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Compaq and HP business notebook model history
 
Introduction
I like those series a lot. It is solid, it performs very well (do not forget to upgrade RAM and SSD disk) and it is still compatible with Windows XP or XP 64-bit. Also, I prefer to avoid any numpad on a laptop keyboard. So in the end, the models I recommend are:
- HP Compaq nx6320/nc6320 as core 2 duo from T5500@1.66-GHz to T7600@2.33-GHz
- HP Compaq nx6325 as turion 64 X2
- HP Compaq nc6400 as core 2 duo from T5500@1.66-GHz to T7600@2.33-GHz
- HP Compaq nx8420/nc8430 as core 2 duo from T5600@1.83-GHz to T7600@2.33-GHz
- HP Compaq nw8440 as core 2 duo from T5500@1.66-GHz to T7600@2.33-GHz
- HP Compaq nw9440 as core 2 duo from T5600@1.83-GHz to T7600@2.33-GHz
 
As an alternative, the newer style is also nice,
- HP Compaq 6910p,
- HP Compaq New Style x5xx, x7xx series: 2210b/CT, 2510p, 6530b, 6535b, 6730b, 6735b,
- HP Elitebook 1st generation (xx30): 2530p, 6930p, 8530p/w,
- HP Elitebook 2nd generation (xx40): 2540p, 8440p/w.
 
Note. The Intel versions are a bit faster.html), have more L2 cache and a better thermal design power.
 
HP Compaq Obsolete x0xx series (Evo style)
Mainstream
HP Compaq nc6000
HP Compaq nx9000
HP Compaq nx9005
HP Compaq nx9010
HP Compaq nx9040
 
Mobile workstations
HP Compaq nw8000
 
HP Compaq x1xx and x2xx series
Mainstream
nc6110: square 14.1" or square 15.0 with celeron M or pentium M
nx6120/nc6120 (Intel): square 15.0" with Pentium M
nx8220 and nc8230: wide 15.4" with Pentium M
 
Mobile workstations
nw8240: wide 15.4" with Pentium M
 
HP Compaq Old School x3xx and x4xx series
Note. There is not much difference between the nx and the nc versions, as far I understand it it should be related to geographical areas the stuff has been sold to.
 
Mainstream
nx6320/nc6320 (Intel): square 15.0" with celeron M, core solo, core duo or core 2 duo from T5500 to T7600 at 2.33-Ghz, 667-MHz FSB, 4-MB L2 cache, 533-MHz or 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 2 x 2GB, serial port, s-video
nx6325 (AMD): square 15.0" with sempron, turion 64 mobile or turion 64 X2 dual-core up to TL-60 (2.0-GHz, 2 x 512-KB L2 cache) 
nc6400: wide 14.1 wide with core duo (T2400-T2600) or core 2 duo (from T5500 to T7600 at 2.33-GHz, 667-FSB, 4-MB L2 cache) 
nx8420 and nc8430: wide 15.4" with core duo (from T2400 to T2600) or core 2 duo (from T5600 to T7600 at 2.33-GHz, 667-MHz FSB, 4-MB L2 cache) 
 
Mobile workstations
nw8440: wide 15.4" with core duo or core 2 duo up to T7600 at 2.33-GHz, 667-MHz FSB, 4-MB L2 cache, 533-MHz or 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM SODIMMs max 2 x 2GB, ATI Mobility FireGL V5200 graphics controller with 256 MB of video memory, serial port, s-video 
nw9440: wide 17.0" (numpad) with core duo or core 2 duo up to T7600 at 2.33-GHz, 667-MHz FSB, 4-MB L2 cache 
 
HP Compaq 6910p
Interim model for the new style
6910p (Intel) (March 2008): wide 14.1 inches, core 2 duo T7100-T9500@2.60-Ghz, 4GB max @667-MHz DDR2, no webcam, no serial port
 
HP Compaq New Style x5xx, x7xx series
Ultra-portable wide 12.1
- 2210b/CT (weird as hell but looks rather more like a classic style): wide 12.1 inches, celeron M or core 2 duo up to T7800 2.6-GHz processor, 4-MB L2 cache, 800-MHz front side bus (FSB), PC2-5300, 667-MHz, DDR2 max 2 x 2GB
- 2230s/CT (is this really a business notebook?): celeron and core 2 duo, DDR2 SDRAM 800 MHz max 2 x 4GB
- 2510p (has the oldish-style, that is nice!): wide 12.1" with core 2 duo ULV, 533-MHz/667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 1 x 4GB 
- 2710p (weird design): wide 12.1" with core 2 duo ULV, 533-MHz/667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 2 x 2GB 
 
