Editor's note: In our original review, we mistakenly stated the length of the warranty for the HP Compaq nx6125. HP backs the system with a standard three-year warranty. We regret the error. (6/22/05)
The HP Compaq nx6125 attempts to balance price, portability, and performance, and it succeeds--in part. At $1,249, it's certainly less expensive than other business laptops, and for the price, it delivers some nice design features. Slightly larger than the average thin-and-light, it's still light enough for moderate travel. Unfortunately, the nx6125's AMD Turion 64 processor clocked exceptionally slow scores in CNET Labs' productivity benchmarks. You'd be better off with a mainstream notebook such as the ThinkPad R52, which offers much more speed and the same amount of battery life for a similar price.
Measuring 12.9 inches wide, 10.5 inches deep, and 1.6 inches thick and weighing 6.2 pounds, the HP Compaq nx6125 pushes the limits of thin-and-light laptop territory, though not as far as the Acer Aspire 5000, which runs an inch wider and almost a half-pound heavier. Still, other business thin-and-lights, such as the ThinkPad T43 and the Dell Latitude D610, are slightly smaller and fall in the 5.5-pound range. The nx6125's AC adapter tacks on another 0.8 pound to your travel load.
The somber, steel-gray nx6125 won't turn heads, but its well-conceived design will help employees get their jobs done. The broad keyboard is comfortable to use, and the good-size touch pad features a handy line down its right side to show where you should place your finger for scrolling. Two mouse buttons sit below the pad and have horizontal divots that help you feel where the buttons begin and end. Six buttons above the keyboard serve handy purposes: one turns the built-in wireless radio on and off; another automatically launches presentations with the application, video, and power settings you specify; and three control the laptop's sound. The final button opens the control panel window, giving you easy access to configure program settings (and the functions of the buttons themselves).
When it comes to ports and connections, the HP Compaq nx6125 sticks to the thin-and-light status quo. You get FireWire, S-Video-out, VGA, and three USB 2.0 ports. Jacks are limited to those for a 56Kbps modem, Gigabit Ethernet, headphones, and a microphone. Where slots are concerned, the nx6125 includes one Type II PC card slot, one smart-card slot, and one 6-in-1 slot that accommodates the major flash-memory card types: Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, SmartMedia, and xD. Our test unit also included an ordinary Broadcom 802.11b/g Wi-Fi card, Bluetooth, and a single-layer DVD burner for the fixed internal bay.
The business-focused nx6125 comes preloaded with Windows XP Professional. Like most business systems, it doesn't ship with an expensive productivity suite such as Microsoft Office. However, HP bundles a few standard apps for disc playback and burning, including InterVideo WinDVD 5.0 and Sonic RecordNow 7.0.
The laptop also comes preloaded with HP's ProtectTools program, which helps defend your data and manage the system by setting passwords, specifying boot-up scenarios, and more; it doesn't include a Trusted Platform Module chip, which is becoming a security standard among enterprise business portables (HP plans to include this feature in future nx6125 iterations). However, like more and more corporate laptops, the nx6125 does have a fingerprint sensor integrated into the lower-right corner of the wrist rest that lets you log on by swiping a finger instead of typing in a password.
HP sells the nx6125 through various online resellers and the company's own Web site. You can choose from among several preconfigured versions of the laptop or customize your own. Get the skinny on the range of available configurations in CNET's HP Compaq nx6125 notebook PC series review.
Our nx6125 test system, priced at a low $1,249 (as of June 2005), featured a collection of lower-end parts: an AMD Turion 64 ML-37 processor that runs at a speedy 2GHz; 512MB of slow 333MHz SDRAM; a big 15-inch display with an economical 1,024x768 native resolution; a low-cost version of the ATI Mobility Radeon X300 graphics chip that borrows a maximum 128MB of VRAM from main memory; and an average-size 60GB hard drive that spins at an above-average 5,400rpm. For comparison, the $1,099 Acer Aspire 5000 offers a Turion 64 ML-30 chip rated at a lower 1.6GHz, a slower 4,200rpm hard drive, and a slightly larger 15.4-inch screen. Both the ThinkPad T43 and the Dell Latitude D610 carry lots of expensive components, including current-generation Centrino Intel Pentium M processors, and cost nearly a thousand bucks more than the nx6125.
The small economies in components definitely show in the nx6125's performance. In CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, the laptop ran 11 percent slower than the Acer Aspire 5000, which delivered a merely mediocre performance itself. The nx6125 fell 21 percent behind the Latitude D610, which has a 2GHz Pentium M processor but slower, 266MHz memory; and it ran 22 percent behind the 1.86GHz Pentium M-based ThinkPad T43. The nx6125 somewhat vindicated itself in our battery-drain tests, lasting 3 hours, 39 minutes--just about average for a thin-and-light with a 2GHz processor--compared to the Aspire 5000's short 2 hours, 52 minutes. Neither proved any match for the Latitude D610's 4 hours, 9 minutes or the ThinkPad T43's 5 hours, 6 minutes (we should note that the ThinkPad T43 includes a much larger and more expensive battery than its competitors).
Like the more expensive Dell Latitude D610 and ThinkPad T43, the HP Compaq nx6125 is covered by a three-year warranty. Unlike the Dell and ThinkPad warranties, which include onsite service, the HP plan comprises only mail-in service and toll-free, 24/7 phone support. You can always purchase one of HP's extended warranty options, which are available with varying prices and terms, such as accidental damage protection or onsite service. The HP support Web site offers one of our favorite help features, the ability to chat in real time with a tech support rep, in addition to the standard troubleshooting and downloads sections.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery-life minutes
Acer Aspire 5000
Windows XP Home; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 ML-30; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; SIS M760GX 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 60GN 60GB 4,200rpm
Dell Latitude D610
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X300 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 80GB 5,400rpm
HP Compaq nx6125
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Turion 64 ML-37; 512MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon Express 200 128MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AH 60GB 5,400rpm
Windows XP Pro; 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M 750; 512MB DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon X300 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm