Windows XP Pro, Vista, & 7 Performance Comparisons on a HP DV2715nr Notebook

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I wish I could say that this was a labor of love for readers, but I recently became so disgusted with the poor performance of my HP laptop, that I was determined to gain some of the spec performance promised me when I bought it. What I wound up with is 3 different operating systems installed on one laptop in one day. What you wind up with is the bottom line, most brief insight into real world performance of these three Microsoft offerings.

Almost exactly a year ago, I purchased a HP DV2715nr laptop. I had just changed employers and turned my beautiful Dell 12.1” back in, and for the first time in over 15 years on the road, I was going to be anchored in an office and would not be receiving a shiny new laptop courtesy of someone else’s hardware budget. Knowing I could not do without a laptop for sofa surfing, I quickly snapped up a good deal on this unit. I wasn’t expecting to play Quake 3 on it, but I did expect it to perform at least as well as my 2 year old Dell had. And I did expect it to at least play the included Vista games. Boy was I wrong.

Machine Specifications

Model Number: DV2715nr

Microprocessor:  1.9 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core Mobile Technology TL-58

Microprocessor Cache:  512KB+512KB L2 Cache

Memory:  2048 MB (2 x 1024 MB)

Memory Max:  Up to 4 GB

Video Graphics:  NVIDIA GeForce 7150M

Video Memory:  Up to 799 MB

Hard Drive:  160 GB (5400RPM)

Multimedia Drive:  LightScribe Super Multi 8X DVD±RW with Double Layer Support

Display:  14.1″ WXGA High-Definition BrightView Widescreen Display (1280 x 800)

Fax/Modem:  High speed 56K modem

Network Card:  Integrated 10/100BASE-T Ethernet LAN

Wireless Connectivity:  802.11b/g WLAN

Sound : Altec Lansing speakers

Keyboard:  101-key compatible & 2 Quick Launch Buttons

Pointing Device:  Touch Pad with On/Off button and dedicated vertical and horizontal Scroll Up/Down 

PC Card: Slots  One ExpressCard 5/4 slot (also supports ExpressCard3/4)  

External Ports:  5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader for Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, or xD Picture cards, 3 Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0, 2 Headphone out, 1 microphone-in, 1 VGA (15-pin), 1 TV-Out (S-video), 1 RJ-11 (modem)1 RJ -45 (LAN), 1 notebook expansion port 3, 1 IEEE 1394 Firewire (4-pin), 1 Consumer IR

Dimensions;  13.15″ (L) x 9.33″ (W) x 1.02″ (min H) /1.54″ (max H)

Weight:  5.25lbs

Security  Kensington lock

Power-on password

Accepts 3rd party security lock devices 

Power  65W AC Adapter

6-Cell Lithium-Ion battery 

What’s In The Box : WebCam with Integrated Microphone, Mobile Stereo Earbud Headphones (1 pair), HP Mobile Remote Control

Back Story

As you can see, the specs say this thing should be a decent performer, at least a year ago it looked good. The one thing I was looking for in this price range was a decent graphics chipset. I briefly looked into the Geforce 7150m, and from the specs, I should be able to play sim games like Age of Empires, Civilization, or Sim City.

Let me just go ahead and put the ugly truth out there. The specification for the video chipset, 7150m and up to 799 available shared ram, is a lie. Plain and simple. I believe this spec is absolutely 100% intentionally misleading, and HP should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for misleading the consumer, and the frustrated hundreds that I’ve run into on forums and bulletin boards, trying to get this notebook to perform as it should, based on the spec. HP should send everyone who bought this model laptop a brand new notebook that performs, today, without question.

After a year of trying to solve this problem I discovered that this notebook does not have a 7150m graphics chipset, at least per Nvidia spec. What it has is an intentionally crippled and orphan, HP test tube MCP67m. The graphics chip was hard locked by the manufacturer to run at 100mhz memory speed as opposed to the 425mhz spec on the 7150m. The maximum memory you can throw at this thing is 128mb as opposed to the 799mb promised.

