HP zx5000 Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (23,689)

by Phillip Kramp

The HP zx5000 is a desktop replacement notebook that can handle almost everything you throw at it. The processor is fast enough to handle any current application; the RAM is sufficient for today s projects and is expandable for future needs. The video card is capable of playing any current game, but may not be able to play them at the highest setting i.e. Far Cry, but I ll talk more about that later.


Front view of the zx5000


Back view of the zx5000

Before going too far let’s take a look at the configuration for the HP zx5000 notebook that I configured when buying through HPShopping.com:

Processor: P4-M 2.4ghz
Memory: 512mb DDR 2700 RAM
Hard Drive: 40gb 4200 RPM HD
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon M10 9600 64mb video card (current configs offer a 128mb M10 instead)
Optical Drive: 8x DVD Drive
Wireless: 802.11g Wireless
Screen: 15.4 WXGA (1280×800)
Standard Ports: 5-1 media reader, 3 USB ports, 1 Firewire port, 1 PC-card slot, 1 S-video out, 1 Monitor out, 1 Printer port, 1 Docking station connection, 1 56k modem port, 1 10/100 Ethernet port, 1 Head phone jack, 1 Mic in jack, 12 Cell Battery, Windows XP Home

My reason for picking the zx5000 laptop over all the other options out there was due to several factors. I first saw the identical laptop at Circuit City, the Compaq R3000T Dedicated, which is the same as the HP zx5000 but with different speakers and casing.  I loved the large crisp and bright display of the R3000T. The keyboard responded well when I opened up notepad and typed a bit. Also, the speakers were able to get pretty loud while playing pinball and some .wav files. I then went home and researched it and found there really wasn t too much out there information-wise about the R3000T. In fact, about the only thing I did find was that the HP zx5000 is the same laptop with the black and silver casing instead of the all silver and black casing and it had the better Harman/Kardon speakers. I then found while on HP s shopping website that depending on the configuration the two switched for which was the cheaper one. After reading for about 2 weeks the specs and reviews of other laptops I saw HP had a 10% off coupon that could be used in combination with a 6% APP (student discount) and a $100.00 mail in rebate, thus bringing my configuration of the zx5000 to a mere $1061.74 when all was said and done. With this price there was no company that could touch it and come close to the specs I was getting.


Left side view with CD tray open


Right side view of zx5000

The price is what finally drew me in despite the lack of information, and I would soon learn that it was easily worth 1400.00 or more. When my laptop arrived 15 days later I was overall very pleased with my purchase, with the only drawback being the size of its monster AC power adapter. It s not so much the weight that bothered me since the laptop already weighed 8+ lbs, but the size of it. The AC Adapter is almost the same size, other than height, as the tape dispenser on my desk. Other than this small complaint though I think the unit is very impressive.  The screen doesn t flex too much when moving the machine around, it also provides a nice and crisp picture and has no dead pixels.  The keyboard is nice and responsive for when I am typing papers, or programming.  The speakers are very good and can get quite loud.

For movie watching this machine is very well suited for the job. The speakers and screen size easily let you sit 10+ ft away and you can still hear audio well, even if it is not at maximum volume, and the screen is still easily viewable from this distance. I must say after looking at many laptops and owning a few that this was very welcomed. The front buttons are entirely dedicated to sound. Here you have your volume up, volume down, and mute buttons all easily accessible. Another aspect of the machine I liked was how it never gets warm while using it on your lap, even while using very CPU intensive applications. This is due to the fact the zx5000 has two fans on the bottom and the vents on the side and back of the machine. Also, despite the dual fans keeping it nice and cool the noise is barely noticeable even at full speed.

Mobility wise the zx5000 is pretty impressive as well. For just surfing the net wirelessly and turning the screen down 1 or 2 brightness levels you can easily get 3.5 4 hours of battery life on max battery. If you need the brighter screen, or are using the hard drive or optical drive more when doing such things as playing games or listening to music, you will drop your battery life to closer to 2+ hours. Also, using external devices like a mouse, keyboard or Bluetooth will drop your battery life down.

