by Matt Rose
The HP Pavilion zx5000 falls into the Desktop Replacement (DTR) category with its Pentium 4 processor and ATI dedicated graphics. The overall dimensions of the laptop are 14.25 W x 1.75 T x 11.5 D and it weighs in at 8lbs. The laptop feels solid and there is no screen flexing, although it s not as rock solid as an IBM. The processor is a beast and will tear through all apps and games, taking whatever you throw at it, and unfortunately putting out a lot of heat while doing it. This combined with the ATI graphics solution will give you plenty of power to drive games on the 15 and 15.4 available screens.
ZX5000 CTO (view larger image)
Why I Bought the HP zx5000
As a college student I don t have a lot of cash to my name, and HP offers a student discount and great value on their notebooks. This combined with the $100 mail in rebate they had at the time offered me a substantial savings over other options I was looking at (eMachines 68xx series, Acer 2012WLMi). The HP zx5000 offered a lot of high end options at a great price, things like a Radeon 9600 128mb dedicated graphics card and the Pentium 4 Hyper Threading series of processors. Throw in a 15.4 widescreen and DVD/CD-RW drive and you have one decent computer. Let me rundown the options I got on my ZX5000.
Specs for HP zx5000 Being Reviewed:
- Microsoft XP Home Edition
- 15.4 Widescreen WXGA (1280×800 res)
- Pentium 4 3.0GHz with HT technology
- 802.11b Wireless with 10/100 NIC and 56k Modem
- 512 (1 SODIMM) RAM
- Radeon 96000 128mb Graphics Card
- 60Gb 5400 RPM HDD
- 12 Cell Li-Ion battery
- One year Warranty
It must be said that this notebook is not one for having long battery life. With wireless off, screen brightness at half using WarCraftIII map editor lightly I ended up getting about 1hr 45mins of battery life. This is not a real big deal to me, this laptop was intended to replace my old desktop and have minimal mobility, and I m always near an outlet. So if you re looking for a notebook with 3+ hours of battery life, this is not the one for you.
HP zx5000 Mobility
As a desktop replacement this laptop is not one you would want to carry with you everywhere you go. It s a decently heavy computer, but not overly so. This combined with the relatively low battery life make this computer more suited to someone who needs lots of power with OK mobility.
The internal wireless card I opted for was the 802.11B, as my home router is an 802.11b broadcasting type. I m able to get signal strength of Very Good anywhere in the house and for a bit in the yard too. It seems to be touchy as to when it wants to connect though, sometimes I have to play games with moving about to get a better reception.
HP zx5000 Build Quality
The notebook is solid as previously stated, better than I had expected honestly. The construction is plastic (metallic silver top and trimming with black base). The screen has minimal to no flex, the only thing that could be improved is the stiffness of the hinges, they are too stiff (at least on my zx5000) and it takes, in my opinion, too much force on the screen to move it.
The keyboard has no noticeable flex to it as you type and the keys are great, smooth and quiet with the right amount of travel. The keyboard is a full size version which makes typing on it much easier and more native to desktop users. There is a function key which provides access to screen brightness, monitor output, music stop/play/ff/rw and a number pad overlay. Also included is a wireless network on/off button which might be useful if you re trying to squeeze some more battery life out of it. Volume controls are located right up front and are easily accessible.
The touchpad is smooth and easy to use, though for extended use you ll want to use a mouse. There is only a left and right click to the touchpad and the scroll strip on the side I find to be largely useless. One nice feature however is the ability to turn the touchpad on and off. This is an awesome feature when you are using a mouse, no more touching the touchpad while typing and moving the pointer, which for me would happen more often then not because the touchpad is centered with the notebook, not the keyboard, meaning your right hand will be over it when you are typing.