So to sum up, this graphics chip is not as promised by HP in writing. It runs at only about 24% of its specified memory speed, and is capable of being allocated only 16% of the shared memory promised. The only reason I can think of as to why they would do this is to help a heat issue. Even at the anemic speed this chipset runs at, this laptop gets blazing hot on the bottom. And the hotter it gets, the slower the system gets.

There is no software trick to unlock this chip, not from Nvidia, HP, or any 3rd party. There is no driver or chip tuner in the world that will make this chip perform as promised. So essentially, what I have in this notebook is the best performing graphics chipset available approximately 10-12 years ago. This thing is so horrible a graphics performer that it struggles to open web browser windows, play video, or even play the chess game that came as a part of Vista. And it was billed as a multimedia performer.

I’m always careful to look at both sides of a piece of hardware from a manufacturer, and be fair. What I have stated about this notebook and HP’s marketing of it may seem harsh and unfair. I assure you it is not, it is simply the truth I have experienced, after hours and hours and countless more hours of investigation into, and work on, the matter.  And although I have been personally affected by it, I stand 100% behind my estimate of it as objective fact.

This is why I spent 10 hours yesterday; installing 3 different operating systems on this notebook, and why the result is something I think is worthy of sharing, and is the basis for this article.

Windows Vista Performance

This laptop came with Vista, I had purchased it at a time when it was the only choice, there were no downgrades to XP available with anyone, and I was anxious to try out the new OS. I’m not going to rehash the whole Vista debacle here, it’s common knowledge that it’s a bloated under-performer. What I did do was delete my existing Vista partition, and install a fresh OEM copy of Vista without all the HP bloatware.

I gained some meager performance from a clean install and lack of HP goodies, but even with the newest driver from Nvidia, (which was just released because until now because they had refused to issue drivers for notebook graphics chips of their making, instead leaving it to the notebook manufacturer) the overall performance gain was minimal, and there was no improvement in the performance of the graphics chip.

This result was not unexpected, so it was off to my trusty XP Pro to save me.

Windows XP Pro Performance

Frustrated at this point, I deleted my Vista partition and re-formatted (I like as clean a start as I can get). Windows XP installed fine but I had to really dig to get the motherboard chipset drivers and graphics driver installed. Once I did, I noticed quite a bit of performance gain. The graphics chip did seem just a tad better, but not much. However, the overall performance of the environment was much better.  The frustrating part of this is that there is no driver I could find to let me get the network card, the wireless network card, or the sound card to operate under XP, even with HP’s own drivers for these components.

I tried several different motherboard chipset drivers, and anything else I could think of to get these components to work under XP to no avail. This process took most of my time yesterday and ended in frustration because I was looking for some real performance gain with XP and streamlined graphics instructions. I was about to chunk my favorite new paperweight out the window when I noticed the DVD I had burned with the Windows 7 beta release OS on it, lying on my desk. I decided to give this a whirl and I figured why not, if it doesn’t work, I’ll throw Ubuntu (per Rob Tillotson’s most excellent suggestion) or HP’s MIE OS on it and see if any of that worked.

Windows 7 Performance

Keep in mind that we’re dealing with an unofficial final product here, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this laptop even though I’ve been running it on my desktop since it was released for testing a few months ago, and I’ve been very pleased with it.

The install went beautifully, and every single component was recognized and a driver was installed by the operating system installer. It took only about thirty minutes and performed two Windows Updates. The end result was a freshly popped up desktop with all features working. What I did do, just to be sure, was download the latest nForce chipset driver and Nvidia graphics driver for the notebook. The only stragglers were the SM Bus Driver (a motherboard component) and the driver for the coprocessor. These were remedied by installing the Vista motherboard chipset drivers located on the help and support page from HP for this laptop.

It’s not quite a day old yet, but this laptop is performing better under Windows 7 than either XP or Vista. I’m really amazed at just how well it’s doing. My 3D chess game still isn’t silky smooth, but it’s playable. Windows are flying open, browsing is a sheer joy, and even my graphics editor is performing well. I almost feel like I’ve gotten a new laptop, no thanks to HP.

