Introducing the ASUS U35Jc

The fine folks at ASUS have had a string of pretty worthy ultraportables to their name. When we reviewed the U30Jc back in May, we found it to have just the right mixture of performance, battery life, and portability, and on top of all that, it just plain looked good. It was good enough to earn our Bronze Editors' Choice award, and we even looked at what adding an SSD could do for performance; at the same time, it had two nagging flaws. The first was the same gripe we seem to always have with consumer notebooks: a mediocre screen. The other? A dedicated GPU that was a middling jump forward at best from the U30Jc's predecessor: going from the NVIDIA GeForce G 210M to the GeForce G 310M is a minor improvement at best, and in practice, indistinguishable apart from the Optimus functionality the 310M brings to the table.

Two months ago, we reviewed the ASUS U33Jc, a slimmer version of the U30Jc with a bamboo veneer. The bamboo wasn't the only upgrade, however, as it also sported newer features like a USB 3.0 port and Intel Wireless Display connectivity for sending a 720p image to your HDTV (though you'll need to purchase the $100 HDTV device separately). While Vivek was quite attracted by the design, spending an extra $150 over the cost of the U30Jc for a few minor updates is a bit harder to recommend, and it still had the same middling LCD panel.

Today we have on hand the slimmer, lighter sibling of the U30Jc, the appropriately and excitingly named U35Jc. No bamboo veneer this time, but then no WiDi or USB 3.0 either. Here's how our review configuration shakes out:

ASUS U35Jc Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-370M
(2x2.4GHz + HTT, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM55
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce G 310M 1GB DDR3 Optimus Technology
(16 Shaders, 606 MHz core clock, 1468 MHz shader clock, 1334 MHz effective memory clock)
Intel HD Graphics IGP
Display 13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
AU Optronics B133XW01-V0
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400 RPM Seagate Momentus 5400.6 Hard Disk
Optical Drive None
Networking Atheros AR8131 Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9285 Wireless 802.11n (150Mb capable)
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers, headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 8-Cell, 15V, 5600mAh, 84Wh battery
Front Side 5-in-1 Flash reader
Left Side Exhaust vent
USB 2.0
Right Side Card reader
Headphone and microphone jacks
2x USB 2.0
Ethernet jack
AC adaptor
Back Side Nothing
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 12.9" x 9.28" x 0.98" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.74 lbs
Extras 0.3MP Webcam
86-key keyboard
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo, xD)
Aluminum lid and inside surface
Warranty 2-year standard warranty
Pricing Available online starting at $799

As far as specifications go, the ASUS U35Jc seems incremental at best compared to the U30Jc. While the U30Jc we reviewed featured an Intel Core i3-350M processor with a 2.26 GHz clock speed at its heart (Core i3 processors have no turbo speed), the U35Jc gives us a minor bump to the i3-370M running at 2.4 GHz. We still have the same Intel HM55 chipset and 4GB of DDR3, but the hard disk has gotten a bump in capacity from 320GB to 500GB; it's still running at the same slow 5400 RPM, a disappointment when 7200 RPM drives have gotten so much cheaper. Power consumption differences between 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM drives can be fairly negligible at this point, so there's really no excuse for not going with the faster hardware.

The U35Jc also features the same NVIDIA GeForce G 310M graphics hardware (with Optimus) the U30Jc had, but here there's actually been a downgrade. While core and shader clocks are identical to its predecessor, the 1GB (really? 1GB of video memory on a 64-bit bus?) of DDR3 has actually had its clocks cut down to an effective 1334 MHz, unfortunately just 3 MHz shy of leetness and 300 MHz shy of usefulness. As a result, you'll see gaming performance is generally worse on the U35Jc, no mean feat when the 310M was pretty poor to begin with.

