Compaq Presario C700t User Review

by jak3676 Reads (199,135)

by jak3676

The Compaq Presario C700T is HP’s current budget 15.4" widescreen notebook. It is available with limited configuration on-line from HP.com and is also available in retail stores. In case you see a few of them popping up on eBay it was recently offered as one of Best Buy’s door buster specials this holiday season. In a nutshell, I’d liken the C700T to Dell’s Vostro 1000 with a budget Intel processor.

Specifications:

  • 15.4" WXGA High-Definition HP BrightView (glossy) Widescreen Display (1280 x 800)
  • Intel(R) Pentium(R) dual core processor T2310 (1.46 GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB)
  • 1GB DDR2 System Memory (2x 512MB)
  • Intel(R) Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
  • Broadcom(R) 802.11b/g WLAN
  • Fujitsu MHY2120BH 120GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • Optiarc DVD RW AD-7560A 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • 6-cell, 44 watt-hour Lithium Ion Battery
  • Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
  • 14.1 (L) x 10.11 (W) x 1.29 (min H)/1.58" (max H)
  • 6.4 lbs
  • 1-year HP Accidental Damage Protection with Pick Up and Return

Reasons for Buying

My $500 Black Friday special from last year, a Cisnet ncl3001 "NASCAR Laptop" – a rebadged AOpen Notebook 2000, began having keyboard problems a few days after its 1-year warranty expired. It had been a terrible laptop all year with serious stability issues that were never resolved despite repeated efforts and returns. I hit the stores and websites this year looking for the best value I could get for a limited budget.

I only needed a basic laptop for general office work and web surfing. I am concerned with battery life, but I’ve never had any concerns with weight on my laptops (my favorite laptop of all time is still my old P-III Panasonic Toughbook, which tipped the scales at over 10-lbs). I haven’t been a gamer since leaving college years ago, but I do enjoy the occasional new strategy or RPG title. I did my research and figured that any of the modern IGP’s would suit my needs just fine.

When you limit yourself to about $500 there are not many alternatives to the 6-pound, 15.4", integrated graphics, budget Celeron or Sempron specials that seem to keep constantly showing up in all the weekend flyers. I decided that I would not settle for anything lower than an entry level dual-core processor and I didn’t want to mess with any sort of mail-in rebate. I expected at least a 100GB hard drive and a DVD burner with Vista Home Premium – everything else I considered to be gravy.

Shopping

There were several good special available at a variety of places this year. By the time I saw the really good on-line Dell Vostro specials they were already sold out. I watched all the Christmas sale flyers and hit the stores regularly for about a week. There were a few AMD-based Gateway models that were available in retail for a similar price, but the choices were pretty limited. I must say that there has been a great improvement in the budget laptop sector this year. Last year the only way to find anything less than $500 was to get one of the door-buster specials. Even then they were always a single-core, already obsolete notebook of questionable durability. This year there are several options for sub-$500 notebooks from all the big vendors that are generally available and even have current generation technology.

The Compaq Presario C714NR, regularly priced at $599, showed up on Best Buy’s website at $449 but promptly sold out. Best Buy’s weekly flyer priced it at $399 with limited availability. I woke up a bit early the day the sale started and was lucky enough to be number six in line with eight available at the store. By the time they opened there were about 100 people in line (which isn’t that bad if you’ve ever shopped the Black Friday sales on the East Coast). I had made my purchase and was out of the store before everyone in line had a chance to enter the building.

For those that missed the sale, be sure to check the "Laptop Deals" section in this site as they frequently post HP coupons. You probably won’t be able to find a model with a similar configuration for the price I paid, but low-end models do often drop to less than $500 with a good coupon.


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First Impressions

The Compaq came packed in a simple red box with just the Compaq name on the side. Only the sticker on the side gave any indication what was actually in the box. Inside the laptop had some custom Styrofoam holders that secured it by the ends preventing any sort of movement and keeping about 1½" of space on all sides of the notebook. There was a box for the AC adaptor and battery then a separate box for the warranty paperwork, a quick start guide and various offers from a few companies that had undoubtedly paid to have their bloatware added to my machine. The packaging was rather simplistic, but it gets the job done.

