ASUS UL80Vt Overview

The ASUS UL80Vt slots in between the 13.3" UL30Vt and the 15.6" UL50Vt. It includes a 14.0" LED backlit display, although unfortunately it still runs at 1366x768; we would have liked at least a 1440x900 LCD instead (or 1600x900 if you insist on a 16:9 aspect ratio -- and we don't). The smaller chassis means that it doesn't weigh as much as the UL50Vt, and ASUS has increased the battery capacity to 84Wh, resulting in battery life claims of "up to 12 hours". Sound improbable? You might just be surprised. Here are the detailed specifications for the UL80Vt.


ASUS UL80Vt-A1 Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
(1.3GHz, 45nm, 3MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, 10W)
Overclockable to 1.73GHz
Chipset Intel GS45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce G210M 512MB
(16SPs, 606/1468/1580 Core/Shader/RAM clocks)
Intel GMA 4500MHD (Switchable)
Display 14.0" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5100 AGN (5738/DG/PG)
Acer InviLink 802.11n (5738Z)
56K Modem
Audio HD Audio (2 stereo speakers with two audio jacks)
Battery 8-Cell, 15V, 5600mAh, 84Wh battery
Up to 12 Hours
Front Side None
Left Side Headphone/Microphone jacks
2 x USB
HDMI
VGA
Cooling Exhaust
AC Power connection
Right Side Optical Drive (DVDRW)
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MS Pro/SD/xD)
1 x USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Back Side None
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions 13.5" x 9.6" x 1.1" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.8 lbs (with 8-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
86-Key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC/MS/MSPro/SD/xD)
Multi-touch touchpad
Brushed aluminum cover (glossy plastic LCD/bezel/palm rest)
ExpressGate OS (8-second boot)
Warranty 2-year global warranty
1-year battery pack warranty
1-year accidental damage
30-day zero bright dot LCD
Pricing ASUS UL80Vt-A1 starting at $819

Obviously, this laptop isn't going to compete with the Dell Studio 14z in terms of raw performance, at least when it comes to CPU power. Running at the default clock speed of 1.30GHz, the Core 2 Duo SU7300 is going to be substantially slower than the P8600 we tested in the Dell 14z. However, the story doesn't end there. First, ASUS overclocks the SU7300 33% by default, so the 85% clock speed advantage of the P8600 is reduced to only 39%. Here's where things get interesting.

ASUS is one of the few companies to support hybrid GPU technologies that allow users to switch between discrete graphics and integrated graphics -- on the fly! We first saw this in the ASUS N10JC (though Sony was the first to actually offer the feature, I believe), but that required a reboot to enable/disable the discrete graphics. It also used a substantially slower Intel Atom N270 CPU; do we even need to explain how much faster the SU7300 is -- without overclocking? Needless to say, Core 2 plus dual cores running at a higher clock speed will end up providing substantially more processing power than any current Intel Atom solution. But let's get back to the GPUs.

The integrated graphics are Intel's GMA 4500MHD, which are adequate for most users, particularly if they don't plan to run any games. The discrete graphics solution is NVIDIA's GeForce G210M, essentially an updated version of the GeForce 9500M G (or a discrete version of the 9400M G if you prefer, with higher clocks). The 9400M performed quite well in our testing of the Dell Studio 14z, coming in roughly 50% faster than the HD 3200 (paired with an AMD Athlon QL-64). The G210M is clocked ~35% higher on the core and shaders, and it has 12.6GB/s of dedicated memory bandwidth. In contrast, the 9400M shares memory bandwidth with the CPU/system (17GB/s on the 14z -- note that the UL80Vt also has 17GB/s of system memory bandwidth). Certainly the P8600 wasn't a bottleneck for the 9400M, and we suspect the overclocked SU7300 will work well with the G210M. We'll have complete performance results later, but we do have a few preliminary scores to report today. The most important aspect of the graphics setup is that users can decide between improved battery life (GMA 4500MHD) or better 3D/video performance (G210M) -- it's a win/win scenario.

Going along with the ULV CPU and hybrid graphics, ASUS ships the UL80Vt with 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory. Performance may not be substantially better than DDR2-667 since CAS latency and other timings are higher (slower), but in DDR3 does require less voltage than DDR2 and that will help battery life. It's also nice to see that 4GB laptops have become ubiquitous; only netbooks and the cheapest laptops offer something other than 2x2GB these days, and the vast majority of new laptops also ship with 64-bit Windows. We have finally reached the inflection point in terms of 64-bit adoption, so hopefully we will see more applications begin to leverage the possibilities a 64-bit environment provides.

