HP Compaq dc5800 review

14 May 2008

Great performance, future-proofing and power economy from a supremely solid business PC.

Price when reviewed 
389
4

Many of the business PCs we've seen recently have focused on squeezing a competent specification into a space-saving chassis - four systems in our Business PC Labs opted for tiny chassis. The HP Compaq dc5800, though, bucks this trend, opting for a more traditional approach, and this grants it all sorts of benefits over its smaller rivals.

The case is a micro-tower, and though this doesn't offer the innovative design we've seen in smaller cases, it does mean there's plenty of room inside for a wealth of upgrades and additions. A free 5.25in bay is located between the Toshiba optical drive and a well-appointed card reader, and there's a spare 3.5in bay for adding to the 250GB hard disk.

Helpfully, all the internal bays have tool-free access, so swapping components in and out is a breeze, and there's an extra power connector for an additional hard disk included, although no second SATA cable. The storage bays face outwards, rather than into the case - another sensible touch.

A plastic tunnel wraps around the custom heatsink and channels any hot air from the processor out of the front of the case, rather than letting it linger around the other components, and as a consequence the case is cool and quiet. Fitting extra parts into the PCI Express 1x or standard PCI slots is easy too, with a hinged door offering for tool-free entry to the blanking plates.

The components, like the case, are capable business performers. An Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 processor is a tremendously quick part: it runs at 2.66GHz, has 6MB of L2 cache and a 1,333MHz front side bus. Performance is, as expected, exemplary: an overall benchmark score of 1.68 is a fair amount higher than the quickest recent business machines. The A-Listed Fujistu Siemens Esprimo P5925 EPA, for instance, scored 1.05, and 1.46 was the highest we saw in the last business PC Labs, achieved by another HP Compaq, the dc7800p.

Office performance is particularly impressive, with the dual-core processor storming to a score of 1.96 in our Office benchmark - higher than the 1.75 scored by the dc7800p, and offers evidence that the dc5800 should last a fair few years in a business environment.

The rest of the specification is similarly well-appointed. 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM is generous compared to the 667MHz memory that we've seen in other business machines lately, such as the Acer Veriton T661 and VeryPC BE 2 Business. There are also a couple of spare DIMM slots for future expansion. The integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipset should be enough for the office, too, while the 250GB hard disk is more than enough for a business PC. Only one of the machines in the last Labs could compete - the NEC PowerMate ML470; most others opted for either 160GB disks or smaller.

Even more impressive than all of this, however, is the fact that power requirements are very low. Even with such a powerful processor and decent specification, the dc5800 idles at a mere 39W, which is only 3W more than the environmentally friendly Very PC BE 2 Business. The HP's power consumption is also lower than any of the systems in our Business PC Labs, the most frugal of which, the HP Compaq dc7800p, drew 40W.

Business users will also be pleased about the inclusion of several security features. A TPM 1.2 encryption chip brings the dc5800 in line with every machine in the Labs, and a security lock adds another layer of protection. HP's ProtectTools is another reassuring addition to the Compaq, and a USB fingerprint reader is also available for an extra £26.