about HP Compaq 6910p
The HP Compaq 6910p is HP’s premier 14.1” business notebook, as part of their ‘Balanced Mobility’ line-up. The 6910p is the Santa Rosa refresh of the nc6400. The 6910p includes the addition of a firewire port, Intel Wireless 4965 ABGN, and the option of either integrated Intel X3100 or dedicated ATi X2300 graphics cards.
The 6910p has a similar chassis to the 6510/6515b notebooks, but is slightly thinner.
Being HP Compaq’s premier 14.1” notebook, it comes with a range of security options as standard, such as a TPM chip, drive encryption, smart card reader, Intel Centrino Pro and finger print biometrics, as well as HDD data protection ‘3D DriveGuard’ accelerometer.
The notebook has a sturdy magnesium alloy display enclosure, reducing weight whilst increasing durability.
Reasons for buying
I’m currently in my second year at university, studying a commerce degree. I basically got sick of carrying around the nx8220 in my bag, with all my course books, so decided to bite the bullet on a lighter, more compact notebook. I wanted all the features of the nx8220 in a smaller and lighter notebook, and the 6910p fits the bill, being cheaper than the previous nc6400s, as well as the Lenovo Thinkpad T61 and Dell Latitude D630.
Where and how purchased
I purchased the 6910p online in New Zealand. The original laptop was sent the day payment was made, but subsequently lost by the couriers. Two weeks later they allowed a replacement to be sent, but it was out of stock, and would take another week to be in stock, so I opted for the more expensive model that I’m reviewing now.
My 6910p was specced out as follows:
NZ$2970 w/3yr warranty
CPU: Intel C2D T7500 2.2Ghz 4MB L2 Cache
OS: MS Vista Business 32/64bit
RAM: 2x1024MB DDR2-667 (2GB Total; expandable to 4GB)
Display: 14.1” WXGA 1280×800 Anti-glare 200nit
GPU: ATi X2300 w/128MB Dedicated DDR3 RAM
HDD: 100GB 7200rpm
Optical Drive: MultiBay II DVD SM DL
Battery: 6 cell Li-Ion 55WHr
Wireless: Intel Pro/Wireless 4965 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, Infrared
Weight: 2.30kg w/6 cell and Multibay II DVD SM DL drive
2.15kg w/6 cell and weight saver
Dimensions: 330x240x33-40mm WxDxH (front-back)
Ports/slots: 3xUSB 2.0; MultiBay II; 10/100/1000 Lan; Modem; S-Video out; VGA out; Firewire; Audio in; Audio out; internal microphone; SD/MMC card reader; Smart Card Reader; Type I/II PC Card Reader; SIM card slot; Docking connector; Second battery connector.
Other: Finger print reader, Touch stick with 2 buttons, Touch pad with 2 buttons, Volume up – down, Volume mute, Presentation, Wireless, HP Info Centre touch sensitive buttons.
MS Vista Business 32/64bit (one time option on startup, Windows Vista 32bit DVD included)
HP Application and Driver Recovery DVD 32/64bit
Roxio DVD Creator
MS Office 07 60 Day Trial
Norton Antivirus 60 Day Update
HP ProtectTools security software
Opening it up
One of the first options you get when you start this thing up is whether to install the 32bit or 64bit version of Vista Business. Since the packaging included the 32bit version only, I decided it would be a good idea to stick with the 32bit version as well, since I was going to do a fresh install later anyway. I was very pleased to see that HP included a recovery DVD as well, meaning I didn’t need to create my own.
After Vista had set itself up, and I could actually use the notebook, I was surprised to see Vista (and ATi Catalyst Control Centre) identify the graphics card as the ATi X1450, although this was remedied by a fresh install and downloading the ATi driver from HP.
The laptop and included DVDs and manual
Design and Build
The screen casing is a magnesium alloy, making it lighter and stronger than the cheaper 6510b. Pushing the lid results in no LCD distortion, which is a change from the nx8220. There is no noticeable flex in the chassis, unless you deliberately move either side in opposite directions, lifting one side, whilst pushing down on the other.
The look of the notebook is professional, being black on the underside, and a gun-metal like-grey around the keyboard and on the lid, whilst the LCD bezel is black.
All 6910p notebooks come with 3 WWAN antennae, and 2 WLAN antennae. Having the three WWAN antennae allows someone who didn’t purchase the laptop with the WWAN card to purchase it separately later, and install it themselves. The SIM card slot is located in the battery bay, and is clearly marked. You must take the battery out before inserting the SIM card, which prevents any possibility of it being knocked out.
Insert you SIM card here
Like the 6510b reviewed by Andrew, the 6910p has touch sensitive volume controls, presentation mode, wireless and HP Info Centre buttons. Thankfully these don’t make sounds, and a welcome feature is the onscreen display for the volume controls, which is nice compared to my nx8220 which lacks such a feature. Although the touch sensitive buttons look nice and attractive, I would agree with Andrew and say that I prefer the old type of rubber buttons like my nx8220.
The keyboard itself has HP’s DuraKey finish and is spill-resistant, not that I’m going to try out that feature. The keys have a different feel to my nx8220 but I’m quickly adjusting to them. The actual size of the keys appears bigger than the nx8220, although this is because of the differing angles of tapering. The keys are more rubbery than the nx8220, which I’m quickly beginning to like. The keyboard is overall nice to type on, and I don’t notice any flexing at all.
