The 14.1" HP Compaq 6510b notebook is one of eight or so “Balanced Mobility” business machines currently being offered by HP. The 6510b is much like the AMD based Compaq 6515b we reviewed earlier, but instead the 6510b uses the new Intel Santa Rosa platform. The 6510b has a relatively low price as it starts at $999 with a 1.80GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (Santa Rosa generation).
Though the 6510b is a budget business notebook, it doesn't make sacrifices when it comes to security and communications features you'd want to have as a business person. Our review model has integrated Verizon EV-DO and you can get 802.11n for faster wireless. There's a fingerprint reader for biometric security and it offers a TPM integrated security chip. The 6510b, being a business notebook, is designed so that it can share a common image with other HP notebooks if an IT department is standardizing on this brand.
The 6510b isn't made of any fancy magnesium or aluminum composite, it's mostly plastic in its build, but it's by no means flimsy because of this. It's not exactly a notebook you'd want to take along if you're a road warrior, but rather good in terms of portability between work and home where you would have a docking station at each location.
HP Compaq 6510b (view large image)
The configuration of our review machine is as follows:
HP Compaq 6510b specs:
The 6510b is all business in its looks using only dark gray and black colors. It's a clean and boxy look, To keep the look clean HP even goes so far as to make the media buttons touch sensitive instead of the type that protrude. While the touch sensitive buttons look nice and the lights on them are pretty, I personally prefer the protruding buttons as it's generally more user friendly to be able to "feel" a button. Thankfully the touch sensitive buttons do not beep loudly when touched like the dv6000t buttons do, that wouldn't go over well in a business environment.
Touch sensitive buttons (view large image)
Design and Build
The build of the 6510b is mostly plastic. The plastic is thick though, so you still get decent protection. It's not as rugged as say a ThinkPad, but there are no major flexing issues with the chassis. The keyboard is very firm with no major flexing issues. There's a latch to hold the lid down firmly, again it is made of plastic though does its job. The hinges of the screen are just right, sturdy enough so you don't get screen wobble yet not so rigid that you can't open the screen with just one hand.
One knock is that HP included a plastic dummy insert for the the PCMCIA slot, a flap is preferable as those inserts are tricky and tend to get lost eventually.
HP Compaq 6510b above view (view large image)
The design is basic and clean. I'd call it boxy in its looks, sort of like the Honda Element of notebooks. Somehow it still looks quite trendy though, I think the fonts on the keyboard keys and cool LED lights give it a nice balance of a new age look with retro shape and styling.
HP Compaq 6510b bottom view (view large image)
Input and Output Ports
The HP Compaq 6510b offers a generous array of ports for a business notebook. FireWire, S-Video and 4 USB ports are all above and beyond what most 14.1" screen business notebooks will offer. Here's a tour around the HP Compaq 6510b to see what ports you get:
HP Compaq 6510b front view (view large image)
On the front we have: Wireless light, power light, battery light, drive light / HP 3D DriveGuard light, integrated stereo speakers, display release latch.
HP Compaq 6510b left view (view large image)
On the left side we have: Type I/II PC card slot, power connector, 2 USB 2.0 ports, stereo headphone / line out, stereo microphone / line in, FireWire 1394a port, vent
HP Compaq 6510b right side view (view large image)
On the right side we have: Media card reader, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Fixed Optical Drive, RJ-11 / modem jack
HP 6510b back view (view large image)
On the back side we have: Ethernet port, S-Video jack, VGA out, Kensington slot lock
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This review notebook has a 14.1" WXGA matte screen, you can get a BrightView glossy screen of the same resolution. I prefer the matte screen for a work environment and for a business notebook. Some people that like to see greater contrast and bolder colors will go with the glossy BrightView though. The screen brightness is good, it's certainly not the brightest screen out there and not on par with a Sony or Fujitsu screen, but it's adequate. There are no complaints to be had regarding light leakage, the screen is evenly lit. As usual with notebook screens, the vertical viewing angles are not so great while the horizontal viewing angles are decent.
The sound was easily adequate on the 6510b, even good I would say. If you listen to music on a low to medium setting it's actually quite pleasant to listen to the 6510b speakers, a movie would be the same. Volume goes up to the point where it gets loud, though the sound is ear piercing at that point so you definitely won't want to use that setting. The headphone out port is on the front left side if you want better audio quality via external speakers or headphones.
