HP nc8430 With Core 2 Duo Review — Part 2

by Reads (20,027)

Gaming Performance

EDITED: Hitman pointed out the settings on Oblivion were a little low, and since then I’ve found FRAPS to have been the reason for that lower performance. I have since updated the settings I use, and corrected this post. Sorry for the confusion everyone!

While not working on campus or doing homework, I wanted a notebook that could play the latest games at decent settings with high quality visuals…that’s why I purchased this notebook. To that end, after a trip to the local Best Buy store, I walked out with Oblivion and Need for Speed: Most Wanted and quickly drove home to install it and test it out for this review!

Also, the computer was configured with the ATI Mobility Catalyst 6.9 Drivers, which were just released this week. I originally had the 6.8 drivers installed on the PC.


With the help of a few forum members (thank you), I was able to find my comfort zone between eye-candy, resolution, and frames per second in this graphics intensive RPG. The settings below are what I’m currently using:

Video Quality Presets: Hit High

Resolution: 1280 x 768 (Widescreen)

Anti Aliasing: None

Mode: Fullscreen (V-Sync ON)

Screen Effects: Bloom ON

Distant Rendering: All three options to ON

Texture Size: Large

Tree, Actor, Item, and Object Fade: 100%

Grass Distance: 0%

View Distance: 100%

Interior Shadows: 50%

Exterior Shadows: 50%

Self Shadows: OFF

Shadows on Grass: OFF

Tree Canopy Shadows: OFF

Shadow Filtering: High

Specular Dist: 100%

Water Detail: High

Water Reflections, Ripples, and Window Reflections: ON

Blood Decals: High

As you can see in the pictures below, the ATI X1600 graphics card clocks in at around 25-30 fps indoors and 20-25 fps outside in the open. The fps would rarely dip below 20 in any circumstance, although a couple of guards at night (or a lot of characters) with torches might force me to about 15-18 fps…still playable!

Oblivion in all its glory…and the beautiful outdoors of the empire! (view large image)

Poor Rufio is about to get sacked!  Notice how a lot of candle light hits the fps as Bloom kicks in (view large image)

Need For Speed

Again, here is my mix of settings:

Resolution: 1024 x 768

Full Screen AA: OFF

Texture Filtering: 50%

VSync: OFF

World Level of Detail: 100%

Road Reflection Detail: 100%

Shadow Detail: 0%

Car Geometry Detail: High

Car Reflection Detail: Low

Car Reflection Update Rage: 33%

Rain: ON

Over Bright: OFF

Visual Treatment: High

Most of the time, my FPS hovered in the 50s. Occasionally I would see 40 or 65 fps, but not for long. With a little tweaking one might get better visual results at the cost of a few fps.

Settings Used (view large image)

Driving around…well…speeding around. (view large image)

I tried not to crash! (view large image)


The speakers are just your average notebook speakers. While I am not the best judge of sound quality, I think they are sufficient for playing games and listening to music. They are slightly tinny, however they still sound good at the loudest volume settings. However, I do not like the placement of the speakers. As I am using a docking station with the notebook often closed, the speakers are blocked by the notebook lid. Fortunately, I do have a pair of USB speakers that I regularly use…but I wish their placement were on the front like my XPS M140’s speakers.


The ATI X1600 video is no slouch…it does very well in the 3dMark benchmarks.

3DMark05 Results and comparison:

3DMark05 tests the graphics processing capabilities of a system:

Notebook  3DMark 05 Results

HP nc8430 (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)

 3,991 3D Marks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)  2,866 3D Marks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800 GTX)  7,078 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2,530 3D Marks
 Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)  2,273 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2,536 3D Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4,157 3DMarks



3DMark06 Comparison Results:

3DMark06 tests the graphics capabilities of a system, it is more demanding than 3DMark05.

Notebook  3DMark 06 Results

HP nc8430 (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)

1,745 3DMarks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,528 3DMarks

Dell Precison M90 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia Quadro FX 1500M)

3,926 3DMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX) 4,085 3DMarks

Compal HEL80 (2.0GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7600 256MB)

1,654 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB) 4,744 3DMarks

Also, using the ATI CCC I noted the memory and core clock speeds of the notebook. However, there is a slight bug in the BIOS, which prevents the GPU from down clocking when docked with the station. When plugged into the AC adapter or running off of battery, the GPU scales it power as desired. Fortunately, when the computer is docked it is also receiving AC power and is lifted up at an angle which gives the notebook better air flow to compensate for the clock speed.

However, here are the clock speeds for all three profiles of the nc8430:

Optimal Performance:

Core — 425MHz

Memory — 378MHz


Core — 392MHz

Memory — 252MHz

Optimal Battery Life

Core — 209MHz

Memory — 135MHz

See Part 1 of Review: Introduction, Processor and Peformance

See Part 3 of Review: Head & Noise, Keyboard & Touchpad, Input & Output, Docking, Conclusion




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