HP Compaq 8510p User Review

by lungboy Reads (166,152)

The HP Compaq 8510p was released in August 2007 as is part of the "performance notebooks" in their business line. This means you get the Santa Rosa chipset, the magnesium alloy display enclosure, HP 3D Drive Guard and HP Protect software package. The specific unit being reviewed here is a preconfigured model (RM303UT). HP offers a number of pre-configurations varying processor speed, memory and operating system as well as the option to customize your setup.

Specs

  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo processor T7300 2GHz 4MB L2 cache 800MHz front side bus
  • Chipset: Mobile Intel PM965
  • Memory: 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
  • Hard drive: SATA 160GB 5400rpm, HP 3D DriveGuard
  • Removable media: DVD+/-RW
  • Display: 15.4" in WSXGA+
  • Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600, 256MB of video memory (512MB Hypermemory)
  • Audio: High Definition Audio, stereo speakers, stereo headphone/line out, stereo microphone in, integrated microphone
  • Wireless: Intel 802.11a/b/g (4965AG), Bluetooth 2.0
  • Communications: Intel Gigabit Network Connection (10/100/1000 NIC),9 56K v.92 modem
  • Expansion slots" One Type I/II PC Card slot supports 32-bit CardBus and 16-bit cards, Secure Digital slot
  • Ports and connectors: Four USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI, stereo microphone in, stereo headphone/line out, 1394a, power connector, RJ-11/modem, RJ-45/ethernet, docking connector, secondary battery connector
  • Dimensions: (h w d) 1.1" (at front) x 14.0" x 10.24"
  • Weight: 6.1 lbs (weight will vary by configuration)
  • Power: 8-cell Lithium-Ion Battery (73WHr) with HP Fast Charge, 90W HP Smart AC Adapter


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Reasons for Buying

My old laptop died and I researched for about a month before deciding on the 8510p. My broad requirements were a 15.4" WSXGA+ laptop with good battery life and XP Professional.  It came down to the 8510p and the T61. I actually purchased both units and because HP offers an unconditional 30-day return policy I opened it first (Lenovo has a horrible restocking fee policy).  Both systems were spec’d identically with the exception of battery capacity and video card.  I was worried that the 256MB dedicated card in the 8510p would kill battery life, so the first thing I did after setting up the 8510p was to test the battery. I played a 2h 10min DVD on default settings (60 percent brightness, Bluetooth on, wireless on) with audio playing through the laptop speakers. I was able to play the entire DVD plus have another 30 minutes of battery life to do some work on the internet. With that I was sold on the 8510 and returned the T61 without ever opening it.

This 8510p was purchased for $1,479 directly through HP via a phone representative.


The HP 8510p (right) compared to an Apple MacBook Pro (left) (view large image)

Build & Design

Overall the feel of this build is pretty solid. When carrying the laptop around I find that the DVD drive occasionally pops open (when power is on), but I think that tends to happy on any tray-based drive. There is not much flex in the screen, even when closing the top with one hand. Pushing from the back of the screen produces ripples in the LCD.

The case is a slightly blueish grey with black accents. The understated silver HP logo is a nice touch in an era when company logos seem to get bigger and bigger. Being a graphic designer, I’m not in love with the typeface used on the keys, but I don’t imagine many people would care about this. Each of the ports on the side is marked by a small icon on the edge of the keyboard. While useful, I could do without this as it clutters an otherwise minimal look.


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Screen  

The 8510p comes with a WSXGA+ screen (1680×1050). The screen is good quality, bright and easy to read. I had no dead pixels and did not detect much light leakage. I’ve been using the screen with brightness turned all the way up as it seems to produce the truest white color. One note, initially the "ambient light sensor" feature was enabled. Personally I find it disturbing to have the screen brightness constantly changing, especially because I was not aware of this feature at first and couldn’t figure out why my screen kept changing.


View of the screen at 100 percent brightness. (view large image)


Horizontal viewing angle. (view large image)


Vertical viewing angle. (view large image)

Speakers

The speakers are located along the front edge of the laptop, taking up about 75 percent of the area from left to right. I like this location as opposed to having speakers on the face of the keyboard. Sound seems to be less directed at you and more ambient. Audio is good, though bass is limited as one would expect on a business laptop. External speakers / headphones are a must if you want to listen to music or play games seriously. But for lighter applications, watching non-special effects driven movies, or games such as Civilization, these speakers are just fine.

