System Specifications

HP's DX5150 comes in a variety of configurations. The base model ships with a 1.8 GHz Sempron 3000+. Yes, these chips do exist for socket 939, but you can only get them in OEM systems - and you can go all the way up to an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ or 4000+. HP elected not to send us the base model, so we have an upgraded hard drive, DVD burner, processor, and memory. Here are the detailed specs for our configuration.

HP DX5150 Specifications
Motherboard: HP DX5150 (ATI Xpress 200 chipset)
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (ClawHammer)
RAM: 2 x 512MB Samsung PC3200 (3-3-3-8-2T)
Hard Drive: Samsung 160GB SP1614C SATA
Graphics: ATI Xpress 200 IGP
Optical Drive: 16X DVD+/-RW Dual-Layer (GWA-4161B)
Audio: AC'97 Realtek (AL655)
Power Suply: 250W HP-2567F3P
2 X SATA Power
2 X 4-pin MOLEX
1 X Floppy MOLEX
1 X 24-pin ATX
1 X 4-pin ATX12V)
Front Ports: 2 X USB2.0
2 X 3.5mm Audio
Rear Ports: 6 X USB2.0
3 X 3.5mm Audio
PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse
LAN (GbE)
1 X VGA and 1 X DVI-D
1 X Serial and 1 X Parallel
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP2

It should come as no surprise that this system has integrated graphics; nearly every business computer in the world does. Using the ATI Radeon Xpress 200 chipset, this is actually one of the fastest IGP solutions available. When the DX5150 was first created, the Xpress 200 was, in fact, the fastest IGP chipset. One of the good things about this chipset is that it has full support for DVI ports, and the motherboard in the HP system includes both VGA and DVI ports. In our opinion, providing a DVI port is critical for business computers. (Most modern chipset supports DVI ports, but there are still many computers that don't come with such support.) Very few businesses are going to want to use an old CRT these days, and you get the best results by plugging an LCD into a DVI port. As mentioned in our recent TV tuner review, the DVI port can also be used to connect this computer to an HDTV.

One sort of interesting side note is that the internal speaker in the HP system can actually function as a mono sound output. Full 5.1 audio is supported with speakers, but that will almost never be used in the business environment. For the times when you need to play a quick audio file, watch a video, or perhaps just so that you hear the Windows sound alerts, the front mounted speaker will suffice. It even works for games, although 1D audio isn't very impressive.

The remainder of the system is fairly high end. An Athlon 64 4000+, 2x512 MB of RAM, a 16X dual layer DVD burner, and a 160 GB hard drive round out the package. The only change that we would make today is to use an X2 3800+ processor, which would only cost a few dollars more. This is where things get somewhat confusing.

If you go to HP and custom configure this exact system, it will come out to around $1500, not including a monitor. That may seem like a lot, but there's a catch: this particular build is one of HP's "Smart Buys". What that means is that thousands of computers are built with the exact same setup, and the lack of customization options allows HP to build them for less. It's $1500 to take the base DX5150 and turn it into our review system, but the same system is only $1169 as a Smart Buy. It's important to note that this is not a sale or a special offer; this is a standard configuration. While the current Smart Buy for this system ends at the end of this month, it will almost certainly be replaced with an equivalent or better offer. (We want to see the DX5150 with some higher-end components and the additional X2 processors added as Smart Buys!)

For comparison, we configured a similar system at Dell. A Dell OptiPlex GX620 with the Pentium D 840 (3.2 GHz) and similar specs on the other parts roughly equals a custom configured HP on price. Dell doesn't have a direct Smart Buy equivalent, but they often have short-term sales that will more or less equal the price of the HP Smart Buys. Overall, the Dell and HP systems end up being very comparable in price and performance; the AMD chip in the HP will win in certain areas, and the Intel chip in the Dell will win in other areas, so it mostly comes down to personal preference. Getting an X2 HP system, though, would of course make it faster than almost any Intel Pentium D configuration from Dell.

As we mentioned, the bundled copy of Windows XP Pro and a three-year warranty contribute to the cost. However, it's Christmas, so many OEMs are offering sales on similar systems. Regardless, with the included software and the standard three-year warranty, the prices are very competitive with what you could build on your own. The only thing missing from these systems are options like overclocking support, but that's not surprising.

