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HP Pavilion dv8000t review

HP Pavilion dv8000t review

Supplied by Hewlett Packard


For months I have had my heart set on a brand-new laptop and recently decided to take the plunge. I read every review, every spec, and every detail on every notebook I could find that was available in magazines or online. After tons of spec and price comparisons, I made my decision: HP’s new dv8000t.

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Stock Specs

  • Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Media Center Edition
  • Intel(R) Core(TM) Duo processor T2600 (2.16 GHz)
  • 17.0″ WSXGA+ BrightView Widescreen (1680×1050)
  • 256MB NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) Go 7400
  • 1.0GB DDR2 SDRAM (2x512MB)
  • 160GB 5400 RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive ( 80GB x 2)
  • DVD+/-RW/R CD-RW Combo w/Double Layer
  • Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network w/Bluetooth
  • 8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery

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When I looked for a notebook, I wanted everything. I don’t want the cheapest hardware in a brand-new notebook, so I splurged a bit by upgrading to the top of the line Intel Duo T2600 CPU (2.16Ghz). I opted for dual hard drives and the 17” WSXGA+ Widescreen LCD. Why did I splurge? I wanted a notebook that could run programs like Photoshop CS2, 3DSMax 7 & 8, and most modern games on the market with ease. I didn’t go too high on the RAM in this notebook because I always buy third-party RAM upgrades. In this case, I bought 2 GB (2 x 1 GB) of OCZ 1GB 200-Pin DDR2 Notebook Memory and saved about $280.00. OCZ makes much better RAM than anything HP offers, so this route not only saved me money but significantly increased the performance.

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I ordered my dv8000t from hp.com and it took about six days for the item to process, get built, and ship. Then it took another three days to get to my home in sunny California from HP’s manufacturing center in China. I decided to put HP’s new purchase support to the test and they passed with flying colors. First, the notebook shipped three days earlier than promised. Then, I called HP support to ask about my order and got the information I needed in a timely manner. That’s an A+ for HP on support thus far.

When the laptop was delivered, I was expecting a huge box (thereby justifying the purchase in my mind). I wanted it to be like Christmas morning. In reality, the laptop arrived in a mid-sized box and was very light. I broke the seal to reveal a nicely supported laptop all wrapped in plastic. I was like the kid who got his pick of anything at the candy store. I pulled out the contents, which were nicely supported by plastic foam. A smaller brown cardboard box contained the battery, manuals, and AC adapter. HP’s product was very nicely packed.

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Specifications

I cleared my desk to make room for this 17” monster; it is by no means a small laptop. I set it up without the battery at first – hell if I was going to let it charge before using it! I just plugged the AC adapter in and presto, the notebook had power. It booted into HP’s welcome screen. I filled out the information and was ready to see just what the dv8000t could handle.

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HP’s dv8000t comes with more than just the specs above hardware-wise. This bad boy is loaded with tons of ports and trinkets to make any PC guy/gal smile ear to ear.

Standard ports and other items

  • ExpressCard/54 Slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)
  • 1 Type I/II 32-bit card bus (also support 16-bit)
  • 1 IEEE 1394 Firewire Port
  • 4 Universal Serial Bus (USB 2.0)
  • TV-Out (S-video)
  • Integrated Consumer IR (remote control receiver)
  • Microphone in
  • 1 modem port (telephone)
  • 1 Expansion Port 2 Connector
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 1 VGA port
  • Built-in Altec Lansing stereo speakers
  • ExpressCard/54 Slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)
  • 1 Type I/II 32-bit card bus (also support 16-bit)

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The notebook itself is pretty large, measuring 11.1″(L) x 15.62″(W) x 1.48-1.82″ H or 11.2″ (L) x 15.62″ (W) x 1.58-1.92″ H with dual lamp

Read on for graphics, gaming, software, and sound.

Graphics

The LCD is one of the better screens I have seen. The 17″ widescreen runs at an impressive 1680 x 1050 native resolution, which is extremely crisp with no ghosting or artifacts. Color is uniform and there is little or no backlight bleeding. HD content looked as good as a plasma TV. The screen does dim slightly when running on battery power but not enough to hamper viewing. One thing to note is that on boot-up the bottom of the screen will have a hint of white glow which disappears once the Windows loading screen appears.

