The budget Vista PC

It doesn’t have the most cutting-edge design among business systems, but the case options and security features will make it a good choice for some offices. PC rating: 73 Good

The HP Compaq dc5750 comes in either a microtower configuration or the desktop orientation that we tested. HP calls the latter model a “small form factor” system, but it’s nearly identical in size to Dell’s desktop case. It’s moderately attractive, with horizontal black fins and some shiny black pieces.

The dc5750 uses small, traditional fans inside–one in the power supply, located against the back of the case, and one mounted on top of the CPU’s heat sink. The HP uses an air scoop to channel airflow over the heat sink. The system is reasonably quiet, though not nearly as quiet as the Dell OptiPlex 740 we tested at the same time. HP’s off-the-shelf fans will likely cost less than Dell’s, however, should you need to replace them out of warranty. The Athlon 64 X2 processor used in this PC can take advantage of AMD’s Cool ‘n’ Quiet technology, which allows the PC to adjust the speed and voltage to meet the user’s needs. AMD says that Vista systems can take advantage of the technology without a driver, whereas XP systems require one.

The dc5750 has quick-release mechanisms for its optical drive, power supply, and expansion cards, but they’re not nearly as well designed as the Optiplex 740’s. For example, the expansion slot retainer is a metal piece that’s held in place by the top of the case; remove the top, and the retainer can rattle around.

Our test system had integrated graphics, which we worried would slow Vista’s Aero interface, especially because the system came with only 1GB of system RAM from which the graphics system could steal. But we ran Aero with no problems. Even with integrated graphics, the HP lets you connect two monitors simultaneously–one DVI and one VGA. The HP L2045w LCD monitor that shipped with our system allows height adjustments, swiveling, and tilting.

In our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests, the dc5750 scored a 62, about 11 per cent behind the OptiPlex 740. They’re two of the first Vista value systems we’ve tested, and compared with the power Vista systems we’ve tested previously, both systems are quite slow: The fastest system we tested then scored a 129 on our benchmark. If you want more power, you can opt for AMD processors with slightly faster clock speeds, or choose a slightly different system and configure it with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

The dc5750 did not have a chassis-intrusion-detection mechanism installed, but HP offers it as a no-cost option. You can buy a port guard to prevent unauthorized USB connections, and you can disable the front-mounted USB ports in the password-protected BIOS. HP offers a security sleeve for mounting the system under a desk or on a wall, but only for use with the desktop version.

You can use the Trusted Platform Module security chip embedded in the motherboards along with included software to encrypt passwords and document folders. The chip works with Vista’s Bit Locker security feature, which lets you encrypt your entire hard drive.

HP offers 24/7 tech support and next-business-day on-site warranty service, and you can tack on same-day on-site service to a three-year warranty for $209 extra. Readers in our most recent reliability and service survey scored HP fourth from the bottom, with average marks in every category but “satisfaction with reliability,” where it received a below-average score.

With its many security options, the dc5750 is a good choice if you want a PC that won’t grow legs. But the OptiPlex 740 line, while perhaps not quite as generous with the security add-ons, has a better-designed case and a lower noise output.

This review is courtesy of For the latest reviews and comparisons on laptops, notebooks, desktops, printers, software, consumer electronics and more,

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