Compact Office PC

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The Best Budget PC

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HP recently introduced its new line of e-pcs based on Intel P4s ranging from 1.6 to 2.2 GHz. The e-pc has been around for some time now, and one of its highlights is its compact space saving design, measuring just 3.7” x 11” x 9.8”. One way it achieves this is by having an external power supply, similar to those in notebooks. Plus, it doesn’t give any PCI slots for adding more cards. It has most of the things needed in an office onboard, like integrated sound and networking. The e-pc also has a nice security feature called the HP Port Control System, which is a rear panel cover with lock. This prevents anyone from opening the PC and pulling out or plugging in external devices. This can reduce administration headaches in a company. For bulk purchase of e-pcs, a common key is also available for all the systems, reducing administration headaches even. For administration, the PC has a tool-free access design, allowing you to open it without needing a screwdriver. Once opened, the only parts you can access are RAM and hard drive for upgrades.

One way the e-PC achieves its compact design is by having an external power suply

You can open the PC without a screwdriver; once opened, you can access only the RAM and harddrive

HP E-PC 42
Price: Rs 59,000
Meant for: Offices
Features: P4 1.6 GHz, 128 MB SDRAM, ATI Rage 128 Pro with 16 MB DDR, HP Port Control system, 20 GB 5,400rpm hard drive, 24X CD-ROM drive, External Power supply, integrated sound and LAN, Win2K Pro, 15”monitor
Pros: Compact design, useful security features, choice of latest components
Contact: Hewlett-Packard India, New Delhi. Tel: 011-6826000–14

The model we reviewed was based on an i845 chipset motherboard, with a P4 1.6 GHz processor and 128 MB SDRAM, which can be expanded to 1 GB. On the storage front, there’s no floppy drive, which some users might miss; and a choice of 24x CD-drive, 8x CD-Writer, or 8x DVD drive. Hard drive was a 20 GB, 5,400 rpm Seagate U6, which can be replaced with a 40 GB 5,400 rpm or 80 GB 7,200 rpm drive. An ATI Rage 128 Pro with 16 MB DDR VRAM was in charge of the graphics department, which is sufficient for normal office work, and even for a bit of gaming. On the ports front, it has four USB ports (two on rear and two in front) for connecting devices like webcams, printers and scanners. Plus, it has onboard LAN, audio, serial and parallel ports. OS choices on the e-pc are either Win 2000 Pro, XP Pro or XP Home. 

Coming to performance, we checked how well the PC ran common productivity apps and high-end graphics apps, which cover most of the functions an office would be required to do. For common productivity apps tests, we ran Business Winstone 2001 (which runs apps like MS Word, Excel, Netscape Navigator, and Norton Antivirus.) Here, it got a score of 35, which is a pretty decent. For high-end graphics apps, we ran Content Creation Winstone 2001 (which runs apps like DreamWeaver and PhotoShop.) Here, the PC fared very well with a score of 42.5. 

The Bottom line The e-pc with its space-saving design, security features, and a choice of the latest components is a very good option for any office environment. It also comes with a recovery CD, diagnostic utilities, and HP TopTools agent, which is a Web-based management tool to keeps track of network resources and monitors performance. 

Sachin Makhija at PCQ Labs

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