Performance and Benchmarks
With the new Intel Santa Rosa Core 2 Duo processor platform on board you can rest assured performance will be at the top of the curve for notebooks. The new Intel platform was released just this May and it represents the latest and greatest. With our review unit we got a 2.20GHz processor, which is certainly speedy for a business notebook, especially one that's somewhat budget oriented. With 2 GB of RAM on board there were zero issues running Windows Vista Business and you won't get any lag. There are no dedicated graphics options, just the Intel X3100 integrated graphics solution, but that's just fine for a business machine. The Windows Vista Index score for the 6510b was very good, the lowest score was a 3.4 for graphics (which isn't bad) and the processor scored an excellent 5.1:
Super PI is a program that forces the processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, it generally favors Intel processors, so you can see that based on this benchmark the poor sister 6515b AMD Turion notebook gets trounced by the 6510b.
|Notebook||Super Pi to 2 Million Digits Time|
|HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500)||55s|
|HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52)||2m 05s|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400)||59s|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 02s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
|Toshiba A100 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
|Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||1m 29s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+)||2m 02s|
The 3DMark05 synthetic graphics benchmark results for the 6510b with its X3100 integrated graphics again beat out the AMD/ATI based Compaq 6515b -- though only by a hair.
|Notebook||3D Mark 05 Results|
|HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100)||916 3DMarks|
|HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270)||871 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||2,013 3D Marks|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)||1,791 3D Marks|
|Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)||4,236 3DMarks|
|Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB)||7,078 3D Marks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)||2,092 3D Marks|
|Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB)||2,530 3D Marks|
|Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)||2,273 3DMarks|
|Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB)||2,090 3D Marks|
The PCMark05 results, which measure overall system performance, were consistent with the Super PI and 3DMark05 results in that the Intel Santa Rosa based 6510b again beat the AMD based 6515b, but this time it was by a lot.
|HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100)||4,241 PCMarks|
|HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270)||2,420 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite A135 (Core Duo T2250, Intel GMA 950)||3,027 PCMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||4,234 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950)||2,994 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950)||2,732 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo)||3,427 PCMarks|
Keyboard and Touchpad
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The keyboard is as good as the overall build quality of the 6510b. There was no flex in the keyboard, the layout was free of any annoying quirks, and responsiveness was good. The keys have a good amount of travel, and are not too stiff. The touchpad has rubberized buttons with good tactile feedback and a nice large size so they're easy to feel. The touchpad area is a generously sized, it's actually pretty responsive despite the fact it has a slick surface -- some people prefer a rougher textured touchpad. There is a scroll area on the right side of the touchpad that allows you to easily scroll up and down through web pages.
Off to the right you'll see there's a fingerprint reader for biometric security. This has become almost a standard in business notebooks these days, and is nice to have. If you don't use biometric security and prefer to use a strong typed password as login, it's worth disabling the reader, I found myself constantly brushing my arm on it which in turn caused the built-in software to falsely assume I was attempting a login and then ask me to try swiping again.
The default provided battery for the 6510b is a 6-cell battery that performed reasonably well. In battery saving mode with the screen set to middle brightness, Wi-Fi and WWAN on I got 2.5 hours of battery life. That's not half bad, dim brightness all the way down and turn off all the radios and you'll be able to push upon 3 hours of battery life.
Heat and Noise
The 6510b is fairly quiet overall, the only time I really heard any noise generated from it was when running benchmarks such as PCMark05 and 3DMark05 -- in other words, applications that really make the notebook work hard. The fan did get a bit loud during these times of intense usage, but under normal conditions you won't have any issues with too much heat or noise. I installed Notebook Hardware Control and according to its measures the CPU temperature remained at about 50C when idling. There were no hot spots on the notebook, you could easily use it in your lap comfortably and the palm rests won't make you sweat.
The HP 6510b included the latest Intel 802.11n capable wireless chipset, the Intel 4965agn. While I didn't test the wireless with an 802.11n router, the wireless range and throughput was very good using an 802.11g router we have in our office. Wireless on/off power is managed using HP's Wireless Assistant software, or you can simply tap on the touch sensitive wireless on/off switch at the top of the keyboard. The touch sensitive button is a little finicky and I would have preferred a "real" button, even if such a thing doesn't look as fancy.
In addition to the Wi-Fi built-in HP has included a built-in HP WWAN card that works with Verizon's network. Specifically the 6510b uses an integrated HP ev2200 1xEV-DO Wireless Module. Reception and connecting was good using this card, I have a Verizon Wireless card modem for my everyday notebook and in the same room as the 6510b the HP notebook was getting better reception and throughput. This indicates the reception antennas have been well placed on the 6510b.
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Outside of the ubiquitous Norton anti-virus software you get on any HP notebook, there was nothing I would describe as bloatware installed. There were a number of useful business-oriented utilities, primarily for handling security. Windows Vista Business did not present any surprises and worked without a hitch. HP still offers Windows XP Pro on this machine, which many businesses still use and probably will continue to do so for some time.
The HP Compaq 6510b offers a nice blend of good performance and a reasonable price. The build quality is good, but not great. The look is clean and stylish, but it won't win any awards. The screen quality is good, with no complaints, but it won't outshine some of the nicer Sony, Apple or Fujitsu displays out there. The ports selection is all you really need for a business notebook, and the keyboard is nice to use. The 6510b isn't the lightest or thinnest 14.1" screen notebook out there, but you'd be paying more if it were. In other words, HP has designed a well rounded portable notebook that's not quite on the cutting edge with any of its aspects, but it is reliable and leaves little to complain about -- exactly what you'd want in a budget business notebook.
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