Bottom side view of zx5000

I have found that the zx5000 is very fast in loading up and processing the task at hand. The main difference between the 4200 RPM hard drive in my zx5000 and the 2 80GB 7200 Raid 0 Hard Drives in my desktop is load time. For example it takes 2-3 times as long to initially load Aquamark , and some levels in games, but once they are loaded there is no noticeable difference. I chose to only get an 8x DVD for a couple of reasons. I already have a desktop with an 8x +/- DVD burner and a 48x CD-RW along with an 80GB external USB 2.0 hard drive and a 128mb USB flash drive. Thus, I was not concerned about external storage or transferring data off of this machine to another.

I like the way HP has designed the touchpad as well. It has a very nice button to turn the thing on or off so that if you re using an external mouse and you don t want to accidentally brush the pad it is completely off. Another nice feature is you can enable/disable tapping the pad to click, by default this option is off. Then one of my favorite parts of this touchpad is the ridges on the right side. These are for use as a mouse wheel to scroll up or down a page.

The built in card reader will read many of your main formats: Smart Media Card, Multi Media Card, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro. I find this very nice for use with my digital camera, where all I have to do is pop out my SD card and stick it in my laptop and I can pull information off or put more on.

Media card reader on the left-side of zx5000

For wireless there are many options, 802.11b, 802.11g, Bluetooth, and Bluetooth with 802.11g. I just went with the 802.11g since it was only a few dollars more than 802.11b and is backwards compatible with it, but giving me the option to use g s speeds of 54mbps. The range and reliability of the internal wireless card is very good, I can walk anywhere in my 1600 sq. ft. house and get a connection from around the middle of it. The wireless also has a nice button above the function keys for turning it on or off to either save on battery life or to just use your Ethernet port without having 2 connections open.

I decided when ordering this machine to go with Windows XP Home, for several reasons. For one I didn t need any of the features added in Windows XP Pro, and for anther if I did turn out to need it in the next year or so, I can get an educational licensed Windows XP Pro version for free from the school s Computer Science department s that I attend.

For gaming this machine has worked out very well. It makes a great primary/secondary game machine or a portable LAN machine for your LAN parties. I am currently running the latest Omega drivers available at www.omegacorner.com . I have been able to test many games out on this machine. I have played Tribes, Counter-Strike, Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell: Pandora s Tomorrow, Age of Empires II, Age of Empires II: The Conquers Expansion, bzflag, and Jedi Knight II & Jedi Knight: Outcast all at max settings. Also, most of the games either through patches or release support widescreen resolutions such as 1280×800. I have also played Max Payne 2 at max settings, except for post processing which is set to medium. For Far Cry I was playing with medium with a few things actually set to high like shadows. I was able to play with no lag except for a few scenes, which could be fixed by either setting it all to low, or tweaking the individual settings. My Aquamark score is 22,856, and I will provide more standardized benchmark scores when I run them a few times and get an average.

So far I have not needed to talk to customer support so I can t tell you how that is, but I will be sure to update this with any future experiences I may have.   The fact I haven t needed to contact support is obviously a positive though.

Again, my only complaint about this machine is the size of its power adapter. Since, this is not a big deal I can live with it. I would definitely recommend checking out this machine or it s near identical twin the Compaq R3000T Dedicated if you are in the market for a desktop replacement that will also be doing some moderate to heavy graphics work. If you get the chance go to a store like Best Buy or Circuit City I recommend seeing how you like the machine. You may not find the exact configuration since I have yet to see one in a store with a ATI 9600 graphics card, but it will be able to give you a good idea of what the machine can do and how it looks in person. If you don t quite need the heavy graphics you can save yourself some money and look at a model with a ATI 9200, or the HP zv5000 or Compaq R3000T shared notebook, with ATI 9000 available. Also, for heavy CPU usage but very light graphics there is the HP zv5000z and Compaq R3000z which have AMD Athlon64 CPUs with nVidia go 440 chips.

Game time on the zx5000!

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