HP Compaq 8000f Elite: An Environmentally Friendly Budget PC in a Slim Package
At a Glance
HP Compaq 8000f Elite Ultra Slim Desktop
HP's Compaq 8000f Elite offers business-centric performance in a bite-size PC, but fumbles on a few essentials.
Business-class computers like the HP Compaq 8000f Elite are a complicated bunch. Aimed at a market segment with particular maintenance and security needs, they tend to offer improved hardware and software functionality, while sacrificing elements of usability we've come to expect in consumer-oriented desktop PCs.
Priced at $829 (as configured, as of May 1, 2010), the Compaq 8000f Elite falls at the higher end of the budget PC category. Powering the machine is a 3GHz Core 2 Duo E8400. While that processor is a few years old, it is a reliable platform that supports Intel's vPro technology--a must for many businesses that require elevated security on their systems. The 8000f we reviewed also offers 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and Windows 7 Professional resides on the paltry 160GB hard drive. We generally like to see at least 320GB hard drives in the budget PC category. As far as business machines go, the Acer Veriton X480G offers 280GB, and HP's own Compaq 6005 Pro has 400GB of storage space.
In our WorldBench 6 test suite, the 8000f Elite earned a score of 113, placing around the middle of the pack among budget desktops. The Veriton X480G and the Compaq 6005 Pro achieved slightly better scores of 120 and 128, respectively; another competitor, the Dell Optiplex 780 USFF, delivered a score of 116. The 8000f's graphics performance was poor, too, but that much is expected on business systems armed with only integrated graphics.
Users' opinion of the 8000f's chassis will be largely dependent on their needs. It's one of the smallest minitowers we've come across, edging into compact-PC territory. Nevertheless, it offers a full complement of expansion options: On the front, you'll find four USB ports plus the headphone and microphone jacks, as well as the DVD burner. On the rear are six more USB ports, serial PS/2 ports for a mouse and a keyboard, the gigabit ethernet port, and the VGA and DisplayPort connectors. To keep things compact, the 8000f lacks an internal power supply--the power brick isn't too bulky, but it is another element to consider.
The 8000f's case offers completely tool-less entry: Getting inside is as simple as unscrewing a knob and popping off the side door. That said, you won't have much to do once you're inside. The notebook RAM is user-upgradable, but this is otherwise quite the streamlined package.
HP has also made the 8000f Elite completely free of brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride, from the internal components down to the included peripherals. Groups such as Greenpeace have targeted these fairly common materials for their harmful properties. With this design decision, as well as the 8000f's 87-percent-efficient power supply (and the PC's recyclable packaging), HP is making a more than subtle pitch to the environmentally conscious business manager.
As a business machine, the 8000f Elite also includes an array of business-oriented software. Sticking to the PC's conservation theme is the HP Power Assistant: While it isn't a particularly robust tool, it does give administrators a simple interface to adjust the machine's power plans, setting up schedules to swap between power-intensive and power-saving modes, and setting the system to hibernate or standby mode.
The rest of HP's Protect Tools enable features such as drive encryption, and manage accessories that enable fingerprint readers and smart cards, should your company require especially stringent authentication methods.
HP has bundled a fairly humble set of peripherals with the 8000f, namely a simple keyboard and mouse that lack anything in the way of media keys or extra functionality. Like the 8000f itself, though, they are made without certain environmentally harmful substances; and as this is a business-class PC, media keys are less of a priority anyway.
The model we reviewed also came with the optional HP Compaq LA22f monitor ($259 as of May 1, 2010). Contrasting the plain keyboard and mouse, the WLED-backlit LA22f is rather impressive, sporting a native 1680-by-1050-pixel display and offering deep blacks and rich color. Tilt angles are generous, and the screen provides a fair amount of visibility, even at awkward angles. Similar to the rest of the 8000f Elite's peripherals, the LA22f is BFR- and PVC-free.
Despite being outperformed by models that are priced more competitively, HP's Compaq 8000f Elite remains a strong contender--particularly for businesses that examine their environmental impact as stringently as they do their security and their bottom line. And if space is a consideration, this system is both small and light, yet delivers ample performance. The lack of room inside the case, however, eliminates the opportunity for upgrades down the road, and the reliance on laptop RAM means that memory upgrades can be a bit pricier. And then there's the disappointing 160GB of storage space.
If, in your assessment, upgradability and storage take a backseat to security, size, and environmentally sound construction, you'll do well to add the 8000f Elite to your short list. On the other hand, if you're primarily interested in performance and you don't mind relying on third-party tools to handle your security needs, check out the rest of our Top 10 Budget PCs chart for models that are less business-focused but can possibly save you a few bucks.