HP – Compaq nx7400 review

budget business laptop
Photo of HP – Compaq nx7400
£539 + VAT

Like most, if not all laptop vendors, the introduction of Intel’s Core 2 Duo has given HP a very good reason for new models to be dropped into product lines or to give old models a facelift. HP’s latest edition to the Compaq line of notebooks is the nx7400, a no-nonsense business machine with an admirably low price.

To achieve a low price point obviously some corners have had to be cut; first and foremost is the choice of processor. HP has selected the slowest Core 2 Duo currently available, the T5500. Clocked at 1.66GHz it has 2MB of L2 cache and an FSB of 667MHz, so although ‘slow’ in relative terms, it’s a marked improvement over older mobile CPUs.

Backing this is a meagre 512MB of memory, another cost saving. Although HP claims the Compaq nx7400 is Vista-capable, if your budget will allow an upgrade then 1GB of memory is advisable. Having said that, the nx7400 isn’t exactly a slouch: its Sysmark04SE score of 190 won’t set any records but it’s powerful enough for most business apps.

As you might expect from a notebook at this point the graphics are just aimed at office applications. The use of Intel’s integrated graphics controller means that 3D games are just a dream, as demonstrated by the FarCry frame rate of 9fps when tested at 1,024 by 768 pixels with all details set to maximum – and that’s with the 950 graphics adapter using 224MB of system memory. Even reducing both the resolution and detail levels you won’t get playable frame rates. Output from the graphics chip powers a 15.4-inch widescreen LCD display with a native resolution of 1,200 by 800 pixels.

For storage HP has supplied a 60GB hard drive, and when it comes to the choice of optical drive you get a real surprise; no, make that a shock. Instead of the usual DVD burner there is just a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. Given the price of DVD burners this is a surprising omission. You do get a PC Card slot but no Express Card slot, although as there aren’t many cards out there for the latter, not having one is no great loss.

To connect to the outside world you get 802.11a/b/g wireless, Bluetooth and a 10/100Mbps Ethernet connector. There aren’t many ports adorning the chassis; just three USB ports, a mini Firewire port and a VGA port to connect to an external monitor.

Battery life for the Compaq nx7400 is very good for this price point. When tested with MobileMark 05 it gave a battery run-down time of 200 minutes for the productivity test and lasted for three hours while playing a DVD: that’s nearly enough for a Peter Jackson film.

As with all HP business products, the Compaq nx7400 comes with the HP ProtectTools software suite and a year’s pick-up and return warranty.

Company: HP

Contact: 0845 270 4222

A well balanced notebook, ideal for the smaller business running on a tight budget, but the omission of any serious form of backup option - i.e. a DVD burner - is a surprise.