by Nathan Huth, Texas USA
I am a freshman at Texas Lutheran University. I was tired of having to use the school’s mediocre systems for schoolwork, if I could even get on one. I was in the market for my first computer. I have used many computers in the past, including one laptop, but this one is first one that is all mine. I saved up money and had a budget of around $850. It had to be a laptop so I could use my computer at school and my home. It had to be easily portable, but not so small I couldn’t read it. It also needed it to have good battery life so I wouldn’t have to plug it in while I was at school. It also had to have decent graphics to play my games. A decent hard drive and a CD-RW drive were also necessary for my music collection.
Where, How, and What I Purchased
When I first started looking around, I had the mindset to just buy the cheapest Centrino laptop I could find. My mindset quickly changed when I spoke with a sales consultant at a brick-and-mortar store. I told him my situation, and he recommended the Compaq Presario V2000Z. He also told me that the graphics in this system can handle my games a lot better than the Centrinos. The price tag was the only thing that worried me, $1200! That was way out of my budget. I noticed that it was fully loaded with a DVD+-RW drive, a firewire port, and a card reader. I didn’t need those things, so I decided to try my luck with the HPShopping.com site to configure the system that fit my needs and budget. I came up with the following:
- AMD Turion 64 ML-30
- 14″ Widescreen XGA Display (1280×768)
- 128 MB Shared ATI RADEON XPRESS 200M
- 512 MB Shared RAM (1×512) (Later Upgraded To 1024 MB)
- 60 GB 4200 RPM Toshiba Hard Drive
- DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
- Broadcom 54g 802.11 b/g WLAN w/ SpeedBooster
- 12-Cell Battery
- Altec Lansing Speakers
Total price: $855.22 minus a $50 mail-in rebate. I would put this laptop in the budget category. The dimensions are 13.15″ (L) x 9.1″ (W) x 1.29″ (min H)/1.53″ (max H). Although I have not officially weighed it yet, from what I read weight should be approximately six pounds with the 12-cell battery.
Build & Design
Compaq Presario V2000Z (larger)
The basic design is black on the outside, silver on the inside. I like this look; it’s different from what everyone else has. My only squabble about the black outside is that it is a little too bland. Upgrades are very easy thanks to the separate, labeled compartments. Heat is not really in issue with this laptop, it runs quite cool. Heat only becomes a problem when playing video games. The fan will constantly be on, at different speeds, but nonetheless on, while playing games.
Build-quality is mediocre. I expected this from a budget system. The case is made of reinforced plastic which is pretty sturdy. The hinges are made very strong, although the display likes opening a little too easily when I pick it up. I do get ripples when I push on the lid. The two latches used to keep the laptop closed are the sturdiest component on this laptop. My biggest complaint about the build-quality is the optical-drive. It does not close flush against the side of the laptop. When you try picking it you’re your finger right under the “DVD-ROM” label, the compartment goes into the drive a little right inside the cover. Also pushing your thumb into the case right above the case right on the edge over the drive, it gives some and goes into the drive as well. When I say go into the drive, I mean by trivial amounts, nothing too serious. It just makes me feel a little uneasy when it happens.
The widescreen is perfect for viewing movies in their native resolution or for having a word processor and internet browser open side-by-side. The screen can easily be made to be bright enough for any use. I have it at 30% brightness to conserve battery. I turned up the brightness and contrast using the ATI software so I don’t turn up the brightness on the display for anything anymore. The V2000Z came with zero dead pixels and has constant, even lighting across the entire display.
Altec Lansing Speakers on Either Side (larger)
The Altec Lansing speakers are very impressive and shine while playing DVD movies. They can be turned up, while losing minimal quality. At regular listening volumes, every detail can be heard. Another bonus is where the speakers are placed. They are located at the front of the laptop. This means you can close the lid and still listen to music. The speakers are one of the shining features of this laptop that sets it above the average when it comes to budget laptops.
Drives & Storage
The included DVD/CD-RW drive initially had a problem where it would not recognize burned CDs. HP did not have the correct firmware on their site, so I was forced to let Windows reinstall the drive. This fixed my problem. I have used the drive since without incident. The read, write, and rewrite speeds on the drive are all 24x. This must be the limit for laptops. The quality of the installation of the drive is very poor (please see “Build & Design”). My system came with a 60 GB 4200 RPM hard drive. With all my programs loaded, I am using about a third of the hard drive. Accessing times with this hard drive can be slow at times (details next section).
Processor & Performance
I am amazed with the speed of this laptop. I actually have a computer that can keep up with me! Using bootvis.exe from Microsoft and my 1024 MB RAM, boot-up time is around 30 seconds (give or take three seconds). The system only slows down when handling huge files (hundreds of MB files). For example, opening a 903 MB setup file takes some time (a minute or two). Also moving large amounts of files (hundred of MBs) can take a few seconds. Opening games can take a little while, but closing them is a flash. These slowdowns are caused by the slower 4200 RPM hard drive. Using a program called fraps, I measured my frames per second while playing my games. I can play (15 fps) Half-life 2 at full 1280×768 resolution at medium-high settings (trilinear filtering) and all the other special effects and filtering turned off. I play (20 fps) America’s Army at 1024×768 with all the settings maxed out. Far Cry can be easily played (30 fps) at the default 1024×768 resolution with low settings and medium texture filtering quality.
