by Ronnie Laughlin, Texas USA
The Averatec 6130 is my first real laptop purchase. I have had a few older ThinkPad’s that performed wonderfully, although woefully under specs for the time I was using them as well as a nice KDS notebook that died within 2 hours of usage! That being said, they did everything I wanted out of them except any kind of gaming and video editing. That was 3 years ago. Times have changed. I am currently using an AMD 1800+ Desktop with 1GB PC133 Ram, an 80 GB / 7200RPM Hard Drive and a NVIDIA 128 DDR 5200 Video Card. That was my benchmark comparison for performance as I could edit video with ease and play any game I wanted on this desktop. Yes, I know that is again, woefully under spec for what you can currently get but I could not bring myself to upgrade for any other reason than to “keep up with the Jones'” and any experienced computer user will tell you that is just useless to even try unless money is no object. Well, my money tree doesn’t grow as well anymore so I keep to a budget.
With all that information said, you have an idea of where I am coming from in terms of computer usage and a better frame of reference for why I bought the Averatec 6130.
Do I really need a laptop?
This is something everyone must ask themselves and honestly answer before making such a purchase. For business users the answer is usually a resounding “YES”, end of discussion. I would not be classified as a business user. I was basically looking for the cheapest desktop replacement I could find, preferably around $1100.00 USD. My desktop was on its last leg (constant crashing and declining performance). I could have built a nice high end desktop for half of what I was willing to pay for a laptop, but I was also looking to “minimize”. My room is small; the bulky desktop had to go. I was also looking for portability. I wanted to have the luxury of taking my computer anywhere I may go. I travel some, not often, but some and have lamented not having a laptop of some form while sitting on the plane or in the terminal, much less the hotel and…well you get the point. I wanted to be able to play the few games I do own while on the road as well as basic surfing, email and chat. So with all of that in mind, maybe you have a better understanding of what I REALLY needed as opposed to what I bought. I will also tell you that I haven’t been very good with keeping up with new computer technology so I made a few incorrect assumptions. Now, On to the laptop!
Averatec AV6130-H20 Specs
- AVERATEC AV6130HS – P4 3 GHz – 15.4″ TFT
- Weight – 7.7 lbs
- Processor – Intel Pentium 4 3 GHz
- Cache Memory – 512 KB – L2 cache
- RAM – 512 MB (installed) / 1 GB (max) – DDR SDRAM – 333 MHz
- Multicard Reader
- 60 gig 4200 RPM Drive
- Optical Storage – DVD RW
- Display – 15.4″ TFT active matrix WXGA (1280 x 800)
- ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9600 – 64 MB Dedicated 8x AGP
Averatec 6130 (view larger image)
That’s the important stuff. Note — I got it on sale at Buy.com for $1187.00, so it was a bit cheaper than list price! When looking at all the laptops that met the specs I wanted, the Averatec was the cheapest option by FAR. One hesitation I had was that I was not a fan of AMD for no real good reason other than ignorance and figured that an Intel Pentium is always better — that was a mistaken assumption and something I wish I had thought about more. The Averatec 6130 has 512 DDR SDRAM, this seemed to the standard on all the models I looked at so I was happy with that. The 60 GB HD was larger than most offered so that made me happy. However, I failed to realize how big a difference there is in speed performance between a 4200 RPM and 5400 RPM hard drive, much less 7200 RPM. The DVD burner on the 6130 was a nice touch as when I had had one before I used it to burn DVDs a few times a month. I also really wanted a widescreen display and the Averatec had that option as well. The video card (ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64 MB RAM) seemed to be the best I could find in that price range and it was dedicated, not shared, so I figured that card with the memory and processor would handle any game for now.
The Averatec 6130 is huge. The pictures on the website lead you to believe it is slimmer than it actually is. Given everything they packed into it, it is still relatively slim. The 7lbs of weight can get heavy. I bought a laptop backpack (Targus Deluxe) and the laptop fits perfectly. Again, it is a pretty large laptop. My frame of reference for size is the IBM T30 I use at work. The layout of all the keys is nice and comfortable but it still feels just a tad cramped. The touchpad is nice and works well. Now on to the not so good. There are only 3 USB 2.0 Ports. I almost never used USB on my desktop except for the printer, now I find I use the USB ports a lot. Between the printer, USB hard drive, laptop cooling bed (Targus), USB mouse and game controller I find I am swapping out cables a lot. On that note, with 3 USB devices plugged in as well as the cooling bed, the laptop is less a laptop and more a small desktop. I suppose that’s starting to defeat the purpose of having a laptop!
