Centrino 2 Laptop Roundup

by Jarred Walton on October 24, 2008 3:00 AM EST

ASUS G50V - Overview

First up we have the G50V from ASUS, which is billeted as a midrange gaming laptop. ASUS uses a 15.4" chassis, but this is one of the largest 15.4" notebooks we've tested. It's just slightly smaller than many of the 17" notebooks, making this more of a desktop replacement system rather than a mobile solution. Considering the targeted gaming market, however, that's hardly a surprise.

The gaming aspect is immediately apparent when you look at the G50V. This model comes with an orange and black color scheme, lighting on the side that can be set to flicker and pulse if desired, and even an advertisement for Alone in the Dark (Ed: Um… why?). The top of the laptop has the ASUS Republic of Gamers logo, and you get a matching mouse from Logitech (MX518) and a backpack to carry your laptop around. Furthermore, ASUS allows you to overclock the CPU by 5% or 10% within Windows - no rebooting required. Not that it really matters much for gaming, since the GPU is still the bottleneck 99% of the time.

The build quality of the G50V is very good, as is stability. We had no issues with overheating, crashing, or any other sort of negative experience. Throughout testing, the G50V plugged along like a champion. Considering this laptop will have to compete with the likes of the Gateway P-7811, the build quality is certainly one area where it scores better. It also comes with a two-year warranty, one-year accident protection, and 30-day zero bright dot guarantee, and a few accessories. The improved warranty alone is worth $200, give or take, and the mouse and backpack add another $50-$75 in value, so if you make a direct comparison to the P-7811 you pretty much get what you pay for. Whether you would rather have better gaming performance (P-7811) or more storage, a faster CPU, a better warranty, and better reliability (ASUS G50V) is what you ultimately have to decide.

A single panel on the bottom of the laptop grants access to the hard drives, SO-DIMM slots, mini-PCI slot, and the CPU/GPU cooling and chips. On the bright side, you only have to remove one panel to get access to all of the user upgradable areas. The drawback is that you need to remove all 12 screws that secure this panel if you ever want to upgrade any component. In the case of the G50V-A1, however, the only time you would likely need to remove the panel is if something goes wrong. As it stands, the memory, hard drives, mini-PCI, and CPU areas are all pretty much maxed out. Again we find the NVIDIA GPU on a removable module, and it's interesting to note that an alternative configuration of the G50V actually comes with an upgraded GPU. It would really be great if ASUS would provide users with an option to upgrade their graphics down the road, but for now you should plan on using the GPU a particular model ships with.

Index ASUS G50V – Specifications and Summary
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  • CEO Ballmer - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - link

    This thing is Vista Home Certified! That's the bomb!

  • alantay - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    I don't have a very comparable figure about Linux power requirements, but on a Core 2 Duo Santa Rosa based HP laptop (T7100, X3100 IGP, 15.4" screen), the reported power consumption with a default Ubuntu 8.10 installation is 13 watts with lowered screen brightness and 19 watts at full brightness. Not bad, but not a big difference either.

    Truth is, Linux was bad at power usage until 12-18 months ago. Clearly worse than Windows XP at the time. Only recently there have been significant improvements, so it's now better than Windows Vista, but it seems nowhere near OS X. But it's getting better and better, so in a year it might be doing really good.
  • sprockkets - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    While it is true you may not need to have access to the cpu for upgrades, it literally sucks to have to get to it, just to properly clean out the fan, or worse, to replace it.

  • enki - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    Those laptops seem to be very poor representations of good pc laptop battery life. Look at the review for the T400:
    It got 581 minutes of battery life in their web browsing test and could play a 3d game for longer then those laptops could browse the web (3 hours)

    So in your conclusion when you say if you like to work untethered you should pick a Mac it seems like a T400 with about 2 times the bettery life would be better
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    Someone else mentioned the T400 in response to the MacBook article. To repeat what I said there, here's a few quote from their review:

    "With the T400 you can reach 9 hours and 41 minutes with the wireless enabled, screen backlight at 60%, and the laptop in integrated graphics mode using only the 84Wh 9-cell battery. In this situation the notebook is only consuming roughly 8.5 watts of power. In dedicated graphics mode under the same settings battery life falls by exactly 2 hours down to 7 hours and 41 minutes, and power draw increases to 10.5 watts. The 6-cell battery managed 6 hours and 4 hours and 28 minutes respectively."

