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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  • ozgure - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    You have said "Full 5.1 audio is supported with speakers". I couldn't manage to get a sound from line-in port. Are you really sure?? Can you share me howto? Reply
  • bzsetshot - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    I standarized my company to this machine almost as soon as it came out and I have not regreted this decision for one second. Ultra stable, ultra flexible and perfect size. It even has integrated RAID!! I highly recommend this machine. Reply
  • trexpesto - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    It may become necessary to install a faster GPU once Windows Vista ships


    That is so wrong. Or very funny. Can't tell if you are serious == great writing.
    :D
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    Oh, I'm serious about that. Vista will have a bunch of graphical effects that will actually leverage the power of the GPU. You should be able to drop back to a Windows XP style interface, and technically the DX9 integrated graphics should be able to handle the new UI effects... but then, technically the DX9 IGPs can run all the latest games at reasonable rates. :) Reply
  • mino - Saturday, December 17, 2005 - link

    Have you tested it or is it just a guess? Actually many would like to know how high performance is necessary to achieve acceptable performance of aero-glass. Nice theme for a short folow-up article IMHO. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    Just a guess, hence the "may" part. What I'm basically saying is worry about Vista when Vista is actually available. If it turns out that the graphical effects don't work well with an IGP, then you can upgrade. Reply
  • Ditiris - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    I believe the integrated GPU, the X200, supports the 3d Aero Glass theme in Avalon/WPF. So, there shouldn't be any need to upgrade.

    I don't think this is much of an issue for business users, but home users considering the model might want the eye candy.
    Reply
  • Foxbat121 - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    I bought a HP a1250n from CC recently. It comes with x2 3800+, 1GB memory, 250GB HDD, 1 16x LightScribe DL DVD Burner and 1 DVD-ROM Drive, meida card reader, 300W PSU, MCE 2005 OS. All for just $799 AR. Upgraded to a 6600GT and plays BF2 and HL2 just fine. I configured a DIY system on NewEgg, and it is around $1,000. When compare OEM system to DIY, please also take into account of OS cost (for your DIY). I know it's not much for OEM, but it will cost you $100+ for MCE or XP Pro legally. Reply
  • Lifted - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Bought one of these a while back to have a user test out and it's working out great. I am ordering another 10 next week, from CDW since they have them in stock, for $850 or so in a bundle with an HP 19" monitor. $599 for the system and $250 for monitor is a great deal, especially considering they both have standard 3 year next day on site support. 4 and 5 year warranties are also available for not too much more. Reply
  • Lifted - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Oh, one odd thing though. I comes with two video ports but the DVI is digital only, meaning no DVI - VGA adapter. So if you want to use two montiors, which IS supported by the on board ATI chip, you have to use one analog monitor and one digital monitor, or buy two analog/digital monitors which cost more. I think they did this to sell the optional PCIe cards. The system is cheap enough though so I'm happy with it. Reply

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