ASUS UL80Vt and G51J: Going for the Goldby Jarred Walton on December 15, 2009 1:30 AM EST
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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.
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whatthehey - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkThanks for that; now go blow more smoke up Jobs' arse and leave the real discussion to people that can think.
Calling this a cheapo Asus to try and make you Mac look better is pathetic. What makes it cheap, other than a plastic body? Most laptops are plastic shells, and this is still $40 less than the plastic MacBook while offering superior battery life and gaming performance. Plus I wouldn't have to put up with OS X and its quirks. Anand may love that stuff but I'd just as soon stick with Windows. No contest over glorified Apple.
KutterMax - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkCongratz to ASUS for the UL80Vt which looks to be a very nice portable machine that still has some pretty reasonable gaming performance coupled with great battery life.
ASUS has made some great computers. I picked up a "Lamborghini" a few years back and still really like it. However the very short battery life and heft did not make it the best travel companion.
I recently picked up a new Sony Z-series with a 2.8GHz processer, a couple extended batteries, and built-in Bluray. Granted it wasn't cheap, but the laptop is pretty slick. Sony allow put a great display on it and Blurays look outstanding. Importantly - it plays Torchlight great...
Basilisk - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - link"... if you're talking a difference of 10W to 14W, that's a 40% increase in power requirements - or 40% less battery life."
I believe the correct statement is "29% less run-time":
RT = Wh / w ; RT reduction = 100% * (1-10w/14w) = 28.6%
By analogy, your metrics would suggest a 100% loss in run time (= zero time) if the draw was 20 watts, whereas its actually a 50% reduction.
JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkSorry... was being lazy when I wrote that. It would mean the lower power gets 40% more battery life, but as you point out the higher power draw is 29% less battery life.
Wolfpup - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkNotebookreview's forums have reported major stability issues with that specific model:
That's really uncommon for Asus laptops, but seems to be the norm for this model, so...I take it the review unit didn't have those issues?
I run Folding @ Home on both my CPU and GPU when I'm not gaming or watching Blu Rays, so one way or another my hardware's always getting hit hard...need it to be 100% stable.
Also, regarding Vista or 7 losing power settings, I've never had that happen, though I always use "always on" and always do a clean install of the OS (I wasn't running much Asus software on my N80nv on Vista, and didn't install any under 7).
JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkI didn't have any stability issues with the G51J during testing. That said, I highly caution against running Folding@Home (SMP or GPU) on a laptop. I used to do that and found that it seemed to cause serious problems after 6 months or so... that it just pushed the hardware beyond where it was intended. I sometimes wonder if all the "failing NVIDIA mobile GPUs" isn't somehow related to a lot of people running such apps, but that's probably oversimplified.
In short, while I respect what the Folding teams are doing, I've determined that intentionally stressing hardware is a good way to make it fail sooner rather than later -- even if the hardware was once "100% stable". The benefit to me personally doesn't outweigh the cost... and if you're running a "folding farm" with desktops, your costs can very easily scale into the realm of $100+ per month for power, let alone hardware. :|
Wolfpup - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkThanks for the info! Glad to hear it was stable.
I guess my N80 is a guiness pig for Folding then. If it does fail, that'll force me to upgrade :-D
Glock24 - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkI'm currently frustrated because I want to buy a new laptop, but it seems every manufacturer only ordered 1366x768 screens, be it for 12", 14", 15.6", or even 16" or 17" laptops.
I was seriously considering an Asus N81Vp, and the only screen available is.... you guessed it, 1366x768. My current laptop, an Asus F8Va has a 14.1" 1440x900 screen, so you may understand my disappointment.
I think manufacturers are trying to squeeze every penny they can putting those cheap 16:9 screens on every laptop. They do not realize we, the consumers, also use our laptops to work and not just to watch movies.
1366x768 is ok for a netbook, not for a real laptop.
strikeback03 - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkSeriously. The UL50 (15.6" version) sounds like a laptop I would consider, but not with anything less than a 1680x1050 screen and a decent contrast ratio.
On a side note, has anyone had trouble with Win7 blanking their screen but not actually turning it off? On both my desktop and laptop after the "turn screen off after" time has elapsed, the screen will flick off then back on, and stay on but blank. Any way to fix this?
yacoub - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkLooking forward to a review of the new ASUS EeePC Seashell 1201N-PU17-BK. That's an interesting one - dual-core, ION, 12" display, etc.