Here's one reason why you should be interested in the HP Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra Slim for your business use: It's fast. The company decided to slap an Intel Sandy Bridge processor into its reasonably priced £838 business desktop. Alas, this speedy CPU is doing much of the heavy lifting, and is one of the few saving graces you'll find on this business desktop.
An Intel Core i5 2500S processor runs at 2.7 GHz within the Compaq 8200. Accompanied by four gigabytes of DDR3 SDRAM (laptop memory, we note), the system is able to hit a high target on our WorldBench 6 suite of tests: 140, which puts this business desktop among some of the fastest business machines we've reviewed. Remember that number, because it's going to be your guiding light throughout the rest of this review.
We'll start with the internals: The system's included 250 gigabytes of storage is functional, at best, for a business-class desktop-even a small jump to the 400 or 500 mark would make a world of difference. You can't upgrade any part of the Compaq 8200 unless you take out a matching component, like exchanging the system's single hard drive or DVD-burner for a different device. Here's hoping you're making the switch to Blu-ray, because accessing the hard drive is a tough process given how HP's 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 - 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 crank our Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark all the way down to medium-quality settings on a 1024-by-768 resolution to see quasi-playable frame rates on our benchmark 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 packs 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 one Gigabit Ethernet port is all the diversity you're going to get on this machine (if you're not counting the system's included Wireless-N connectivity). While we give HP credit for tossing in a DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter alongside the system, we're still bummed that USB takes such a spotlight on this machine. USB ports might the connection that matters most on a business-class desktop but some future-proofing, in the form of USB 3.0 ports or e-Sata 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 this leave HP's Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra Slim? It's as basic of a business desktop as basic can get, offering plenty of raw processing power, but barebones connectivity and upgrade potential that will get you through the working day but not allow you to do much else with the system. You won't be able to play games, upgrade much, connect a FireWire device, or put all that much data on your business desktop. But, gosh, will your huge Excel databases sure chug along.