Do they share any conventions, or just make everything up? In particular, how do they usually handle customization?
closed as not a real question by Not Kyle stop stalking me, Shinrai, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, Kez, Nifle Mar 31 '11 at 20:48
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That depends entirely on the manufacturer. In my experience, HP uses a model number for the general configurations down to a certain level. For instance, any model you can buy as-is from the website or from a store will have a number unique to it's configuration. However, if you customize the system, the model number will revert to the closest major model number and ends with "CTO".
I purchased a DV1000 heavily customized. and it was listed as a DV1000CTO rather than the DV1253 or whatever it may have actually been closer to.
But different manufacturers handle this differently.