Wireless On/Off (view larger image)
zx5000 Keyboard (view larger image)
Touchpad with scroll strip and volume controls (view larger image)
HP zx5000 Ports/Bays
The only gripe I have with this port setup on this notebook is the fact that the most common ports are on the right side, meaning they come out right where your mouse would be, and get in the way. Also when doing things that are CPU intensive the exhaust fan on the side will kick on and douse your hand with hot air, which is not fun. The VGA out is very convenient for using external monitors or running dual monitors. The media reader on the side is very useful for digital photography, just pop it in and windows will open an explorer window with the files right there.
The zx5000 has the following ports:
- Headphone Out
- Mic In
- 1x USB 2.0
- 1x Firewire
- Docking port/media cable Out
- 2x USB 2.0
- 5 in1 media reader
- 1x TypeII PCMCIA card slot
- DC in
- VGA Out
- Parallel port
- 1x Optical drive (DVD, DVD/CD-RW, DVD-RW, etc)
- 1x Optional slot (Floppy drive or HP Digital Drive & docking bay)
HP zx5000 Screen
The zx5000 can be configured with a 15 or 15.4 screen with various (WXGA, WSXGA+, and WUXGA) resolutions. However if you want BrightView (HP s enhanced screen) you will have to get the 15.4 WXGA. My model came with the standard 15.4 WXGA non BrightView screen. The screen is crisp, clear and the colors are bright. However I do notice some minor ghosting with this LCD. It is not noticeable in most situations, however when you scroll text it looks like the Indy 500. I did not opt for BrightView because my notebook is located near a window, and the BrightView glare would drive me insane.
The speakers in the ZX5000 deserve special mention. I have heard the tiny squeak that most laptops put out; however this notebook is not one of them. The speakers are made by Harmon/Kardon and do very well at producing a full sound. Granted, they are no desktop speakers and you will notice a big difference between them and any external speakers, but at least it s actually possible and enjoyable to listen to all my MP3 s using just the built in speakers. This was one of the big selling points for me when I was shopping for notebooks, as I m an avid MP3 listener.
This machine runs games just fine, mostly due to the fact that it is the ATI 9600 model. Now the 9600 may not be the newest GPU out there, but it still can handle most modern games at medium settings. I play HALO quite often with no problems at all, settings all medium, specular and shadows on. The 9600 comes stock underclocked at 310core/190mem to reduce heat, but with the use of radlinker it can easily be bumped up to where it should be. Stock I scored 20k Aquamarks and slightly overclocked at 325/225 I get around 22-23k aquamarks. I have pushed it to 350/250 and bagged 24,000 aquamarks; however I would not recommend running it at this frequency for common use.
I can t speak much for the bundled software as I unistalled it all right from the get-go. There were a couple apps I kept however, these being the MS Office 60day trial and InterVideo WinDVD player.
CD s that were included:
- Works & Money 2004
- Operating System CD
- Application Recovery CD
- HP Image Zone Disc2
- HP Image Zone Disc3
- WinDVD Creator 2
- Norton Anti-Virus (60day subscription)
- Driver Recovery CD
- Documentation Library
- MS Windows XP Critical Security Updates
Overall this notebook is great for someone who needs a powerful desktop replacement computer with minimal mobility. The battery life is not great, and the processor runs fairly hot, but it is very powerful. The screen is a beautiful crisp, clear display and the optional widescreen version is excellent. The keyboard is easy to use and comfortable. Overall this notebook is a great value, the cost of my setup after rebate and student discount was right about $1,250.
- Powerful P4 processor
- Excellent ATi Graphics card (9200 64mb/9600 128mb)
- Nice Keyboard
- Touchpad on/off
- Wireless on/off
- Media Reader
- Upfront Volume Controls
- Nice sounding speakers
- Short battery life
- Pentium 4 processor runs hot
- Heavyweight notebook
- USB/Mic/Headphone/LAN ports awkwardly positioned
- While typing speakers are covered by hands
- Touchpad not centered with keyboard
The zx5000 is available in the ready to ship models from common retailers (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc) or available online at HP.com and various other online retailer, click to view some of the latest pricing.