Power in a Tower

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted January 01, 2001
by Matt Lake

COMPAQ DESKPRO EXS
Rating 90

There are two schools of thought when it comes to buying a new computer. The first group is characterized by the needs of users who want to run fairly basic business-productivity applications, connect to the Internet and browse the Web, and occasionally take on some harder tasks such as multimedia presentations or number crunching. The other school of users is made up of creative professionals who cram their computers with huge image, sound, or video files. These types of users need the biggest, fastest, baddest system they can find.

The Compaq Deskpro EXS is aimed squarely at satisfying the needs of the second group. Available in desktop and minitower formats, the EXS series provides top-of-the-line speed in three areas: its processor (a 1GHz Pentium III), its bus speed (133MHz), and its 40GB hard drive (with transfer rates up to 100MB per second). These three elements provide sterling performance when working with large files.

In our tests, the system processed video and audio files 300MB in size and larger quickly and without choking. Equipped with a 10/100 Ethernet card to hook up to a network or broadband Internet-access modem, the system can double as an Internet server. We added a second network card to hook the Deskpro EXS to a small-office network, and it handled the network's traffic with ease.

The 40GB hard drive we tested was surprisingly quiet, even during our more demanding tests in which it was accessed often. It took less than two hours to defragment the drive when half filled, which is impressive for a drive of its size.

The system comes with a zippy AGP graphics card, two DIMM memory slots that can handle 64, 128, or 256MB of RAM, and a choice of a 48X CD-ROM or 10X DVD-ROM that doubles as a CD-RW drive. We tested the DVD/CD-RW device, and found it burned CD-R discs even whileperforming other computing tasks (something which would choke lesser systems).

The Deskpro EXS line includes either Windows 2000 or Windows ME preinstalled, and features Adaptec's Easy CD Creator 4 and Direct CD, Office 2000, and Norton AntiVirus 2000. The software bundle was more than enough to get us started. The only component we wish was included in the basic package was Adaptec's TakeTwo system-recovery software, which is part of the Easy CD Creator Deluxe package.

Despite this minor complaint and the hefty price tag, the Deskpro EXS system is one to covet and one that you can rely on, with Compaq's three-year warranty (including one-year on-site) and round-the-clock call-center support.

Compaq Deskpro EXS
$2,700
Compaq Computer Corp.
800-888-9909