Acer Veriton X498G
At a mere $699 (as of August 19, 2010), the Acer Veriton X498G is one of the strongest values you'll find in the business desktop category. It doesn't take the raw-performance crown--a title that the $2000 HP Z200 Workstation SFF retains--but it does make an impressive showing, without throttling your expense account. Though the standard business-desktop caveats (namely, limited storage and expandability) are in play, Acer's X498G nevertheless offers a winning combination of features and functionality.
Inside the diminutive chassis is a 3.2GHz Core i5-650 processor, as well as 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The X498G also offers 500GB of storage. Although consumer desktops in the mainstream and budget categories provide storage capacities well within the 1TB range, as business machines go 500GB is a fairly generous amount of room. HP's Z200 offers 500GB, too, while the Dell Optiplex 780 USFF is outfitted with a comparatively paltry 250GB hard drive. Keep in mind that a business's storage needs can vary; many rely on networks for housing sensitive data, and as such can afford to work with anemic user terminals.
The X498G's loadout brought it to a rather impressive WorldBench 6 score of 129. With that result, it sits behind HP's Z200 (139) but otherwise leads the category for raw general performance. Game performance was poor: The X498G's Intel integrated graphics were unable to post playable frame rates on any of our gaming benchmarks, at any resolution or quality setting. We don't factor game performance into a business desktop's review, but it is worth nothing that the X498G is ill-suited for heavier graphics-related tasks, such as intensive photo or video editing.
With a fairly small chassis, the X498G will fit comfortably just about anywhere you place it. The system trumps many of the smaller midsize-tower cases we come across, however, by remaining readily accessible. The front of the unit supplies four USB ports, along with the headphone and microphone jacks. Having a fair number of ports right up front is a nice touch, as it will allow you to slap in USB keys or storage devices without fumbling around with wiring at the case's rear. The X498G also sports a DVD burner, but no multiformat card reader--though your business in particular might not need the added expandability that a card reader provides, the option is sorely missed.
Turn the machine around, and you'll find six more USB ports, as well as a gigabit ethernet port, a serial port, VGA and DVI ports, an eSATA port, and PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports. The bundled keyboard and mouse are a bit bland, and lacking in any additional media functionality. Both attach to the PS/2 ports, leaving all of your USB ports free for your other devices.
As you might expect, the interior doesn't give much room to maneuver. If you (or your IT staff) needs to tinker inside the X498G, Acer has made it a fairly easy prospect. Three thumbscrews keep the lid in place, making access tool-free. A screw holds the optical drive securely in place; but once that's out, a tool-free mounting hinge makes replacing the component easy. The system has a total of four DIMM slots if you'd like to add a bit more RAM later on. Its free PCIe slots mean that you can supplement the X498G's performance with a (small) graphics board--or a Wi-Fi add-in card, if you wish to cut down on cable clutter. The 220W power supply limits your potential upgrade room, however.
Ease of access is great, but a sensor inside the chassis will alert you if the machine has been opened--a nod toward a business's need to keep its computers secure. In addition to the innate security offerings bundled with Windows 7 Professional Edition, the X498G offers Acer's Veriton Control Center. We touched on the security platform in our look at the Acer Veriton X480G; in a nutshell, it offers user-friendly front ends for functionality that's native to Windows 7. Power Saver lets you control the machine's energy-management features. Smart Boot lets you dictate which applications should run on startup. The eSetting application allows you to review your system's status and specifications, while eLock Mangement controls user access to the terminal. You won't find anything especially mind-blowing here, but the software will be of special value for businesses looking to keep their systems secure without spending a bundle.
Sacrifices are generally expected in the business-desktop market. In general you're trading performance and upgradability for a stable, secure platform, with software that will keep your systems (and business) running smoothly. The Acer Veriton X498G makes such a transition a bit easier, offering excellent business-category performance at a compelling price. And it does so without stripping storage or usability, making the X498G a compelling choice for any small business.
Acer Veriton X498G
Aggressively priced and well equipped, Acer's Veriton X498G delivers impressive business-caliber functionality in a compact shell.
- Small, accessible chassis
- Limited upgradability