Recently I have reviewed the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Elitebook 8440w Mobile Workstation and the Elitebook 2540p, laptops with powerful Core i7 processors, solid graphics systems, a business focus, and a price tag higher than what a typical family would want to pay. So when I had the opportunity to look at an all-in-one system with a list price just over $1000, I was thrilled to get the opportunity – but a little concerned about what I might think about the lower-priced system.
Capable. Integrated. Designed with enterprise class performance, manageability, and stability in an integrated form. Get a desktop computer, high-definition LCD monitor, webcam and more; the tools you need for your twenty-first century business.
Streamline your enterprise
• Features unique to the HP Compaq 6000 Pro, you get integrated collaboration tools, DisplayPort output to create a dual display setup, and an integrated 6-in-1 Media Card Reader to easily transfer files, videos, and more.
Save space, remove clutter
• The integrated design and reduced footprint leave your workspace free of cables that come with having separate hardware components. Its commercial design means it’s built to withstand your demanding environment.
• We didn’t forget the flexibility with a choice of proven Intel® processors, hard drives up to 1 TB, and DDR3 memory up to 8 GB. Slots for optional wireless solutions and VESA mount brackets allow for a flexible workspace.
• Just unpack, place, plug in, and get to work. No need to hassle with connecting multiple components. Work comfortably with the 21.5” diagonal high-definition LCD display that tilts and swivels for optimal placement.
Security, your way
• The standard embedded TPM 1.2 compliant security chip and USB Port Disable feature enhance your businesses current data protection and system access security measures.
Because of my employment history as an optical engineer and statistician, and hobbies as a musician and gamer, I tend to live on the high end of computer systems. We bought a ‘family computer’ several years ago, and while it served us well for five years it was far behind my personal computers. So I was concerned that in a house full of Core i5 and i7 systems that this system would seem weak in comparison.
There are two base models that you can configure on the, and the top-end pre-configured choice on the HP website was identical to the unit I tested:
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E8400 (3.00 GHz)
- 320 GB (7200 RPM) Hard Disk
- 4 GB DDR3 RAM
- 21.5″ diagonal widescreen full high-definition WLED anti-glare display with tilt and swivel adjustments
- NVIDIA GeForce GT230 (1 GB)
- DVD-RW drive w/ LightScribe
- Wireless mouse and keyboard with adapter
Before I launch into details, let me provide a frame of reference: we no longer have an active desktop in our house, so the thought of ‘going to the computer’ is relatively antiquated for us. Therefore I have a ‘portability’ section in the review – because over the course of my evaluation I had the HP 6000 in FOUR different rooms!
Also, from now on I’ll simply call it the HP 6000 AIO.
The box the HP 6000 AIO came in was large and fairly heavy, concerning me that this was going to be a bulky system – as it ended up there was a box-in-a-box, and a great deal of packing to protect the huge screen. But the system is still fairly heavy – again, due to the huge screen!
Because this is a desktop system, most of the components surrounding the screen are durable plastic, but to support the inherently top-heavy system there is also plenty of metal holding it all together and forming a rigid frame. The monitor tilts a fair amount yet I was never worried about it falling over – this was due to the design and the build quality.
As everything is built into the monitor, one concern I had been how the DVD drive would impact the system: would the whirring motor be an annoyance, or worse still cause electrical interference with the audio system, and would the cut-out where it is contained become a weak point for the overall system? Fortunately the answer to all of these was ‘no’. The DVD drive was mounted into the metal frame, seemingly stabilized to prevent the very things I was concerned about. I could hear the disk spin-up, but never felt vibration of any other impact.
The HP 6000 AIO comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse, both of which were fairly standard builds. The keyboard reminded me of the one on my work HP Compaq 6910p laptop – close together with a small bezel around each key rather than the newer ‘chicklet’ design. The mouse was the typical two button with multifunction wheel design.
The cool thing with an all-in-one system with cordless accessories? It is easy to bring from room to room! Sure it isn’t a laptop, but the whole process of shutting down, moving, and starting up again took less than five minutes.
As I mentioned, we tend to use laptops, so we’re often on the go with computers. We forced the HP 6000 AIO to adapt to our standards, and it did surprisingly well. We had it in my office for a bit, but mostly we moved it between the dining room and kitchen tables where we tend to do our ‘homework’. We also brought it to our formal living room to see how it would work as an entertainment system with wireless controls. My kids wanted to try it at their desks … but that wasn’t happening!
Make no mistake – you aren’t packing this for a business trip! But the configuration and ease of movement means that this is no longer one of those classic desktops that you stick at a desk and forget about.
The HP 6000 AIO is configured as a system that is meant to serve as a multi-purpose computer and media center for your house. There are basic productivity applications installed, as well as the whole media center suite. All of the included hardware worked well with popular video game, movie and music applications.
I would have loved to see a Blu-Ray player included, but based on the price of the system (and the exorbitant price of Blu-Ray modules) I understand the choice. I was also concerned about the use of a USB-based wireless keyboard & mouse, but since the HP 6000 AIO has so many USB ports it really isn’t a concern!