    Another statement: "When watching XVID encoded movies off the hard drive the 9-cell had an estimated 6 hours and 45 minutes of battery life, drawing 13 watts of power." I really don't like "estimates", though I still suspect it can hit at least 6 hours of Xvid playback.

    No mention is made of actually *surfing* the web - WiFi is merely "enabled". Without knowing more about how they conduct their battery life testing, I can't say whether their numbers are comparable to ours. What I do know is that U6V battery life almost doubles (149 minutes vs. 261 minutes) when I go from web surfing to idle. With a similar battery, the U6V would jump up to 418 minutes idle battery life. DDR3 and the ability to disable the discrete GPU probably make up the difference.

    Three hours playing Portal with an 85 Whr battery on the T400 is okay, but not that much better than what I would expect from the U6V with a similar battery. With the default battery, that would drop to only two hours.

    It does look like the T400 may be more or less equal to the MacBook, which is good to see. The MacBook with a 45 Whr battery under a heavier load (Xvid + constant downloading + web surfing) got 3.1 hours and the T400 gets an *estimated* 6.75 just playing Xvid. If we call those loads relatively "equal", the MacBook gets 4.13 Min/Whr compared to 4.82 Min/Whr on the T400. Probably the surfing and downloading would again make up the difference.

    I'll see if I can get a T400 for review, but Lenovo hasn't sent us anything in the past so it's a long shot....
  • cweinheimer - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    "Otherwise, you might as well just stick with IGP, since the 9300M class hardware is only a small boost in performance over the X3100/X4500".

    Slightly better you say? If I recall the article from Anand's IGP chronicles, the 9300igp in atx destroys any intel IGP. Surely the 9300m isnt that much worse than the deskyop counterpart.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    What's twice as fast as a snail? LOL Okay, even at three times as fast it's hardly anything to brag about. If you want GPU performance, go out and get an appropriate GPU. If you're not going to play 3D games (which I wouldn't plan on doing with the 9300M GS), why bother? For 1280x800 gaming, I'd say the 9500M or HD 3600 are the bare minimum you should get. I'd also wager that the inclusion of the 9300M on the U6V cut battery life by at least 10% relative to X4500. (Would be nice to see an NVIDIA IGP notebook other than Apple as well....)
  • garydale - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    I'm sorry, but nothing has changed in a couple of decades nor is it likely to, Notebooks are always slower, more expensive and more difficult to repair than desktop systems. It's inherent. You're trying to squeeze equivalent functionality into a smaller, integrated package.

    CPU manufacturers bring their new cores out for desktop systems first sos they can get the technology right before they add in the extra notebook features. Notebooks run off limited power so you need to make some adjustments, such as extra circuitry for dual power sources, power conservation, etc.. You need to add extra components like battery packs, dual outputs and docking interfaces.

    When you buy a notebook, you're always buying the whole thing. You can't reuse your old keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. And you have to squeeze everything into a smaller package, which makes it harder to manufacture.

    So please, stop telling us how notebooks are catching up to desktop systems. They aren't and they can't. Notebooks are popular right now but serious users have desktop systems for the speed, flexibility, performance and cost.

    I'm running a quad-core desktop system with 4G of dual-channel RAM and 3x500G SATA drives in a RAID 5 array. I don't think there is a notebook out there that can match any of the specs, let alone all of them. And I certainly can't get any notebook that powerful at the price I paid for the desktop system.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    I never said that notebooks are "catching up"; I simply pointed out that we are reaching the point where they are "fast enough". You pretty much repeated everything I stated in the intro, with a negative slant. I'm *not* recommending everyone go out and buy notebooks; what I'm saying is that they're a viable option for many users, even if they cost more.

    Anyway, the Clevo D-901C can handle three hard drives (in RAID 5), up to 8GB RAM, and quad-core processors (only 2.67GHz I believe), plus 9800M SLI. Total cost for such a system, however, ends up being over $5000. LOL

    Now, tell me *why* your average user needs quad-core, a 1TB RAID 5 set, and probably SLI graphics while we're at it. Throw out gaming, video encoding, and 3D rendering (and other workstation/server loads). That's the market a notebook can easily satisfy. Heck, I have a single-core AMD 3800+ still hanging around that handles all the Internet/Office tasks 95% of PC users require, and I can guarantee that the three laptops in this article outperform it in every meaningful benchmark. We've reached the tipping point where there are a lot of people that just need something that's "fast enough".
  • geokilla - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    This laptop might actually contain a 9800M GS and not a 9800M GTS, which is basically an underclocked version of the GTS.

    More info on whether it's a 9800M GS or GTS can be found here.


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