Conclusion

This isn’t a scientific review complete with charts and graphs or benchmarks; it’s anecdotal evidence, it’s what I’ve experienced firsthand, side by side, in a short amount of time. As I’ve learned from this purchase, (and I SHOULD know what I’m buying) is that real world performance sometimes isn’t the same as what’s on paper. I’m not sure what the engineers or sales executives at HP were thinking when they released this notebook with the written spec they did. I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box, but if I got taken, a lot of other people surely did. The evidence for this is in rants and desperate cries for help all over the Internet.

I do feel good at saying what I think Microsoft has done. And that’s trim the fat from Vista, and make this operating system communicate with hardware in a much better and more direct way than Vista or XP. I was almost laughing when I read recently that Microsoft was hoping Windows 7 would replace XP as the choice for netbook operating systems. I’m not laughing anymore; I can’t wait to try it. I think they’ve got a real winner.

So this isn’t meant to be the torch bearer review for Windows 7 vs. OSX, or any other system. I’m simply suggesting that if you’ve got a system with Vista on it, and are frustrated by it, like I have been with this sheep in wolf’s clothing of mine, try breathing a little new life into it when the Windows 7 official release comes out. The real world gain is definitely perceivable, and you may be surprised by just how much. I was.

Posted in: Miscellaneous

26 comments… add one

  • Web April 20, 2009, 12:18 pm

    Um, I see no graphs. Haven’t read text though, not interested.

  • David Flowers April 20, 2009, 12:32 pm

    Quote from above:

    “This isn’t a scientific review complete with charts and graphs or benchmarks; it’s anecdotal evidence, it’s what I’ve experienced firsthand, side by side, in a short amount of time.”

    But thanks for the comment either way!

  • Rob O. April 20, 2009, 12:43 pm

    Thanks for the insights! From my 15+ years of experience, anecdotal evidence is far more meaningful than the snappy charts and benchmark graphs that you’ll find on many hobbyist hardware sites. Those can be useful, but are often the result of applications that are not based on real-world usage patterns or needs.

    The time for video processors using shared system memory is over. These are almost always corner-cutting measures than penalize the user significantly in both performance and system longevity. I’ve long since said that increasing memory is your single best hedge against system obsolescence and that certainly goes for (dedicated) video RAM as well.

  • COCO April 20, 2009, 1:11 pm

    I totally agree with reviewer.
    Win7 on a 512 meg ram net book was a pleasure !
    Drivers were a little sticky , but that was Janruary
    Speedwise,it was 95%+ of XP and the install was ultra quick from a Fast Corsair USB stick
    VIsta=Windows Me
    Seven is the way forward

    COCO

  • Claire Strodtbeck April 20, 2009, 2:07 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about the performance of Windows 7. I can’t wait for it to come out – I imagine I’ll be installing it on my Aspire One when it’s released.

  • Pedro Pereira April 20, 2009, 2:30 pm

    This says it all! Windows 7 will outrun Windows Vista. Lets just hope they don’t get the price too high. I am not frustrated with Vista. It actually runs quite smoothly on my Acer Aspire 6920g, but if there is a way to get this monster working faster than it works already, I am sure going to get it!

  • rak April 20, 2009, 2:52 pm

    Great work David Flowers.I like the way you present the whole event. I think it is not a benchmark but is an experience. Windows 7 will wipe out all the negative impressions of vista. Thank you

  • jtwestside April 20, 2009, 3:24 pm

    I’ve been running windows 7 on a dv2718us and I can honestly saw that I echo everything you’ve stated. I love it! (and I’m PO’d about the NVIDIA GeForce situation too) anyway thanks for the writeup. I hope that MS hasn’t burnt too many bridges with Vista and people give WIN 7 a try.

  • Terry April 20, 2009, 5:18 pm

    That was useless.