There was no media at all included in the box. Rather, the necessary recovery files are stored on a separate partition on the hard drive with the option to burn a single copy of the restoration media. To burn a copy of the restoration image takes 10 CD’s, 2 DVD’s or a single dual-layer DVD. The restoration disks will only restore the system to factory defaults – with all the bloatware installed. There is no included option for a clean Vista install.

Build and Design

After pulling it out of the Styrofoam and giving it a once over, my first thought was, "Well, at least no one will want to steal it." No kidding, this thing is ugly. I thought at fist my perception was skewed by the beautiful Gateway T-1616 I picked up at the same time. But even after a few weeks I still dislike the appearance of the Compaq C700T Series. I guess styling is the least of the concerns for those of us shopping on a budget.

The top cover is a textured matte black plastic with an aluminum Compaq styled letter "Q" sticker inset into the plastic. No real complaints here – looks simple enough and gets the job done.


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Opening the top is pretty easy. There is no latch to lock it in place, just a stiff hinge. The hinges are stiff enough to hold the screen at any desired angle. It cannot be opened with one hand as you’ll need to hold the base in place while you push back on the screen. The hinge actually sits behind the main portion of the laptop, making it deeper than most 15.4" models when the screen is open. Not a real problem, but it makes the screen seem a lot lower than my previous laptops which put the hinge on top.

The base of the keyboard surround is a grayish-silver plastic with a black keyboard and white letters. The overall look of the laptop is black with some gray accents. It is plastic throughout, but seems durable. As you can see on some of the profile shots, the grey plastic surrounding the keyboard has a lip that sticks out about 1/8 of an inch. I can’t possibly tell what the designers were thinking other than to make an already big and heavy notebook look bigger than is necessary. It is ugly, but at least it’s not a flashy ugly.

The power button is top center with Wi-Fi button to the left. There are two Altec Lansing speakers above the keyboard. They aren’t as bad as some of the speakers I’ve had on laptops, but they’re not the best either. Bass is a bit distorted and they aren’t quite loud enough, but I suppose that’s the same complaint I hear about every laptop. If you want to watch a movie on a plane, stick to headphones. For the occasional movie sitting around the living room, the speakers are adequate.


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Keyboard and Touchpad

There is a little keyboard flex, but not as much as I’ve had on previous laptops and not so much to be bothersome. It has all the standard 86-keys, and the "ctrl’ is to the outside of the function key (where it belongs). There is a light to the left of caps lock that turns blue when caps lock is activated – not a bad touch for a budget laptop.


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Wi-Fi button lights up, blue when enabled, red when disabled.


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The touchpad is the same color gray-silver plastic as the palm rest and the rest of the keyboard surround, but the touchpad does have a black plastic piece surrounding it. The touchpad is fairly large with horizontal and vertical scroll areas and a built in and a button to disable the touchpad. There is a touchpad on/off indicator light that lights up blue when enabled and red when disabled; another nice touch for a budget system.


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The lower left corner has status lights for power, charging indicator, disk usage and Wi-Fi. These are similarly labeled on the outside cover and they are still visible when the lid is closed.

Ports and Expansion

The bottom has two user removeable covers. The first covers the hard drive and the second has the CPU, both RAM slots, and the Broadcom wireless card.


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In case there was any doubt, the CPU is soldered directly to the motherboard – there is basically no chance of upgrading the CPU any time in the future.


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Left side: Power jack, vent, modem, LAN, VGA, S-Video, USB. The DC jack does light blue when the unit is connected to AC power. These are all the ports I expected to find on the rear of laptop. I can live with the power cord (at least it’s towards the back), but it really bothers me having the Ethernet, VGA port and the USB port that far forward on the left side. All the wires that I used to hide behind my laptop and now plainly visible. There also appears to be a location for a memory card reader, but none was included or available on-line. Thankfully for us right hand mouse users, the heat vent is to the left, but even when I make a point of checking I’ve never felt any noticeable heat coming out from the vent. The fan does spin up from time to time, but I can’t hear anything above the ambient noise in my house. For those of you that are left-handed mousers, ugh – sorry, you’ll have to deal with all the wires and the vent.


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Right side: 2x USB ports, DVD +/- R&RW (dual layer), Kensington lock slot. Again the port placement really bothers me. All the USB ports are on the leading edge. When I use either my wired or wireless mouse the plug gets in my way.


