HP Compaq Presario 8000Z
At a Glance
The Compaq Presario 8000Z, the latest version of HP's premium home system, is a powerful performer. It can now be had with a 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 3400+ CPU, a step up from its still-available predecessor. That processor helped boost our otherwise similarly configured review system by a significant 12 points on our benchmark tests. This 8000Z earned a score of 141 in our PC WorldBench 4 test--a virtual tie with the similarly configured Sys Performance 3400+/64. The only systems to outperform the 8000Z were those equipped with AMD's Athlon 64 FX processors, often found in gaming systems--and even then only by a slight margin. The rest of our 8000Z's configuration is nicely matched to the unit's fast, general-purpose processor. It came with 1 gigabyte of DDR400 system memory. It also had two 80GB Serial ATA disk drives in a RAID 0 configuration that stripes your files across both drives for maximum performance, an 8X DVD+RW burner, and a 256MB ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics board. If you feel the need to upgrade beyond this configuration, however, the 8000Z will disappoint you: Despite being housed in a slimline midsize tower, both Serial ATA connections are taken and all the drive bays are occupied. Adding additional cards wouldn't be a problem, though: Three PCI slots are available.
Our 8000Z's ATI Radeon 9600 Pro board with 256MB of DDR memory furnishes solid graphics performance for most applications, but comes up short for game playing at high resolutions. In our tests with Unreal Tournament 2003 at a resolution of 1280 by 1024, it scored 73 frames per second. Serious gamers should consider Compaq's $330 upgrade to the NVidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra-based graphics card, which should give you more than double the frame rate at that resolution.
The FireWire ports at the front and rear and the 8X DVD+RW writer make this configuration good for use as a video-editing machine. The conveniently situated front FireWire ports make it particularly easy to connect your digital video camera. Unfortunately, this 8000Z did not come bundled with video-editing software, as its predecessor did. The system's second optical drive is a 48X CD-RW drive.
Our test system came with a Compaq FP7317 17-inch LCD monitor. At the native resolution of 1280 by 1024, text looked crisp and our test photo showed vivid colors even at wide viewing angles. However, although the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics board has both analog and digital outputs, this monitor has only an analog input. (HP doesn't offer a Compaq-branded LCD monitor with digital input.) You'll get more if you opt for a monitor such as HP's 19-inch F1903, though it costs $220 more and won't match the Compaq system's cosmetics.
The 8000Z's integrated sound supports 5.1-channel speakers, but the supplied Altec Lansing 221 speakers (two front speakers and a subwoofer) don't take advantage of this capability. Otherwise, vocals came through clearly, though the bass thudded too much. If you want surround sound, one of the upgrades (ranging from $30 to $350) might be a better choice.
This Presario 8000Z is a midrange power system, but it makes compromises to keep the price down, such as 2.1-channel speakers and an analog LCD.