Friday, October 26, 2007

HP Pavilion ZD8000 Review

The ZD8000 seemed to be a good candidate as it came with an ATI Mobility Radeon X600 graphics card and other options that provided for a great desktop replacement style notebook. In this review I compare the new ZD8000 to both the Toshiba Satellite P35 17-inch screen notebook and the HP ZD7000(li-ion battery:hp pavilion zd7000 battery) 17-inch screen notebook which I had before the P35.

HP ZD8000 Review Unit System Specs

  • Mobile Pentium 4 520 2.8GHz, with Hyper-Threading

  • 1GB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz(512x1) from Micron

  • Toshiba 80GB hard drive 5400 RPM

  • LG GWA-4080N DVD+/-RW Drive - CD-ROM (40x); CD-R (40x write); CD-RW (24x write); DVD-ROM (16x); DVD-R (8x write); DVD-RW (4x write); DVD+R (16x write); DVD+RW (4x write); DVD+R Dual Layer (2.4x write)

  • ATI Mobility Radeon X600 with 256MB dedicated RAM

  • 17.0" WXGA TFT LCD ViewBright display 1440 x 900 resolution

  • Integrated V.92/56K modem

  • Realtek RTL8193 10/100 Ethernet LAN

  • Broadcom 802.11b/g Wireless LAN

  • Built-in Harman/Kardon stereo speakers

  • Intel ICH6 AC97 Sound Card

  • 5-in-1 Media Reader (Secure Digital, Memory Stick/Pro, MMC, xD Picture Card)


The ZD8000 has a slightly modified look from its previous generation model, the ZD7000. Most notable is the cooling system. It is totally redesigned. Is it better now? Unfortunately that's a negative. There is an extra fan now, probably for making sure the machine can keep cool with the new ATI Mobility X600 graphics card. The entire rear of the notebook is dedicated to having vents for cooling, thereby sacrificing the parallel port from the previous generation. Even with a number of vents, the computer still gets very hot and the fans spin up all the time and they are loud. The keyboard area and wrist rest below the keyboard still gets very hot to the touch, though not as bad as the ZD7000 I used to own did. The touchpad area is thankfully improved and more usable now than before. I wish they had focused more on improving the cooling and reducing heat build-up around the keyboard rather than improving the touchpad though. The heat around the keyboard can make it uncomfortable to type after 10 minutes of typing on this laptop. The cooling system simply needs a lot more reworking, my use of the Toshiba Satellite P35 proved that a large desktop replacement notebook with a Pentium 4 processor doesn't have necessarily have to be a giant heat synch. Toshiba somehow managed to get rid of heat from the P35 system and typing was comfortable.

The power connector for the ZD8000 seems to be totally redesigned from the ZD7000. I have heard of many problems others had with the older design, and have myself experienced problems of loose power adapter connections on my old HP ZD7000. The new connector on the HP ZD8000 looks to solve this problem, however this means you won't be able to use 3rd party power adapters anymore. Using my Kill-a-Watt meter power usage of the ZD8000 peeks out at a staggering 130watts under the full load of Half Life 2, this pushed right up to the max rating of 135watts on the transformer. No surprise that with such power consumption noticed when running using an AC adpater, you'll be lucky to get an hour from this monster when on battery power; and don't even try something 3D intensive when not plugged in!

Size and Weight

This laptop is one of the biggest out there. Weighing in at a hefty 9.5 pounds, it is probably in the top 5% of the weight bracket for notebooks. The dimensions measure 16.5" L x 11.5" W x 1.57/1.85" H. The AC adapter adds another pound and 3 ounces to overall weight. That means that you'll be carrying well over 10 pounds of computer related stuff, so this titan is not for the faint of heart!


Laptop LCDs and LCDs in general have come a long way. Gone are the days of ghosting and inaccurate colors if you buy a decent brand LCD, and most modern laptops seem to have displays of very good quality. The screen on my ZD8000 features BrightView which helps improve clarity, color saturation and contrast. It's quite a bit better than the older ZD7000 without Brightview. I notice no ghosting of any type in my first person shooter (FPS) games and there were no dead pixels. The blacks are deep and incredible, putting my professional Sony Trinitron CRT to shame. The white is a little on the warm yellowish side, I prefer cool, bluer whites. The viewing angle is simply amazing. This is truly a desktop replacement system as it will be hard to go back to your desktops display after seeing this one!


The speakers are Harman/Kardon brand and relative to the size of the laptop are tiny. The speakers on this laptop face outward which is nice if you would like to play something with the lid closed. The performance of the speakers isn't so good though. You begin to hear sound distortion at about 80% max volume. Bass is virtually nonexistent with this set of speakers. For games the speakers seemed to perform decently, but they lack the virtual spacialization found in the Toshiba P35 speakers. There is no improvement in the ZD8000 speakers over the ZD7000 speakers, which is sort of a shame. Furthermore, these speakers can't even begin to compare with the Harman/Kardon speakers on the Toshiba P35.


