Pros: Runs very quiet, easy to get in the case
Cons: Very limited video upgrade options
The HP dc5700 is a business grade desktop PC from Hewlett Packard. My employer purchased a couple dozen of these machines many months ago, so I've had to configure them at first, then support them ever since. While they may contain some nice features, I think this particular desktop has a lot of problems in terms of design and expandability. Keep reading and I'll explain.
I really don't like the case design of this machine because you can see straight through it from front to back. The face plate uses a kind of vented system that runs from top to bottom, and you can see right through to the back side of the machine. While this may help a little with airflow, it also opens the system up for dust. You certainly would not want to place this type desktop in anything other than a very clean environment, otherwise the components will be covered in dust or whatever else might be floating around in the air. It also makes the system a lot more susceptible to spills, like people who knock over coffee cups or Coke cans on their desk. It would be quite easy to splash some on the motherboard, thanks to the heavily ventilated face plate.
Another big problem I had with this desktop is one that we discovered the hard way. Several people who were to use these machines also use CAD type software, so they needed a beefy video card to run their software better. We looked inside and saw a PCI Express slot, so we ordered some very nice PCI Express video cards. When the cards came, we could not make a single one of them work. It turned out that the slot on this PC's motherboard is a PCI Express x1 slot, whereas a PCI Express x16 slot is needed for video. After digging through a PDF file containing all the documentation for this PC, we eventually found a brief little note explaining that this machine 'does not support conventional PCI Express cards or reversed-layout ADD2 cards'. They even acknowledge that the slot looks just like a PCI Express x16 connector!
I think it was really cheap of HP not to include a PCI Express x16 slot on this motherboard. This PC doesn't have an AGP slot, either. We ended up having to buy some yesteryear video card that works in a regular PCI slot, which kind of gave us what we want, but we could have gotten much more for the money. I know some business customers won't ever need to upgrade the video, but you should reconsider buying this desktop if it is for any kind of engineer or designer who may need to upgrade the video, because they won't be able to get what they want.
It is at least pretty easy to get into the case if you need to swap out drives. A single knob can be turned by hand, then you just slide one side of the case off and it will give you access to the motherboard and slots. For several years now, HP/Compaq has been employing this kind of design with their business grade desktops and it makes hardware support incredibly easy. In fact, this afternoon I had to replace a bad CD-ROM drive on an older HP PC from the Evo line, and it only took me a few minutes.
HP ships this desktop with an Intel duo core 1.86 gigahertz processor and 1 gig of RAM. That's plenty enough machine to run Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista. The system is upgradeable to a maximum of 4 gigs RAM, which must be installed in matching pairs in the four slots provided. It uses DDR2 PC2-5300 memory, which is quite inexpensive. I checked the price on Crucial.com, and you can get a gig of RAM for $22.99. The 80 gig hard drive offers enough capacity for normal business software, and there is room inside the case for another drive if you need one. In addition to the nearly worthless PCI Express x1 slot, there are three PCI slots for expansion. This system also includes two USB ports in the front and six in the back.
All in all, the HP dc5700 is a decent desktop PC for general business use, but potential buyers should be wary of the open case design as well as problems with upgrading the video. Carefully consider your current and future needs before buying.