  • sparky April 20, 2009, 5:40 pm

    On the gripping hand, the ‘spec problems’ with all things NVidia/AMD have been well known for at least two, and possibly three years. Things like MCP vs. desktop chipset comparisons, power consumption, heat dissipation, (in-)stability, etc, etc. This is exactly what happens when someone goes spec-shopping for hardware and doesn’t bother doing some reading on enthusiast web sites.

  • David Flowers April 20, 2009, 8:15 pm

    @ Rob O, COCO, Claire, Pedro, rak, jwestside, and even Terry, Thanks for the comments guys, I love a good discussion, either side of it, so thanks for contributing to it!

  • casey April 21, 2009, 7:45 am

    That made up my mind, i got a hp, i’m happy with the performance of the video chipset, and the laptop in general, i have it running unbuntu and vista. i will deffinatly will be upgrading to win7, i did try the beta months ago on my desktop had problems with a memory leak, but have heard this issue has been fixed…. as far a graphs and benchmarks, they are never accurate and can vary greatly between similar machines.

  • David Flowers April 21, 2009, 8:17 am

    @ Sparky, I appreciate your comments but let me clarify a couple of things. I don’t know what “gripping hand” means. And while I agree there have been issues with mobile chipsets from Nvidia in the past, I did check to see if there were any issues with this chipset prior to purchase. I could find no info, and the purchase was just over a year ago. At no point was I comparing the 7150m / MCP67m with a desktop chipset and was not expecting desktop performance.

    Part of the article’s point was to illustrate that even with someone such as me, whom I will very humbly say is at least as knowledgeable about hardware as the next guy, can check this information out and still wind up in this situation. I checked specs, I did some albeit brief research to check for problems, I even pulled up the device manager on the unit on the shelf, what was listed was a 7150m, not a MCP67m and that, is exactly, my point in regards to that part of the article.

    I do however, appreciate your participation in the discussion. Thanks!

  • Blacknimbus April 23, 2009, 4:13 pm

    Lol…love the ‘gripping hand’ reference. If you haven’t read The Mote in God’s Eye, you probably should. It basically means a 3rd way or option.

    And I’m excited about 7. Our organization skipped Vista altogether and will jump in with 7 as soon as it’s available.

  • Jim April 27, 2009, 1:37 pm

    This was surprising for me. I thought that XP would have out performed Windows 7.
    Contact

  • Leonardo Glavina April 28, 2009, 7:32 am

    Nice review David! I have the same laptop, and I was really frustrated about the performance, specially concerning the video. I’m thinking to change the system to the windows 7 beta, it was great to see that the drivers are working on the new OS.

    But I have a doubt on how to change the OS. All the drivers are in the HP partition? What should I do?

    It would be great if you could help me.

    Regards

  • David Flowers April 29, 2009, 12:52 pm

    @ Jim, Same here, but the difference is amazing. Plus, couldn’t get several components working with XP so I had few options.

    @ Leonardo, upgrading the OS to Win7 will be easy. The biggest issues with drivers on this laptop are the audio components, the wireless network card, and the video. Win7 loaded up the wireless network card and the audio all on its own, no problem. Thankfully, Nvidia has finally decided to make notebook drivers available, and the beta driver I used from Nvidia worked beautifully.

    In fact, since this article, and implementing some chipset overclocking via nTune, I am actually able to play World of Warcraft on it, lowest possible settings of course, but it gets me by when my wife forces me into “quality time” that involves me watching the Bachelor, American Idol, or Dancing With the Stars!

    Good luck, and thanks for the comments guys!

  • Mike July 15, 2009, 2:29 am

    Many thanks for your comments and impressions. I have been quite content with Vista on my 6-month old computer, but have pre-ordered a copy of Windows 7 (can’t beat the pre-order price) and been wondering if I should buy it in the end. Your impressions are helpful in that regard–thanks for sharing them!

  • mobile01 October 9, 2009, 8:40 pm

    I’ve been using windows 7 X64 for quite a while. I am also planning to buy Win7 pro (only $30 with student discount). However, I am not super impressed by the “Performance gain” vs. Vista X64. First off, booting and shutdown times are pretty much the same. Application load time is completely the same. Gaming performance (COH, L4D, TF2) are pretty much the same with today’s win7 drivers (I don’t see a 10 to 20 FPS gain with the same settings). The only feature win7 impresses me is that it doesn’t constantly read the HDD during idle—something vista does all the time.

