In late June, Hewlett-Packard launched a new line of business PCs, including the dc7100 HP Business Desktop . The dc7100 is based on Intel's recently released 915G chipset, which includes PCI Express X16 graphics and a DDR2 memory controller. The 915 chipset, however, retains support for DDR1 memory, which is used in the dc7100. The new PC comes in three tool-less access designs for easy upgrades or service. CRN Test Center engineers reviewed a small form-factor model of the PC, but the dc7100 is also available in an ultraslim desktop model and a convertible minitower design.
Intel hopes that the release of the 900x chipsets will allow the company to catch up with rival Advanced Micro Devices. AMD's latest chipsets offer superior overall CPU performance, improved RAM performance and enhanced gaming capabilities and has attracted a loyal following in many high-tech circles.
The Intel test system was a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 based on the 915G chipset with Hyperthreading enabled. The Intel system included 256 Mbytes of DDRRAM running at 400MHz.
The system included an integrated 256 Mbytes Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900, an 80-Gbyte Seagate Barracuda 7,200-rpm hard drive and a combination CD/RW-DVD. The operating system was Windows XP including all the latest patches and upgrades.
The AMD test system was equipped with an Athlon 64-FX53 2.4GHz processor with Nvidia's GeForce 6800 Ultra 256M 8X AGP graphics card. The system was also powered by a fully updated copy of Windows XP. The AMD system included 512 Mbytes of 400MHz PC3200 ECC/Register DDRRAM and a Sony 8x DVD+/-R/RW.
The test system monitors were set at 1,024 x 768 resolution in 32-bit color at a 75Hz refresh rate. Engineers used PassMark's Software PerformanceTest Version 5.0, a PC benchmark utility that quickly assesses the performance of a computer using a variety of different speed tests. The software offers 27 standard benchmark tests in seven test suites. A higher number is considered a stronger score. The tests were run at least twice, and the results were then averaged. In the head-to-head matchup, the Intel system scored an average of 347.5 while the AMD system scored an average of 498.4.
Engineers also used PCMark04 from FutureMark, an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. PCMark04 tests PC performance based on real-world uses of real applications. This software is an excellent tool to measure a PC's actual performance, since many benchmarks only test performance based on very large applications or based on specifically created code. The Intel system scored a 4,195 in PCMark04 and the Athlon64 FX-53 scored a 4,775. (see chart for the complete results).
The Intel faithful who expect ground-breaking performance from the new 915G chipsets and incorporated technologies will be somewhat disappointed for now. The new technology has to be more fully developed before any noticeable improvements can be made. For example, it will take some time and advances in CPU technology before the capabilities of PCI Express are fully used in the average PC. As another example, the difference in speed between 400MHz DDR1 and 533MHz DDR2 is minimal. Until speeds reach 667MHz and higher, the updated RAM architecture will go unnoticed.
There are opportunities for solution providers, however. The HP Business Desktop dc7100 is priced very competitively at $1,239. Solution providers can position it to their customers as a machine that offers cutting-edge technology in a desktop design.
HP expects the hardware and software life cycles to be among the longest in the industry--at least 15 months. This extended life cycle allows business customers and IT administrators to focus on business-critical tasks instead of worrying about hardware and software upgrades.
HP has always understood the channel, and its three-tier PartnerOne channel program includes customized marketing assistance and various compensation programs based on partner level. Solution provider margins average 8 percent. The HP Partnership Web site offers collateral tools, presentations, marketing programs and other resources.
The dc7100 is covered by a three-year parts, labor and on-site services warranty. Toll-free tech support is also available for the length of warranty.
CHANNEL PROGRAM SNAPSHOTS
> HP Business Desktop DC7100
Palo Alto, Calif.
DISTRIBUTORS: Arrow, Avnet, Ingram Micro, Tech Data
WARRANTY: 3 years
Note: Vendors can earn up to five stars for technical merit and five for their channel program. If the average of these two scores is four stars or greater, the product earns CRN Test Center Recommended status.