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

  • 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 Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • mino - Sunday, January 01, 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. Reply

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