On the right hand side you’ll find a single USB port and the power socket. When the power adaptor is plugged in you get yet another blue light – nothing if not consistent. There also a security hook for keeping your notebook tethered when you don’t want it going walkabout. The optical drive included is a multitalented type that can handle pretty much any conventional disc you can through at it, such as dual-layer disks and DVD-RAM. A cool feature is that it’s Lightscribe capable – which is a bonus over most notebooks. It might be so cutting edge once HD DVD or Blu-ray finally appears but those will be very niche and expensive products at least for a while. Fixed storage is taken care of by a 120GB drive – nice and large for a notebook, though it won’t break any speed records.
The only notable item of the reader is an exhaust area for the CPU. The processor in question is an AMD Turion X2 Mobile. The mobile supplied is a TL-52, which has a clock speed of 1.66GHz, similar to a Core Duo T2300. With Intel’s strong comeback with Core Duo and Core 2 Duo, it’s almost a surprise to see an AMD chip but we’ll talk about performance shortly. The CPU is backed up by a decent 1GB of RAM supplied on two DIMMS. This at least means you get dual-channel, but there aren’t any slots free so if you think you need more you’d better specify it at purchase. 1GB as standard is better than many notebooks we look at, such as Samsung’s X11. The CPU and memory sit in an nForce 430 chipset and operate as an FSB of 533MHz.
As an nForce chipset, graphics are provided by integrated GeForce Go 6150 with 128MB of dedicated RAM. I have mixed feelings about whether this is a good thing or not. nVidia are strongly associated with gaming and someone who sees this notebook in PC World who thinks they know about computers might is likely to see it and think that this machine will be great for gaming. It’s not. The 6150 will certainly be better than Intel’s integrated efforts, as the PC Mark graphics score for the Samsung X11 demonstrates, but it does not a gaming laptop make.
It will give you better video playback quality, but the cost for this is performance, as the DVD playback time shows – when unplugged it’s 34 minutes shy of the Samsung’s X11. This is despite MobileMark 2005’s application battery life test being almost identical. The performance score is actually slightly higher than the Samsung, which features a 1.66GHz T2300 Core Duo.
This pattern continues with SYSmark 2002 with slightly faster scores all round. The CPU score in PCMark 05 is actually lower than for the Samsung’s Core Duo. The difference then is that the Compaq features double the Samsung’s memory and it’s running in dual-channel mode, which helps it pull ahead.
The machine has Windows XP Home Edition pre-installed with Works 8. Some useful HP software is included and you might or might not appreciate the talking guide that activates on first boot up offering to connect you to ‘recommended’ services and initially you’ll also get spammed with adverts for Microsoft software – a downside of buying from a large Corporate name.
Overall, judging from these two machines, there’s not a lot to choose from in terms of performance and staying power between the Core Duo T2300 and the Turion X2 ML-52, which is good news for AMD. The HP Compaq is cheaper though, enabling it to be paired with more memory, which gives it the edge in this case.
This means that it’s the rest of the specification and the design that the decision is based on. Here, the cool finishing touches, and the sleek look of the Compaq pay off. It just looks like a more stylish product than the Samsung that will look better in the home environment. It’s also cheaper and has a better memory complement. If the two were side by side, I’d be choosing the HP Compaq V6000.