Refs.
HP Compaq 2210b Notebook PC - Overview: http://h20565.www2.hp.com/portal/site/hpsc/template.PAGE/public/kb/docDisplay?javax.portlet.begCacheTok=com.vignette.cachetoken&javax.portlet.endCacheTok=com.vignette.cachetoken&javax.portlet.prp_ba847bafb2a2d782fcbb0710b053ce01=wsrp-navigationalState%3DdocId%253Demr_na-c01123782-9%257CdocLocale%253D%257CcalledBy%253D&javax.portlet.tpst=ba847bafb2a2d782fcbb0710b053ce01&ac.admitted=1393763116962.876444892.492883150
HP Compaq 2710p review: http://www.cnet.com/laptops/hp-compaq-2710p-core/4505-3121_7-32531246.html
HP Compaq 2710p Notebook PC Support: http://h20565.www2.hp.com/portal/site/hpsc/public/psi/home?sp4ts.oid=3355644&ac.admitted=1393763821216.876444892.492883150
 
wide 14.1 inches
6510b (Intel): celeron, core 2 duo T7250-T9500@2.60-Ghz
6510s (Intel)
6530b (Intel): wide 14.1 inches, celeron dual, core 2 duo P8400-T9900@3.06-Ghz, 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 2 x 4GB 
6530s (Intel)
6535b (AMD): sempron, ahtlon X2, turion X2 dual-core, turion X2 ultra dual-core up to 2.4-Ghz
 
wide 15.4 inches
6710b (Intel): celeron, core 2 duo T7250-T90500@2.60-Ghz
6710s (Intel): celeron, core 2 duo T5470-T7700@2.40-Ghz
6715b (AMD): mobile sempron, turion 64 X2 TL-58 to TL-64@2.2-Ghz
6715s (AMD): mobile sempron, turion 64 X2 mobile TL-52 to TL-60@2.0-Ghz
6730b (Intel): wide 15.4 inches, celeron dual, core 2 duo P8400-T9900@3.06-Ghz, 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 2 x 4GB 
6730s (Intel): celeron, celeron dual, core 2 duo T5870-P8600@2.4-Ghz
6735b (AMD): athlon X2, turion X2, turion X2 ultra ZM-80 to ZM-84@2.3-Ghz
6735s (AMD): sempron, turion X2 mobile RM-70 and RM-72@2.1-Ghz
 
HP Elitebook 1st generation (xx30)
Ultra-portable
2530p (nice!): 12.1" ultra-portable with core 2 duo ULV or core 2 duo LV up to SL9400 (1.86 GHz, 6 MB L2 cache, 1066 MHz FSB), 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 2 x 4GB 
2730p (ugly as hell!): 12.1" Tablet PC with Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage (up to 1.2 GHz, 3 MB L2 cache) or Low Voltage (up to 1.86 GHz, 6 MB L2 cache), DDR2 SDRAM, 667 MHz (ULV) or 800 MHz (LV) max 2 x 4GB
 
Mainstream and mobile workstation
6930p: wide 14.1 inches, core 2 duo P8400-T9900@3.06-Ghz, 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM max 2 x 4GB 
8530p/w: wide 15.4 inches, Intel® Core™2 Duo (up to 2.8 GHz, 6 MB L2 cache), DDR2 SDRAM, 800 MHz max 2 x 4GB, HDMI, no s-video, no serial port
mainstream: ATI Mobitilty FireGL V5700 with 256 MB of video memory
workstation version: NVIDIA Quadro FX 770M with 512 MB of video memory
8730w: 17.0" (numpad)
 
HP Elitebook 2nd generation (xx40)
2540p: 12.1" ultraportable, up to Core i7-660LM Processor (2.26 GHz, 4 MB L3 cache) Low Voltage and up to Core i7-640M Processor (2.80 GHz, 4 MB L3 cache) Standard Voltage, DDR3 PC3-10600 SDRAM (1333 MHz) max 2 x 4GB, no XP support
2740p: 12.1" Tablet PC
 
8440p/w: 14.0 inches ratio 16:9, from Intel Core i5-520M to Intel Core i7-740QM, DDR3 PC3-10600 SDRAM (1333 MHz) max 2 x 4GB, DisplayPort (instead of HDMI), xp 64-bit is supported, not xp 32-bit
mainstream: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD 
mobile workstation version: NVIDIA NVS 3100M graphics with 512 MB dedicated gDDR3 video memory 
8540p: 15.6" mainstream (numpad)
8540w: 15.6" mobile workstation (numpad)
8740w: 17.0" mobile workstation (numpad)
 
Third generation already has the macbookish-style, which I do not appreciate. So I will stop the retrospective right here.
Long life to the HP Compaq Old School laptops!
 
References
HP EliteBook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_EliteBook
List of Hewlett-Packard products: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hewlett-Packard_products
Purchase Guide - Up-to-date 14.1 inch Notebooks in Comparison: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Purchase-Guide-Up-to-date-14-1-inch-Notebooks-in-Comparison.11943.0.html
 

(obsolete, see the new doc)