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The chassis is a plain sturdy steel affair and is designed to be stackable for efficient storage on IT department shelves. The steel work is finished in a tough black paint that should stand the test of time. My only complaint about the case would be the less than appealing front panel, which is totally inelegant. There’s not a complementary line anywhere on it. Why ‘business’ always has to equal ‘style free’, I’ll never know.
Being a slim-line device, HP has chosen to forgo the inclusion of a floppy drive instead relying on a plethora of USB ports, which can be combined with the now ubiquitous USB memory stick, to provide removable storage. Two of the USB ports are on the front panel, along with microphone and headphone sockets. The remaining six USB ports are on the back panel. Here you’ll also find audio line in and line out jack sockets, a VGA D-SUB connection – no DVI here, a single gigabit Ethernet port and PS2 connections for the mouse and keyboard. The lack of DVI is disappointing but understandable considering the infrequency with which IT departments tend to upgrade monitors.
As you would expect things are pretty cramped inside. However, everything is very neat and build quality is excellent with no sharp edges or loose components. There is room for one expansion card – by way of an optional riser, which can be either a full size PCI or low profile PCI-E card. Memory can be expanded using a third memory slot, however, you will have to sacrifice running in dual-channel mode to do this. Aside from these options you’ll have to swap out components if you want to upgrade.
Thermal design seems well thought out with a direct flow of air from the front grille over the CPU, memory, and expansion cards and out the back of the case. During benchmarking the case became only slightly warm and the PC was totally stable. Noise was also kept to a minimum despite the use of small 50 and 60 mm fans.
The included keyboard is nothing special but is pleasant enough. Key response is a very subjective thing but I can’t see anyone having complaints here. Knowing that some business PCs still ship with ball mice, I was glad to see HP had included an optical one. It tracked well for general office work and the buttons were all nice and responsive.
However, both the keyboard and mouse are flimsy and it wouldn’t surprise me if they began to fail after six months. This is common with business PCs – the logic being that office workers aren’t looking for the best of the best - but this a severe oversight that I really wish these companies would put a stop to. If you want to increase productivity the first port of call should be to provide your workers with comfortable, durable, easy-to-use peripherals. In fairness, though, this is more of an issue with IT bosses than the manufacturers.