AMD Custom System
Hardware Component Price
Processor Athlon 64 4000+ 2.40 GHz 1MB (939) - Retail $334
Motherboard ASUS nForce 430 GeForce 6150 (939) A8N-VM CSM $88
Memory Crucial Ballistix 2x512MB (2-2-2-6-1T) $119
Video Card Integrated GeForce 6150 $0
Hard Drive Hitachi SATA 250GB Deskstar T7K250 3.0 Gbps $108
Optical Drive NEC 3550A DVD+RW $42
Case and Power Supply COOLER MASTER Centurion 540 with 380W PSU $69
Keyboard and Mouse Logitech Internet Pro Desktop $16
Operating System Windows XP Professional SP2 $142
Shipping 3 day UPS (varies by location) $37
Warranty Two year extended warranty - offsite RMA $175
Bottom Line $1130

As a second comparison, we put together a similarly equipped custom-built system. As you can see from the price rundown, it's only slightly cheaper to build a PC yourself, and potentially slightly more expensive. It's going to be a more flexible route, but it also requires more time and effort. We used the Newegg extended warranty prices for comparison, but you only get limited onsite support (for large/bulky items); otherwise, you have to take the part to an authorized Service Net dealer. It's also only a two-year extended warranty. Relative to a custom-built system, then, you're getting a better warranty for a slightly higher price with the HP desktop, at the expense of enthusiast features. This is exactly what will interest businesses: stability, homogeneity, and service at a lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

One final note regarding the DX5150 is that it is available in two different form factors. We are reviewing the mini-tower version, but the desktop version is also available. The desktop system is slightly smaller, and there isn't as much room for expansion. I personally prefer the tower, but many businesses might find the desktop to be the better option. It allows you to tuck the computer underneath the monitor, potentially raising the monitor to a high level while conserving desk space at the same time. However, we would be hesitant to try stuffing a high-end graphics card into the desktop design, since it doesn't have the extra case fan.

Index Installation and Setup
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  • falcc - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Thanks for providing this review. I would love to see more reviews like this but with comparisions to similarly specced options from DELL, Lenovo etc. No one seems to do reviews like that.

    We have 100 of the SFF 5150's on order. If we are happy with them we will be ordering another 700 or so next year.

    I would have liked to of seen some testing on Windows Vista beta. Most corporates lease, and any machines leased now for 3 years could easily be running Windows Vista in a couple of years time when the company updates their SOE.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    I remember when HP used Delta power supplies. Who makes that one inside the computer? HP? Sure. Dell has been using low quality power supplies and their systems fail to properly turn on all the time, and for what, $5-10 dollars savings on a system?

    Better to get an AMD system. Use any application that requires the cpu in a prescott based system to go 100% and the cpu fan turns on full blast. I found out that can happen just by scrolling up and down a pdf document (Acrobat's fault). Out of say 100 Dell prescott systems at work, 3 of them have their cpu fan stuck on full speed, which is extremely annoying to other workers. Well, these are the small factor pc's though. But since they are so cheap they are not going to pay $500 for their own internal IT staff to fix them (different accounts within the business).
    Reply
  • WackyDan - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    What a lot of people miss when comparing OEM systems to DIY for business use is what to do with the systems 3 or 4 years down the road.

    You just can't throw them in dumpster anymore, and most of the time you can't donate or you don't want to sell to employee's as if they dispose of them improperly, you can still be one the one getting fined by the EPA.

    Buying OEM systems allows you the opportunity to lease, at very attractive rates, and if you don't lease, every OEM has a decent asset recovery/disposal service. You'll get a higher return at end of lifecycle with OEM boxes every time.
    Reply
  • MrEMan - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    Are you sure that the disposal rules apply to low quantity home DIY PCs?

    And what is to keep you from various parts in with your normal trash and letting the scavengers take the case if you don't plan to reuse it (I actually reused 2 Zeos desktop cases to build 4 different PCs over the years until Baby AT, Super Socket 7 boards were phased out)? Most likely the LCD display will be transferred to a new PC anyway or can be sold or give away.
    Reply
  • Jellodyne - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    We OEM our own corporate systems at work. I think that some of the specs in the DIY system were overdone, especially when compared to the HP. First, using a 4000+ in this type of system is unbalanced, and a waste of money. The processer outclasses the rest of the system. A 3200+ or 3400+ gets you most of the performance for a lot less money. Also, a 250 GB hard drive is great if you're ripping movies and mp3s and installing games, but most corporate users never need more than 20GB. 80 GB drives are more than enough, and a huge cost savings. Premium memory is also a waste. As you say, CL3 memory is somewhat more reliable, and significantly cheaper, if a bit dowdy, but we use it for those reasons, just like HP. Finally, the case and power supply is the hardest part of the equation, but we finally settled on an awesome Chenbro case with a 380 watt PS, which we were able to buy in pallet quantities for about $45. Each of these things saves a little money but the end result is a lot.

    Last years build was as follows:

    $80 MSI RS480M2-IL Radeon Xpress 200 board
    $160 Socket 939 3000+ (Retail) (This was months ago, would be a 3200+ now)
    $90 2x512 Kingston PC3200 (CL3)
    $70 WD 80 GB SATA HDD (this would be 160GB now for same price)
    $18 DVD-ROM
    $45 Chenbro MicroATX 380 watt case
    $9 FDD (Some people still need 'em)
    _____________________________________
    Total < $500

    No warranty, that's in house. Most of the parts come with a warranty. If you can build 'em you can support 'em. Furthermore, once your staff has built 'em they are better at supporting them then if they hadn't. Assembly is a pain, but we come in on a couple of Saturdays to get it done 1 person can easilly assemble 4 an hour so even at overtime rates, total cost is still under $500. We assemble 80-100 once a year and roll out most of them ASAP, and keep some on hand for spares and growth needs. No OS either, but we license Windows through an entrprise agreement. If you don't have this you need to include an OEM copy of Windows.

