Compaq R4125 Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (40,115)

by Ali Tarbhai, Canada

Compaq Presario R4125CA Review

First let me start off with some background insight on my purchase. My first laptop was the Compaq Presario R3055CA which had a P4 2.4GHZ processor.  Soon after buying it though,  I decided to sell it off since I wanted a better laptop, the R3055 convinced me that I liked the Presario brand name though.  So, I moved on to get a Compaq Presario R4035 and it ran great for about a month until the laptop overheated and the processor was shot. After about a month of arguing and pain, I finally received a resolution offer from Staples (the store I had purchased it from) saying that they would give me the Presario R4125, although I would have to pay another $100 to get it. I had bought the R4035CA for $1439 and they said they would give me a credit of $1299 and the R4125 was $1399.  So I lost $100 for nothing. This was annoying, although there was nothing I could do, so I followed through and purchased the Compaq Presario R4125CA.

Compaq Presario R4125 15″ screen notebook (view larger image)

Overview and Introduction:

The Compaq Presario R4125CA is considered a desktop replacement style notebook due to its size and weight. The laptop features an AMD Athlon 3500+ 64 Bit Processor which clocks in at 2.2GHZ of speed.  It contains 512MB DDR RAM, and has a plentiful 100GB Hard Drive for all of those files. Not only that but this laptop boasts an ATI Radeon Xpress 200M Video card with 128MB Dedicated and the ability to double it to 256MB if you’re willing to share your system RAM. As for the display it’s great for any movie fanatic, not only is it 15.4″, but the screen has a nice glossy finish.  It’s WXGA with a 1280×800 resolution. Ports included are a 6 in 1 Memory Card Reader, 1 PCI EXPRESS Card Reader, 1 PCMIA Card Reader, 1 Fire wire Port, 1 Headphone Jack, 1 Mic Jack, 4 USB 2.0 Ports, 1 Network Card, 1 S-Video Out, 1 Video Out, 1 Wireless b/g Card and a DVD-RW Drive. Below is a list with all the specs lined out

  • Processor Type  AMD Athlon 64 3500+
  • Screen Size  15.4″
  • RAM (Preloaded / Maximum)  512MB DDR RAM
  • Hard Drive  100GB 4200RPM
  • Optical Drives  DVD R/RW and CD-RW Combo Drive with Double Layer Support
  • Graphics  ATI Radeon Xpress 200M IGP With 128MB
  • Average Battery Life  Up To 3 Hours
  • Product Weight  2.9 kg
  • Audio Type  Altec Lansing
  • Battery Type  8-Cell Lithium-Ion
  • Cache  512KB L2
  • Fax/Modem  High Speed 56K
  • I/O Ports  4 USB 2.0, 1 Line In, 1 Line Out, 1 Fire wire, 1 RJ45, 1 S-video, 1 Video Out, 1 RJ9
  • Included In Box  Charger, Adapter, Manuals
  • Network Card  Integrated 10/100Base-T Ethernet LAN
  • Other Software  Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005
  • PC Card Slots  1 PCI XPRESS, 1 PCMIA, 6 in 1 Memory Card Reader
  • Pointing Device  Touchpad
  • Preloaded Operating System  Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition SP2
  • Processor Speed  2.2GHz
  • Product Dimensions  33.4(W) x 4.5(H) x 27.4(D) cm
  • Screen Type  WXGA High-Def Bright View Widescreen
  • Speakers  Altec Lansing
  • System Bus  Up To 2200MHz
  • Warranty  1 Year

Those are the specs on the laptop and it may seem complicated but its not, in general terms the computer is powerful enough for most applications even demanding ones. The processing power is very good due to the many features packed in although I myself felt that another 512MB RAM would have greatly helped the laptop. The processing power didn’t surprise me as it is meant to be a desktop replacement.

Reasons for Buying:

I bought this laptop due to the fact that I was looking for a powerful laptop and I needed something new. Although I strongly feel that their customer service and servicing time has dropped.  When I had my R3055CA service was great, although now I find it is becoming worse and worse. Their customer support toll free line always takes a long time to answer, although I like the fact it is open 24/7 so during off peak hours you can get in contact with somebody fairly easily.

