Compaq – Deskpro Workstation 300 review

fast, professional P4 system
Photo of Compaq – Deskpro Workstation 300
£2,499 + VAT

There is a market for systems that offer workstation power at a reasonable cost, without relying on a multi-processor platform. Compaq’s new Deskpro Workstation 300 is aimed directly at this market.

Powered by a 1.4GHz Pentium 4 chip, and using the equally new Intel 850 chipset and 400MHz front-side bus, the Workstation 300 has certainly has blistering performance. Backing up the processor is 256MB of 800MHz RAMBUS memory, which is expandable to 1GB (or 2GB once 288-Mbit technology becomes available). The 850 chipset provides an integrated ATA/100 controller, AGP 4x capability, SoundBlaster 128 audio and dual-channel RDRAM support.

On opening the case the layout of the five PCI slots looks slightly odd, because nestling in between them is the AGP slot. This arrangement has come about because of the way the RIMM memory slots are sited, making clearance for the graphics card impossible if the AGP slot was in its normal position. Located in this AGP slot is a powerful 64MB Nvidia Quadro 2 Pro card.

Three of the five PCI slots are free; the other two are filled by an ATA PRO/100 LAN card and by an Adaptec AIC-7892 Ultra SCSI card. While both ATA/100 and SCSI hard drives are offered as storage solutions, the system we reviewed took the SCSI route with a 18.4GB, 10,000rpm, Quantum Atlas 10K II Ultra160 SCSI hard drive installed in one of the two 3.5-inch drive bays. Despite having a large power supply fan and an equally large case fan, the system runs very quietly.

Both the case and the drive bays are tool-free and have been carefully designed. The case is fastened by two captive thumbscrews, while access to the drive bays is obtained by pushing the sprung drivelock button, which releases them. Then, once the case front is removed, again without tools, the drives are easily accessed. In addition to the internal bays, there are two 5.25-inch drive bays, one being filled with the 48-speed CD-ROM (DVD-ROM is available as an option) and the other empty.

The Deskpro Workstation 300 comes with two options of operating systems; either Windows 2000 (which the review system used) or Windows NT4. The installed software bundle is limited to a useful set of manageability tools. There are copies of Compaq’s Diagnostics for Windows, Insight Management LC – a remote comprehensive system management tool – and SiSoft Sandra information and diagnostic tool. The Deskpro Workstation 300 comes with Compaq’s 3-3-3 warranty, a three-year on-site parts and labour warranty with a next business day response time.

Company: Compaq

Contact: 020 8332 3000


Verdict
The combination of the Pentium 4 and 256MB of RAMBUS memory provides the Compaq Deskpro Workstation 300 with outstanding performance, and it comes with good manageability options and a decent warranty. This all comes at some cost though, and there is no monitor included in the price.