The end result was almost a foregone conclusion. This is a good system, the price isn't bad, and it's extremely easy to set up and use. For a business or home-office user, buying a standard OEM system is a good idea - that's especially true if you're not a computer expert capable of troubleshooting all your hardware and software problems. (The warranty probably doesn't cover software problems, though.) Performance definitely isn't going to match the top enthusiast systems, but for business use, it really doesn't need to.

This system is billed as a small to medium business computer, and it is exactly that. Large businesses and corporations could use it as well, though getting them to switch from Intel is going to take a lot more than just a moderately better price/performance ratio. Corporate computers - at least from Intel - have a guaranteed availability timeframe, on all their parts. We discussed this a couple of months ago in our Intel Corporate roadmap. Basically, Intel has the advantage since they can control all aspects of the core system configuration, from chipset to motherboard to processor.

There's also a question of AMD's ability to supply enough processors to compete in the corporate desktop sector. Intel gives OEMs bulk discounts and incentives, and they can do that because they're manufacturing millions of processors. As much as I like AMD's processors, only having one fabrication facility producing their latest processors limits their ability to compete with Intel, at least for now. I'm sure that HP won't have any difficulty supplying these DX5150 systems to interested companies, but if Intel were to suddenly disappear this instant, AMD would likely be unable to meet the demands of all the OEMs of the world. AMD needs to make inroads over time, increase fabrication capacity, and sell more chips; systems like this HP DX5150 help them do exactly that.

What about home users? The price is attractive, the system looks pretty nice, and the system is also quiet. If you're building a system for a computer neophyte, you might save yourself some tech support headaches by just getting one of these instead. The only thing missing is graphics performance, and if you're interested in playing games, all you need to do is add a good graphics card. At higher resolutions, most of the latest games are still GPU limited, so even though the RAM, motherboard, and processor may not be as fast, the difference is less than 10%. I certainly wouldn't purchase one of the systems for my own use, but then I enjoy tweaking computer hardware to get the most performance possible. Families and casual computer users will probably appreciate the ease of use more than they miss the lost performance and features.

As a final recommendation, we think that many people will get better overall satisfaction out of the DX5150 X2 3800+ Smart Buy. The only drawbacks are that it has a smaller hard drive and it uses a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive in place of the 16X DVDR. Those might be useful upgrades for home users, but most businesses don't need a lot of drive space and a DVD burner on every system. (That system might appear to be a single core 3800+, but we have been informed that SKU PZ635UA# ABA is in fact an X2 3800+ chip.)

Power Usage and Noise Levels
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  • gibhunter - Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - link

    That's not an X2 3800+. It's the standard 2.4GHZ 3800+ single core.

    Regarding these HPs, I have a few of these at work. They are realy great. For $500 and change you get an Athlon 64, 512MB of ram and a WinXP Pro. Try and put a system like that yourself and you'll spend just as much or more and that's not counting the snazzy keyboard and mouse that comes with that system. It really is a good deal.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Just to reiterate, the linked 3800+ is indeed an X2:

    "We actually have an X2 3800+ Smart Buy, sku # might be
    listed incorrectly as a 3800+, but it's an X2. I'm in the process of
    getting that fixed."

    That's from an HP representative, one of the marketing managers of the small-business division.
  • Googer - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Equally impressive for the $500-ish range is this">e-machine
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    If you're a business, e-Machines isn't equally impressive. Part of what you are paying for is the support. The system reviewed carries a three-year warranty (par for the course on business systems) and probably carries business-level support too. Most HP systems also use a fair number of brand-name parts (i.e., ASUS mainboards in most systems). I don't deny that eMachines has its place, but it comes nowhere near something that HP puts out.

    P.S. While I like most of HP's system configurations, even home ones, I haven't heard good things about home-level support. And one other thing, Jared...why does the article say this system has a Clawhammer core CPU? I thought Clawhammers went the way of the dinosaur on Socket 939 long ago. Anything this new ought to have a Venice or San Diego core chip in it.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    Well, it does have a ClawHammer -- at least the system I have does. You have to remember that AMD only has one fab producing 90 nm parts, and they have an old fab that still produces 130 nm parts. Perhaps AMD gives them a better deal on the older chips? Or perhaps it's just that this model was made a little while ago? If it had used a San Diego core, I expect power draw would have dropped another 20 W at least.
  • mino - Saturday, December 17, 2005 - link

    You are wrong on this. AMD publicly stated sometime in the Q2 that they have converted all of their lines onto 90nm production.
    Also AMD does have only one fab - FAB30 - currently in producing CPU's. While there is FAB25 it produces flash and is part of Spansion division and there is also FAB35(or 36?) in qualification process the only fab producing AMD CPU's in volume is currently FAB30 on 200mm wafers.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 23, 2005 - link

    Hmm... obviously I'm not paying close enough attention to AMD's fabs. I could have sworn they still had a 130nm fab making CPUs. I would have thought 130nm would be sufficient for a lot of stuff - better to keep what you have running instead of retrofitting old fabs, right? Then again, new fabs are getting more and more expensive.
  • mino - Sunday, January 1, 2006 - link

    Well, Austin FAB25 was not suitable nor meant for smaller than 180nm process (for logic products). AMD thus made a cash cow out of it during hard AthlonXP times. Also the capacity of any FAB is measured in wafers/time not chips pre time. In other words AMD could make twice as many K8 CPU's on 90nm than on 130nm. Couple that with huge capacity constraints AMD faced in 2005 and fact they had only one 200mm FAB and it becomes clear why not to produce on 130nm. Around this time FAB35 should come online so the tight supply of the last quarter should not repeat for some time. Also AMD's 90nm SOI process is pretty good so don't expect FAB30 phase-out anytime soon(90nm is last logic process for FAB30). Shame FAB35 wasn't online in 2005, Intel would've had a way hotter year than it had.

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