The HP 6000 AIO has a 3GHz Core2Duo (C2D), which is immediately a mixed bag. Because it is a desktop processor rather than a mobile processor, it has the full potential performance of the C2D platform. That said, a top-line Core i3 processor is faster than the C2D.
In side-by-side testing, I ran some macros in Excel, tested calculation times using Minitab and R statistical software, and ripped movies from DVD using Handbrake. For results, the HP 6000 AIO did better than my old Dell XPS M1710 system (P4) in terms of core performance and about the same as my 2008 top-end 15″ Macbook Pro (also a C2D), but lagged well behind my wife’s Core i5-based Sony laptop and my Core i7-based Alienware gaming laptop.
But that brings me back to my earlier point – the comparison points I was using were ALL priced much higher than the HP 6000 AIO. Heck, I could sell the old Macbook Pro used for more than the AIO would cost new! So don’t take that as a negative comment – it is merely stating that a C2D system is going to be outpaced by newer processors. For normal computing tasks it works great – and my kids much prefered using it to their XPS.
Before I opened the HP 6000 AIO, I was concerned it might have an integrated graphics system with shared graphics memory, and since it had a C2D processor it would have meant an older chipset for graphics as well. That would have made the DVD performance suffer, and completely killed any ability for gaming.
Fortunately the system comes with an nVidia GeForce GT230 discrete graphics system with 1 GB of memory. What does that mean? It means that the full-screen HD performance for movies doesn’t drop any frames or stutter or otherwise suffer. It made using it to watch streaming shows on Hulu a joy as well.
I installed Steam, then Magicka and Portal and my trusty Jedi Knight II, and similar to my experience with the Elitebook 2540p I was able to push the performance of the system until I saw weakness, but in this case it was in different areas. The 7200RPM disk loaded areas faster, and the discrete graphics chip held more textures and rendered areas better. The CPU seemed to throttle some of the physics effects in both games, but not to the point of limiting gameplay.
The HP 6000 AIO isn’t meant as a dedicated gaming system, and the high-resolution screen certainly impacts performance … but I was thrilled by what it COULD accomplish!
Case Study: Portal Mod Development
Last year when the Mac version of Portal came out and I replayed it again, my younger son (who just turned 13) was hooked. He has played it more times through since then than I have in total, has used FRAPS to create videos showing special tricks and easter eggs, downloaded mods, and so on. But last month he decided he had gained enough programming chops to give he own mod a shot.
He asked if he could use the HP 6000 AIO a shot, and I said ‘sure’. So for the next few weeks he would spend at least an hour each night working on his levels. This required having Steam running, as well as the Hammer development toolkit, Photoshop Elements for his art, and some other applications as well.
It was a great test of the system – at full settings Portal can still test a graphics system, and having so many demanding apps open at once can definitely task the throughput of the system. Yet it all went very well – he loved the monster screen with the tons of real-estate that allowed him to have everything visible at once and still get reasonable performance.
He was able to do everything he needed and never ran into any issues with the hardware coming up short. He was thrilled with the HP 6000 AIO and was disappointed to go back to ‘just’ his 17″ laptop screen!
What I don’t Like
There are always a couple of things that bother me with any hardware, and that is true here as well. First off, the buttons on the side of the system for brightness were the same size and shape as the one to eject the DVD … and yeah, I did that more than once.
The other thing was the keyboard. It was shaped like a typical external keyboard but lacked the travel – in that way it felt more like a laptop keyboard. It was like a worst of both worlds, as I felt inaccurate in my typing as the sense of key size and feedback was all messed up.
And yes, those are my most serious complaints about this system!
The great thing about an all-in-one system is how easily it slips into the environment unobtrusively without taking up too much space. Usually there is a significant compromise to make, but in recent years the quality and capabilities of these systems has greatly increased.
The HP 6000 AIO has discrete graphics, a top-end Core2Duo processor, plenty of memory and hard disk storage, and speedy DVD drive. It performs well for typical web, word processing, and other light tasks; yet it can also handle some gaming and performs well as a media center for streaming video and DVD. The screen is huge and gorgeous, and the wireless mouse and keyboard perform their tasks well.
One comment since I started writing this is that HP has introduced new systems, and therefore the HP 6000 AIO is mostly available as ‘fixed spec models’. This means that you can get it for a great price … but if you want to tweak the configuration you could see the $900 base price quickly approach $2000! Suffice to say – don’t do that!
If you are looking for a solid multipurpose home computer that will fit just about anywhere and not take up too much space or be an eyesore, be sure to check out the HP Compaq 6000 Pro All-in-One. You won’t be disappointed.
Review: Hewlett-Packard HP Compaq 6000 Pro All-in-One
Where to Buy:
Price: $984.00* (Base model $839)
What I Like: Great build quality for a all-in-one; solid performance; great discrete graphics system; easy to move from room to room.
What Needs Improvement: Would benefit greatly from a Core iX processor; keyboard is mediocre; side buttons all feel alike
Source: Manufacturer provided review unit