The widescreen LCD is very thin and, to be honest, feels quite cheap. The case, when closed, feels solid but I am extra careful as I feel the LCD is delicate. Once you open the laptop up it looks nice until further detailed inspection. Some users have commented on “warping”. My Averatec 6130 was warped right out of the box. The plastic casing behind the keyboard and in front of the LCD is slightly wavy. That is the best way to describe it. It makes it look cheap. It has no effect on operation, but it gives a cheap feel to the laptop. There is also a slight warp over the Hard Drive area. This I can attribute to heat from the Hard Drive. Mind you, it is slight and only occurs when it gets really heated. It can’t help things that my hand rests there as well adding; I’m sure, to the heat. This may not seem like a big gripe, but I mention it because it is something I would have liked to have known about before making the purchase and again, it makes the Averatec look cheap.
This baby is fast, so I am told. I have figured out that short of video editing, I have yet to really use the processor to its full potential. It feels the same as any other computer I use but a bit snappier. Honestly, I see no need for this processor in a laptop as it is a desktop processor and that has its own set of problems I will discuss further on. Overall, I wish I had opted for something different in the processor department. Again, I am being honest with my needs, some of you may really need the P4 but I doubt I really did. There seems to be the consensus that since the Pentium 4 is a desktop processor the notebook will not throttle back speed on battery alone. I have found that to be wrong. After some research, apparently the Motherboard basically cuts the speed in half while on battery. Not that it helps any. Honestly, it is more of an annoyance than anything. The battery doesn’t last any longer and when you plug it back in, there is about a 30% chance the motherboard won’t kick the speed back up and you have to reboot to get back up to speed.
Hard Drive performance is SLOW! It is only 4200 RPM so do not expect good performance at all. As a matter of fact, it creates a HUGE bottle neck for any type of performance. I did not realize how big of a deal this really is. If you purchase this laptop, a MUST HAVE upgrade is a 7200 RPM drive. Most people replace the drive and stick the 60GB drive you get in an external USB enclosure. I haven’t done this yet for the sake of testing the Averatec stock and cash! Note: According to the Averatec rep. I spoke with; upgrading your memory will not void your warranty, upgrading your hard drive will void your warranty. Keep that in mind.
512Meg DDR SDRAM – 333 MHz seems adequate. I will be upgrading to 1 Gig soon. Again, I haven’t done this yet for the purpose of testing the stock machine as well as no cash!
Note: upgrading the Hard Drive and memory is a relatively simple procedure for the Averatec as they are both housed under one panel on the underside.
I haven’t used the multicard reader yet as I have no cards! I mention it as I do plan on purchasing a newer digital camera and this is a convenience I wanted to have as opposed to using yet another USB cord to download my pictures.
The Averatec 6130 comes with internal 802.11g. Mine has worked fine. It can be touchy at times but seems to work all around the house. Haven’t taken it out to connect to a hotspot or anything of that nature so I haven’t really put it through its paces. Some people have problems here and some don’t. I usually have no problem connecting to my linksys 802.11B wireless router. The only issues I have had are sometimes after waking the laptop up from hibernation, it says it’s not connected, but it is connected — I surf the web no problem, weird. I have only had one dropped connection. I had taken the laptop into the living room (hey it’s portable and wireless right?) and the connection was strong, came back into my room about 6 feet from the router and the connection died. Moved it about 2 feet closer and got it back. Weird to say the least. I wouldn’t bet the farm on the reliability of the internal wireless so I have a Dlink PCMCIA as a backup. Also, I always have an “excellent” connection.
Now, I am not sure on the specific write/read speeds of this optical drive, but I have burned a few audio CDs. No complaints. Seemed peppy enough. Using Microsoft Media Player is a chore and seems to take forever as opposed to NERO, so I recommend it.
