ASUS N61Jv-X2: An Excellent All-Around Notebook

It's clear that ASUS did their homework in putting together a competitive midrange notebook. The $900 price point was probably set by Amazon from the start, and ASUS has done everything they can to provide a quality mobile solution while stretching the available budget as far as possible. There are laptops that are smaller with better battery life, but they're also slower. Other laptops provide similar performance and better battery life, but they cost more. The one thing that nearly every other option is currently missing is NVIDIA's Optimus Technology, and that gives the ASUS and the N61Jv a clear leg up over the competition. It looks like Optimus is able to improve battery life by around 20% compared to similar performance notebooks that lack the technology (and lack switchable graphics in general), which is a far bigger jump than we've seen from other platform updates in the past.


In terms of competition, the N61Jv runs into a variety of offerings from all the major brands. There's the Dell Inspiron 15, for example, and we've also got the Acer Aspire 5740G. We can state unequivocally that the N51Jv-X2 bests the Inspiron 15 in every important metric. With the same i5-430M CPU, the Dell 1564 costs $799 (with a current $95 instant rebate). $100 less gets you about half the graphics performance, no USB 3.0, and a 5400RPM hard drive; you also lose Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n, instead getting 100Mbit and 802.11g. We like the appearance and build quality of the N61Jv more than the Inspiron 15 as well, making such a match a no brainer.

The more difficult match is the Acer Aspire 5740. If you don't care about graphics/gaming, you can pick up the 5740 with Blu-ray for $685. In that case, you get a 320GB 5400RPM drive and an i3-330M CPU, but the overall package is quite good. For the performance oriented crowd, the Aspire 5740G skips Blu-ray but adds an HD 5650 GPU for a total cost of $750. We can confirm that the HD 5650 is faster than the GT325M in the N61J, but the 5740G also ends up getting about 25% less battery life. The HDD is also a 5400RPM model and it doesn't include USB 3.0 or an ExpressCard slot, and the ASUS warranty is better as well. Build quality seems quite good, and we do like the keyboard layout a bit more on the 5740G, but the N61Jv looks better in our opinion and we like the "rubberized paint" coating on the palm rest. All told, the 5740G definitely offers some stiff competition and the DX11 support may be enough to sway some buyers.

Ultimately, while there is plenty of competition, ASUS has done a lot to stand out from the crowd. Features like USB 3.0 support and Optimus make our "must have" list for any new laptop purchase. We can't point to any single area on the N61Jv and say, "wow… they messed up there!" The worst aspect is the mediocre LCD panel, but when everyone uses lousy LCD panels (at least in sub-$1000 laptops and notebooks), we can only complain so much. The LCD panel and somewhat small battery capacity prevent us from giving the N61Jv our top Gold award, and we'd like the same matte black coating on the cover and LCD bezel and not just the palm rest. Those are minor complaints at best, however, and we are presenting the N61Jv with our Silver Editors' Choice award for providing a superbly balanced package.

Like the recently ended Olympics, the difference between Gold and Silver often comes down to splitting hairs; unlike in the Olympics, though, we can have multiple winners and we don't actually have a competing laptop that we'd currently rate as the Gold standard. By that token, the N61Jv is the best midrange ($800 to $1000) notebook currently available. It's possible to match or surpass it with competing products, but not without sacrificing in other areas. What we want to see now are laptops that can match ASUS in all the good areas, and then add some other extras to sweeten the deal.

ASUS N61Jv-X2 LCD Quality
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  • yyrkoon - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    It is about time you people at Anandtech implemented a black list for your comments section don't you think ?

    I know I am not the only one getting really *REALLY* bored with all the spam coming your way. Not to mention the ads you guys are seemingly letting in on your pages that peak CPU usage on modern PCs . . .
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    I hear ya, and I'm probably one of the guys that deletes most of the posts. Thankfully we have an option to "delete all posts" by a user, but right now there's no quick way to ban a user as well. I'm hopeful we'll get that with the updated site in the next month or so.

    What I can't understand is the content of the spam we keep getting posted. Stupid fashion/clothing ads written in broken Engrish with no relation whatsoever to our content is a waste. Has *anyone* here actually clicked on any of the links? And yet they've created at least a dozen different accounts over the past few months, and they keep making new accounts.
    Reply
  • Foggg - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    The advantages of the keyboard layout of the Asus over the Acer are:
    1) full size arrow keys, used far more than "0"
    2) rt. Ctl key extends under the rt. Shift -- enabling selection by word or paragraph with just the right hand. Right index finger can hold down both, while other fingers hit the arrow keys. Great for editing.

    IMO, the "0" key is pretty easy to adjust to, simply using the middle finger instead of the thumb.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    Having played with both, I find the Acer keyboard slightly more to my style. The smaller arrow keys don't bother me at all, as they're still big enough. Also, the smaller size helps set them apart from the other keys; notice how they're all in a perfect grid on the ASUS?

    For the CTRL+Shift, I almost always use my left hand for those keys, and I also use two fingers to hold down two keys. If I'm using CTRL and/or Shift + Arrow / End / PgUp / etc., all of the directional keys are on the right side so there's no way to comfortably hold CTRL+Shift+End with your right hand anyway (unless you have Gumby fingers).

    I do understand that keyboards are a highly personal preference, so take my analysis with that in mind. It's not a huge difference, but I give Acer's layout the edge on this comparison.
    Reply
  • fabarati - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    About your Criticism agains 5400 RPM Drives: the 500 GB 7200 RPM Seagate drives weren't all that fast, the first generation at least. The WD 500 GB 5400 RPM was generally as fast. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    Any current 5400 RPM hard drive is going to be faster because of data density. A 7200 RPM drive with the same platter density will of course be faster. Name brand has little to do with that. Reply
  • teohhanhui - Sunday, March 14, 2010 - link

    1366x768 at 16"? That immediately turned me away. Reply
  • utkal - Monday, March 15, 2010 - link

    exactly...Its an another crap laptop with 1366x768 resolution Reply
  • utkal - Monday, March 15, 2010 - link

    EXACTLY !!!

    I do not understand why the hell Asus only hosts 1366x768 resolution lcds in their laptops. They have ONLY ONE laptop of full HD upto 16" screen size with a price of $1440 (approx) ! wtf ! In a 16" laptop what can be worst than this resolution lcd.

    Sorry, but how AT reviewer said, we did not found anything bad about this laptop ? funny ! Do not you know the 1366x768 resolution makes the life hell if you use the laptop for work. Yes, if the laptop is bought ONLY TO GAME then its ok.
    Reply
  • nortexoid - Monday, March 15, 2010 - link

    Same Reply

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