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Back: Absolutely nothing, even the battery installs underneath. Is it too much to ask to have the ability to hide your cords, or at least get them out of the way? With the way HP arranged the other ports I was afraid I would have found the headset jack hiding in the back, but at least they got that right.


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Front: headphone out, microphone in – simple enough.


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Screen

The C700T comes with a glossy 15.4" WXGA screen. There are no options for other resolutions or for a matte finish. There is fairly major light leakage around the top and bottom edges. The viewing angle seems fine. The vertical angles seem about average. If you move too much above center, the screen will wash out and if you move too low, everything will turn black. The horizontal angles are better than average. You can almost perpendicular with the screen and still see clearly. I have more problems with reflections then I do with viewing angle.

Microphone

The C700T comes with a built-in microphone above the screen. This is great for skype or other VOIP applications. I would have liked a webcam option, but no luck.

Operating System

The only OS options are Vista Home Basic (32-bit) or Vista Home Premium (32-bit). I was afraid that Vista Premium would be overkill for this laptop, but it seems to run fine with 1 GB or RAM and the Intel T2310 CPU. It won’t set any speed records, but it runs fine for office aps and some heavy web browsing. Seeing as swapping out both sticks of RAM for 1GB each (2GB total) will only cost you about $50 and they are so easy to swap, I’d recommend that for everyone. But contrary to what many may tell you, it is possible to run Vista with only 1GB of RAM, even with the IGP stealing 1/8 to 1/4 of that.

Software

This HP wasn’t as bad as I’m used to in terms of bloatware. There are a lot of HP utilities that are running by default. I’m generally not a fan of anything other than the bare OS running, but some of the utilities are actually useful.

HP includes a utility for wireless access, and for updating drivers that I left installed. My system also came with the lightscribe utility installed and running by default which was curious as the included DVD drive is not lightscribe capable. The usual 30-day trial of Norton Anti-Virus and MS Office Live were included. I can’t really fault HP for including these, but they still had to go. Then there were the typical AOL and Rapsody clients as well as some other useless junk. Overall I spent about two hours uninstalling excess stuff. For comparison, the Gateway I bought the same day took me twice as long to clean up.

Vista is generally better than XP in terms of security, but there are still a few extraneous services and processes running; anyone with a new OS install should really take some time to learn every service, process, dll and executable that is running at startup or in the background. (Look in the forums for a few good guides.) Quite a few of the default settings, for EVERY OS out there (except maybe OpenBSD) are just taking up extra memory and CPU cycles without giving you any benefit. Many even have vulnerabilities associated with them that can easily allow someone to do lots of malicious activity to your system.

Benchmarks and Performance

I ran all the benchmarks below after letting the HP advisor update the various drives and Windows patches. I ran all the benchmarks with the factory 1GB of RAM, then I upgraded to 2GB and reran the benchmarks. There was basically no change in the benchmarks – a few scored a little bit better and some scored a hair worse which is statistically insignificant.

Super Pi: I ran Super Pi to 2 Million digits in 1 minute and 36 seconds. That’s pretty slow, but it’s not bad for a budget processor.

Super Pi comparison results:

Notebook

Time

HP Compaq Presario C714NR (1.46GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T2310)

1m 36s

Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500)

0m 55s

Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)

0m 59s

Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)

0m 58s

Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)

1m 01s

Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)

0m 59s

HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100)

1m 09s

Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300)

0m 59s

Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200)

1m 03s

Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300)

1m 24s

Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo)

1m 34s


WPrime:
The wPrime32M speed test yielded 57.764 seconds which was better than I expected, but still not too good.

wPrime 32M comparison results:

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M

time

HP Compaq Presario C714NR (1.46GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T2310)

57.764s

Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)

37.485s

Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz)

41.908s

Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz)

58.233s

Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)

38.343s

Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)

37.299s

HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)

40.965s

Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz)

76.240s

Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)

42.385s

Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)

37.705s

Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz)

38.327s

Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)

38.720s

Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz)

42.218s

Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz)

42.947s

Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz)

44.922s

Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz)

45.788s

Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz)

46.274s

Samsung R20 (Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73GHz)

47.563s


PCMark05 results:

I initially scored 3,174 … then I upgraded to 2GB RAM and reran the benchmark for 3,236.

