The modern business PC is a feature-packed creature, but rarely does it come with its own Morse-code signal light for use on ocean-going vessels. At least, that's what we initially thought the sliding shutter that shields a useless green light on the front of this small form factor PC was for.
As it turns out, the shutter is merely there for the benefit of users who don't want to see this light. Seeing as the light doesn't really do anything, HP's energy could have been focused on improving the system in other areas.
The HP DX2710_03 (FH071PA) is a small PC that possesses good speed, but it's nothing particularly special. Most business PCs aren't. But it does look decent. A sleek black front panel and slimline design mean that this unit would be comfortable in homes as well as workplaces.
It features a large number of expansion ports as well as Gigabit Ethernet. An impressive 10 USB 2.0 ports are available, with eight on the rear and two hidden behind a sliding panel on the front.
Unfortunately, there is no DVI port; only a D-sub port is available as an interface for a monitor. Using this analog signal, a monitor might need a little adjusting in order to supply its best image quality.
The missing DVI port is a let-down, especially because legacy ports litter the rear panel; you get serial and parallel ports, which in most office environments will go unused, and you also get PS/2 ports, even though the unit is supplied with a USB keyboard and mouse. Opening the side-panel of the HP reveals a 160GB, 7200rpm hard drive; we'd prefer a slightly larger capacity drive.
Despite the limited space inside the case, there is room for a second hard drive. In order to use it, however, you need to get your hands on some screws that will fit inside the tracks that are located on the side of the bay. It's not an ideal solution, and it would be helpful if an extra set of hard drive screws was supplied.
These negatives aside, the internal features of this desktop do promote expansion. Two free Serial ATA ports are available for plugging in drives, while empty PCI Express x16, PCI Express x1, and two PCI slots facilitate add-in cards — although any expansion is restricted to half-height cards due to the thin case design. Four DIMM slots mean that memory is easily expandable; a 2GB DDR2 RAM module occupies one of the slots.
The most impressive part of this unit is the processor. Featuring a 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU, this PC is lightning fast and tore through our benchmarks in impressive times.
Our Blender 3D rendering tests finished in 59.42sec, which is very quick. In our iTunes test, where we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s, the HP managed to complete the task in a very fast 58sec. This means that most multitasking and hardware-intensive operations will be performed without fault.
The 3DMark06 test results were predictably bad, with a score of 223 showing the weakness of the X3100 integrated graphics component of the Intel G33 chipset.
A 250W power supply is built-in, removing the need for a hefty external power brick. Consuming 15W when powered down, 50W when idling and 75W during peak operations, the power consumption is reasonable given the components included.
Although it comes with Windows XP installed, a Windows Vista licence is included for users wishing to use the latest Microsoft OS. Given the excellent processor and 2GB of DDR2 RAM, users will be able to run Vista without any hiccups.