HP Compaq nx6125 review

£720
Price when reviewed

While all of the ten notebooks on test have their advantages, our primary focus was on value. Although we asked companies to provide us with a machine for £799, those that primarily sell through retail have little control over the actual street price of their products.

HP Compaq nx6125 review

This meant that three of the notebooks here can be bought for £730, but the HP stood out as offering noticeably more than the Sony or Samsung. Despite the low price, the headline specs of the business-oriented nx6125 are more than enough to compete with even the most expensive models here.

The brand-new 1.8GHz AMD Turion 64 on a PCI Express chipset takes pride of place, while 512MB of RAM, a 15in TFT, an 80GB hard disk, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all solid components. Then there’s a DVD burner, a fingerprint reader and Windows XP Professional – there really are no obvious signs of compromise.

Overall build quality is superb, with a sturdy chassis and a reassuring feel of durability that should immediately appeal if you want a notebook to take everywhere with you, not simply to keep on a desk in place of a PC.

The 4:3 aspect ratio 15in TFT has a fine native resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 and, while it doesn’t quite match the viewing angles of the widescreen Evesham, it’s more than good enough for everyday tasks. It’s relatively bright, evenly lit and doesn’t suffer from the reflections that could prove annoying with the Evesham’s glossy coating.

If you need to make presentations from your notebook, the nx6125 is your ideal companion. The speakers offer surprisingly good volume and quality, and the VGA and S-Video outputs will prove useful too. There’s also a handy Presentation button that can be configured to fire up your presentation software, switch to an external display and alter power settings with one push.

The keyboard is up to HP’s usual high standard in both layout and firmness. There are full-sized keys all round, and the control keys are in their normal positions. Although we usually connect a proper mouse, the nx6125’s touchpad is responsive enough for short periods.

If you need to keep your data secure, the biometric fingerprint reader will be one of the main draws to the nx6125. Using HP’s ProtectTools Security Manager, you can set a variety of security measures, including power-on passwords and restricting which devices can be used for booting.

The features don’t stop there, as HP bundles a port replicator, which adds DVI connectivity (something no other notebook offers this month) and four extra USB 2 ports. This is another killer feature if you regularly switch between desktop and mobile modes. Two more bonuses are the integrated 6-in-1 card reader – supporting all major formats including xD-Picture cards – and an ExpressCard slot (see Focus on… ExpressCards), which makes the nx6125 more future-proof than most.

While others on test are hot and noisy, the HP is neither. It’s one of the quietest (27.5dBA) and coolest (29ûC) under heavy load. At 2.8kg, it’s no ultraportable, but should be light enough for carrying around with you. Battery life will be very dependent on the tasks you’re performing though: under intensive use, where we worked the processor at close to 100 per cent, the nx6125 gave up after an hour. Under light use, it lasted for three-and-a-half hours.

Also note that this notebook is no speed demon. It scored a respectable but unexceptional 0.75 in our benchmarks, and the Mobility Radeon X300 is just a token gesture towards games playing: neither Far Cry or Half-Life 2 will run comfortably on this machine. The warranty is also shorter than we’d like, with one year’s return-to-base cover as standard.

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