Compaq Presario CQ61-420us 15.6-inch Budget Laptop PC

Compaq Presario CQ61-420US Notebook PC
Compaq Computer Corporation

HP has all but discontinued the Compaq brand since it purchased the company. This means systems like the Presario CQ61 are not longer available. If you are looking for a similar sized or cost laptop, be sure to check out the Best 14 to 16-inch Laptops and Best Laptops Under $500 for currently available options.

The Bottom Line

Apr 7 2010 - The Compaq Presario CQ61-420us is a very attractive budget laptops thanks to its very affordable price tag. Those looking for a basic full sized laptop system, it is a tough price to beat. Be aware that the system does sacrifice a number of features and performance compared to slightly more expensive laptops. Still, for some that don't need much , it may fit their needs.‚Äč


  • Very Low Price
  • Fast Hard Drive


  • Very Poor Battery Life
  • Limited Expansion Ports


  • AMD Athlon II M320 Dual-Core Mobile Processor
  • 3GB PC2-6400 DDR2 Memory
  • 250GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner With LightScribe
  • 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display
  • ATI Radeon HD 4200 Integrated Graphics
  • v.92 56Kbps Modem, Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
  • Three USB 2.0, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
  • 14.9" x 9.9" x 1.6" @ 5.9 lbs.
  • Windows 7 Home Premium, Works, Cyberlink DVD Suite, Norton Internet Security

Guide Review - Compaq Presario CQ61-420us 15.6-inch Budget Laptop PC

Apr 7 2010 - What stands out most for consumers about the Compaq Presario CQ61-420us is the price. The retail price of the laptop is a very low $550 and it is very easy to find the system for at or slightly below the $500. This makes it one of the most affordable full laptops on the market. Just remember that low prices do have their drawbacks.

Rather than using the Intel platform, HP has decided to use an AMD platform to help reduce costs on the Presario CQ61-420us. This includes an AMD Athlon II M320 dual core processor. This is sufficient for most general purpose applications such as web browsing, productivity, and multimedia. It falls behind the offerings from Intel though primarily because of its use of the older DDR2 memory standard that provides less bandwidth. The system also ships with 3GB of memory compared to the 4GB average that means it can't multitask as well.

With its lower price tag, the Presario CQ61-420us does sacrifice the hard drive storage space by using a smaller 250GB hard drive compared to the more typical 320GB size. On the other hand, the drive actually uses a faster 7200rpm desktop spin rate compared to the more traditional 5400rpm rate. This gives the drive quicker data access than the average budget laptop. A dual layer DVD burner is included to handle playback and recording of CDs and DVDs. The drive also supports burning labels directly to LightScribe compatible media.

Since the system is based on an AMD platform, it uses an ATI Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics processor. This is certainly a step up from the features supported by the Intel GMA 4500MHD that most laptops use now but it still falls short of a dedicated processor. It may be able to handle some light PC gaming but at limited resolutions and very low detail levels. The 15.6-inch display is typical of the budget market and does a decent job for color and brightness.

If you are hoping to plug the Presario CQ61-420us into an HDTV or digital monitor via HDMI you are out of luck. The system has what looks like a port on the side but it is just a blank for use with higher grade models that use the same shell. The system also has only three USB 2.0 ports making peripheral compatibility a bit more troublesome than the average budget laptop.

Battery life on the Presario CQ61-420us is best described as dismal. The relatively small battery pack is barely able to achieve one and a half hours of running time in my DVD playback test before going into standby mode. More typical usage should net just around two hours of time which is well below even the modest run times of budget laptops. Expect to have to plug this system in frequently.