Pros: Choice of chassis; dual- and quad-core processors; Intel vPro management; quiet running
Cons: Plug-in video controller may be required for more demanding users; monitor costs extra
Bottomline: It won’t set hearts aflutter, but the Powermate ML470 is a well-built, capable business desktop
Specialist business desktops and their vendors are few and far between these days. Of course, HP and Dell spring to mind but there are others, such as NEC, which offers a range of desktop PCs in its Powermate line-up designed specifically with the small- to medium-sized business in mind.
We looked at the latest member of that family, the Powermate ML470, which focuses on performance and manageability and comes in three configurations, starting with a tiny small form factor (SFF) chassis for where desktop space is at a premium.
We reviewed the more roomy standard desktop, while an under-the-desk micro tower is also available. All come in sturdy, well-designed metal cases. Everything inside is easily accessible and there is no need to use tools to swap or add an extra drive or fit an adapter, for example.
A neat BTX motherboard is at the heart of the system and this has support for Intel’s vPro technology. With the right tools, that means you can turn the PC on and off remotely and perform inventory and other remote management tasks even when it has been switched off. The motherboard has also been designed to minimise power and cooling requirements and the model we tested was very quiet in operation.
Performance is largely down to the processor specified and support for Intel’s new 45nm dual-core processors is another a key feature. The review system came with a 3GHz Core 2 Duo E8400, which gave it plenty of get up and go, but the ML470 can be purchased with slower dual- and single-core processors, or an even faster quad-core chip. Maximum memory is 8GB (4GB on the SFF model) with 2GB supplied as standard and, on all but the smallest chassis, two Dimm slots free for expansion.
An integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 looks after the video interface, using up to 256MB of shared memory. It’s not the greatest of video controllers and a DVI interface is an optional extra, but it’s more than adequate for most business applications. That said, if you want to support more than one monitor, or run more graphically demanding applications, an add-in card will be needed, with NEC offering a choice of Nvidia adapters to meet those requirements. No monitor is included in the price.
In terms of storage, a Sata (serial ATA) hard disk is included, ours shipping with a 250GB 7,200rpm Seagate Barracuda, the fastest and biggest drive currently offered on this model. A DVD/CD writer is attached to a second Sata interface, with two other Sata connectors if needed, plus integrated Raid 0/1 support. However, you’ll have to specify the micro tower chassis to accommodate more than one hard disk.
Two PCI and a couple of PCI Express expansion slots are provided, together with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet interface and eight USB2 ports two at the front and six at the rear. The keyboard and mouse, though, come with standard PS/2 connectors.
A competent and well-made desktop, the ML470 compares well with better-known alternatives with its choice of Windows XP and Vista pre-loads (not included in the price) and a variety of installation and data transfer services available. Platform stability is guaranteed for a minimum of 15 months and business buyers get a three-year, on-site (next day) warranty with other terms available.