Introduction

2007 has been pretty exciting in the world of computers so far; we've seen new graphics cards, processors, and various platform launches -- and there's plenty more to come in those areas. Perhaps more significantly is that we've got a shiny new operating system from Microsoft, Windows Vista. Unfortunately, new doesn't necessarily mean better, and in the case of computer benchmarks this new operating system is proving to be particularly irksome. It's not that Windows Vista is slow, but rather that there are certain benchmark suites we've used in the past that simply refuse to run on Windows Vista. As such, we're going to have to rework some of our mobility performance tests and we are embarking on that journey today with our review of the Hewlett Packard dv6500t notebook.

As one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world, HP is able to offer an extensive line of desktop and notebook computers, as well as various peripherals. Their products generally don't cater to computer enthusiasts, but for your average home user and more importantly for many businesses, HP's offerings are going to be used by a huge number of people. Depending on your needs, their latest Santa Rosa-based notebook might be just what you're looking for.

Putting together product reviews often presents some difficulties. While we would love to be able to go out and review every product on the planet, the reality is that we often require help from manufacturers in order to get equipment to evaluate. The more expensive the product, the more difficult it can become to acquire review samples. In the end, we review what we can and even when we don't necessarily have directly competing products to compare for comparison we hope to at least provide an in-depth analysis of the hardware we are sent. Very few items are able to satisfy every user out there, so two of our primary considerations are: what is the intended market for a product, and how well does it do in meeting the needs of the target market?


The HP dv6500t is only being offered with Windows Vista, so even if we were able to get Windows XP to run on the laptop such benchmarks would be largely meaningless. However, this is the first laptop we've tested using Windows Vista, so in some areas we will be unable to directly compare results to previous laptops. Also keep in mind that Windows Vista does impact performance differently than Windows XP, so even when we do have results from other laptops, at this point we're dealing in apples-to-oranges comparisons. That's okay, though, since in the world of mobile computers pure performance is rarely the most important factor people look at when shopping for a new notebook.

Many of the notebooks we have been sent in the past are definitely slanted a bit more towards the gaming market, and while that's fine for gamers there are drawbacks to such notebooks for other users. A gaming notebook typically requires a powerful graphics chip, and inevitably that increases power requirements and reduces battery life. Some people are okay with making that compromise, but for most mobile users one of the major reasons to get a notebook in the first place is so that you can use it away from your desk. More to the point, even the fastest notebook out there is still easily surpassed by a decent desktop system, and high-performance notebooks don't come cheap. Rather than picking up an ultra powerful $4000+ notebook, it's often better to purchase a decent laptop as well as a desktop system; spending about $2000 on each of those will usually result in a better overall computing experience. (If you still prefer an ultra high-end laptop, though, don't worry -- we'll be taking a look at just such an offering in the near future.)

That leads us to the star of today's review, the HP dv6500t. This is a generally no-frills notebook that is more than able to handle whatever computing task you might want to throw at it, short of gaming and perhaps a few high-performance applications. In that respect, it's a lot like driving a minivan. It will help you cart your kids around, but it's not quite as exciting to drive as the latest sports car. The dv6500t is part of HP's Entertainment notebook line for home and home-office users, though it would have no difficulty functioning in a business environment as well. Let's take a closer look.

HP dv6500t Specifications and Features
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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - link

    Funny you should mention the E-155-C.... :D Reply
  • Fant - Friday, June 22, 2007 - link

    Seems HP shipped you a badly specced machine. They should have used a 5400rpm drive and the nvidia graphics chip as well as the extended 6-cell. All three would have improved your benchmarks. Out of curiousity, did you use a clean vista build or the out of the box vista build that hp supplies with loads of extras installed? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2007 - link

    HP's install, minus a bunch of software that I didn't want running. Although, when I ran SYSmark 2007, I ahd to do a clean install first. (Now you know why the lack of GbE was annoying - image a HDD over 100 Mbit and I averaged 3 MB/s instead of 12 MB/s with GbE. Not sure why, but Acronis only manages to use about 25% of the Ethernet bandwidth.) Anyway, I like to make the testing close to "real world", and most people don't buy an HP, Dell, Gateway, etc. notebook only to install their own operating system. (Businesses are different story, but let's not go there.)

    I actually don't think that the configuration they sent was all that bad. It may not perform as well in benchmarks, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people get way too hung up on benchmark results. Do you want a faster hard drive, or do you prefer having a bit more storage? There is no right answer, although personally I would generally go with one of the 120-160GB 7200 RPM laptop drives if possible. As for the battery, they did send me the 12-cell for testing, and the only thing I really would like to know is the capacity of the extended 6-cell. The basic 6-cell is a 47 WHr, so if they extended capacity is 65 WHr it would increase battery life by about 35-40%. I'm trying to get an answer from HP about the capacity of the other 6-cell offering.
    Reply
  • Fant - Saturday, June 23, 2007 - link

    I have a dv6500t with the extended 6-cell. I havent done any formal testing but I probably get just under 3 hours with the HP Recommended / Balanced Power Plan in Vista and a bit over 3 hours when using the Power Saver Plan. I did notice that the cpu seems to stay at the lower speed with the Power Saver Plan but seems to stay at the higher speeds with the HP Recommended / Balanced Power Plan even when I am not doing much cpu intensive tasks. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2007 - link

    Can you check the battery and see what the rating is? Usually it will say something like "10.8V ~= xx WHr". I want to know the Watt-Hour rating. I'm not sure why, but the notebook I have almost never runs at minimum CPU speed. Weird. Reply
  • hubajube - Friday, June 22, 2007 - link

    I was waiting to read on how this laptop performed when watching HD DVD's. I'm interested in buying this for my wife for her to use as a work laptop but at the same time I'd like to use it as a HTPC. Oh well guess I'll have to spend the money to find out. :( Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 22, 2007 - link

    Yeah, they didn't send the HD-DVD version. I'm not sure if the 8400M GS is required for that or not - maybe X3100 can do enough to handle it (but I doubt it). Anyway, we've tested 8600 cards with HD-DVD, and I don't see why the 8400M wouldn't handle it fine. Problem is, the display is still pretty poor, especially when you consider that video overlay can have a color correction profile applied. Reply
  • shady3005 - Friday, June 22, 2007 - link

    I was gonna consider this laptop but was turned off by the lack of gigabit ethernet. Dint know about the horrible display at that time. So i was waiting for an upgrade to this laptop but sadly none came.

    Then I set my eyes on the new Macbook pro. Just 500$ higher that top dv6500t config but worth every extra penny. Amazing display , much lighter , thinner , sexier and CPU (2.2Ghz) and Graphics (8600GT M) upgrade with much better battery life.

    Please review the new MacBooks with Santa Rosa ..... I would like to hear how awesome they are ..
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, June 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    So disappointed, in fact, that there will be no charts on this page -- and you know how much we love charts!


    I lol'd pretty good at this one :)
    Reply
  • BPB - Friday, June 22, 2007 - link

    Maybe I missed it, if so please excuse me, but I think you simply used the ABG wireless setup. I was wondering how well the N wireless works, and how well it talks to other N devices such as my Belkin N1. My wife's HP works quite well with the Belkin N PCMCIA and router, but for our next notebook I'd like to have the N built-in. Reply

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