I have 3 different sources to compare to for DVD playback. The DVD’s look nice but I expected better. The solid blacks seem grainy. I am still not sure if it is the source material (Lost in Translation and Kill Bill) or the laptop. The colors are very bright vibrant and visually appealing. I watched a DVD from about 6 feet away and had no complaints. In my living room I have an HDTV so I tend to be very picky on quality. That being said, the DVD playback on the laptop just about matches the Hard Drive with progressive scan. To really see the quality you need to be a few feet back from the laptop and most people will be pleasantly impressed. As another test, I downloaded (LEGALLY) a movie from www.movielink.com to watch. I downloaded one of their HQ (higher quality) movies to watch on the laptop and test out the non-DVD video playback. My environment was my bedroom, well lit, lying in bed 6 feet from the laptop (I’m just that lazy) and using the laptop speakers. I was blown away. The video was awesome. Again, very vibrant colors. I can’t tell you how impressed I was. The sound was adequate as well. I was able to enjoy the movie on all levels. It took up the full widescreen which was nice and looked amazing. I then repeated the same test with a DVD and was equally as impressed with the results. It was on par with a HD Broadcast. Very nice. The bad thing about this is how many times will you be 5 feet away from your laptop watching a movie? Not very often. More than likely you will be within 1-3 feet from the screen and that is where the DVD/video performance is par.
DVD picture example (view larger example)
The screen is a 15.4″ TFT active matrix WXGA (1280 x 800) If you read the above section you have a good idea of the LCD performance minus one huge FLAW. The LCD reminds me of the old big screen TVs that you have to be at the perfect angle to see. Too far left or too far right and the screen looks like a photo negative. You really have to adjust the LCD for every different thing you do. For normal desktop usage anything normal will do. If I am playing a game I need to adjust or the colors look all washed out. Same goes for a movie. This may be native for all LCDs, but I do not like it at all. I have used other new laptops that do not seem to have this issue at all. Had I tested this out in a store beforehand, it would have been a deal breaker if not for the great price. Moral of the story is the LCD is this unit’s low point. It seems geared for far off viewing (for which it excels) more than close up. I would have figured the opposite. If you can, I recommend testing this model before you buy it if possible. I may just be overly critical. Again, just trying to be honest.
It is worth noting I had no dead pixels as some have complained. See the “photo negative effect” in the picture below.
Photo negative effect example (view larger image)
This machine has potential but there are a few things to “tweak” first. I foolishly assumed P4 3.0 GHz 512 DDR and ATI 64Meg 8x would handle anything I would throw at it. Wrong. With a few tweaks however, you can have a nice little gaming machine. It’s not an Alienware high-end PC but it it’s also not $3K. I only play 3 games if I do play and those are: Call of Duty, Battlefield (you name it) and NASCAR. For the most part these are pretty demanding games but there are much more demanding out there. I first installed Call of Duty and it ran horribly. A HUGE disappointment. I then downloaded the omega drivers and saw a noticeable performance increase, but still not good enough. I played around with over clocking the GPU, but did not like the idea of that due to heat concerns. I even tried the original video drivers with no success. My average Aquamark3D Score was roughly 13,000! Pathetic. I was about at the point of resign thinking this is as good as it gets. I was so gently told by a forum member “if you wanted a gaming laptop you should have bought one,” but decided to try some more. I refused to believe that was all the Averatec could do. Apparently, out of the box, my laptop did not have AGP Drivers installed! I figured this out by playing with the tweak settings in the omega drivers. All the AGP information was always grayed out. I asked a forum member and he told me his was always on 8x. Every time I set it to 8 x and rebooted it was gone and back to PCI settings. After a quick trip to the Averatec website I downloaded the AGP drivers and VIOLA. I set it to 8x and what a difference. My Aquamark3D score jumped from 13,000 to 22,000 with NO over clocking. All my games play nice and look great at HIGH detail. I also believe I will see a bit better performance with the faster HD and more RAM. I know there has been some debate over what difference, if any, the faster RPM HD makes so as I test I installed Call of Duty on my external 80 gig 7200 drive in an external USB enclosure and did notice a bit more pep as well as much faster load times. Very pleased. I can’t comment on Doom or Half Life as I have never played them before.
