your monitor, although you'll need to pay extra (£18/$39) for HP's mounting kit.
Despite its compact design, the EliteDesk 705 G5 provides good connectivity, including support for multiple external displays. The front panel provides quick access to one USB-C and two USB 3.1 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a dual-purpose connector that can handle both audio input and output.
There are four more USB 3.1 ports on the back of the unit, along with Gigabit Ethernet and two DisplayPort connectors. It's a little disappointing that there's only a single USB-C port provided as standard, as USB-C is hardly a novelty anymore. However, the rear panel also houses a 'flexible I/O' port, which is essentially an empty slot that can be used to provide one additional USB-C, DisplayPort or other interface. Take care when ordering, though, and check to see how that extra port is configured on any model that you buy.
Customers in the US have plenty of choice, as HP's US website includes a number of pre-built configurations, but also offers a 'build your own' option that allows you to customise all the main components of the EliteDesk as required. You can even use that flexible I/O slot to add a VGA port if you have a legacy monitor sitting in your office.
In contrast, HP doesn't sell the EliteDesk 705 G5 on its UK website at all, preferring to focus on the Intel-based EliteDesk 800 series instead and relying on a number of third-party online retailers to sell pre-built configurations.
There's also a single thumbscrew on the back of the unit, which allows you to quickly remove the top panel of the EliteDesk and gain easy access to the main drive bay. However, the memory slots and other components on the tightly packed motherboard are obscured by the fan and cooling system, so you'll need to be pretty handy with a screwdriver to attempt your own repairs.
Price & options
As mentioned, customers in the US have a wide range of customisation options, with prices starting at just $588 for an EliteDesk 705 G5 equipped with Windows 10 Home and an AMD Athlon Pro processor. However, our review unit was a top-of-the-range model, equipped with Windows 10 Pro and a quad-core Ryzen 5 Pro 3400GE processor running at 3.3GHz (up to 4.0GHz with Max Boost Clock). That model also includes 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVNe solid-state drive, plus a USB keyboard and mouse for a total price of $779 (£538.99 ex. VAT/£646.79 inc. VAT).
The options on HP's US website also allow you to upgrade to a maximum 64GB of RAM ($1,361) and 2TB of solid-state storage ($1,380), and even opt for the open-source FreeDos operating system for businesses that require compatibility with legacy DOS software (this option also saves you $234 on the cost of a Windows licence). There are no further processor upgrades available, although US customers do have the option of adding a discrete GPU, in the form of a Radeon RX560 with 4GB of video RAM for $167.
Our review unit was slightly more expensive than Apple's current quad-core Mac Mini ($799/£799), but its Ryzen processor couldn't quite match the performance of its Intel-based Apple rival.
The EliteDesk 705 G5 recorded Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 878 (single core) and 2,828 (multi core), while the Mac Mini hits 1,000 and 3,600 respectively. However, the EliteDesk's integrated Radeon Vega 11 graphics fares quite well, achieving 40fps in the Cinebench R15 benchmark, which is virtually on par with the 41fps of the Mac Mini.
So while the EliteDesk 705 G5 certainly isn't in the same league as the Z2 G4 Mini workstation, it will be more than adequate for running Office 365 and other productivity software, as well as performing basic photo or video-editing for presentations. And, while the rear panel of the EliteDesk reveals a rather large cooling vent, we were pleased to find that the unit ran cool and quiet throughout all our tests. Tuck it away on the back of your monitor, and you'd never know it was there.
The performance of the EliteDesk 705 G5 is relatively modest but, of course, the key attraction is its ultra-compact design, which will be ideal if space is at a premium when working from home or in a small office. It's an affordable option for running routine office software, and the ability for US customers to opt for 'legacy' features such as VGA and DOS compatibility will appeal to many business users too.