I also bought this laptop for the looks, I found the appearance to be very appealing. HP/Compaq are now the same company and the Presario and Pavillion are the exact same units with different branding and slightly different looks. The Pavillion has a silver top and a black interior whereas the Presario has a black exterior and a silver interior. So the colors are reversed. I think if you are going to bring your laptop out a lot you would prefer the Presario since the top is dark blue it will be harder to see the scratches.

Where and How Purchased:

I purchased my Presario R4125CA at Staples in Canada for a total of $1,608.05 including taxes which comes to roughly $1,372.32USD. This makes the laptop a very cheap laptop if you’re on a budget and proves to be a good price to feature ratio. The HP models are a lot more expensive and sport most of the same specs, but in the end they are almost the same unit.  So if you’re on a budget and in Canada, you’ll find the Presario line to be cheaper.

Build & Design:

The Compaq Presario R4125CA was built to impress. It looks good in many ways, especially with the dark Bbue exterior and the sleek silver interior. It feels sturdy although it’s not a Tough Book where you’re willing to try to drop it. Every single time that I’ve accidentally dropped it, I look all around for scratches or cracks although it seems like a pretty tough cookie and it shouldn’t be considered weak but it shouldn’t be considered a tank in terms of build either. The laptop is quite heavy, although being only 100lbs. myself I feel that it is fairly easy to use and hold on your lap, but it does get quite hot.  You shouldn’t block the fans because it will then overheat. The AMD processors aren’t that great since it’s a driver that controls the temperature, and if the driver which is basically a piece of software begins to malfunction then you’re at a loss since it will be unprotected and, just like my R4035, the CPU might overheat.  I feel that HP and Compaq haven’t addressed this situation properly. This is one of the main reasons I do not like AMD and would prefer a P4 processor with its on die temperature protection which has an extra chip to do just that instead of a driver.

I also find that HP has done a poor job with the RAM, they always put in two sticks on all of their laptops which will cause trouble when you want to upgrade your RAM. The reason being that only 1 stick can be user replaced whereas the other would need the laptop to be disassembled.

There have been a couple of design issues that HP has improved and these were suggestions that I made to them in the past.  It seems that maybe they do take the customers suggestions into mind. The first change they made was moving the wireless buttons and the volume buttons from the side to the top of the keyboard on the laptop.  On the sides of the keyboard your hands would always somehow accidentally press the buttons which would turn off your wireless connection or volume would get faded.  Another problem was the power connector, the adaptor used to be a circle and would always end up breaking the pin inside and would have to be sent in to get fixed.  They have now made their own proprietary cable and this has solved a lot of problems, plus it can be inserted any side which is just great.

R4125 front side

Presario R4125 right side

Presario R4125 left side

Presario R4125 back side

Presario R4125 top view

Presario R4125 underside view

Screen:

The screen is a beautiful 15.4″ 1280×800 resolution screen and can’t be complained about.  It has a nice glossy look (Brite View) and it is extremely bright, although I have noticed if it’s closed and you decide to open it then it tends to take about a minute to become as bright as it should be.  Although there may be a small light leak on the bottom right side it’s not enough to tell and in general doesn’t create a problem.
 
Speakers:

The speakers are made by Altec Lansing which is one of the best companies for speakers and I feel that the speakers are extremely clear and sharp.  The volume isn’t the loudest and I would prefer it to be louder, although if you really want that bass then you should really buy external speakers. As for people who say there is no line-in, it’s not true, the line-in is the Mic port and is as sharp as a line-in port should be so that shouldn’t be of any worry. As for the line-in/out ports, you may want to be careful removing the connection when you do because if you pull it on an angle the black rings on the connectors do fall out although they can be put back in.
 
Processor and Performance:

The processor is an AMD Athlon 64Bit 3500+ 2.2GHZ Processor. It doesn’t take too long to go from boot to windows.  I timed about 18 seconds, although I usually just put it to hibernate or standby if I know I will get back on it within a day since the power consumption is a minimal in these modes. The hard drive is only 4200RPM which proved to be quite slow, although there’s no point of spending more to get one since I found it’s good enough and didn’t prove to be the biggest of problems. The 512MB RAM does prove to be not enough and I would have preferred 1GB RAM and am probably going to upgrade it.

