HP Refreshes Its PC Fleet

Computer maker unveils 3 new business desktops.

Hewlett-Packard hopes to reduce the hassle of managing fleets of desktops with a new lineup of business PCs.

The Palo Alto, Calif., computer maker Sept. 6 added three desktop models to its HP Compaq Business PC line. Two of the machines offer Intels Core 2 Duo chip, while the third includes Advanced Micro Devices latest Athlon 64 X2 processors.

Although HP made over the new desktops with higher-performance processors and supporting chip sets, it increased the emphasis on security and manageability, two major concerns for senior-level IT managers.

To that end, HP took measures such as preinstalling its HP OpenView Configuration Management Agent for tracking and updating software, made RAID and HP backup and recovery software available to protect data, and included TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 chips and its HP ProtectTools suite for protecting log-in information and data.

One of HPs three new desktops, its dc7700 model, also offers Intels vPro corporate desktop chip platform, which itself is designed to augment manageability and security. Intel officially introduced the vPro platform Sept. 7.

But, given that security and manageability features span HPs new line of desktops, the biggest choice faced by some HP desktop customers may be which processor vendor to pick.

HP will offer Intels Core 2 Duo chip in its HP Compaq Business Desktop dc5700 and dc7700 lines. The midrange dc5700 desktop will offer Intels Q963 chip set with built-in graphics and also can be ordered with Celeron D, Pentium 4 and Pentium D chips. The high-end dc7700 will offer the same range of chips, including the Core 2 Duo, along with Intels Q965 chip set and—in some models—vPro. The dc5700 and dc7700 include HPs ProtectTools suite for securing passwords and data.

HP equipped its new dc5750 desktop with AMDs latest Athlon 64 X2 chips alongside the same ProtectTools suite and a TPM 1.2 module. The dc5750, which is based on ATI Technologies Radeon Xpress 1150 Professional chip set with built-in Radeon X300 graphics, also offers AMD Sempron and Athlon 64 processors.

Given that the desktops share many basic features, customers will be left to decide on processors, price and extras such as vPro.

Intels Core 2 Duo offers greater performance than its predecessor, the Pentium D, and bests AMDs Athlon 64 X2, according to HP officials.

Intels vPro also is likely to win some loyalty, given that its built-in features increase PC security and management.

However, where some customers will undoubtedly go with Intel for the Core 2 Duos higher performance or vPro features, HP officials said AMDs chips are here to stay in business PCs.

Thats in part because AMDs processors offer a good mix of performance for the price of a given processor model, said Brian Schmitz, worldwide director of marketing for business desktops at HPs Personal Systems Group, in Houston.

"Things are never going to go back to the way they were [with Intel dominating] in the desktop space," Schmitz said in an interview with eWeek. "The horses kind of did leave the barn already."

Meanwhile, "what AMD [has done is] make IT comfortable" with its chips, Schmitz said.

As evidence, HP is now positioning its AMD-based dc5750 corporate desktop toward larger businesses. The dc5750s predecessor, the dx5150, was aimed at small and midsize businesses and thus lacked some of the security and management technology HP offered in desktops for larger companies. But larger corporations purchased the machine anyway, prompting HP to redesign the dc5750 with them in mind, Schmitz said.

HP has not yet announced pricing for the dc5700 or dc5750 desktops, which it said will be available this fall. However, a bare-bones version of the dc7700 without vPro will start at $643, HP said in a statement.

The dc7700, which also can be ordered with a range of Intel Celeron D, Pentium 4, Pentium D or Core 2 Duo processors, includes extras such as an HP ProtectTools feature that offers full disk encryption software using the companys TPM 1.2 module. The same software is available on other HP models, but only as an add-on.

HP officials said they believe that between 30 and 60 percent of dc7700 buyers will opt for Intels vPro platform. For customers that choose vPro, HP will offer additional support, such as a free update for its OpenView Client Configuration Manager 2.0 console that adds support for Intels AMT (Active Management Technology) 2.0, the technology behind vPro.

HP joined several other companies, including Dell and Lenovo Group, in supporting vPro.