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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JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkSorry... I didn't think to test the mic. Built-in mics range from passable to lousy, so any time I use a mic I use a headset.
Devo2007 - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkI commented on the first article that seemed to have an odd layout (conclusion on the first page, etc.) so it's only fair that I chime in with an update. This one was much better! I liked getting the introduction, then an overall opinion on the next page. Kudos for also providing a quick link to view the technical details of the laptop as well.
Visual - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkNot having both laptops at least on the same page if not the same graph for the performance benchmarks was a weird choice though. I realize they are in completely different leagues, but still an easier comparison between the two would have been nice.
JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkThe games are all run at completely different settings (for obvious reasons). 3DMark06/Vantage also run at 1280x768 on the lower spec laptops, unless you connect an external LCD. Since they all run at that setting I've kept the results. I thought about combining everything, but I've got two sets of spreadsheets with results: one has the high-end stuff and the other has low-end options. Putting together all the charts already takes forever and a day, and combining them all would potentially increase the time and just make the charts more confusing. (I'm still not sure I did the right thing on the last few charts where I combined results.)
davepermen - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkmy powerplans never mess up. never did on vista, never do on win7. but i never install specific powerplan-tools, just a clean os install, and then let it be (and reconfig the power plan, like the password-after-standby and such).
so far, i haven't encountered your issue on all the machines i've tested.
iamezza - Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - linkIt has happened to me fairly often since I did a clean install of 7 on my Desktop PC. Password on resume, hard drive timeout and monitor timeout are the ones that get reset for me.
cerebro - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkJust put SetPower on it (google it). It lets you configure the power settings based on time of day and takes into account whether the machine is plugged in or not. It uses scheduled tasks so it doesn't consume resources other than when it is switching plans for you.
aos007 - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkI have on the other hand ran into them quite often, especially on my laptop. I have the opposite problem - the damn thing just won't stay asleep and often I wake up finding it's on even though the lid is closed. And if it's not plugged in, you can imagine what kind of charge is left in it. I was getting it in Vista and I'd say it's probably even worse in Windows 7. I am guessing it has something to do with Microsoft's implementation of DLNA, I mean access to multimedia libraries and streaming. Microsoft specifically talks about devices needing to be able to wake up remotely when queried. That's all fine and dandy and even desired in a desktop but a laptop should really be a special case. Especially once the lid is closed.
The0ne - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkI have issues too, with and without clean installs. Sleep sometimes doesn't even trigger. Screen goes blank, screensaver, even though I turned it off. Very strange behaviors in Windows 7. This is for laptops though and I have not encounter anything with deskstops. There are other various strange little quirks in Windows 7 as well.
Most annoying thing is the windows explorer restarting itself. I think I figured out what's been causing this problem and have since accidentally fixed it. Its was one of the codecs with the k-lite codec full package that was screwing things up. Bastard. None of the tricks via Google worked for me except for this.
JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - linkI'm guessing that it's possibly linked to the OEM software. Still, I'm 99% positive I had it happen with the Clevo W870CU and a clean install of Vista. I know on an Acer system I uninstalled every piece of software that was loading at startup, along with removing/disabling some services, and it STILL happened. Gah! I also don't like how many OEMs limit your setting on the critical battery percentage to 5%... I had to manually hack that on the G51J to make it 1%.
At any rate, it was something I've encountered enough during the past couple of years that I finally wanted to mention it. ASUS on the UL80Vt is particularly annoying if you use the button on the keyboard (the ExpressGate "power" button) to switch between plans, as it will jack with all sorts of settings. To my knowledge, there's no way to edit the defaults that it sets on most of the plans (i.e. the Power4Gear Battery Life option will turn on "auto-hide taskbar" every time you activate it).