HP Compaq 8200 Elite All-in-one

Trying to dig up a low-cost, all-in-one, business-class desktop system that doesn’t stink is a bit like trying to find the magic lamp in the cave: A daunting proposition, to say the least. And HP’s Compaq 8200 Elite all-in-one desktop doesn’t make the adventure seem any easier. It’s fast — one of the fastest all-in-one desktops we’ve tested. But it doesn’t offer much else for its $999 price tag (as of 12/19/2011). If you don’t mind a slight drop in speeds, other business-class AIOs give a bit more bang for the buck. 

The main source of the Compaq 8200 Elite’s speeds comes from its use of Intel’s Core i7-2600S processor, which doesn’t appear to be all that mighty at first glance. That’s because it trades a lower power profile for a reduced operating clock speed as compared to the more mainstream i7-2600, which runs at a standard 3.4 GHz. But here’s the secret: Both chips can Turbo Boost, automatically overclocking themselves when needed up to an impressive 3.8 GHz. And that’s part of the reason why we’re not surprised to see the Compaq 8200 Elite deliver a killer score of 143 on our WorldBench 6 suite of benchmarks.

But that’s really the sole spotlight shining down on this All-in-one. The system lacks a touch-screen, which takes part of the point of owning an all-in-one PC (even for business environments) right out of the equation. And we’re less-than-impressed by the system’s total storage capacity, a mere 500 gigabytes.

Its integrated graphics setup was also unable to provide playable frame rates on the desktop’s native 1920-by-1080 resolution on our Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark. When dialed down to 1680-by-1050, it earned 19 frames per second, and saw a playable 39 frames per second at 1024-by-768 pixels (high settings). Gaming isn’t an likely to be an important consideration for most users shopping for a business machine, and those results are in line with what we’ve come to expect from Intel’s integrated graphics. But versatility is important — more complex 3D and imaging tasks will suffer from the lack of a discrete graphics card.

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Although they sound a tad center-weighted, we have no criticisms for the Compaq 8200 Elite’s integrated speaker setup. The same can’t be said for the quality of this picture displayed on this AIO’s 23-inch screen, which doesn’t seem quite as bright or as saturated as other AIOs we’ve tested. It lacked a certain vibrancy to really make movies and images “pop.” We also felt that the overall picture, but especially text, was the slightest bit fuzzy — just enough for us to notice, but not enough to sound a major alarm or otherwise interfere with common desktop functions.

What could interfere with your business functions is the Compaq 8200 Elite’s lack of connective options. In short, it’s all USB: Two on the system’s side, alongside a multiformat card reader, and four on the system’s rear. A Gigabit Ethernet port is the only other connection option you get — as far as networking goes, however, the AIO does allow for Wireless-N connectivity right out of the box.

So how does the Compaq 8200 Elite stack up? Though slightly slower and slightly smaller (at a screen size of 21.5 inches), Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M91z trades a performance difference of eight percent for a full touchscreen, identical storage capacity, and support for HDMI (out) and a VGA connection –which allows the AIO to serve as a second monitor, if you so desire. And there’s also Toshiba’s DX1215: a 20-percent performance drop and 21.5-inch screen, but a terabyte of storage, a beautiful multi-touch display, and support for both USB 3.0 and HDMI. 

In other words, you can slice the all-in-one desktop pie a variety of different ways, but “speed” is the only flavor you’ll find in HP’s Compaq 8200 Elite all-in-one. We can’t fault this AIO for its killer general performance, but it needs a more balanced (and awesome) set of features — a touchscreen, at bare minimum — to support a great overall PC on its speedy foundation.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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