Product Review – Compaq Presario CQ42 notebook computer


I am reviewing the Compaq Presario CQ42 notebook computer which is pitched as an “entry-level” notebook computer. This kind of machine is expected to be used for most Web-browsing and email tasks, office tasks or basic multimedia playback but wouldn’t perform well for advanced media creation or heavy gaming. 

Processor Intel Celeron dual-core  
RAM` 2Gb Shared with display
Secondary Storage 250Gb Hard disk DVD-RW,
Card reader
Display Subsysten Intel Graphics 797Mb maximum
Screen 14” Widescreen LED-backlit LCD
Networking 802.11g wireless  
  V.92 modem  
Connectivity USB 3 x USB 2.0
  Video VGA, HDMI
  Audio Headphone x 1, HDMI

The laptop itself

The Compaq Presario is finished in a matte black housing that has a textured pattern on the top of the case and on the keyboard bezel. The display escutcheon is still the black edged type like most of the current crop of laptops and hides a Webcam for video conferencing.

Processor and RAM

This unit is based on an Intel Celeron dual-core processor, another of the processors in Intel’s Celeron “economy-class” processors. Even so, it is capable of providing “up-to-date” performance for most tasks.

It is provisioned with 2Gb RAM, some of which is being used for the display memory like what is accepted for most mainstream laptop computers.

Secondary Storage

The system’s main hard disk is 250Gb with a separate partition for system recovery data and another one for the HP-supplied software. For removeable storage, there is a LightScribe-capable DVD-RW burner and a memory card reader.

Graphics Subsystem

The graphics subsystem is based on Intel hardware and software and can use up to 797Mb of the system’s RAM. This is shown up through a LED-lit 14” LCD display. There is also the ability to connect an external display that uses either a VGA or HDMI connector to the system. Speaking of HDMI, there is support for HDMI digital audio but this comes alive when you connect the laptop to suitable monitor,  HDTV or home-theatre receiver and you would have to make sure that the Intel HDMI Audio driver is your sound device..

Networking and Connectivity

This computer can associate with 802.11g Wi-Fi networks and also has an Ethernet socket for Ethernet or HomePlug network segments. Surprisingly for this day and age, it is equipped with a dial-up modem but this may be the only Internet access type for people who live out in the country.

You also have 3 USB sockets and separate sockets for the headphones and microphone. These aren’t provided as an independent sound feed for use with communications applications,

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard is a smooth flat plastic affair with a light and springy touch which may feel cheap, but it is still suitable for accurate touch-typing.  This is aided with tactile markers on the “F” and “J” keys so you can locate the home row very quickly and easily.

The trackpad is integrated into the palmrest in a manner that may be hard to find for people used to an obvious trackpad. Here, it is just a small area under the spacebar and identified with a accent near the keyboard and the selection buttons as a long bar close to the bottom edge of the keyboard.

Hidden touchpad

Hidden touchpad below spacebar

Software complement

The system is delivered with Windows 7 Home Premium but HP have also supplied software like Norton desktop security software and Cyberlink multimedia software.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

One main limitation would be the hard disk space where the unit has a relatively small hard disk to what is available for most laptops. This may put a limitation on certain user classes like senior-secondary and tertiary students who will have a large amount of work but also run the machine as a jukebox. Here, I would look at providing a version with a 320Gb hard disk but with other features being the same, either as a “product refresh” or a separate model.

Another point of improvement could be to provide wired Ethernet as a Gigabit connection especially as this will be the standard for equipment that is part of “next-generation” broadband.

Other than that, it has the features that would be expected by someone buying a laptop on a budget.

Use experience

I ran a “DVD run-down” test to identify how long the battery would last under pressure and had found that the battery would run for 2hours, 10 minutes with Wi-Fi on and 2 hours, 30 minutes without Wi-Fi on when playing a DVD. This was with me using the Cyberlink DVD player utility rather than Windows Media Player. The graphics have appeared to be smooth through the movie even for a low-end full-size laptop.


This computer can work best with Web browsing, basic word-processing and other office tasks. As far as multimedia and gaming is concerned, it would work well for most video playback tasks or non-demanding games , especially when on AC power.

Here, I would recommend it as a “first laptop” for secondary-school students, a not-so-good large-screen optical-drive-equipped alternative to a netbook that is used as a secondary laptop or as a large-screen document-friendly“portable computer” for a person who uses a desktop computer as a main computer.

It can also bee seen as a “budget alternative” to a secondhand laptop computer for people who need to “cut their teeth” on computing.

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  1. Hey ! Love your blog.

  2. mike beckett says:

    hey im having trouble with this model. the usb ports stopped working suddenly and so has the webcam. any suggestions?

