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Maximum PC Staff Mar 09, 2010

HP Pro All-in-One MS218 Business PC

At A Glance

Glossy

Compact and attractive.

Flat

Costlier than the consumer version; lackluster performance.

HP puts a low-power laptop on the desktop and charges a premium

Most all-in-one PCs make extensive use of notebook technologies: The processors are low voltage, the GPUs are mobile designs, and the optical drives are low profile. This tends to endow all-in-ones with a natural price premium, because compact, lower-power components add cost. Be that as it may, the $700 HP Pro All-in-One seems a tad overpriced—particularly when you consider that the nearly identical home version, the Pavilion MS200, costs $100 less.

We don’t think this boost is entirely an attempt to gouge corporate buyers, though. For one thing, the Pro All-in-One ships with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional, which adds domain networking, Windows XP mode—a virtualized PC running Windows XP—and network-backup capability.

The MS218 consists of a monitor (with all the workings of a PC built into the same enclosure), a keyboard, a mouse, and a 120-watt external power brick. Although efficient (the entire PC draws just 36 watts at idle), the brick seems to be overkill. Even when running system-intensive tasks, we never saw power consumption rise above 66 watts.


The HP Pro All-in-One MS218 Desktop PC is pretty, but we don’t quite understand why it costs $100 more than nearly identical Pavilion MS200 HP sells to civilians.

This is a very compact unit: it’s no wider or taller than a small LCD and it’s only slightly deeper; in fact, the whole affair looks like a conventional PC monitor. The 18.5-inch display sports a native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels and is driven by the capable AMD Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics solution. Storage is provided by a 3.5-inch, 250GB, Seagate desktop hard drive.

HP provides easy access to internal components: A tiny Phillips screw secures a compartment containing a pair of SO-DIMM sockets. The system ships with two 1GB modules, but it’s possible to replace those with 2GB SO-DIMMs to reach 4GB of memory. The hard drive bay is also easily accessible by removing one screw and sliding a door off.

There are four USB ports in back, but the mouse and keyboard will consume two. The audio out, power connector, and 10/100 fast Ethernet port are also back there. Two additional USB ports are accessible on the side of the unit, along with a 6-in-1 memory-card reader, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack. Small stereo speakers are integrated into the monitor’s front bezel, as is a webcam and microphone array.

We found the MS218’s performance to be anemic: The low-voltage AMD Athlon X2 3250e runs at 1.5GHz and only offers 1MB of L2 cache, a factor that contributed to one of the lowest SYSmark 2007 score sets we’ve ever seen.

This system is limited in other ways, too. Hard-wired networking is limited to 100Mb Fast Ethernet, rather than the more common Gigabit Ethernet found in many corporate and home systems, and Wi-Fi networking is limited to 802.11 b/g, versus 802.11n. There’s only 2GB of system RAM, even though the OS is 64-bit, and the Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics will consume some of that. Beefier applications—such as photo editing, complex spreadsheets, and elaborate PowerPoint presentations—might be starved for memory.

But this system clearly isn’t designed for performance, and its attractive form factor helps mitigate its relatively hefty price tag: It would be an ideal system for a reception desk or as a shared workstation for Web access or light office chores. Other uses might include systems for accessing and looking up parts databases, point-of-sale kiosks, and similar light-duty applications.

Specifications
Processor 1.5GHz AMD Athlon X2 3250e
Chipset
AMD M780G
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 3200 (integrated)
Display18.5-inch LCD @ 1366x768
RAM
2GB DDR2/800
Storage
250GB HDD (7,200rpm)
Ports
6 USB 2.0, audio in/out, Multicard reader, 10/100 Ethernet
THE VERDICT

HP Pro All-in-One MS218 Business PC

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