ASUS has been making laptops for quite some time; our first review of ASUS laptops was circa 2002, and I got my first hands-on experience three years ago. While there have been many interesting laptops from the company over the years, few have managed to truly set themselves apart from the crowd. (Okay, sure, there's the whole Eee PC netbook market they essentially created, but that's not a traditional laptop.) That changes today with our review of the UL80Vt.

At its heart, the UL80Vt is a thin and light notebook that's capable of delivering stellar battery life while at the same time providing sufficient performance to handle virtually any task - yes, including gaming. It comes with a Core 2 Duo SU7300 Ultra Low Voltage processor - a CULV processor if you prefer. CULV CPUs have gotten a bad rap over the years for a couple of reasons. First, they underperform relative to regular Core 2 processors, outside of battery life metrics. That wouldn't be end of the world, but the bigger problem has always been cost. We looked at the ASUS U2E a little over a year ago, and while it wasn't a bad system it was extremely difficult to recommend at over $2000 ($2600 with an SSD). In contrast, the UL80Vt beats the U2E in every single metric we can come up with, other than size/weight, and it costs less than half as much. Oh what a difference a year makes.


On the other end of the spectrum, we have the ASUS G51 series - we're specifically reviewing the G51J today, but the G51Vx will also get coverage. It's a lot closer to what we've seen from ASUS in the past: a reasonable design, plenty of performance, but the mobility aspect is definitely lacking. What it lacks in battery life it more than makes up in performance and pricing, however, so if you're interested in grabbing a well-balanced laptop that can handle any current game (though not necessarily at maximum details) and provide plenty of CPU power for other computationally intensive tasks, the G51J might be the perfect gift to find under your Christmas tree this year.

If you're looking for other options, we recommend reading our Holiday 2009 Buyers' Guide where we put both of these ASUS notebooks in context relative to the rest of the market. The short summary is that we are hard-pressed to find anything in the midrange laptop category that we prefer to the UL80Vt. The G51J has more competition, but it sets a high bar that can be difficult to compete with.

ASUS UL80Vt: Nearly Perfect
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  • fokka - Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - link

    you say you adjust the critical battery percentage to 1%. while on a battery test thats perfectly ok, i heard (tomshardware) and painfully experienced that discharging a battery to zero is very bad for the cells.

    one time vista didnt shut down in time and the battery lost about 20% of its capacity.

    however, it would be great, if you guys made a battery guide/test and scientifically research the dos and donts of batteries. these little chemical friends are the cornerstone of our digital and mobile lifestyle, it scares me, how little proven knowledge exists on this topic.
    Reply
  • Ditiris - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - link

    This is AT. The first thing you should do is a clean install since your readers aren't going to keep all the OEM crapware on the machine.

    I'd also say to make sure you're using the Advanced settings in both Vista and WIndows 7, and with Windows 7 you need to disable any sleep/wake timers.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - link

    All the OEM software (other than useful utilities) gets removed/disabled, but doing a clean install every time has its own set of pitfalls. I try to review laptops as the users will get them, and a clean install every time is a bit much. Regardless, this has happened on clean builds as well, so the bloatware you refer to may aggravate the situation somewhat but it's not the root cause.

    As for the Advanced settings, obviously I've gone in there when I discuss things such as prompt for password being reset (to "Yes"). The odd thing is that it's only a subset of settings that get reset. The min/max CPU percentages stick, WiFi power settings stick, and so do most of the settings in the "middle" of the advanced power options. It's the first few settings and the last couple that seem to revert on a regular basis. The UL80Vt for example reverts once or twice a day -- one of the worst offenders in my experience.
    Reply
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - link

    I've had it happen fairly often on both Vista and 7, after perfectly clean installs, with no third-party power software. Do not require password on wake creeps back up every so often, as does do not enter sleep mode on lid close if on AC power, even though I've repeatedly disabled them both. Reply

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