The remaining features on the ASUS UL80Vt are pretty much what you would expect from ASUS. The size and weight are good for a 14" laptop -- just slightly larger than the Dell Studio 14z. Battery capacity is 17% greater, users get an optical drive, and like most ASUS laptops the UL80Vt comes with a two-year global warranty. Performance should be more than adequate for most users (the overclocked SU7300 should match any current AMD mobile CPU), but the big selling point is going to be size and mobility. The overclocked CPU might not be quite as fast as the latest MacBook, but we finally have a contender when it comes to battery life.

Index ASUS UL80Vt Design
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  • 7Enigma - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I'll do it for you. Using an old review from April09 where they posted the min/WHr:

    MacBook2008 got a 6.36

    Asus gets a 6.32 (531min / 84 WHr)

    It is important however to note if the testing methodology (ie websites used/etc.) have changed significantly since the 2008 Macbook review and if so in which direction (my guess would be more draining now).

    If they are directly (or closely) comparible then you have to factor in weight difference and price, and of course CPU/GPU performance differences. Since the price is $150 cheaper, the weight difference IMO would have to be significantly lighter for the MacBook to justify (build-quality, OS, intangibles aside).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    All I know for certain is that the old results had Apple at 6.36 (as mentioned), but the tests are not the same as the ones I used for the Windows laptops. Anand has the new Internet tests I'm using (I ran them on Linux, so they should run fine on OS X), so when he's had a chance to run numbers we can make the comparison. The UL80Vt is twice the relative battery life of most Windows laptops, and over three times the relative battery life of higher-spec units. I can't say for certain whether it has matched or surpassed the latest MacBook, but it should be very close if not better. Reply
  • Pirks - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    "32% in DivX encoding, and xxx% in CINEBENCH R10"

    xxx%? Really?! Are you hiding something from us Jarred? ;)))
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    LOL... sorry, I was still running tests at the time and obviously missed that. It's 12% BTW; text updated. Reply
  • mczak - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    I'm wondering why asus uses a overclocked ULV chip. Presumably they increase voltage a bit when overclocked to guarantee stable operation right? So in this case power should be very similar to LV chips (+30% for higher clock plus something additional for more voltage - ULV chips are 10W, LV 17W). So why not get a non-overclocked LV chip like the SL9600 in the first place? 2.133Ghz, 6MB cache, should cost about the same as the SU7300. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    CPU-Z reports the voltage as 0.875V -- at the overclocked 1.73GHz setting. The ULV parts are essentially CPUs that work well with very low voltages, and they usually have better overclocking headroom. Anyway, it appears that even overclocked, the SU7300 isn't consuming more than perhaps 12-13W. (I'll have to do more testing to verify that figure for the full review.) When you have a laptop that uses 9.5W on average for Internet surfing, an extra 3W is a big deal. Reply
  • mczak - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Those 0.875V are presumably at idle? Would be way below published VID range under load (hopefully cpu-z reports this correctly even for mobile cpus).
    I just doubt a ULV chip is really any better if you overclock it to the level of a LV chip. Unless you're courageous and don't overvolt it to the same level, though you could just undervolt a LV chip instead...
    In any case, I'd be very interested in the voltage adjustments (if any) under idle/load for OC/-nonOC setting - of course those chips have a VID range and hence could vary by chip but in practice they don't vary that much and the asus overclocking would presumably add a fixed voltage increase (if any).
    Reply
  • mschira - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Amazing, the most interesting new laptops at the moment are all cheap ones.
    Like the acer Timelines, the Asus"WTF have they been thinking with that name", the Dell Studio 14z etc.

    They are all very nice, but they have compromises to keep em cheap. Not too bad compromises, but still.

    Why doesn't Asus make a Lambougini version of this little nice buddy? Ditch the CD drive - who needs those - give us a nice screen, give us an expensive light, great case.
    I'll happily pay the premium - it's not going to be that much anyway.
    M.

    Reply
  • KikassAssassin - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Wow, with the exception of the screen, this thing is almost exactly what I've been looking for in a laptop. I've been really disappointed in the seeming non-existence of an affordable, highly-portable laptop with a dual-core ULV processor, non-Intel graphics, and a high-Wh battery. Put a high-quality display with a matte overlay (WhyTF is almost every laptop using freaking glossy nowadays?), and a toggle-able back-lit keyboard on this thing, and it would be my perfect laptop to a T.

    I also really like the idea of the ability to toggle between low-power integrated graphics and higher-performing discreet graphics, and I wish more laptops would include this feature. I have a feeling nVidia's going to be pushing hard for this once Arrandale comes out.
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    One request for the game testing section: add an older title s/a Half-life 2 in addition to the usual new new games. I'm more interested in what it can run than the obvious "well, there you have it- it won't run the latest titles, get a desktop for that".
    Looking forward to the review!!
    Reply

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