The dv8000t came standard with nVidia’s 7400Go series GPU with 128MB GDDR3 RAM, with an option to use up to 376MB of onboard memory, bumping the total to 512MB. The core runs at 450MHz, memory at 700Mhz. I was able to overclock to 507/803 by running the optimal setting with the Coolbits hack and maintained a core temp of 38C under light load and 48C under full load (Short-Media does not endorse use of the Coolbits hack; you could ruin your GPU by overclocking). Lately, HP has upgraded the graphics card in the dv8000t to an nVidia 7600Go series card. I am very pleased with nVidia’s 7400Go series graphics card. Other competitors offered similar laptop setups with a higher end GPUs for a $1,300.00+ premium.

Gaming Performance and Interface

I am a big gamer and love graphics, but I know, when it comes to laptops, you have to sacrifice graphics for portability. Even the higher-end laptop graphics cards cannot keep up with their desktop brethren. With this in mind, I have run the following games on the laptop at the following settings for you to see the performance levels:

  • BF2: Medium with 2X AA at 1440 x 900 res
  • Oblivion: Medium with no AA at 1280 x 800
  • BFME2: High & Medium SM 3.0 boosted at 1440 x 900
  • AOE3: Medium @ 1280 x 1024
  • WC3: High @ 1280 x 1024

It took a while to tweak each game to run perfectly without lag. BF2 was one of the harder ones with its shadows, textures, and lighting, but, in the end, it ran perfectly. You will want to note you should not game with the power unplugged from the wall. The graphics card will run at half power because of power management unless you set it to full power. However, doing this will drain your battery within 90 minutes.

For gaming, it is always important for me to have all my hot keys mapped out across the board for each game I play. The dv8000t has a slick keyboard and full-size number pad that are ideal for any hardcore gamer. HP has also added some quick play buttons and a nifty calculator button. To top it all off, blue lights pretty it up. Because, well, we all know blue lights make it faster, right?

Using Super PI, the system (including my OCZ memory upgrade) calculated Pi to two million digits in 1m 10s. As you can see the dv8000t with Intel’s Core Duo marks a great score. The new architecture by Intel is formidable.

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The dv8000t comes with a Synaptics Touch Pad positioned just off-center to the left. HP has perfectly placed this touch pad – for me, anyway. The left and right-click buttons are mounted just below the touch pad and give nice click noises. I like this feature because I know when the button has been clicked. Those of who hate audible click noise can use the double tap feature on the touch pad.

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Sound

Altec Lancing teamed up with HP to provide sound for the dv8000t. In my opinion, the sound quality isn’t that great for a two-speaker system. The onboard sound is up to par with what’s on the market, but it is not up to par with my standards for acceptable sound. I ended up purchasing a third-party sound card. I thank Creative for not allowing my 5.1 surround sound system to go to waste

Ports and Connections

While using a laptop it can be difficult to find the port you need. In a tight space, it’s not always so easy to lean over or pick up the laptop to find it. HP thought ahead and placed labels on the deck of the laptop, rather than the side, so they’re easier to locate.

The dv8000t comes with Intel’s new PRO/Wireless, which has 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth support. You can easily disable them in your laptop’s BIOS or the quick disconnect button right below the screen. The dv800t sports Intel’s Pro wireless setup very nicely; being able to see 20 wireless networks from my living room means the WiFi reception range is not small. Bluetooth in the dv8000 seems to be better than HP’s ‘dz’ model, as that model had Bluetooth issues according to several websites. I was able to connect a Bluetooth mouse and headset with a click of a button.

Software

One thing I always find annoying when buying a PC from companies like Dell, IBM, or HP is all the extra software they add. In this case, there was no lack of miscellaneous programs. In fact, I think there were more programs on this laptop than I have ever seen before in my life. From media players to photo buckets and about 50 HP games, I can honestly say a sixth of my screen was covered with HP junk. I know some people love these free programs and enjoy the fact that HP gives you all these nifty items, but my first step was to remove them all.

I will give HP a bit of credit. You can go into Add & Remove Programs (in Control Panel) and see all these annoying program scattered throughout the list. I noticed one ‘program’ listed was “remove HP game pack”. Finally, something smart for the users who don’t want all the extra junk. It took me a good 45 minutes to clean out the system, but my laptop now boots five seconds faster.