  3. simonmackay says:

    I would suggest that you open Device Manager and check what is going on there. Right-click on “Computer” in the Start Menu, then select “Properties”. On this subsequent screen, click “Device Manager”. Select “View”, then “Devices By Connection”. You may have to click on “PCI Bus” or a USB Bus and select “Scan for hardware changes”. This may “wake up” and / or reset the USB bus. Errors can occur such as an “overpower” error when you connect or disconnect a USB peripheral.

    This is important because a lot of integrated Webcams may be linked to the host via an internal USB link.

    As well, I would suggest that you fully shut down and reboot your Compaq laptop by selecting “Shut down” in the start menu and let it complete the shutdown process. Then turn the laptop on as you normally would. This is because most laptop users tend to put the laptop in to sleep or hibernate mode usually by simply closing the lid, and, as you disconnect and reconnect peripherals or come on and off networks, the system may not know where it is.

    With regards,

    Simon Mackay

  4. Rudi says:

    i have a problem with cq42. the wireless suddenly disconnect and stopped. then it cannot turn on anymore. i have downloaded wireless driver, but still cannot turn off. is it possible the hardware of wireless is damage?


  5. simonmackay says:

    Try to reboot the laptop, then reinstall the drivers. Also check the state of any hardware wireless-switching options. You may have toggled them accidentally.

  6. Paolo says:

    Are you using Windows 7? If yes, may I ask what is the Windows experience index grade in graphics and gaming graphics? thanks a lot in advance

  7. simonmackay says:

    I was using Windows 7 on that laptop but didn’t do the Experience Test on this model. Will be doing it for reviewed computets from now on.

  8. jose says:

    pls help me. i just bought this model and i found out that there is no driver disk. is it ok?
    pls help.

  9. simonmackay says:

    This would be.OK for a new and working CQ42. But I would make sure you can get the driver files or a download utility from HP’s support site for their PCs.

  10. Mark says:

    My dad bought this for me yesterday for my birthday. For now, I don’t have any complaints. I can do the things that I wanted to do at a higher speed. I could even even play games, like Brink/WoW, etc. The only thing I don’t like is it’s short battery life. Still, I LOVE IT :).

  11. i have also bought this product. this product Presario CQ42 is good. I LOVE the Design i Love the case. but the problem is the CD DRIVERS of this unit. we need the CD Drivers so that this unit will be in good and installed the drivers correctly and functionally.pls help us

  12. simonmackay says:

    I would check at the HP support site for downloads for this model. There will most likely be a download utility which fetches the drivers for your machine or a list of driver files for that series.

  13. Thanks for that. hope we can use our compaq functionaly and in a good running condition and installed the drivers & utilities corectly and properly..thanks again… hope for more info.

  14. aparnaa ks says:

    iam using this model. i have downloaded yahoo messenger.
    i cant view any messages that i send or receive. i have tried downloading all versions of yahoo messenger. i also tried downloading yahoo messenger 11 beta 6 times. still problem remained. i surfed net and found a solution of typing “regsvr32 vbscript.dll ” in run. but still of no use.
    pls suggest me a better solution in a step by step manner….
    pls make it soon!!!!

  15. simonmackay says:

    I would suggest that you _uninstall_ all versions of Yahoo Messenger then reinstall the latest version. Also check your desktop firewall program and make sure it is on the firewall’s “approved” list.

  16. Andrew says:

    I think that this laptop is a great little tool, I have spent lots in the past and been dissapointed, this time around i went the other way and have been pleasnatly impressed, my only gripe is when working in low light you sometimes unwittingly tap the top right of the mouse pad 2 and lock it, i cannot unlock it by repeating and have to resort to plugging a mouse in or restarting, is there a means to turning this function off, to date i have not found one.

  17. KIM says:

    Is this unit can play nba2k11?

  18. neth says:

    hi guys,

    what is the exact driver for wireless connection…my laptop can’t detect the wireless connection..please help.. thanks in advance!

  19. SASI BHUSHAN says:

    HAI im having cq42 laptop when im trying to use blue tooth in laptop to connect to mobile pairing code is being asked how do i get pairing code please let me know-thank you

  20. simonmackay says:

    If you are ppairing a phone to the CQ42, you determine the code through the phone’s Bluetooth user interface. Then you enter this code into Windows. For peripherals, you enter 0000 after you start the pairing routine on the peripheral.

  21. kym says:

    I got this
    and i wanna improve it a bit
    because sometimes its response is too slow
    2gb ram seems not enough for me…
    and it is easy to get hot
    any suggestion?

  22. simonmackay says:

    I would take the RAM to 4Gb. This will make it more responsive. As well, if you find that it runs hot too easily, I would run the laptop with a cooling pad like the Cooler Master Notepal Infinite Evo which I have reviewed here.

  23. simonmackay says:

    Also I would dust out the vents on the laptop because there may be some dust piling up in that unit.

