Hewlett Packard – Vectra VL800 review

Rambus-equipped corporate PC
Photo of Hewlett Packard – Vectra VL800
£2,040 + VAT (without monitor)

The latest addition to Hewlett Packard’s Vectra range is also the fastest. Powered by a 1.7GHz Pentium 4, backed up by 256MB of PC800 Rambus memory, the VL800 is powerful enough to cope with all of today’s business applications. It is a mostly tool-free system with the added advantage of having a decent case lock fitted.

Housed in the now familiar Vectra midi-tower case, the VL800 is a system where the screwdriver is no longer needed for most jobs. To remove the side panel, you just lift up the handle and the panel is free. Similarly, to aid access to the larger drive bays, the front fascia has been split in two with the top half unclipping via clips, visible once the case side is off. Also free of screws are the expansion plates, and getting access to the smaller drive cage is just a matter of pressing on a lever, although in this case the drives are secured by screws.

Once inside, all cables and connectors are neatly tucked away leaving a clear path to the motherboard. Four free PCI slots are available, the fifth one being occupied by a 3Com 10/100Base-T Ethernet controller while the AGP slot is filled by an nVidia GeForce2 GTS-based graphics card with 32MB of onboard memory; just about the maximum you would want in a purely business system. The VL800 doesn’t come with a monitor included in the price, but for the market segment it is aimed at, this is the norm rather than the exception.

There’s plenty of room for expansion, as besides the PCI slots there are two free 5.25-inch drive bays and a single free 3.5-inch drive bay, although this has no external access. The remaining 5.25-inch slot is filled by a 12-speed Hitachi DVD-ROM while the hard drive, a Maxtor 40GB ATA/100 unit, sits in the other smaller drive bay.

Along with the pre-installed Windows 2000, there are the usual Hewlett Packard manageability tools; both E-diagtools 3.0 and the latest version of Top Tools 5.0 for desktops are included. E-diagtools is the system testing package and can be accessed before the operating system has booted. It can be used to query the system and then send the results to HP for diagnosis.

Company: Hewlett Packard

Contact: 08705 474747

The VL800 is the fastest member of a growing HP family and continues the trend of well built, if not a little pricey business systems, with a major plus point being its suite of powerful manageability tools.