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Temperature and noise

The laptop runs very cool; unlike your 1990s room heaters, this machine is cool to the touch in all places but one: just to the left of the touch pad (right above your main hard drive) but even this I wouldn’t call ‘hot’. It does get a little warm, especially when running programs that are constantly using the hard drive, like videos, music, and games, but this is not a lap-warmer.

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Unlike some blow-horn laptops that make more noise than a broken dryer, the dv8000t runs very quiet. With one fan mounted below or in-between the graphics card and processor, the only time you can hear audible noise is when the DVD drive is spinning up. Another high mark to HP for making a relatively quiet laptop.

I’ve already commented on how the dv8000t performs in games, so I’m not going to go into much detail with benchmarks.

Battery Life

Rather than running a program to get battery times, I decided to take the real world approach. I let the laptop charge 100% and ran tests playing music, DVDs, and games. I did the music tests with the screen open and closed. Listed below are my results.

  • Windows Media Player off HD, Laptop Open – 3 hours, 13 minutes
  • Windows Media Player off HD, Laptop Closed – 4 hours, 22 minutes
  • Windows Media Player off CD, Laptop Open – 3 hours, 54 minutes
  • Windows Media Player off CD, Laptop Closed – 5 hours, 12 minutes
  • Nero 7 DVD Player off HD – 2 hours, 36 minutes
  • Nero 7 DVD Player off DVD – 3 hours, 36 minutes
  • Age of Mythology – 1 hour, 56 minutes
  • BFME2 – 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Starcraft – 1 hour, 57 minutes
  • EverQuest – 42, minutes
  • AOE 3 – 1 hour, 31 minutes

You can see that running data from the CD/DVD drive is far more efficient in saving energy. If you’re traveling a lot and want to use the dv8000t for portable music I would suggest using DVDs and CDs for when you don’t have access to an outlet. As far as gaming goes, you are using the DVD drive, both hard drives, and the GPU, causing your battery life to fall rapidly.

Conclusion

With the high performance provided by Intel’s new Duo architecture and the Nvidia 7400 series graphics system, even intensive programs like Photoshop and 3Ds max scream on this bad boy. High level gaming is also well within the scope of this impressive laptop. The only thing I dock a point for is the lack of options in the graphics department. The 7400 and 7600 are great cards, but slamming a 7800 or 7900 Go series in the laptop could mark it as a much more solid mobile gaming unit.

My roommate loved my laptop so much he bought one for himself.

Design/Layout 8 HP seems to have done their homework in creating a comfortable and easy-to-use laptop. My only complaint is that all the cable plug-ins are on the sides and not the back.
Documentation/Ease of Use 10 The package included a comprehensive guide on how to operate everything.
Features/Options 9 HP offered a ton of options in the build of this laptop. The only area they are lacking in is the graphics department.
Bonus Items/Software 7 HP filled the box with coupons and info on pretty much all their products, which was cool but nothing was really exciting.
Fine Tuning Features 9 The laptop was about 90% ready once it got to me. Once the array of unneeded partner programs was removed, the laptop was perfect
Overall Performance 9 This laptop has run anything and everything I have thrown at it, including CPU-intensive software and hardcore gaming. With the graphics selection being the only downside, this is one laptop that can live up to its hype.
Portability 8 8.1lbs is definitely a chunk of weight to be lugging around. To be fair, the dv8000t is two to six pounts lighter than its competitors.
Presentation/Packaging 10 Once again HP packed this notebook perfectly, I could tell they actually cared about how their products ship.
Support / Warranty 9 With the 3 experiences I have had with HP’s support I have been 100% satisfied. I was easily able to talk to who I needed to and resolve issues quickly.
Cost 10 Coming in at $2,200 after shipping and tax, it seems like a lot of money. However, compared to competitors’ prices I saved over $1,300.00. For a 17” notebook you couldn’t ask for a better price with the equipped options.
Total Score 89/100 A total percentage of 89%

Discuss this review in Short-Media’s Hardware Discussion forum.

Highs

  • Offers the best of current technology
  • Price competitive across the board
  • Sleek modern design
  • High resolution screen (1680 x 1440)
  • Runs cool and quiet

Lows

  • Needs more graphic options
  • Weighs 8.1lbs
  • Too much partner software


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