The HP Compaq range has made a name for itself with laptops that provide solid build characteristics and reliable performance. The HP Compaq nx6310 (£499 inc. VAT) shows these features are also available to those on a budget.
When it comes to build quality, it's difficult to believe this machine comes in at under £500. The materials used are similar to those found on much costlier HP machines and, as such, offer a robustness not often found on laptops in this price range.
The keyboard is excellent, offering large, well-spaced keys, with a useful amount of travel. The plastics are tactile, and only the Lenovo C100 can offer as good a typing experience. As with other HP Compaq's, you'll find rubber touchpad buttons and stops around the keyboard, protecting the screen from scratches.
The 15-inch display features a Super- TFT coating, which produces vibrant images and a good contrast. However, with a native resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels (WXGA), images are not the sharpest we've seen. The 4:3 aspect ratios also restrict onscreen space.
Intel's latest 945GM integrated graphics chip supports the display - which offers better performance than the older 915GM GPU sported by other machines in the group. A 3DMark 2003 score of 1227 reflects this machine's suitability for running office and light multimedia applications.
The HP boasts an up-to-date Intel Core Solo T1300 processor. Although it's a single core solution, and lacks the ability to multi-task as efficiently as Core-Duo processors, performance is impressive. You'll find 512MB of DDR2 memory, and ample storage space in the form of an 80GB Fujitsu hard drive.
A MobileMark 2005 score of 211 is reasonable, and we had little trouble in running multiple applications. The nx6310 also impressed when it came to battery life, running for 305 minutes.
Corners have not been cut when it comes to features. A multi-format DVD rewriter is included. You'll be able to connect to wireless networks thanks to an 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi adapter, and fixed networks by using a 10/100 Ethernet adaptor.
Unfortunately, there are only two USB 2.0 ports, which is unusual on a machine of this size. They are also placed very closely together, so if you're using larger peripherals, you may struggle to plug them in.
Apart from this, it's hard to fault the Compaq nx6310. It offers respectable performance and modern components, and places them in a particularly well- built chassis.