Processor and Performance

The new Santa Rosa chipset is certainly an improvement over the Pentium M 755 laptop which died on me. The preconfigured unit came with 1GB RAM so for another $40 I added another 1GB Patriot dimm. (The benchmarks below are with 2GB RAM installed).

The ATI Radeon Mobility HD 2600 is a dedicated video card with 256MB ram. This is a new card and according to HP I have the newest drivers installed. However I’ve run into a few blue screens of death doing various operations. These seem to be video driver related as the ATI Catalyst software catches the errors before Windows does and allows you to stay in session.

I was able to run Bioshock with settings on "high."  I detected a slight choppiness at times, but this could be due to my trackball being a insensitive or the slower 5400rpm hard drive. Games such as Pirates! and Civilization run with no problems.

Benchmarks

Due to what seems to be a video driver issue I am not able to run either PCMark05 or 3DMark06. If/when this gets fixed I can post new benchmarks. In the meantime, I was able to run a few other tests.

Super Pi comparison results:

Super Pi forces the prcoessor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, below are some comparison results so you can see how the HP’s T7300 processor competes.

Notebook Time
HP Compaq 8510p (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
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
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s

HDTune results:


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PassMark results:

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Heat and Noise

I was a bit wary about buying an HP business laptop after reading about the fan noise issue with the 6710b. However, this machine is extremely quiet. During normal use I almost never hear the hard drive or the fan. In fact the fan really only comes on when playing games. Additionally there is heat buildup on the left front of the laptop (where your left palm rests). It is not unbearable but certainly noticeable.

Keyboard and Touchpad

I am very happy with the quality and feel of the keyboard. The keys have a bit of texture too them and I find it very easy to touch type with.  One annoyance I have is that there are two keys between the left CTRL and ALT (fn and Microsoft windows). I am continually pressing the fn key instead of CTRL and it is taking a bit of retraining on my part to compensate for this.

The stick pointer is average; nowhere as good as Lenovo’s. I find myself using the touch pad more. Both the touchpad and stick have three mouse buttons that have programmable functions. I programmed the middle button to be my right click.


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The 8510p also comes with a fingerprint reader. It works, but not perfectly. I really has the feel of an add-on component as opposed to something native to Windows. At times the function is greyed-out at the login screen (when come back from the screensaver or randomly on restart). The "credentials manager" software also has its quirks.  It is a separate program to manage your passwords (based on the fingerprint login) and seems to pop up at odd times. I’m not so sure I will continue using this feature.

Finally HP has incorporated a touch sensitive strip at the top of the keyboard called "HP Quicklaunch buttons."  There are customizable buttons to control various programs as well as a volume control and mute.  I find the volume control here particularly useful.

Input and Output Ports:  

The 8510p has four USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI, stereo microphone in, stereo headphone/line out, 1394a, power connector, RJ-11/modem, RJ-45/ethernet, docking connector, secondary battery connector.


Rear view with battery, power jack and VGA out. (view large image)


Front view with indicator lights and screen latch. (view large image)


Left side view with security lock slot, Ethernet port, firewire, vent, HDMI, two USB ports, PC Card slot, and memory card reader. (view large image)


Right side view with audio out, microphone in, two USB ports, optical drive and modem. (view large image)


Bottom view including the battery and docking station connector. (view large image)

Wireless

Along with the new Santa Rosa chipset you get Intel’s new 4965AG wireless setup. By far this is more solid than the 802.11g in my previous laptop. I have not had any dropped connections and no problem configuring various networks when traveling. Bluetooth also comes standard with this configuration. I was quickly able to connect to my phone and actually setup an internet connection via Sprint’s "phone as modem" feature.

Battery

The 8510p comes with an 8-cell battery which, thankfully, does not protrude like the T61 battery. As mentioned above, in my informal test I played a 2h 10min DVD and had about 30 minutes left over for normal usage. I regularly get more than three hours of battery life during normal usage (Word/Internet/Photoshop).  HP offers two additional batteries for this unit that SNAP ON to the base (good design idea). These are offered in 8-cell and 12-cell sizes, which effectively make your battery 16-cell or 20-cell.

Conclusion

The HP Compaq 8510p is a very good laptop for those looking for a low priced, quality machine with a dedicated graphics card and a clean design.  

Pros

  • Very quiet
  • Good build quality
  • Good performance
  • Understated, clean, sophisticated design
  • Only bloatware is Norton Protection Center
  • Fingerprint software is a bit quirky

Cons

  • Video driver issues under XP Pro
  • Left CTRL key is too far to the left
  • Lack of full-size FireWire port
  • Can someone make a lighted PC keyboard?


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