Wednesday, October 08, 2008

HP Compaq 6820s Laptop review

I wrote this text for Cnet since there was no review for this model, and decided to post it on my blog also. (
First things first, its a Pentum Dual Core T2410 (2Ghz, 1MB cache), 2GB ram, 250GB SATA drive, DVDRW DL, 3x USB2.0... it has plenty of other stuff... but read on please.

This is a solid machine for the $860 I paid. It is difficult to find a 17" laptop under $1000. My 6820s came with a DualCore T2410 CPU (2GHz and 1MB of L2 cache). It has 2GB of RAM which will be suitable for any office or home use. With its 250GB hard drive, it can store plenty of files, music and movies. The ATI Mobility Radeon 1350 produces a good picture, with plenty of details and good saturation of colors. It may not be the best choice for the modern day games, but I am more than satisfied with its performance for the work I need. The LCD has a solid 1440x900 native resolution, which is unusually high for this price range. The 6820s comes with the standard 56K modem, an Intel 10/100 LAN card, a Broadcom a/b/g card, and even has a built in Bluetooth, a bit unexpected in this price range. Its battery is a 6-cell Li-Ion pack, which can allow you mobility for up to 3.5 hours. Of course, this varies greatly on what you do, but it will definitely be enough to watch a movie, or browse the net and type emails for at least 2.5 hours.
The HP Compaq 6820s is classically elegant and well built, as expected for a Compaq machine. The plastics give a comfortable feel and it does not look cheap as it is the case with some other laptops. For instance, my old Toshiba M35x looked cheap from the day I bought it, even though I paid $1200 for it. Although the LCD is impressively large, the plastic back does not bend too much, again, as it does in my 15” Toshiba. But it is not as tough as it is on my 15.4" HP 530. Non the less, it is a well designed, well built housing. The size of the chassis allows for a full size keyboard which is a welcomed improvement after years and years of using a laptop without a numeric keyboard. This was especially frustrating when I had to type in numbers and when I played Civilization. That frustration is gone with the 6820s. No more mistypes, no more wrong moves in Civ. Life is good now.
The down side, as with the HP 530, is the somewhat cheap look-cheap feel to the keyboard. The keys are large enough and comfortable to type long texts, but I would like to see a softer feel keyboard on the 6820s. Compared to the Toshiba M35 keyboard, this one is a poorly made keyboard for my taste. Technically, its flawless. The touch pad is a good match for the size of the screen, and it is also sensitive. Its keys are soft and smooth, without the cheap clicking found in other cheap laptops, such as the HP530 and the Toshiba M35. But still, not as good as the HP nx6110 has. I’d say that the 6820s touch pad is between the HP 530 and the nx6110. The keys are 530-shaped, but feel a bit like nx6110. Not too bad of a touchpad, but not too good either.
Performance-wise, the 6820s worked as I expected, a bit faster than my HP 530 but not impressively fast.
Here are the details according to PassMark's Performance Test 6.1.

HP 6820s
CPU: T2410 2Ghz, 1MB cache. PassMark 281.7
Graphics: 2D=39.0fps; 3D=18.4fps (Complex 3D=18.7fps)
Memory PassMark 62.8
Hard Disk PassMark 66.5
Overal System Performance: 492.7

HP 530
CPU: T2050 1.6Ghz, 2MB cache. PassMark 204.3
Graphics: 2D=28.4fps; 3D=16.0fps (Complex 3D=6.2fps)
Memory PassMark 54.0
Hard Disk PassMark 61.6
Overal System Performance: 411.6

Toshiba M35x
CPU: Celeron M 1.5Ghz, 512kb Cache. PassMark 86.7
Graphics:. PassMark 2D=28.1fps; 3D=6.9fps (Complex 3D=4.62)
Memory PassMark 48.1
Hard Disk PassMark 26.0
Overal System performance: 217.7

Both HP laptops are in the same price range. I paid the same amount for both, only the HP 530 is a year old now. The performance of the 6820s T2410 CPU is obviously faster than the T2050. Actually comparing the figures, the T2410 does as much as the T2050 and the Celeron M put together. This is worth noting! The ATI performed better than the Intel 945GM, but not dramatically better. The greatest and most dramatic performance gain is in the reproduction of complex 3D graphics, and an expected increase in 2D reproduction. This only means that on average, the ATI is just about enough to feed the 1440x900 17” LCD. The RAM performance is OK, nothing marvelous, but still better than the HP530. The 6820s gains only due to its capacity of 2GB. The hard drive of the HPs are both 5400rpm SATA drives. The performance is expectantly similar, and again, the 6820 gains a plus due to its impressive size for the price range.
In summary, the 6820s performs good. It would perform even faster if it could get a faster RAM and a faster hard drive. As it is, the overall performance of 492.7 is not much faster than the HP530’s 411.6. If you take in consideration that the T2410 performed as much as the Celeron M and the T2050 put together, then it is easy to conclude that somewhere, the faster CPU in the 6820 somehow loses its significance due to the average speed of its RAM.
All in all, the HP Compaq 6820s is a good investment, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants an affordable laptop for everyday home and office use.
I am proud owner of one.

After 6 months of usage, just as with any other laptop, the HP 6820 starts heating up more, CPU fan works all the time and if it's not on a flat surface it even freezes and turns of due to heat buildup. To deal with this problem you'll have to perform regular cleanup of the CPU heatsink-fan assembly. I've created an illustrated step-by-step guide that you can use to clean up your laptop. This is a recomended practice for any brand and model, at least once every 6 months.

HP 6820 Disassembly and Cleanup tutorial
Buy Now for only $15


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