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HP Elite 7000 Microtower review

The HP Elite 7000 Microtower is quite capable: it has an Intel i7 860 2.8GHz quad-core processor with an 8MB L2 cache and an ATI Radeon HD 4550 graphics card built for Blu-ray movie playback…


HP Elite 7000

Tech Specs
OS Tested: SLED 11
CPU: Intel Core i7 (2.8GHz)
Memory: 3GB
HDD: 160GB
185 x 416 x 385mm
Weight: 10.2kg

Pros: Solid mid-range PC is reliable and comes with SLED 11, a major bonus
Cons: Not a terribly fast computer, or particularly exciting in any way

In an age when Linux has become a powerful platform for development work, graphics processing and video production, it’s a welcome relief to see a mid-range system built for people who may or may not have experience with Linux. The HP Elite 7000 Microtower is quite capable: it has an Intel i7 860 2.8GHz quad-core processor with an 8MB L2 cache and an ATI Radeon HD 4550 graphics card built for Blu-ray movie playback. Meanwhile, with just 3GB of RAM, an 160GB SATA hard disk and little design flare, the Elite 7000 is not exactly a performance rig. The saving grace: the system can come equipped with Novel SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 and is extremely easy to upgrade.

The all-black design screams ‘corporate deployment’ more than any sort of style statement. In fact, other than a silver plate with an HP logo, you might think the Elite 7000 is home-built, and the understated design is likely intentional. HP used a hex locking nut on the back of the PC as if to warn the non-technical that they should not mess with the innards. We did, of course, noticing that the spacious interior is just ripe for upgrades, especially more RAM (up to 8GB) and a larger drive.

However, we still tested the stock version and came away impressed. For the vast majority of computing tasks – using Evolution to check your POP mail, burning a DVD disc using LightScribe (included with this SLED build) and even playing games or watching movies – the Elite 7000 is up to the task. Where we noticed a performance degradation is when we compared Linux-to-Linux between this system and a home-built PC that uses an SSD drive, an Nvidia Quadro CX graphics card and has 6GB of RAM. There was no comparison, of course – the home-built system was snappier even for popping up Firefox, copying files and running simulations with a program like Autodesk Revit Architecture (which normally prefers a workstation PC).

HP Elite 7000 (1)

The mid-range nature is what makes the Elite 7000 less than a top-end PC, even if it is a good all-round performer for most computer tasks.
Thankfully, the system is easy to upgrade – which at a good mid-range price is something that makes sense. The Elite 7000 has a few other extras thrown in just to add to the deal. There’s a 6-in-1 one flash card reader located on the front of the device. Our system came equipped with one standard DVD and one Blu-ray drive. The HP Elite uses an ATI 4550 card that should support Blu-ray movie playback, although we could not get the movie Miracle At St Anna to work (HP said SLED 11 systems are normally not equipped with Blu-ray drives).

One of the most important specs on the Elite 7000 is hard to notice, however. Over several weeks, we used SLED 11 on the system for a variety of tasks: email, word processing, gaming and web browsing. We never experienced a crash of any kind. What this means is that the hardware itself is engineered with extra precision – this is no home-built machine. Most importantly, by fine-tuning SLED 11 for the system, HP has accomplished a lofty goal. Sure, other systems by Dell offer a Linux version, but HP has tweaked this install for extreme reliability. Even the SLED 11 recovery disc is well engineered, providing a way to rebuild the system from scratch in an unattended mode in less than 20 minutes.

For the price, the Elite 7000 is a rock-solid system. Several key upgrades would enhance the performance – such as more RAM, or a larger-capacity drive (or a RAID). As it stands, the PC is a reliable Linux box for just about any purpose.

Verdict: 4/5
Rock-solid PC for just about any purpose. Does lack some design flare (on purpose, we think) but is easy to upgrade.
John Brandon

This article originally appeared in issue 84 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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