HP Compaq 6000 Pro: All-in-one for the office

All-in-one desktops generally have a tough time fitting into the Business realm. While convenient space-savers, they’re generally pricier than similarly equipped tower models. But more importantly, those svelte chassis come at the cost of internal access — often a deal breaker for IT departments that need unfettered access to their machines.

The Hewlett-Packard‘s (NYSE: HPQ) Compaq 6000 Pro joins a rather brief list of Business-centric all-in-ones. At $1139 (as of 2/15/2011) it’s not quite as cost-effective as some of the consumer-oriented Budget towers or all-in-ones on our charts. To say nothing of the Sandy Bridge equipped offerings on our Mainstream charts — the Micro Express MicroFlex 25B dips as low as $850. That said, the Compaq 6000 Pro does have a few IT friendly tricks up its sleeve.

Packed behind the 21.5-inch display is a 3GHz Core 2 Duo processor — a stalwart part, though positively ancient. Coupled with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, it earned a WorldBench 6 score of 116. From a performance stand point, this puts it right at the top of the Budget all-in-one category.

The storage capacity is far less impressive — a meager 500GB, whereas some of its consumer-oriented competition has edged closer to 1TB. If you’re working in a small business environment that relies on network storage this won’t be much of an issue, but keep that limitation in mind. As befitting a Business desktop, the Compaq 6000 Pro runs the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional.

Graphics performance is surprising. The machine is packing an Nvidia GT 230 GPU — a significant step up from the integrated Intel graphics we’re generally used to seeing. It offered up 35 frames-per-second on our Unreal Tournament benchmark (1680-by-1050 resolution, highest settings), outpacing its competition by a fair margin. The HP All-In-One 200, MSI Wind Top AE2220, and HP TouchSmart 310 all failed to post playable frame rates.

Gaming is generally ruled out while testing Business machines (and most all-in-ones), but the Compaq 6000 Pro’s better-than-average performance does bode well for anyone looking to get a bit of graphics-intensive work done.

Display quality is just fine. There’s nothing spectacular at play here. Colour reproduction is accurate, though not especially vibrant. Brightness controls sit on the right side of the machine, adjacent to the DVD-burner. Video playback is flawless — as expected, given the graphics hardware. The built-in speakers are adequate. While loud, they don’t quite fill a room, which is fine for an office environment (preferable, even). They sound rather nice too — a bit more bass would be great, but audio is clear, and crisp. Alas, this particular display is not a touchscreen. If jabbing at a screen is vital to your workflow, the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z offers a multi-touch display, in a larger shell.

The Compaq 6000 Pro’s connectivity options are about average, for the category. On the left, you’ll find the multi-format card reader, a pair of USB ports, the headphone and microphone jacks, and a four-pin Firewire port. The rear offers up five more USB ports. If you’re serious about security and need those disabled from time to time, you’ll also find PS/2 serial connectors for a mouse and keyboard. Audiovisual aides consist of a DisplayPort connector, and an audio output jack. The Gigabit Ethernet port is complemented by built in 802.11n connectivity — both are standard complements, for the category.

But here’s something that isn’t: lay the Compaq 6000 Pro on its face (after you’ve shut it off, of course), and you can use a flat head screwdriver to pop off the rear panel. It’s not as elegant as the ThinkCentre M90z’s tool-free access, but still an exceedingly rare feature for all-in-ones.

Internal access is also a feature that’s arguably vital for breaking into the business space. If that black tower on your desk stops chugging along one day, you (or your IT specialist) can pop off the lid and tinker inside, making cost-effective upgrades or repairs without being beholden to the company you purchased it from. The Compaq 6000 Pro isn’t nearly as amenable as a proper tower platform, but it’s leagues ahead of most of the all-in-ones that pass through our labs.

Inside, you’ll be able to swap out the RAM, hard drive, and optical drive by removing panels that cover sections on the rear of the chassis. There isn’t any room for adding additional components, but if you’d like to replace that DVD-burner with a spare Blu-Ray drive, you’ll be fine. The entire unit is also VESA-mount compliant, for strapping to an articulating arm or attaching to a wall.

The Compaq 6000 Pro doesn’t offer much in the way of extras. The bundled keyboard and mouse are wireless, connecting by way of a dongle (that takes up one of the available USB ports). They’re standard HP fare: the keyboard offers some media playback controls and is fairly comfortable to type on, while the mouse is plain, but functional. There isn’t much in the way of physical documentation either, though a spate of generic manuals are available on the machine in the PDF format. Software includes HP’s Protect Tools, and a trial of HP’s Virtual Rooms software, for collaborative projects.

If your office is in need of a larger hard drive, advanced connectivity options like Firewire and eSata, or even just a touchscreen, you’ll find plenty of options on our Budget and Big-Screen All-in-One charts. The HP Compaq 6000 succeeds as a no-nonsense workhorse, delivering strong performance and functionality is a svelte shell.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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