Hardware

HP Compaq 8710w (First Look Review)

1 Apr, 2008 By: Ron LaFon

Mobile workstation offers excellent battery life and a clean and functional design.


Hewlett-Packard creates and markets some remarkably sophisticated laptops, including ones that are capable enough to be called mobile workstations. I had a chance to look at the HP Compaq 8710w mobile workstation and run it through its paces with the Cadalyst 2008 benchmark tests.



The 8710w that Cadalyst received was based on Windows XP Professional, as requested, but the system is also available with either Vista Business or FreeDOS installed. The system has a very well-designed and attractive case, which measures 15.50" x 10.80" x 1.30" (W x D x H) and, equipped as I received it, weighs 7.5 lbs. The HP Compaq 8710w features a 17.0" diagonal screen that is capable of WXUGA resolutions — indeed, the native resolution is 1,920 x 1,200. In the unit I received, this display was driven by an NVIDIA Quadro FX 1600M graphics card, which featured 512 MB of onboard memory.

Inside the case, the 8710w was based on an Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 microprocessor that the system indicated was running at 2.40 GHz. A total of 4 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM was preinstalled, as was Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2. Although many options are available, this system included a 120 GB 7200 rpm SATA drive. The WHCL-certified NVIDIA video drivers used throughout the testing process were version 6.14.11.163, dated May 25, 2007.

The HP Compaq 8710W mobile workstation combines visualization and computational power into a sleek design with a 17" display.
The HP Compaq 8710W mobile workstation combines visualization and computational power into a sleek design with a 17" display.

As is typical with HP mobile systems, the HP Compaq 8710w was well equipped with connectivity options, including one IEEE 1394 FireWire connection and six USB 2.0 connectors. Additional connectors included an external VGA monitor connector and both RJ-11 and RJ-45 ports, as well as microphone in, headphone out, docking connector, and the ubiquitous AC power connector.

A single eight-cell lithium ion battery was included with the 8710w, and it proved to offer good longevity during the battery run-down tests. With polling devices such as Bluetooth and wireless LAN disabled and the ambient light sensor turned off, I allowed the system to discharge the batteries completely while idle — this took 4 hours, 20 minutes. With a similar setup that included AutoCAD 2008 running a loop of the new Cadalyst C2008 benchmark (available at www.cadalyst.com/c2008), the battery charge on the actively operating system lasted 1 hour, 40 minutes — very good numbers.

HP Compaq 8710w
HP Compaq 8710w

Using the new Cadalyst C2008 benchmark with AutoCAD 2008 with Service Pack 1 installed, I ran a total of three tests. The first test was with the native OpenGL driver, which produced a C2008 total index score of 180 in 116 minutes. Next, I tested with the native Direct3D drivers, which took 91 minutes with a C2008 total index score of 226. Then, I ran two iterations of AutoCAD 2008 side by side, each taking up half the screen and running two different series of the C2008 benchmark. The two total index scores were 228 and 211, with the longest time being 96 minutes. This test used both cores of the microprocessor to generate a combined total index score of 439 in 96 minutes.

The next benchmark was the MAXBench 4 test, which I performed with Autodesk 3ds Max 2008. I typically run three instances of the test, one with the native OpenGL drivers, another with the native Direct 3D drivers, and one with any accelerated drivers — though none were yet available for this release of 3ds Max. The combined high/low scores were 71.85 for the OpenGL driver and 141.08 for the Direct 3D driver.

The final test suite used the complete SPECviewperf 10 benchmark (www.spec.org). The results of the individual tests were: 32.90 for 3dsmax-04, 42.48 for catia-02, 38.78 for ensight-03, 141.74 for maya-02, 41.12 for proe-04, 64.58 for sw-01, 19.87 for tcvis-01, and 19.47 for ugnx-01.

Pricing for the HP Compaq 8710w as equipped for this review is $3,740, which includes warranty coverage of 36 months for labor, parts, and onsite service and 24-hour replacement parts and 24-hour telephone support. The HP Compaq 8710w has good performance, excellent battery life, great design, and lots of configuration and connectivity options. Highly Recommended.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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