The laptop did hang a lot when I first had it although for some reason now it doesn’t seem to do it too much, although I still feel that more RAM would be very beneficial. The games which I played really played properly.  When I had my Presario R4035 it burnt out while I was playing Battlefield 2, it overheated and shot the processor. Below is a shot of the processor through CPU-Z to see the power.


Benchmarks: 

Below are the results for calculating Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy using the program Super Pi:

Notebook  Time
 Compaq R4125CA (AMD Athlon 64 3500+)  2m 11s
 Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 6s
 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
 Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)  1m 57s
 HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)  1m 53s
 Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s

HD Tune Hard Drive Benchmark results –


 
Keyboard and Touchpad:

Presario R4125 keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is sleek and silver looking, it would be better if it was a nice white like the Apple laptops. The keys are easy to use and feel just like a regular desktop keyboard so it’s easy to type. The touchpad is one of the best in its class. I like the button that allows you to switch it off because it’s really annoying when your hands hit the touchpad as your typing.  The ability to physically turn off the touchpad really does help. I would have preferred the ridges like the HP model rathre than the orange lines, but it’s not a big deal.
 
Input and Output Ports:

The laptop has 4 USB 2.0 Ports, Fire wire, there is a Memory Card Reader for all types but Compact Flash Card. You can output using the S Video Output and  there is a normal Video output to a Monitor and PCMIA and PCI Express Card Inputs. There is an output for the expansion base which is one of the best in the market. There is a sound card in and out port for an output and a mic. There is one for the Modem and the normal network not to mention the Wireless Card. I find one of the things they should have included which most laptops don’t have but should, is parallel and serial ports, they should either include it or include a USB converter because personally I don’t want to have to buy a third party one or pay extra (and I mean a lot extra for an original HP one).

Wireless:

The laptop comes with an 802.11b/g Wireless Card, the antennas are located on the LCD one on the left and one on the right of the silver Latch which gives you an optimal signal if your LCD is up. The switch which makes it possible for you to turn it off physically is also very good and makes it all that much easier. The fact that there is no infrared really wasn’t all that great and I didn’t appreciate that there was no Bluetooth, you would think that with all the new technology in Bluetooth it would be an option and the fact that it wasn’t is bad. I also don’t appreciate the fact that they advertise Bluetooth ready which makes you think it comes with Bluetooth, but it really means that the drivers are already installed.

Battery:

The battery is okay and lasts about 2 hours and 30 minutes with next to no usage.  With a game it lasts even less, maybe 1 hour. It all depends on how much power it’s using. I haven’t looked into extra capacity batteries.

Operating System and Software:

The system came with Windows XP Home with SP2 and comes with all the disks and manuals you would need. It’s really great because if you lose the manuals/cds and call HP/Compaq they will send out a replacement next day air, which is very surprising since it costs more for the shipping than the cd/manual itself. The software included is minimal yet comes with a lot of small things and help stuff which makes it easier for a new user to get acquainted with their new Presario. The one software included that is full version and not a trial is Norton Antivirus 2005, although I myself hate these programs because they slow the computer down dramatically and seem very intrusive.

Customer Support:

The customer support variety offered by HP is good, they have customer support of all types including live, phone and email.  What I don’t like is that at congested times (day time) the wait time for phone support is very long. The other fact I don’t like is you can’t upgrade the warranty later on in time and can only be purchased at time of purchase, which is not good compared to Dell where system warranty can be bought anytime as long as the warranty you currently have is still active.

Conclusion:

In the end I found that this laptop is a great buy as it matches price with quality and power. I think it’s something that a lot of people would be happy with. The weight is a downside, but as long as you don’t mind carrying a 7.85lbs laptop it’s okay.  I always carry it around with me without too much problem, but if you are carrying it in a bag on your shoulder and continuously walking it can get quite heavy. Otherwise, for the power and processing capability that the Presario R4125 has it’s good for games, work, movies and anything else your heart may desire.

Pricing and Availability: Compaq Presario R4125


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