This desktop replacement is big in power, not just size

Box scores

HP's Compaq nx9500 is up to the mark as a full desktop replacement.

Henrik G. de Gyor

The Compaq nx9500 looks more like a semi-mobile desktop computer than a desktop replacement.

Weighing nearly 10 pounds and measuring 15.6 by 10.9 by 1.85 inches, this notebook PC isn't much smaller than standard PCs. You could even think of it as an all-in-one computer.

The robust, 3.2-GHz Intel hyperthreading processor is backed by 1G of 266-MHz, double-data-rate synchronous dynamic RAM. Those two powerful components, coupled with an Nvidia GeForce FX Go5700 video card with 128M of dedicated memory, make multitasking seamless.

The nx9500 was officially released after our recent notebook roundup [GCN, June 7, Page 34], but we had the unit in the GCN Lab long enough to compare its performance against the other notebooks and processors.

The nx9500 scored 7,405 on the lab's Alterion Corp. benchmark suite, making it slightly faster than the other notebooks, which averaged 6,927.

That, plus several other pluses, would have put the nx9500 slightly ahead of our Reviewer's Choice, the Dell Latitude D800.

The nx9500 has a full QWERTY keyboard and separate number pad, integrated Harman/Kardon speakers, 5,400-rpm hard drive storing 80G and integrated Broadcom IEEE 802.11g/b wireless card. Those extras, along with the fact that the nx9500 would have been the only 17-inch Intel unit in the June review', would have made it the favorite.

The Wide XGA screen has 1,440 by 900 pixels, rendering a 16:10 aspect ratio at a 140-degree viewing angle. The screen can display that resolution with up to 16 million colors'excellent for graphics work.

I processed 12 high-resolution images through a photo editor without encountering any hang-ups. The images ranged from 6M to 15M, big enough to crash my 3-GHz Pentium 4 desktop system with 256M of RAM.

Fully loaded

To say the nx9500 packs everything but the kitchen sink is an understatement. Besides the processing power and the large screen, it has a well-constructed black chassis with well-located ports.

I would have liked a six-pin FireWire 1394a or a nine-pin 1394b port, which I've never seen on non-Apple computers. Instead, the nx9500 has these ports: four-pin 1394a, four USB 2.0, parallel, VGA video and S-Video. That makes it an ideal candidate for presentations with a projector.

On the lab's battery life test, the nx9500 fared well. It lasted two hours playing a video continuously. That's not as long as notebooks with the more power-efficient Pentium M chip, but much longer than other desktop replacements we've tested'with the notable exception of the 17-inch Apple PowerBook, which ran more than three hours.

Despite its size, the nx9500 is worth the effort to carry around. And you won't need a desktop PC with this workhorse in the office.


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