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Intel launches vPro ready PC

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Intel's new business platform - vPro - offers plenty of benefits for the business world, particularly IT staff with a large fleet of PCs. The vPro ready, Pioneer DreamVision vPro Digital Office PC has turned in some nice results. The DreamVision is small in dimensions, but it does pack a fair bit of power.

In the WorldBench 5 performance test, it scored a healthy 118. This compares well against machines with a similar CPU and memory capacity. The driving force behind this performance is an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13 GHz E6400 CPU coupled with 1GB of 533MHz DDR2 RAM.

The 320GB (7200rpm SATA) hard drive managed to transfer 4.12GB of raw data at a rate of 18.4 MB, not slow, but nothing of notable exception either. The MP3 encoding test (where 53 minutes of WAV files are encoded into 192Kbps MP3s) took 110 seconds, about what is expected from the E6400 CPU.

Like Intel Centrino platforms, vPro is a whole package. It is comprised of an Intel 965 chipset, a Core 2 Duo CPU and an Intel PRO networking solution. vPro is specifically designed to make PC maintenance and security simple and more importantly, remote, reducing the requirement for IT personnel to pay a visit when things go wrong.

Intel  showcased some of the capabilities that vPro provides when used in conjunction with third-party software, such as from Cisco or Altiris. Most impressive is the ability to boot a remote system from an optical drive located in a local machine.

For the office user, vPro mainly provides a means of support and PC management that does not need to bring the IT department to the desk every time something goes wrong. vPro allows a level of control that exists Out Of Band (OOB). This means it acts below the operating system (OS) at a hardware level, and can continue to function even if the OS itself is not working. vPro uses an embedded chip within the chipset to facilitate OOB management over a TCP/IP connection. Using this OOB connection, the PC can be remotely diagnosed, maintained and upgraded regardless of its health, even when it is switched off or will not boot into the OS.

There is also a hardware level firewall, and should the PC become infected by a virus, vPro can isolate it from the network. Theoretically, this all adds up to a cleaner and more efficient management strategy.

vPro is just one of a number of features that make the DreamVision a very nice workstation. On the front panel are a number of handy connections. Naturally, a DVD+/-RW drive is accessible, but there is also a 7 in 1 media card reader, a microphone input and headphone out. Most importantly are the two USB ports and there is even a FireWire port should it be necessary. While these features may not suit every office, it is ideal for those interested in a compact and powerful PC that will double as a home / office computer.

Although this unit performs well, there are a few, if any, options to upgrade it. The one hard drive bay is occupied and the two available RAM slots are also occupied. The ATI Radeon X300SE graphics card is a half-height card, a smaller board than the standard card, and finding a better card in a half-height size may be hard, should more pixel-pushing power be needed. However, what is already installed should suit most people into the future.

This compact, reasonably quiet and powerful PC will fit nicely into any existing home / office environment, or any workplace that is looking to implement vPro.

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