  24. Abhishek Vaishnav says:

    hi, I bought CQ42 two month back, i have problem like after using system more then 15 minutes it become very much hot and processor become too slow if i want to shut down also, iam not able to shut down it. I have to forcefully shut down my laptop. Is it defect in piece only or what. Can you mail me what to do now.

  25. Sam says:

    a few days ago I formatted my laptop and the RAM is now showing only 1 GB instead of 2…..Plz help..

  26. simonmackay says:

    This sounds more like that one of the RAM chips had gone bad or wasn’t seated properly in the sockets. I would have that looked at and you may have to open up the computer to check that the DIMMs are firmly in place. This can be done by a computer repair shop.

  27. hasan says:

    i ‘ve seen two spot in the display!!! cn’t run a long tmie, it’s becme over heat.

  28. ericson says:

    can this model play nba2k12? tnx in advnce

  29. sourav says:

    Hi, i have windows 7 installed on this machine.
    my web cam is not working.
    and i am unable to find specific alone drivers for webcam.
    and there is nothing about this on Compaq hp website.
    this is so frustrating.

    please help.

  30. Timm says:

    Hey, i’m having this massive problem of audio on this laptop its choppy and its lagging ALOT i have closed alot of programs running in the background and emptyed alot of the harddrive but it continues to lag please help!!!

  31. simonmackay says:

    I would check that the network and audio drivers are up to date. Sometimes drivers for the networking and audio subsystems may take up too much processor time and cause choppy sound.

  32. joyce says:

    hi i just want to ask how can i burn a video in a blank dvd co’z I’ve already did this many times and when i played it in dvd player it’s not working.. can you please help me resolve this problems….thankies….!!! <3

  33. simonmackay says:


    What you need to do is to prepare the video in a form that can be played on a DVD player. Windows comes with a DVD maker program which prepares a DVD playable on the regular DVD players and finalises the DVD so it plays properly in these players. There are other video-editor tools out there that can do this sort of thing and offer different level of capability and useability depending on how much you want to pay. The key rule that you have to remember is that you have to make sure the disc is finalised properly before you eject it because the “brown-goods” DVD players, like the CD players, only look at the first writing “session” of the disc, which typically represents the prerecorded content.

    With regards,


  34. Mayank dutt says:

    i just wanted to know if dis lappy support dlna???

  35. simonmackay says:

    All laptops running XP, Vista or 7 support DLNA with varying functions out of the box. They can also run Twonky and other Windows DLNA software.

  36. Andres says:

    Tengo un Compaq presario cq42 nootebook con 465 gbs de disco duro 2 gb de ram y windows 7 ultimate lo compre hace 3 meses y me ha funcionado bn.. me gusta mucho .. tengo un procesador atlom dual core … creo ke lo unico raro son los controladores de la targeta de video ke es amd en algunos videos de juegos se ve un pokito distorcionado .. no se si seran juegos ke salieron hace mucho como warcraft 3 de hace como 9 añoz xd al igual no me a dado problema mayor alguno y viene con microsof security Essencials .. de pcs no se mucho kiero saber si compre un buen pc o me deje estafar xd gracias xd

  37. simonmackay says:

    The Compaq Presario may work with older games, but I would check for newer drivers for the video subsystem. Even if your machine uses an Intel video subsystem, you may be dealing with “rushed-out” video drivers. As well, check that the screen resolution is correct for the game. Other than that, you would have got a good deal.

    ————Translated to Spanish using Google Translate / Traducido al español usando Google Translate——————————

    El Compaq Presario puede trabajar con los juegos más antiguos, pero me gustaría comprobar si hay controladores más recientes para el subsistema de vídeo. Incluso si su equipo utiliza un subsistema de video de Intel, se le puede tratar con “prisa-out”, los controladores de vídeo. Además, compruebe que la resolución de pantalla es el correcto para el juego. Aparte de eso, se habría conseguido una buena oferta.

  38. defender says:

    anyone help me with my compaq presarioCQ42.
    i cannot connect to the wireless router.diagnose says that i need to turn on my wireless capabity..where can i find the wireless capabity of my compaq presarioCQ42..??..thank you

  39. simonmackay says:

    You may have put the computer in to “floght mode” accidentally by pressing the “Fn” key and one of the numeric keys that has a Wireless transmitter icon. If you press this key combination, you may then re-enable the wireless subsystem. Another thing to check for is any newer drivers for this computer at the Compaq sit. This time, you may have to use the Ethernet connection to connect to your router.

    With regards,

    Simon Mackay

  40. Max says:

    anyone help me with my compaq presarioCQ42.
    how do i use function key without pressing the “Fn” key?
    i play game online and i need to use function key to play but it is difficult to press fn key every time.
    thank you.

  41. Zafar Khan says:

    My computer automatically getting Processing slow within 10-15 Minute and getting hot to much .

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