The 6930p is powered by Intel's latest Montevina platform and the T9400 is one of the new 45nm Penryn CPUs with a 1066MHz FSB.
Unfortunately, HP has decided to stick to the older DDR2 for its RAM, hence effectively limiting the capabilities of the platform when other vendors have switched to DDR3 implementations. However, corporate IT departments may appreciate this as DDR3 modules are still more expensive and there should be more spare DDR2 modules available for easy upgrade in most IT departments.
wPrime is a multi-threaded CPU test that provides a more accurate benchmark for dual-core CPUs. Version 2.0 of the benchmark application is used.
The Seagate 7200rpm drive may not be the latest generation, but it performs adequately as the HDTune v2.55 benchmarks show.
The ATI HD3450 graphics card in the 6930p is a pretty capable card, getting a pretty decent benchmark score on the stock HP drivers (ATI v8.479.1). Judging from benchmarks alone, this card is much faster (approximately 5-6 times) than the X1300 found on the nc6400 and it supports DirectX 10.1. The benchmarks are conducted in 1280x800 resolution. As this is a mainstream balanced notebook, HP should offer a hybrid graphics solution to provide more flexibility and improve battery life in situations when a discrete graphics card isn’t required.
Operating System and Software
HP delivered this notebook with Windows XP SP2 pre-installed (not even SP3!), with a Vista Business COA but no Recovery DVDs nor an option to create one unlike their previous models where they ship with both. It looks like whoever prepared the build image for Windows XP simply forgot to install this as there was no recovery partition on it either. HP has since advised customers to request the DVDs from their technical support, so they are aware of this issue.
There is no bloatware installed, not even a Norton Security Suite. This is pretty much as basic as it gets and it certainly shows when the notebook performs as well as a clean install would on first boot. If you so desire, there is an HP Software Setup utility for you to begin loading bloatware (and some useful apps like Live Messenger, PDF reader and WMP11) on it to your heart’s content.
The HP ProtectTools security suite is as good as before, offering a comprehensive set of security solution that other vendors rarely offer for free, namely disk encryption, device access restrictions and biometric identification all using the TPM hardware. There is also a useful BIOS configuration utility that allows one to configure the BIOS settings from Windows. This is definitely one of the most mature enterprise hardware management tools bundled in corporate grade notebooks.
Battery and Power
The 6930p uses the same 6-cell battery as that found on the nc6400 and 6910p. Although the batteries look similar, there is a 2-3mm difference in width which means you can't use the nc6400 or 6910p's battery in the 6930p. The standard 6-cell battery lasts about 3.5 hours on light to moderate loads using the Portable/Laptop power profile under Windows XP. HP still uses the same proprietary secondary battery connector, so all previous travel and extended batteries which attaches to the bottom of the notebook will still work. HP offers an optional 8-cell travel battery and 12-cell extended life battery.
The included 90W adaptor (65W for Intel integrated graphics models) is the same HP standard AC adaptor. HP is one of the better vendors when it comes to proprietary connectors as they strive to maintain consistency across product life cycles, hence the power connector, docking station connector and battery connectors remain unchanged. There is no need to buy new accessories when you upgrade as they remain compatible.
Ports and Features
The 6930p includes an array of I/O ports. There are three USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 1394a port, standard modem and Gigabit Ethernet. The only video out connector is a VGA port. It should be about time HP introduces digital video interfaces on its smaller business notebooks.
HP has finally upgraded the PC slot cards in the 6910p with an ExpressCard 54 slot which was one of my criticisms since the nc6400 days. The integrated memory card reader on the front only reads SD and MMC cards, but it accepts SDHC cards just fine.
Like its predecessors, the extended battery and docking station connector resides on the bottom of the notebook. There are two RAM slots one easily accessible on the bottom and the other underneath the keyboard which requires the removal of the keyboard in order to access it. If a single RAM module is configured during purchase, it will be installed in the slot underneath the keyboard, so there is little need to open up the notebook. Similarly, one can easily upgrade the hard disk, also accessible from the bottom.
HP changed the interface for the modular bay device from the MultiBay II found in the nc6400 and 6910p series to the UpgradeBay, which is essentially a SATA interface. Previous MultiBay devices are no longer compatible and the new bay only supports either a SATA hard disk drive or an optical drive. The new interface supports RAID configurations.
The UpgradeBay is also more difficult to remove than the MultiBay which has a spring loaded mechanism. It requires you to remove a spring loaded screw which holds the device in place and push on a little tab with a pointed device like a screwdriver as it is not spring loaded. It looks like it isn’t designed to allow for hotswapping.
Heat and Noise
After using a Macbook, you'll realize how quiet notebooks can get. The 6930p is certainly not in the extremely quiet category. Under light to moderate use, it is silent, but the fans are still spinning. The fans tend to rev up on higher loads and they are clearly audible. The vents are located on the underside and left side of the notebook.
The notebook is cool to the touch and does not get excessively hot under high loads. Similar to its predecessors, the fans stop spinning or slow down considerably once it is run on battery, hence making the notebook very silent again.
Warranty and Support
All HP EliteBooks have a 3-year global warranty as standard. This particular configuration has onsite coverage as standard. From my experience, HP’s business notebook support is excellent. They respond to an issue within the specified timeframe and provide an excellent online utility which allow customers to submit and track support cases 24/7 remotely. The online ITRC utility is by far the most efficient way to submit and document support cases as it avoids miscommunication over the phone when dealing with overseas support techs. The support reps that I’ve dealt with are very professional in their conduct and seem knowledgeable about their products.
The Elitebook 6930p is a very capable, no-nonsense business notebook. HP has listened to feedback from its nc6400 and 6910p notebooks and addressed the problems in the 6930p. HP’s Elitebook are excellent well-designed business machine considering it includes HP’s excellent 3-year global onsite warranty services as well as build quality, unique materials and a balanced feature set that meet the needs of most corporate users. The 6930p deserves to be on the list for those considering a balanced notebook that means business as it is really that good.
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