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HP’s dc7800 is smaller than the average PC

The enterprise-class small form factor PC doesn't sacrifice performance, but I didn't save much space

Long gone are the days when PCs were dull, gray towers. While performance is still the most important factor, design and style have become increasingly important, as has form factor and size.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) seeks to address the enterprise need for big performance in a smaller package with its dc7800 line of PCs which includes three models: an ultra slim model, a small form factor model and a desktop model.

I tested the small form factor model, which weights just under 19 lbs. and measures 13.30” x 14.90” x 3.95”. It’s smaller than the average PC; I’d compare it to an older-generation VCR. Since it’s a desktop model though, and not a tower, I had to sit it horizontally on my desk rather than vertically, on the floor, as I would with a tower. This negates some of the size advantage.

It’s a nice looking PC though, with a silver and black finish, and it’s well laid-out. The DVD-RW drive is at the front, as are two USB ports, jacks for a microphone and headphones, and a power button. At the back there are PS2 connections for a mouse and keyboard, useful for the enterprise that probably has quite a few of those laying around.

There’s also six more USB ports at the back, audio in and out ports, parallel, VGA and RJ-45 ports and a serial port. Serial ports are becoming rarer on PCs, but they’re a must for many enterprises connecting legacy line of business equipment.

While various configurations are available, my demo ran Windows Vista Business with an Intel vPro running an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 1GB of RAM, expandable up to 8GB. The hard drive options range from 80GB up to 500GB and HP also touts the PC’s energy efficiency.

I was pleased with the performance of the dc7800. For all my business tasks though I found the performance speedy and reliable and I didn’t have a crash during my review period, something I rarely get to say. The boot-up speed was also particularly impressive, and overall it was a fairly quiet PC.

Along with the dc7800 I also tested the HP L1910, a 19” flat panel LCD monitor, sold separately. It had a sharp, clear picture and I quickly got used to the larger screen size, missing it more than I thought I would when it was gone. The setup was easy, and on connection the monitor auto-configured. It could have swiveled and adjusted more easily though.

HP’s dc7800 Small Form Factor PC has all the power a business user will need, but it’s desktop orientation mitigates some of the size advantage of going to a small form factor. Still, it would be a good option for the business looking to save a little space while still keeping standard-sized components for easier support.

The dc7800 starts at $699 depending on configuration, and the L1910 starts around $269. Both are now available through the HP channel.