HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini review
A powerful and expandable mini PC with some tricks up its tiny sleeves
Although the HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini might look very similar to the HP Z240 SFF Workstation, this PC is an order of magnitude smaller. Whereas the Z240 SFF tries to keep as much tower-style expandability as possible, the 800 G2 chucks out all the PCI slots and almost all storage bays giving you a PC the size of a paperback book. Yet despite its titchy size, this mini PC is far more upgradeable than you would expect.
Casing and upgrading
As the 800 G2 is a business PC, it has a very plain black casing. It's very sturdy though as it's made out of thick metal, yet it's also easy to open up. Twist off one screw and the top plate slides off to reveal the interior.
Our review unit came fitted with a fast 128GB NVMe M.2-based SSD. If you want to fit a bigger SSD, you'll first have to remove the combined cooling fan and cage for an optional 2.5in SATA hard disk that sit on top of it. The existence of this cage means you could instead stick with the current SSD and rely on a bigger and cheaper, if slower, hard disk for storing your very big files instead.
The memory slots are tucked away under the processor cooler. It's reasonably easy to remove by unscrewing three screws and then pulling it off with a modest amount of force. Although our unit came fitted with a plentiful 16GB of memory, you can still add more - up to a maximum of 32GB. You'll have to dispose of the chips currently installed though as the 800 G2's small size means there are only two RAM slots.
All this makes the 800 G2 a surprisingly upgradeable little PC, but you don't have to crack it open if you don't want to. This PC has six USB3 ports and a USB Type-C socket (primarily for charging mobile devices such as the Google Nexus 5X or Microsoft Lumia 950XL.
HP sells a small range of external USB peripherals designed to stack neatly on top of or underneath the 800 G2, matching the mini PC in size and shape. The only options currently available are a 8X DVD writer (46) and a 500GB hard drive. The latter also doubles as a legacy port replicator and expander with a pair of PS/2 ports, a serial connector and a couple of USB2 ports. You'll have to really value your legacy devices though, as this combined hard drive and port replicator is very expensive at 141.
A more conventional way of saving space is mounting the 800 G2 on the back of a VESA mount compatible monitor. This is especially worth doing if you want to use multiple monitors with this PC on a cramped desk. Although it only has Intel HD 530 integrated graphics, it's still powerful enough to drive three monitors connected via the two DisplayPorts and lone VGA connector.
Performance and noise
The HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini is available in a variety of configurations. Our review unit came fitted with a quad-core 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 6600T that can turbo boost to 3.6GHz. Paired with the PCI-based SSD and 16GB of RAM, it raced through our benchmarks - it's very, very fast. We haven't seen any other similarly sized PC that's this fast - only bigger compact PCs such as the Z240 SFF Workstation are faster the 800 G2. This PC is obviously not as exemplary when it comes to 3D graphics performance where even the Z240's relatively old Nvidia Quadro trumps this mini PC's integrated graphics.
Impressively, this PC wasn't too noisy given its sprightly performance. The cooling fans did produce a whirring that was audible in a quiet room but it wasn't too intrusive - especially considering the substantial load our benchmarks placed on the processor.
The HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini pictured above has a serial port - our review unit thankfully traded this for a more useful second DisplayPort connector
Operating system and extras
Our review unit come with Windows 7 Professional preinstalled. This might seem like a throwback, but it's a welcome sight if you have software that has yet to be certified for Windows 10, is just outright incompatible or if you've yet to start your company's transition. If you're ready to go, then a free downloadable upgrade to Windows 10 Pro is available out of the box.
Although the included USB keyboard and mouse are basic, they're good enough that you won't want to replace them with better alternatives straight out of the box. The two-button, scroll wheel-equipped USB mouse was comfortable and responsive, while the keyboard has a standard layout and keys with enough travel and tactile feedback. The only other included extra is a stand for positioning the 800 G2 vertically to save a little more space on your desk.
The HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini isn't cheap - our review unit costs 1043 inc VAT (869 ex VAT). If this is too rich for your blood then cheaper models are available with slower processors, less memory and a hard disk instead of a SSD. Either way, this very small, very fast yet surprisingly expandable mini PC is very good value. If you're short on space, then you'll struggle to find a PC that's as small and as capable.
Big performance and easy expandability in a small package make this mini PC a winner
|Processor||Quad-core 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 6600T|
|Front USB ports||2x USB3, 1x USB-C|
|Rear USB ports||4x USB3|
|Total storage||128GB SSD|
|Graphics card||Intel HD 530|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional, Windows 10 Pro|
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