PCMark05 comparison results:

Notebook

PCMark05 Score

HP Compaq Presario C714NR (1.46GHz Intel T2310, Intel X3100)

3,174 PCMarks

Dell Vostro 1400 (1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5470, NVidia 8400m GS)

3,853 PCMarks

Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA 8400M)

4,618 PCMarks

Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)

3,377 PCMarks

Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)

4,591 PCMarks

Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)

4,153 PCMarks

Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)

3,987 PCMarks

Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)

4,189 PCMarks

HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)

4,234 PCMarks

Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)

3,487 PCMarks

Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)

3,637 PCMarks


3DMark05 results:

The HP advisor updated the Intel Drivers to version 7.14.10.1350. With that version the notebook scored 675 on 3DMark05 and it would not run 3DMark06. I checked Intel.com and saw that version 7.14.10.1364 was available. After upgrading to 2GB RAM and updating the driver I scored 684.

3DMark05 comparison results:

Notebook

3D Mark 05 Results

HP Compaq Presario C714NR (1.46GHz Intel T2310, Intel X3100)

675 3DMarks

Dell Vostro 1400 (1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5470, NVidia 8400m GS)

2,942 3DMarks

Dell Latitude D830 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Nvidia Quadro NVS 140m 256MB)

3,063 3DMarks

Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA 8400M)

1,925 3DMarks

Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)

910 3DMarks

Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)

3,116 3DMarks

HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100)

916 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

Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)

2,092 3D Marks

Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)

2,273 3DMarks

 

HDtune results:


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Windows Experience Index:


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Heat and Noise

The C700T is very quiet. The fan stayed off or on low speed constantly for the first month I owned it. I didn’t even know it had a higher speed until I ran a few benchmarks at the same time I was trying to watch a movie. I had been running at near 100% CPU usage for several minutes and then the fan kicked into high speed for a few seconds. I was also surprised that the fan only kicked it into high gear that one time. There was a little bit of heat out from the left side of the notebook when I was running some stress tests, but for the most part it runs cool and I can’t feel any heat coming out. The left palm rest did get a little bit warm when I was running benchmarks, but it never got uncomfortable.

Battery Life

I set the current power plan to "HP Recommended", but kept the screen at 100% brightness and the WiFi on, then ran a constant anti-virus check and a few benchmarks while I browsed the web. I pretty much kept one core running at 100%, and the second core never dropped below 30% and probably averaged 50% utilization. The Compaq lasted for exactly two hours before going into sleep mode with 5% battery left.

For a second test I set the power plan to "Power Savings" and let the screen stay at 50% brightness while running a DVD. This time it lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes before the DVD player kicked me back to the desktop with 10% battery life remaining – so there may have been as much at 10 more minutes available.

The standard battery is a 6-cell, 44 watt-hour lithium ion battery. This Compaq isn’t going to set any longevity records either, but it did test better than the other budget systems I’d been looking at. I go back and forth on AMD vs. Intel and I’m generally an AMD fan, but Intel systems do have generally better battery life at the moment.

Service and Support

I really cannot speak to HP’s or Best Buy’s service on this laptop as I haven’t had any issues with it. HP does include "1-year HP Accidental Damage Protection with Pick Up and Return" which is pretty much standard. If you’d like further information on HP’s support, I’d recommend the HP site on the forums.

Conclusion

The Compaq Presario C714NR was an excellent buy for the $400 price I was lucky enough to find. As of time of submission I see that it is available at Best Buy or HP.com with an upgraded CPU (T2330, 1.6GHz) for $500. Keep your eye on the laptop deals section of the forum for the occasional coupon code that can drop the price even more.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my purchase. Sure, there are a lot of "better" laptops out there, but you’ll have a tough time finding one for a better price. In terms of price-to-performance comparisons, I’d put this one near the top. For those looking for just the basic mobile computing solution, the C700 series is worth looking into. It also makes a good second laptop for the kids. If you need something with more horsepower, you’ll need to look elsewhere, but for those of us with simple needs this fits the bill and uses all current generation technology which is a great improvement over what’s been available in the budget laptop realm in recent years.

Pros:

  • Excellent Price!
  • Good build quality – especially at this price
  • Hardware buttons for touchpad and WiFi
  • All the keyboard buttons are in the right place
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Port placement is terrible – none on the back side
  • Severely limited configuration options available
  • Only three USB ports, no FireWire, no card reader, no PC-Card or Express-Card slot
  • No OS disk provided, only the ability to burn a recovery disk


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