All of the other components remain virtually unchanged apart from one major change: the U35Jc has had its optical drive removed, and as a result the unit is physically smaller and nearly a pound lighter. Some people might be upset at the loss of the drive, so if you think you might be one of them, the U30Jc is still around. For the rest of us, though, the trade-off is probably a worthy one. And then there's the U33Jc, still going strong at $969. If you figure on $50 for WiDi, $50 for USB 3.0, and $50 for bamboo, this is a wash, and the components are essentially identical to the U35Jc (outside of the GPU RAM size and clock). If you're looking for a lower price, this might be the laptop to get.

The Daintier U35Jc
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    I have to disagree with you. The layout on this notebook has been a standard for a long time now, and it's something I'm very comfortable with and know a few people who feel the same way. I'm a pretty good touch typist and have never had any of the problems you cite, though that's admittedly anecdotal.
  • ran100 - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    Now, when nvidia has already announced DX 11.0 series mobile graphics card with optimus technology. It is pity that manufacturers are yet to update. I want a notebook with gtx 460m and optimus. The panel of good quality is certainly important.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    This laptop design was finished and being built probably 3-4 months ago at least, so it's no surprise that they didn't go to 400M. Still, 310M was such a slow card that I really hope it disappears quickly....
  • tno - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    I mean this thing is less interesting as far as I'm concerned than a MacBook speed bump. I think sending this one back to Asus and demanding they try again when they have something interesting to review would have been warranted. These should have been released side by side as the U30optical and the U30lite.
  • Jeffk464 - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    Nope, nope, nope, must wait for the sangdybridge based version with a 15" monitor. Or maybe a AMD zacate 13" version.
  • zhill - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    First, your laptop reviews are the best around as far as I'm concerned, but I have one minor gripe: the choice of comparison machines in the performance/battery tests is somewhat confusing to me. For instance, why not include the protege r700 and the asus u33jc in the graphs as those a contenders for anyone interested in a 13" portable? I understand that you want to throw in an i5, i7um etc and one or two machines from different segements, but it gets old having to look back through old reviews to get the numbers for comparisons. Maybe a Bench addition (like CPU/SSD/GPU Bench) so we can pick our own comparisons to see the data? That would be great.

    On a positive note, your battery life/wH is a great metric for efficiency and levels the playing field when considering what a higher-capacity upgrade battery might do. Keep up the good work!
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    I'd be interested in hearing your input as to what's "ideal" in terms of charts. I personally think around 8~10 systems is good, as otherwise it gets too cluttered. Dustin I think prefers closer to 6 systems. So, if anyone else has an opinion here let us know! We can obviously put a bunch of the other systems we've reviewed into the charts, but at some point we pass the useful stage and move into information overload.

    As for Mobile Bench, we've talked about it. I guess I just need to chat with Anand some more and see how soon we can make it happen. :-)
  • zhill - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    First, thanks for the quick response.

    As for the "ideal" chart presentation, I think that the number of systems you present is just about right--8 systems is perfectly reasonable. However, unless a particular unit performs way above or below its "weight-class" (in the sporting sense) or has some really new/interesting hardware (i.e. the first example of a new CPU/generation), I'm really only interested in similar products, not, for instance, the Studio 17 vs U30JC. However, if a model is particularly bad or really good (rare these days with very similar hardware configs) then some out-of-class comparisons are useful. It's not an easy thing to determine, which is why an interactive system would be perfect as an option. So for the u35jc a nice comparison set might be: r700, u30jc, u33jc, m11x, studio 14, macbook pro-13, and maybe throw in the vaio Z to see what 2X cost gets you. Obviously, these are my personal preferences and relate to how and why I read a review.

    Again, great reviews overall. You guys are the only ones who cover the LCDs and keyboards well. I've read far too many other review with "keyboard was good" simply because it's full sized, but in practice the thing is full of mush and terrible. These reviews are particularly great for models that aren't readily available in stores to try out.
  • vol7ron - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    "...a disappointment when 7200 RPM drives have gotten so much cheaper. Power consumption differences between 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM drives can be fairly negligible at this point, so there's really no excuse for going with the faster hardware."

    Should it be "no excuse for going with the [slower] hardware", or "...for [not] going with the faster hardware"?
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link


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