capsule review

HP Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra Slim: Same Packaging, New Processor

At a Glance
  • HP Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra-slim Desktop

    PCWorld Rating

    HP has strapped a speedy Sandy Bridge CPU into an antiquated system design, delivering strong performance for a business-class desktop, but not much else.

HP Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra Slim business desktop
Here's one reason why you should be interested in the HP Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra Slim for your business's use: It's fast. The company decided to slap an Intel Sandy Bridge processor into this reasonably priced ($869 as of July 19, 2011) system. Alas, the speedy CPU does much of the heavy lifting, and is one of the few saving graces you'll find on this business desktop.

Within the Compaq 8200, an Intel Core i5-2500S processor runs at 2.7GHz. Accompanied by 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM (laptop memory, we note), that Sandy Bridge CPU helped the PC hit a high mark of 140 on our WorldBench 6 suite of tests, a result that puts the Compaq 8200 among some of the fastest business machines we've reviewed. Remember that number as you go through the rest of this review.

The system's included 250GB of storage is functional, at best, for a business-class desktop--even a small jump to the 400GB or 500GB mark would make a world of difference. You can't upgrade any part of the Compaq 8200 unless you take out a matching component, such as exchanging the system's single hard drive or DVD burner for a different device. Here's hoping you're just making the switch to Blu-ray, because accessing the hard drive is a tough process given how HP has buried it underneath the system's optical drive.

Gaming performance isn't a factor when checking out business PCs, but it does offer a relatively good idea of a PC's graphics processing capabilities. The Compaq 8200 relies on Intel's integrated graphics, which is substantially improved with the advent of Intel's Sandy Bridge--but don't think for a second that you'll be able to game on this system during your lunch break. We had to shift our Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark all the way down to medium-quality settings at 1024-by-768-pixel resolution to see quasi-playable frame rates on our tests. At that point, you're better off busting out the tried-and-true Solitaire at your desk than any recent, graphics-pushing titles.

The slim desktop provides a significant number of USB ports across its front and rear: ten total, split four on the front and six on the back. But an additional DisplayPort connector, VGA connector, and gigabit ethernet port are all the diversity you're going to get on this machine (if you're not counting the system's included Wireless-N connectivity). Although we give HP credit for tossing in a DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter alongside the system, we're still bummed that USB takes the spotlight on this machine. USB ports might be the connections that matter most on a business-class desktop, but some future-proofing--in the form of USB 3.0 ports or eSATA and FireWire options--would be appreciated.

The bundled mouse and keyboard are both generic and wired, offering no additional buttons beyond the standard setup you'd expect to find on any inexpensive input device. Shoot, you don't even get volume controls on the keyboard. (So much for rocking the headphones at your desk.)

So where does that leave HP's Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra Slim? For a business desktop, it's as basic as basic can get, offering plenty of raw processing power along with bare-bones connectivity and upgrade potential that will get you through the workday but not allow you to do much else with the system. You won't be able to play games, upgrade a lot, connect a FireWire device, or put a tremendous amount of data on your business desktop. But, gosh, will your huge Excel databases chug along.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    HP has strapped a speedy Sandy Bridge CPU into an antiquated system design, delivering strong performance for a business-class desktop, but not much else.

    Pros

    • Great performance for the category
    • Ample USB connectivity

    Cons

    • Limited upgrade potential
    • Little connection diversity
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