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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  • gohilurvish - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    I like the article and also the battery life figure by particular Asus model but I dont agree to compare it with MacBook (I am not Apple fan-boy).
    From what I know is, all 9400M based MacBook/pro has C2D Penryn processors and with <55WHr battery it provides 6-7Hrs of battery life with wireless productivity.
    If these lineup moves to ULV processor and 80+WHr I am sure it can deliver 15+hrs or battery life.
    I think its OS and other hardware that helps giving longer battery life for MacBook.

    For winodows PC, this is my choice now (obviously not for computational heavy work).
    Reply
  • fk49 - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    This is a great first look and much more in depth than most of the previews that come out. I did notice that the main CPU comparison was with the P8600 of the 14z which is definitely meant for a higher price point. For the full review, could you include benchmarks comparing the SU7300 to more CPUs? Especially in the gaming benchmarks, as the G210m will definitively beat the integrated solutions available but what's not clear is how CPU-limited games might be when the UL80vt competes against laptops with dedicated GPUs. Thanks and again, great review! Reply
  • darwinosx - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Since everything is compared to the Mac laptops that is obviously the gold standard. That should tell you something. For a minor amount more you get a dramatically better laptop build, screen, cpu, multi-touch trackpad, and of course OS. Not to mention support. Put one of these next to a MacBook at your local Fry's or wherever. The Mac Book walks all over it. Yes Windows 7 is decent. But I want a lot more than decent when it comes to my notebook or desktop computers. I make quite a good living as an IT Architect and I don't have time or interest in buying the lowest common denominator to save a little money. Reply
  • simas - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Mac Book /OSX = No games.

    and buying overpriced laptop label just to by Microsoft OS to be able to play a game is too wasteful. There isn't anything OSX delivers in the laptop that I can not get from Windows 7 so why pay the premium?

    for Asus - they are close, dual core CPU, switchable graphics, 4+ GB of ram, decent CPU speed and good battery life. Get a better LCD and I would buy it.

    Reply
  • Kelv00n - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Quoting: "I make quite a good living as an IT Architect and I don't have time or interest in buying the lowest common denominator to save a little money."

    1) You're clearly an Apple fanboi; ergo anything not Apple is the lowest common denominator; ergo your comments add nothing to a proper evaluation of this machine and are therefore useless to other readers who are not facetious like you.

    2) No one cares about how big your wallet (and what it compensates for) is, and as many commentators here have observed, this laptop fills a nice role for people like non-trust fund college kids who have to a) consider weight and performance since they have to lug the piece around, and b) work to pay their own way through college.

    Asus has been making lots of right moves lately. They just need to ditch the glossy trend and work on their build quality. This laptop is hitting the sweet spot for the holy trinity of weight, performance and price. I'm going to wait for the next iteration, which hopefully will have a better LCD, but it looks like my new laptop will be ASUS-branded.
    Reply
  • fk49 - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Even so, comparisons to Mac performance is something some of us would like to see. The Macbook does cross the $1000 line and as a student, the price difference with the UL80 is meaningful. About half the kids at my school have Macs while Asus has a pretty niche market, so it would be interesting to see if an aggressively designed and priced product aimed at the tech-savvy can beat the mainstream "standard". Reply
  • Voo - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Well I won't be using Mac OS X any time soon and I don't think many Apple fans would even consider it.


    So the interesting comparision would be a MacBook with Win7 against this one.
    Reply
  • Voo - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Argh..
    "and I don't think many Apple fans would even consider using this notebook."
    Reply
  • MournSanity - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    If I may make a feature request for the full review...
    I heard that this laptop can also be overclocked from the BIOS. Can you look into this feature and tell us how/if it works in conjunction with the Turbo33 setting? Thanks.
    Reply
  • MournSanity - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    I ask this because I recall seeing on a taiwanese review of this laptop a picture of it overclocked to something like 2133 mhz(8x266?). It would be very cool if this machine can be stably overclocked that high for when you want to do some heavy lifting. Reply

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