    Win7 is marginally faster than Vista. Don’t expect it to do miracles on a normal computer (like mine) or a slow machine…such as a netbook. Plus, does anyone know how to disable the overexposed blooming affect on win7? (I hate seeing the HDR affect on my desktop)

    btw, if you are a college student, CHECK IF YOUR COLLEGE OR DEPARTMENT ALLOWS YOU TO GET A FREE WIN7. ITS CALLED THE “MSDNAA”. What happens is that you get to download a free and Legit copy of Win7 via e-academy.

    My specs: Radeon4830 (stock speed)
    AthlonX2 4800+ Brisbane (@2.9Ghz)
    4Gb DDRII 800 ram
    WD AAKS640Gb (SE16 / caviar blue)
    Gigabyte 780G mobo
    Corsair 450VX

  • dude October 21, 2009, 2:12 pm

    Ok so first you say xp > vista ok agreed everyone knows. Then you blame companies for deliberately sabotaging hardware and not releasing drivers for such alright ok. Then you turn around and agree its nice that windows 7 has all its drivers even though not a mention of performance not even a bit of boottime absurdity. Even though you lecture that is best to get drivers yourself so you don’t get cheated on performance by old drivers or poor laptop seller misconfigurations, you praise windows 7 for doing it?

    Only thing I can see different between xp and windows 7 is it won’t be malicious laptop sellers destroying drivers but microsoft now and you’ll have a lot worse time digging that crud out of your box.

  • dude October 21, 2009, 2:14 pm

    lol all comments here are by noobs who buy poor hardware and can’t manage the downgrade to xp for a working system that. I still have yet to see any bonus from windows 7 besides its hording of directx updates.

  • Chris November 23, 2009, 5:19 pm

    David Flowers Help Please!

    I just installed windows 7 from the free MSDNAA offer that my college gives me. It is the professional edition. I also have the dv2715nr laptop and the install went smooth but I no longer have sound and HP does not offer drivers that work with 7, only vista which dont work. What do i do??

  • Leonardo Glavina January 27, 2010, 4:58 pm

    @Chris? this is quite strange…. I have the same laptop and it worked. I just downloaded all drivers from HP website (Vista version, coz I did this on a leaked beta version) and installed them.

    The only thing that I couldnt fix was the remote control. Besides that, everything went fine.

  • asdfasdf July 17, 2010, 8:55 pm

    nobody cares about your opinion about how you thought one operating system was faster than another. The only way to prove what os is better is by looking at numbers and graphs. You seem to think windows 7 is so great because it was easy for you to set up in a minimal amount of time. I care about performance not ease of use.

  • Centium May 11, 2011, 4:50 pm

    @asdfasdf-

    This OBVIOUSLY isn’t for people looking for performance charts and graphs. Try keeping your insults to yourself and go someplace else if this isn’t what you’re looking for, troll…

  • Susie March 6, 2013, 12:54 am

    To those of you who are having a problem with HP laptops especially the HP compaq presario f700 because of the sound card STOP RIGHT NOW. You will not be able to fix this problem if you have tried everything and it says no sound card installed even after going through all the safe mode steps. Let me tell you how you can fix this nasty little problem that was made on purpose by HP manufacturer in order to make more money through tech support selling warranties ok? Go to amazon and buy a virtual 5.1 channel USB sound card for under $5 right now. Get it in 3-5 days and plug it in and it will work to get you sound. You wont have a speaker but you can use a $1 pair of headphones or buy a $5 speaker at Walmart. You can fix this. Dont grow any more gray hairs over this dumb problem. God knows I have. My ethernet plug in port went out, my sound card port went out and one other thing too. These are suppose to happen because of the way HP made the laptops though!! They did this on purpose. All you need is the USB sound card. Just type in the search on amazon — 3d sound card usb — . God bless you all and have fun.

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