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
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


View All Comments

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    I was waiting for someone to ask that. :-)

    Honestly, I threw them in for home users that might want to purchase such a system. For businesses, they mean nothing. Still, to a certain extent, benchmarks are benchmarks; many of the gaming tests are impacted by the GPU used, but if a system like this can handle high end game, it can certainly handle running Photoshop, Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and all the other typical office applications.
  • Ditiris - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    I work for a small defense company (I fell/was forced into the IT position) and purchased ten of these systems for our new classified LAN where most of the work will be compute intensive applications (MATLAB simulations, for instance). I have, up until this time purhcased Dell systems because pricing on AMD systems from other OEMs was too high to justify the performance gains over the Intel systems from Dell.

    It was nice to see your article follow the same line of reasoning that I did Jarred. I would be very interested in similar articles in the future, from the perspective of the small to medium business needs.

    For those saying there isn't an X2 core, I can verify that indeed they do have an X2 core. I got all my systems shipped with X2 3800+ cores. I don't know if the sku numbers are right, but you can definitely get the system with an X2 core.

    For the caution, the first system, which I purchased as a test system, arrived in less than a week. After testing the system with all our software and making sure there were no WinXP 64 compatibility issues, I ordered nine more on 11/23 which took until 12/14 to arrive.

    I received an automatic notice from HP that there was a delay in fulfilling my order after a week and that the original ship date on my order confirmation would be, well, delayed. Since there wasn't an estimated ship date on my order confirmation, nor a new ship date on the delay notification, I can say HP's order estimation needs some work. Fortunately, this wasn't an issue for me.

    I ordered the sort of bargain configuration with 160 GB drive, CD-ROM, 512 MB RAM. Because of security requirements, we are required to remove the hard drives and put them in caddies. So, I separately purchased DVD-R/W's and 4 GB of RAM for each machine. If we're taking apart the systems anyway I'm not paying 300% markup for those parts.

    For what it's worth, I'm extremely satisfied with the test box I've been using for three weeks. But, you might want to talk to a CSR to see what the wait time will be if you need the systems fast.
  • AstroCreep - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Yeah, my company has bought a few of them too. Great little systems!
    We've been purchasing HP (and Compaq before them) for a few years now and have been pretty happy with the quality & service (better than the Gateways we used to buy before I worked here).
    We've been getting the $600 system which consists of an Athlon64 3200+, 80GB HDD, 512GB RAM. For our needs, they work wonderfully; sure we might consider something different for our CAD guys and graphic-artists, but for the rest of our users who are more or less just 'Office' people, they're great!

    I can also attest to the shipping issues of HP-Direct. We have an account with them and for the last few years we bought direct. This past year however has changed my opinion - by June three of our six orders I placed direct were delayed beyond the quoted date (which was always about a week after the order was placed to begin with), so now I generally go through CDW, PC Mall, Insight, etc. Besides, HP is changing their business focus and are placing greater emphasis on selling through reseller channels versus direct. Will obviously still be an option though. ;)
  • OrSin - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    One other thing I'm sick or people stating. Amd could not uspply all the OEMs. Of course not, becuase right now they do need to. Who the hell is goig to have the capacity to supply 5 time what is in demand. If more OEM use them they will ramp up just like every other company in the world. AMD have not had a supply problem in 4 years. Intel has had chipset supply and processor supply problems off and on for the last 3 years, but no one says let stop buying intel they can't supply us stuff. I know its not all OEM problesm since most of the buying managers are old farts, that still be believe IBM is the greatest company on earth. So you see how far behind the times they are. Reply
  • johnsonx - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    it's the same old thing: no one ever got fired for buying Intel (formerly IBM). If you're an IT manager for a company, why buy AMD? If you buy Intel, and some odd problem comes up, no one will blame you (after all, Intel is THE standard). If you buy AMD, and some problem comes up, well good luck finding another job. Sure, it isn't likely, but why bother with it in the first place?

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    You also have to remember that even when Intel has had supply problems, those are mostly for the retail market. Big OEMs get first priority, and the bigger you are the higher your priority. Business OEM chips are almost never in short supply from Intel. It's the high-end "exotic" parts that are sometimes more difficult to buy, but the starndard SIPP components are almost always in abundance. Reply
  • OrSin - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    What really getting me about all the OEM is the way they just disrespect AMD systems.
    HP's catalog does list a since AMD system. But if you talk to them in person or go on line they push how great thier AMD systems are if you bring it up. ITs like AMD is an after thought for them. But hwta really pisses me off is the way HP had push thier low cost amd systems for the Black friday sales, then all of sudden they will not sell them any more. It stays out stock on thier site. It really mean we perfer to sell intel only we only have amd to get people to look at us.

  • Furen - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Power supplies are rated on their output current, not their input current. If you are measuring the power draw at the plug (before the power supply) then your power draw will be quite a bit higher than what the system is actually drawing (Seasonics achieve ~85% efficiency and I doubt these PSUs are comparable to those).

    I would guess the efficiency of that PSU is around 80% TOPS (that's a great efficiency, since most PSUs out there struggle to hit even 75%) which would mean that your power draw is actually ~180W using a 7800GTX (225 * 0.8), which means that you should have quite a bit of juice still left (if the PSU can actually achieve a 210 or so on the 12v rail, having 70W or so on the 5v line doesn't really help).
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    That's true, but wall power is a lot easier to measure. :-) Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, December 16, 2005 - link

    I think he's referring to this bit you wrote:

    "... but even in the worst-case scenario (i.e. using a 7800 GTX), power draw never reached above 225 Watts. You would still have enough room to add a second hard drive, assuming that the power supply can sustain 250 Watts."

    That situation when the INPUT power was 225 watts most probably meant that the OUTPUT power from the PSU was likely to be no more than 180 watts. That is a full 70 watts under the 250 watts the PSU is rated at, whereas you suggest there was only 25 watts to spare. But a very good review overall, Jarred.

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