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Lifewire / Emily Ramirez
Small enough to fit on a desk
8 USB ports
No wireless LAN or Bluetooth connections
USB ports aren’t labeled
The HP ProDesk 400 G4 is a capable office PC that’s flexible enough to meet your meeting needs, thanks to its bevy of ports and easy-to-configure chassis.
The HP ProDesk 400 G4 is a no-nonsense PC made for businesses that need reliability, customizability, and convenience. It keeps a low profile on any worker’s desk with its shoebox-like size, but it takes advantage of every inch of that compressed design: the ProDesk comes packed with a slew of ports, a CD/DVD drive, security features, a 7th gen Intel Core i5 processor, and an SSD. What’s more remarkable is that there’s plenty of space inside the chassis to add a GPU, a sound card, a custom processor, or anything else your business may need. The Prodesk comes with all the basics, but it’s friendly to upgrades, too.
The ProDesk 400 is not exciting, but it has all you would want from a business PC. We appreciate that it has a VGA port and a CD/DVD drive, both of which are exceedingly rare in the PC world and give this machine the ability to support older devices. Its CD/DVD drive is on the front, hidden in the black striped grill. Beneath the grill is a silver bumper with 2 USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the power button. On the back of the machine, there are two more USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one VGA Port, one DisplayPort, and an Ethernet port.
The PC chassis is made of solid aluminum so it can take a few knocks. It’s also very small, measuring 10.6 x 11.7 x 3.7 in, about the size of an Xbox. The top is a solid piece that can slide off for access to the machine’s internals. On the rear are two removable plates in case you want to install extra cards on the motherboard.
On the inside, the Prodesk 400 houses an Intel Core i5-7500 processor, 8 GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. These default specs should be enough for an office that does light productivity tasks like Microsoft Office, web browsing, and a little bit of Photoshop. Its CPU is cooled by a huge fan, but it makes little noise.
One gripe we have with the PC is that it doesn’t come with a wireless card, meaning you have to use Ethernet if you don’t want to install one. If you run a smaller business without a dedicated IT department, that means you’ll have to open the case and install a compatible AIC into your motherboard. Not everyone has the time or desire to tinker with their PC for such a basic feature, and we're also disappointed the ProDesk doesn’t support Bluetooth.
The ProDesk 400 comes bundled with a mouse and keyboard. Frankly, we didn’t like either peripheral. The mouse is a grainy black plastic monobody with a left and right click button, a scroll wheel, and not much else. It’s very basic for a productivity product, with no way to adjust DPS or add macros, and it feels stiff and mushy when you move it or press any of the buttons. You can probably get a better mouse for five dollars.
The keyboard is good-looking, with a matte black finish and flat keys that feel like a laptop keyboard. However, the keys do not perform well: they have little travel or tactile feedback, and they’re very stiff and difficult to press. We still managed to type okay on this keyboard for short bursts, but it got tiresome after a couple hours of use. It’s just not a good keyboard for heavy typists.
Setting up the ProDesk for first-time use is simple, as average as turning on any commercial PC for the first time. Because this is a computer built for business, HP put some thought into making sure the ProDesk was easy to upgrade. The internals are easy to access by unscrewing and sliding off the top panel. There are several vacant PCIe slots as well as plenty of spare space to add additional SSDs and hard drives.
Because this is a computer built for business, HP put some thought into making sure the ProDesk was easy to upgrade.
The HP ProDesk 400 excels at everyday productivity tasks thanks to its Intel Core i5 CPU. In Cinebench and PCMark, the ProDesk performed well, proving itself a capable machine for writing, web browsing, and even light graphic design. In practical tests, we had no problem running small Photoshop files or browsing Chrome with 40 open tabs.
We wouldn’t recommend using this machine for gaming or other GPU-intensive tasks, but HP never intended this to be a gaming PC. If you need to run an emergency file in, say, Maya, the ProDesk 400 will at least have enough power to not crash. If you do want to sneak in some gaming, keep to lightweight and/or older titles like Minecraft or World of Warcraft. We averaged 24fps on the Car Chase test in GFX Bench, for reference.
If you want a more complete breakdown of the ProDesk’s performance, we included benchmark scores below so you can compare them to other machines’ scores.
We wouldn’t recommend using this machine for gaming or other GPU-intensive tasks, but HP never intended this to be a gaming PC.
The audio chip on the Pro Desk is muddied, tinny, and inaccurate. If you need quality audio, we recommend you get a DAC/Amp or a sound card. There’s a large range of products, and you can meet your sound needs with as little as $50. If you only need sound for PowerPoint presentations or some short YouTube videos, the ProDesk may be adequate; otherwise, even inexpensive desk speakers would be a meaningful upgrade.
The HP ProDesk 400 excels at everyday productivity tasks thanks to its Intel Core i5 CPU.
The HP ProDesk 400 G4 retails for about $550. For its specifications, this is a fine price. You can get cheaper computers with the same specs, but the small form factor of the ProDesk makes this machine a solid value. For comparison, a similarly specced Lenovo ThinkPad will cost about $700, and it can’t be modified as easily as the ProDesk 400 G4.
Because of its numerous ports, easy modification, small form factor, power, and price, the HP ProDesk 400 stands strong against its competitors. In this price bracket, you will have to compromise on key features, such as SSD/HD size, processor power, chassis size, and upgradeability. If you want raw power, then this HP Pavilion desktop has a better processor for a little more money. If you’re interested in a desktop dedicated to conference rooms, HP also makes the Elite Mini PC, which has integrated videoconference controls. If you hate HP, the Dell Optiplex 3060 is similar to the ProDesk in power, size, and price.
Still undecided? Check out our roundup of the best mini PCs available.
A great machine, but not your only option.
The HP ProDesk 400 G4 is a fine work machine; it manages to fit in 8 USB ports, a DisplayPort, a VGA port, and a DVD reader/writer into a chassis that’s the size of a gaming console. It’s not the most powerful machine for $550, but its plethora of features still make this a worthwhile investment.