HP decided to ditch nVidia and went to ATi for the graphics system in this generation of the ZD line. At the time of its design, this was probably a good choice as ATI was whipping nVidia around in the laptop department for a long while. Everything changed when nVidia released the mobile 6800Go though. The ATI X600 graphics card is basically equivalent in performance to a Mobility 9700 running on 16X PCI. Does the PCI standard make it faster than the equivalent AGP processor? No. Does the name of the card make it sound faster? It sure does! But don't let names fool you.

The X600 graphics processor core is clocked at 400MHz and the 256MB of ram is clocked at 250MHz (500MHz effective). The difference between 64MB and 256MB makes a huge difference in current games. With 256MB you can run Half Life 2 at full detail and 4xFSAA whereas 64MB you were limited to minimum quality. Games like LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth and FlatOut, which would not even run with 64MB, is very playable now.

A picture speaks a thousand words and so do numbers, so let's just look at some to demonstrate gaming performance:

Using Omega 2.6.05a (Catalyst 5.1)

Drivers graphics settings on max.




3DMark 2001SE




3Dmark 2003




AMD N-Bench V3




FFXI Online V3




Call of Duty




Doom3 High




Doom3 Ultra




Warcraft III




Underground 2




Prince of Persia 2




Jedi Academy




Riddick: EFBB




Half Life 2

HOC Coast




HOC d13c17




Guru3D demo4




Guru3D demo5




Guru3D demo6

















HP Pavilion ZD8000 Battery

HP PAVILION ZD8000 SERIES laptop battery

Laptop battery for HP PAVILION ZD8000 SERIES (LiIon Battery) Compatible Part#: HP DP390A, HP DP399A, HP HSTNN-DB02

Chemistry: Li-ion
Volt: 14.8V
Capacity: 6600mAh
Dimension: 152 x 114 x 19.3mm
Net Weight: 607.5g
Color: Black

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I/O Ports

The ZD8000 is an I/O mecha. It features 2 PCMCIA ports. I don't know what you would use 1 of them for, let alone 2. Just about everything you need is already built in. No need for searching for the USB port, as there is one on every side. There are 5 USB ports total, one which is featured as a "HP USB Digital Drive" which is just a gimmicky SD card reader. I guess its for those who do not figure out that pretty much all HPs come with a 6in1 card reader standard nowadays. Compact flash support is however missing. The largest surviving flash memory seems to be a dying breed, mostly reserved for those with high end digital cameras.


The keyboard is a very standard layout with built in numpad, which is certainly a nice addition. If anything will drive you to this laptop, the numpad is it. Touchpad is a big improvement from the ZD7000. It no longer gets dreadfully hot and is sunken in. This helps alleviate the problem of it being accidentally tripped when typing. But due to its large size it still does not totally prevent this problem, even with small hands.

Wireless and Connectivity

The ZD8000 comes with the Broadcom chipset which when paired with Broadcom routers offers incredible performance. Broadcom seems to be the choice now in wireless chipsets. Performance is very stable and range seems to just keep improving after every revision. It offers more consistency and range than even the venerable Orinoco Gold PCMCIA card I have. The wireless switch is at the top right edge on the side of the laptop accompanied by an orange LED. I would have liked an LED on top for quicker identification as to whether WiFi was on or not.

I was very disappointed to see only 100MB fast Ethernet via Realtek instead of Gigabit Ethernet. Most people will find this a non issue, but I have a Gigabit network at home for transferring video files and with a 5400RPM hard drive, things could easily take half the time to transfer vs plain old Ethernet.


Overall the ZD8000 is a decent improvement over the ZD7000. Performance is great thanks to finally having a full 800MHz FSB. The X600 graphics card is no slouch either, playing Half Life 2 is brilliant on this laptop. However if gaming is your thing you should look toward the Pentium M as it is nearly twice as fast clock for clock as a Pentium 4. The Pentium 4 excels in heavy FPU data like Photoshop, video editing, and encoding. Overall a decent laptop replacement, however I would have to recommend the Toshiba P35 over the HP ZD8000 unless you really cannot live without a numpad on the keyboard


  • Gorgeous Screen

  • NumPad included on keyboard

  • 5 USB Ports

  • 2 PCMCIA ports

  • Good graphics card and gaming performance


  • Loud Fans

  • Keyboard area of laptop gets really hot

  • Horrible Battery Life

  • No serial or parallel ports

  • Proprietary AC connector

  • Only 100MB Fast Ethernet

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