This thing might as well not have a battery. I am super let down with this aspect of the 6130. If I get an hour on the battery just surfing the web with the wireless on, then I am lucky! Don’t even think about doing anything but basic functions while on battery because it drinks the juice like there is no tomorrow. This is a big disappointment for me. What is the point of a laptop if you always need to be next to a power outlet? I think this is where I should have gone with a more power friendly Pentium M or Celeron or even AMD. The processor has NO business in a laptop. Again, 1 hour maybe 1.5 hours MAX, with basic functions. Forget gaming or watching a DVD on the battery. You won’t finish.
None for me thanks! Actually, I have yet to really have any heat issues. I do have it on a laptop bed/cooling fan but to be honest I don’t think it does much. When I breathe I displace more air than the laptop cooler. The area over the Hard Drive does get pretty warm when I am playing a game, but that’s the worst of it. It has yet to get so warm as to worry me. It is usually on 5-10 hours a day. After moderate gaming I notice the air coming out of the left vent is warm but not bad at all. I can’t really complain about the heat yet. I do sometimes shut it down after a particularly long gaming session out of paranoia, but that’s just me.
In my opinion the ergonomics are less than stellar. I am 6’11 so you can imagine I have big hands and the keyboard is not very friendly, but still okay. I have my laptop on a small computer cart on the cooling bed. This makes things very awkward at times. It is not comfortable typing. This may be just because I am such a big guy, but it is still worth mentioning. I think without the cooling bed it would be a bit friendlier, but have yet to try. I think the best “computing position” is to have the laptop about 6 inches above your waste line looking down with the LCD about 45 degrees back. This seems to provide me with the most comfort and optimal LCD viewing.
I had never heard of Averatec until I began searching for a laptop. They have great reviews and excellent price points. Support is best achieved through forums with other users. The major complaint I have heard is people getting a dead pixel out of the box but I did not experience that. Not sure how long the company will be around but given the good reviews and pricing I would assume they will be a bigger name as time goes by. I think if they can solve the battery issue as well as produce a better case they will be a contender. Maybe toss in a faster HD and better GPU!
I am pleased with the performance but it is not “out of the box” and by the time I upgrade the memory and HD I may have been better off with a different model. I was torn between this Averatec and the eMachines AMD64 with roughly the same specs but about $200 more. I opted for the Averatec due to the hinge issues common with eMachines. I’m not thrilled about the processor/battery as it basically makes this a desktop thus killing the portability aspect of a laptop. Gaming is very nice. Normal computing functions are great. The widescreen is a MUST have. It makes reading forums much easier! Not to mention movies and I can’t help but feel I have a slight advantage gaming with about 20% more field of view. Personally, I think I got the wrong laptop for my needs. I think for what I am doing, I would have been happier with keeping the desktop and buying the Averatec super thin/long battery model for much cheaper. I would lose the ability to game but I would gain all the true laptop advantages (true wireless mobility) and smaller size, not to mention better battery life. I think I will keep the 6130 for a while and see if it grows on me. The true test will be next month when I take a long trip to Hawaii. Just how mobile/convenient/useful the laptop proves to be are a few things that will be truly put to the test. For now it is ok. I do highly recommend Averatec to people on a budget. I am shocked at everything I got for $1187 USD. For my first, uneducated laptop purchase I am reasonably happy. The next time around I will have a better feel for what I need and will use. Do I recommend this particular Averatec? Yes, as long as battery life is not an issue. I also spoke with Averatec on the issue of batteries. They have no plans for a higher capacity battery for this model so until a 3rd party vendor makes one you’re kind of stuck next to a power outlet. I can’t think of anything this laptop can’t do for now! It is more of a desktop replacement than anything, so keep that in mind.
- Great DVD
- Lots of features for the low price
- Awesome Price
- Big HD
- DVD Burner
- Dedicated Video Ram
- No real heat issues
- Poor LCD Performance
- Not very ergonomic
- Needs some tweaking and some upgrades
- The case feels and looks cheap
- The wireless is spotty at times
- Battery life
- Not very mobile
- Too much processor for the laptop
Feel free to email me any questions you have on this particular laptop and I will try to answer them or comment on my review. I may have been wrong on a few points but remember I was going by my experience. I’m no expert. Just a guy that spent $1200 bucks on a laptop and wants to share my opinions with other people who are interested.
Pricing and Availability