Below are the results gained from running Super Pi, a program that forces the laptop’s processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy:
|Compaq Presario v2000z (AMD Turion 64 ML-30)||2m 14s|
|Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 41s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
Below are the results gained from running PCMark04 and 3DMark05 on the v2000z (AMD 1.6GHz, $850 cost), the numbers are compared to the Dell XPS M140 (1.86GHz, $1,150 cost).
|Futuremark PCMark04 Scores|
|Dell XPS M140 (1.86GHz Penitum M, Intel graphics)||Compaq v2000z (AMD Turion 64 ML-30)|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression||3.32 MB/s||2.48 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption||26.66 MB/s||24.51 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression||23.46 MB/s||19.66 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing||10.87 MPixels/s||9.75 MPixels/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning||1866.81 MB/s||1454.17 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check||2.85 KB/s||2.41 KB/s|
|File Decryption||53.74 MB/s||49.09 MB/s|
|Audio Conversion||2478.85 KB/s||2110.84 KB/s|
|Web Page Rendering||5.53 Pages/s||4.15 Pages/s|
|DivX Video Compression||50.35 FPS||42.96 FPS|
|Physics Calculation and 3D||98.57 FPS||68.99 FPS|
|Graphics Memory – 64 Lines||479.95 FPS||474.09 FPS|
|Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores|
|3DMark Score||274 3DMarks||504 3D Marks|
|CPU Score||2281 CPUMarks||3019 CPUMarks|
|GT1 – Return To Proxycon||1.1 FPS||2.2 fps|
|GT2 – Firefly Forest||0.9 FPS||1.7 fps|
|GT3 – Canyon Flight||1.4 FPS||2.2|
|CPU Test 1||1.3 FPS||1.8 fps|
|CPU Test 2||1.8 FPS||2.2 fps|
As you can see above, results are close, but the Presario v2000z is much cheaper than the Dell XPS M140 so the price to performance ratio is better for this AMD machine.
Below are the results gained from running HDTune on the Presario v2000z so you can see the performance of the hard drive.
|HD Tune Results|
|Transfer Rate Average||20.7 MB/s|
|Burst Rate||65.7 MB/s|
Keyboard & Touchpad
keyboard and touchpad (larger)
The keyboard is very responsive and does not “flex” one bit. It has dedicated buttons for volume control and a one-touch WLAN on-off button. The touchpad is just as responsive. It has built-in dedicated areas for vertical and horizontal scrolling.
Below are pictures of each side of the Presario v2000z and a list of all ports you get with this notebook:
L To R: Power, HDD, AC LEDs, Release Button, Microphone and Headphone Jacks (larger image)
L to R: VGA-out, LAN, Modem USB Port, PC Slot, and Lock Slot (larger image)
12-Cell Battery, Air Vent, AC Plug (larger image)
L to R: USB Port, Optical Drive, S-Video-out (larger image)
- 2 USB 2.0 Ports (one on each side)
- 10/100 Ethernet LAN
- Integrated 56K Modem
- PC Card Slot
The internal Broadcom 54g 802.11 b/g WLAN w/ SpeedBooster has amazing speed and range. I get my signal when I’m in my next-door neighbor’s house. I have four connections available inside my house
Battery life using the optional 12-cell battery with my normal usage is about four hours. This includes a half-hour session of a video game. For just browsing the web, battery life extends to just on the other side of five hours. With WLAN off, battery life is right at five and a half hours. The base 6-cell battery gets half those times. The 12-cell is twice the size of the 6-cell, so it does stick out of the back and lifts up the laptop at the back. This makes typing easier and helps with air ventilation to help keep the temperature down.
Operating System & Software
The Compaq Presario V2000Z comes standard with Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 2, a $79 upgrade gets you Professional. Compaq provides a CD with the original software as well as a separate disc for Windows XP. The included software with any system is:
- Symantec Norton Antivirus 2005 (includes 60 days of complimentary live updates)
- Sonic RecordNow 7.x
- InterVideo WinDVD 5.1
- InterVideo WinDVD Creator (when configured with a DVD+/-RW)
- InterVideo Home Theater
- Apple iTunes for Windows
- Muvee AutoProducer 4.x
- Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.1
- Adobe Photoshop Album 2.1
- Microsoft Windows Media Player 10
- Microsoft(R) Works/Money
This list does not include the multiple HP programs that come preloaded with your system. These HP programs bog down the system, so I just uninstalled all of them. None of the programs are essential.
The Compaq V2000Z comes standard with a 90 day software/1 year hardware warranty. This includes free 24/7 phone/email/chat tech support. The standard warranty protects against hardware failure, not accidental damage. You have to pay extra for accidental damage protection. Customer support email is very helpful. My experience with chat was horrible. I have not yet had a problem where I had to call technical support.
My biggest complaint is about how the optical drive is installed. It may cause it to break. Look under “Build & Design” for the details.
I have to give this laptop praises for its ability to perfectly balance graphical performance and battery life.
- Inexpensive Widescreen
- Good Looks (When Opened)
- AMD Turion-powered
- ATI Graphics
- Altec Lansing Speakers
- One-touch Wireless
- Volume Control Buttons
- Bland Exterior Looks
- Cheaply-installed Optical Drive
I recommend this laptop to anyone who is on a budget and looking for a portable gaming machine that won’t break the bank. I also recommend this laptop for anyone who doesn’t want to stick to the norm and wants to go with the alternative AMD processor.
Pricing and Availability: Compaq Presario V2000Z Pricing
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