Monday, February 16, 2009

Asus N80VN-GP011C (2008 Laptop)

I picked this model because I wanted a souped up 14" system that was able to play games decently. The stats on this system were pretty maxed out so no upgrades were necessary. This turned out to be one of those systems that looked good on paper, but you really wish you could've played with it before purchasing it. I did get it for around $850 because of the seasonal Live.com cashback scheme, so it seemed like a good time to pull the trigger.

Stats
  • Windows Vista Home Premium x86
  • Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4GHz 1066MHz FBS 3MB L2 Cache
  • Intel PM45 Chipset
  • 14.1" 1280x800 LED WXGA
  • 4GB DDR2 800MHz RAM
  • 320GB Hitachi 5400RPM SATA
  • DVD Super Multi
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9650M GT 1GB DDr2
  • Atheros AR928X BGN WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Webcam 1.3MP
  • 6-cell lithium ion
  • 90-watt AC adapter
  • Dimensions 13.39" x 9.84" x 1.43-1.46"
  • Weight 5.71 lbs.
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • 1 x Express Card
  • 5 x USB
  • 1 x IEEE 1394
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x CIR for remote controller
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 1 x Microphone-in jack
  • 1 x Headphone-out jack (S/PDIF)
  • 1 x 8 in 1 card reader, SD,MMC,MS,MS-Pro,mini SD
Build and Design
The build is O.K.. It's made from pretty hard plastic, both for the LCD backing as well as the main chassis. It is of the glossy plastic variety which makes it look like a toy as well as being a fingerprint repository. I personally like the look of boring, business laptops, but good luck on finding a real video card in one of those.

Traveling with the laptop was much better than a 15.4", but it was still a tad too heavy. Getting either a 13.3" or a 12" with no DVD drive might still be the best bet for road warriors. Seriously...how often does a person use their DVD drive if not to just install or rip stuff?

Display
The LED backlighting makes the LCD way too bright. I always have to turn it down 3-4 notches before my eyes can be comfortable with it. If I don't, my eyes will start hurting after 20-30 minutes. Good thing is that the backlighting drains less electricity, so by turning it down you're saving even more. While playing games there is some ghosting if you play FPSs...that coupled with the fact that it is only a 60hz LCD. I usually have it connected to an external, 75hz LCD so most visual issues are quickly forgotten.

The camera on the top is pretty crappy compared to all standalones out there, but oh well.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard sucks ass and is the worse part of this laptop by far. The right side is decent, but the left side is very clacky and is totally loose. I took the liberty of taking it apart to see what the cause was, and it turned out to be that the right side is supported by a single screw that you remove from the bottom of the laptop while the left side has nothing. Because of this, there is a 2-3mm air gap between the keyboard tray and the actual chassis. I solved the problem by placing strips of electrical tape onto the left side, and that dramatically improved the sound of the keyboard. Also, the Ctrl key and the Fn key are swapped so whenever you try cutting and pasting, nothing happens. Whose bright idea was it to make this change? BIOS and/or software cannot change this, so Asus can go fuck itself for this design flaw.

The touchpad is fine; I rarely use it. The buttons for the touchpad are a tad harder to press, but that's a good thing in my book.

Performance
Here are all the results gathered from benchmarks. XP still reigns over crappy Vista; and the lack of responsiveness under Vista is still quite noticeable. While gaming at 1280x800, you can usually max out most settings except for HDR, Bloom, and Shadows, but all-in-all it has a pretty decent vid card.

Ports and Features
The main ports of note are the HDMI and the eSATA. Everything else is pretty standard. The HDD is SATA so all upgrades are available to you and are easily accessible.

Speakers and Audio
The speakers are actually pretty good. It can get very loud if you max all of the settings. I usually use headphones and with those you have to turn down all the sound settings or else it's way too loud.

Heat and Noise
The system only gets hot and noisy if you're gaming. Even when playing a ripped DVD, the fan rarely comes on.

Battery Life
The battery life is pretty decent. It can last for around 2.75 hours under normal conditions and if you turn everything down I'm sure I can get around 3.5 hours out of it.

Conclusion
The system was a good deal for the price, but the sad thing is that the keyboard issues have totally turned me off to this system and brand. Asus is still the best in terms of desktop motherboards, but they are a no-go for laptops. I'd rather get a Thinkpad T/X series or a Latitude and be done with it. Better warranty, better design, and a more stable feel. The only thing you'd be missing out on is gaming, but when the price drops low enough, a PS3 will solve that problem. That and most PC games suck these days anyways.

Pros:
  • Price
  • Maxed-out stats
Cons:
  • Keyboard
  • Design
  • Weight
  • Lack of "Pride"