Since I’m used to HP touch pads I found this nearly identical to the nx8220. It has good speed and responsiveness and I only needed to adjust the scroll area as I felt it was a tad too large, getting in the way of scrolling. The 6910p also includes a track point, but I have not played around with that since the last time I used a track point was about 12 years ago on a real old IBM.
View of the keyboard
Input and Output Ports
The 6910p offers the standard ports that other business class notebooks of this size offer.
On the front we’ve got the MMC/SD card slot and the Infrared port. To the right are the two speakers. On the left front are the LED lights for Wireless, Power, Battery charge and HDD/DVD activity and HP DriveGuard status.
The right side has the Smart Card reader, MultBay II DVD SM DL drive, USB port, Gigabit LAN and modem ports. (Shown with 8 cell travel battery)
The left side has the fan exhaust, two more USB ports, Firewire port, Audio in, Audio out and the PC Card slot.
At the back is the power jack, S-Video out and VGA out, a long with the lock slot on the left of the battery.
View of the bottom
The screen is much better than my nx8220. It is brighter. Adjusting the screen brightness using the function keys results in an onscreen display. Again this is something lacking on the nx8220. The screen is brighter than the nx8220 and has much better horizontal viewing angles. I would say the vertical viewing angles are only slightly better though. The screen is bright enough for my needs, but I don’t know how it will stack up when used outside when University starts next week.
I would like the option to lower the brightness further to save battery life, but otherwise I have no complaints.
HP 6910p on the left, compared to my nx8220 on the right.
The 6910p, like the nc6400 has two speakers on the front right of the notebook. I assumed there was only one speaker as the right side was where all the sound was coming from, but was mistaken. They are sufficient for Windows sounds and warning sounds, and are actually half decent, given that they are both on the right side. Any audiophile would need to use external devices such as speakers or headphones. As such, I haven’t tested it out much, except for listening to online radio, and a bit of AOE3. The volume is sufficient to fill a medium size room, but are nothing to write home about.
Performance and Benchmarks
The notebook scores a respectable 3.9 on the Windows Experience Index, predictably limited by the graphics card.
Super Pi 2M: 56 seconds
3DMark 06: 969
3DMark 05: 2421
PCMark 05: 4394
Performance is on par with what you’d expect from a C2D at 2.2Ghz. It never lags, and the ATi X2300 is enough to be able to play with high settings in AOE III, the only graphically intense game I own. It would have been nice to see the equivalent of the 8400M GS with DX10 but its not a major problem.
The included battery is a 6 cell 55WHr battery. It has a higher capacity than the cheaper 6510/6515b notebooks. HP claims that it should last up to 4 ¾ hours on Windows XP. Using the wireless, surfing the net I got around 3 hours 15 minutes. HP also has an 8-cell and 12-cell second battery options that connect underneath the laptop. These raise the rear of the notebook, allowing better typing positions with the raised keyboard. I myself have the 8-cell travel battery which came originally with my nx8220. I would expect the 8 cell to double the battery life of the notebook.
Heat and noise
One of the big issues with the 6510b and 6710b notebooks from HP that many users have been complaining about is the fan noise, and having it spin up ‘every time I move the mouse.’ In fact this has been an issue in many HP notebooks, but you can rest assured that no such problem exists for the 6910p.
Typing this review, all I can hear is the hard drive doing its indexing thing. When the fan does spin up, it is barely audible. Even the fastest fan speed under benchmarking is acceptable, and much less than the nx8220 (which uses a cooler Pentium M). I can assure you there is no vacuum cleaner and it won’t start flying.
Temperatures using Notebook Hardware Control under idle is 50C and 60C under load. The hard drive at maximum performance and idle in NHC is 39C. Unfortunately NHC doesn’t support voltage adjustment on the new Santa Rosa chips.
The left palm rest gets luke warm, due to the performance hard drive (7200rpm). When power management is used to lower the performance of the hard drive, it is not noticeable. The keyboard is generally warm, but not anywhere near hot or as bad as my nx8220 can get.
The 6910p came with Intel wireless a/b/g/n. I only have a wireless ‘g’ network at home, but clearly out performs my nx8220. Our router is situated downstairs. Generally my nx8220 gets a ‘good’ reception at 48mbps, whilst the 6910p works flawlessly at ‘excellent’ and 54mbps. Downloading updates from HP resulted in download speeds at the maximum our line offers, whilst the nx8220 only manages half that speed.
The HP 6910p is a perfect laptop for anyone demanding top build quality and excellent performance in a 14.1” form factor. It is a worthy competitor to the Thinkpad T61 and Latitude D630. In New Zealand the 6910p represents good value compared to the competition, being significantly cheaper than lesser spec’d T61s and D630s. It’s light, reasonably thin and has great performance.
• Great, solid build quality with magnesium alloy screen casing
• Professional, non-flashy design
• Fast Core 2 Duo performance for a reasonable price
• Option for WWAN
• Option for either 32/64bit Vista Business
• Vista 32bit DVD and HP Driver and Application Recovery DVD 32/64bit included (NZ model)
• Touch sensitive buttons difficult to effectively use
• Two speakers both on the right front
• Fingerprint reader in awkward position
• Could do with lower brightness settings
• Dedicated graphics option lacks DX10 support. Slower than 8400M GS
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