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).
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.
Rock-solid PC for just about any purpose. Does lack some design flare (on purpose, we think) but is easy to upgrade.
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