    I think you would find it tough to beat this system for anywhere near this price -- it has 80-90% of your $1100 system performance at less than half your cost. Shop the $500 price point anywhere and you're not getting a gig of memory, and you're getting Celeron doggy CPUs. And it also has the capability of accepting A64x2 CPUs -- in fact we're starting to use this motherboard with A64x2s in a rackmount case for low end servers.
    Reply
  • gdtaylor - Sunday, December 18, 2005 - link

    quote:

    No OS either, but we license Windows through an entrprise agreement. If you don't have this you need to include an OEM copy of Windows.


    I hope Microsoft or BSAA never audits your company. You CANNOT use the Enterprise Agreement upgrade licences for Windows on machines purchased without an OEM version of Windows.

    Questions & Answers
    Q: What if a volume licensing customer purchases new machines that do not have an operating system pre-installed (“naked” PC)?
    A: Customers should request that their new machines come with a desktop operating system pre-installed (i.e., Microsoft Windows XP Professional, OS/2, etc.). Microsoft’s Volume Licensing programs only offer upgrade licenses for the Windows desktop license. A customer will not be legally licensed for Microsoft desktop operating system software if they acquire a PC that does not have a full desktop operating system license preinstalled and then use the Windows upgrade license media acquired through a Volume Licensing program to install a full operating system license.

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/4/4/14441...">Microsoft Operating System Licence Requirements

    Reply
  • Wellsoul2 - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    I would agree the 4000+ is kind of a waste for an office system though the dual 3800+
    might be useful.

    You can't beat the 3000+/3200+ Compaq versions (1610NX I beleive)
    of these - I've bought four over the last month -
    3200+ (939skt)
    256MB @ 400MHZ
    DVD Rom/CDRW
    80 GB HD
    Radeon 200 graphics

    We paid $380 US after the rebate...no way you can beat that.
    We picked up 512K extra memory for $37 after rebate.

    This computer is so much better than the usual crappy Celerons I am priced into buying
    for my company.
    Reply
  • razor2025 - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    IMO, the pre-built OEM systems are the best way to go for business. Sure, having in-house built system could save you money, but you lose one key element of business-computing. CTO. By doing it in-house, you have to be able to provide the same support/service as an OEM without the cost benefit of being an OEM. HP can store their spare parts much more efficiently than almost any IT department. However, since I've never done IT support for business, I'm not too sure on how the cost/benefit in service turn-around "time" is for prebuilt vs in-house.

    OEM systems like these are also great for enthusiast. I.E. I just bought a Dell E510 desktop off Dell outlet for mere $310 shipped/taxed. It had P4 3ghz/ 1x256 DDR2 / 80gb WD SATA/ DVD-CDRW. It has a BTX case and motherboard, so it's relatively small (size of typical retail HP/compaq case), and it only has 1x 120mm fan to cooling. It's extremely quiet (to the point of danger, as I actually attempetd to install a video card without noticing that the computer was still on). I added about $100 worth of upgrades, mainly 1 more stick of 256mb DDR2, a used 6600 PCI-E, and a Buffallo USB Wireless aadpter. I installed my spare TV-tuner and a Chaintech AV710 I had as spare. So, for mere ~$400, I built myself a quite respectable HTPC that is dangerously silent, small, and looks nice. Overclocking and tweaking options are non-issue for its HTPC role. If I want to game, another kit of 512mb or 1gb DDR2 (for ~$40 - $70) will let me play BF2 and DoD:S quite nicely. If I went to self-build route for everything, I'm sure I would have to add about $100-200 to the equation. Also, the Dell came with Windows MCE, so that's another $100-150 savings on top.

    Don't dismiss OEM as "PC for Noobs". OEM setups can be great for non-gaming use, and they certainly can be a good base for nice systems at significant discount.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    The system that I reviewed was obviously a bit on the high end for the processor. That's what HP chose to send me, but many people would probably be happy with the lower end configurations. If you want to check those out, here are the links:

    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF25a/1245...">Desktop Models
    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF25a/1245...">Tower Models

    The $600 models are pretty good deal. 80 GB hard drive, 3200+ processor, and 512 MB RAM. It only comes with a 48X CD-ROM, but everything else is sufficient. Remember, that still includes the three-year on-site next business day warranty. For about half the price of the system I reviewed, it provides 80% of the performance.
    Reply
  • Questar - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Nice article.
    I wonder though, why all the game benchmarks for a business machine?
    Reply

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