ASUS UL50VF Laptop
In order to demonstrate the functionality of the Optimus technology, nVidia provided us with an ASUS UL50VF notebook. This is an Optimus version of their UL50VT notebook
- The UL50V Series comes with a somewhat large 15.6” chassis, and an Intel Core 2 Duo U7300, which is a dual-core CULV processor ticking at 1.30 GHz using Front Side Bus at 200MHz QDR [800MHz]. This is not the final clock, as there is enough cooling overhead for overclocking mode called Turbo33. As the name states, power consumption will almost triple to around 25-30W as the CPU will start operating at 1.73 GHz using the 266MHz QDR [1066MHz] Front Side Bus.
The GPU in question is a GeForce G210M, built using the 55nm process technology at TSMC. This low-cost, DirectX 10.1 supporting GPU packs only 16 cores that work at 1.47GHz, while the reminder of the GPU ticks at 606MHz. Memory controller is merely a 64-bit one, connecting with 512MB GDDR3 memory ticking at 790MHz in DDR mode [1.58 GHz data rate], resulting in a video memory bandwidth of a mere 12.64GB/s. Given that the current top single-GPU desktop card from nVidia delivers 159GB/s [default clock, not counting factory overclocked cards], while the top single-ASIC model from AMD pitches in 153.6GB/s, you can see that this board has 12.57 times LESS the memory bandwidth, 15 times less shader cores [they’re even not the same architecture]… overall on paper, this GPU looks like complete excuse for nVidia’s coined-term “Graphics Processing Unit”. Graphics Displaying Unit was more like it, we thought in our heads.
The graphics part is connected to a 15.6” LCD display using a 16:9 resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The screen will fit the whole 720p video with no issues [no black horizontal lines] and this is the optimal resolution as far as the 16-core GPU is able to handle. Given the price of $799, don’t be surprised to hear that the screen isn’t of best quality - ASUS used a TN panel which are usual at this price level. The company did implement an LED backlight which compensates for the TN panel. If you look at the screen, you’ll be hard pressed to know the difference between IPS, MVA, PVA or a TN - the only giveaway is that white is a bit warmer than on IPS/MVA and the viewing angles.
The notebook also comes with 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory and a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 320GB hard drive.The system is rounded off with a Matshita UJ982AS, SATA DVD-RW drive.
As it usually goes, connectivity is perhaps the most important part of any notebook and chosing the wrong wireless or Bluetooth chip can significantly limit the range and also, reduce the life of the battery. Luckily, ASUS went with the Atheros AR8131 Gigabit Ethernet and AR9285 Wireless controllers and Atheros is a known figure in the world of power saving wireless chips. Just compare the battery life between the iPhone and Blackberry Bold if they both run 3G. According to one of our sources, Atheros saves 3-5% of power when compared to Marvell and Intel Gigabit Ethernet, and around 7% of power when comparing Intel vs. Atheros Wireless components.
In order to power all these components, Asus installed an 8-Cell, 5600 mAh, or 84 Wh battery. This is the highest capacity the company has in store, and according to the manufacturer, it should be good for "up to 12 hours of battery life". Given that we’re writing this piece in the middle of crossing the Hudson Bay in Canada, five hours into the flight. ExteriorASUS UL50VF in all of its beauty. Photo: Goran Legovic
ASUS UL50VF is a product that shows the company’s strengths and weaknesses at the same time. When you take a look at it, first thing you’ll notice is the aluminum cover with an ASUS logo and it definitely looks more than you paid for it. The notebook is really slim - something you don’t expect from a 15.6” case.
The left side features a power connector, heat exhaust, multi-card reader, HDMI, two USB ports and audio connectors. The right side only features an analog D-SUB [when will these analog projectors finally die out?], 1GbE port, Optical drive and a single USB port. Speakers are located at the front side, just below the ridge. When you open the UL50VF, you’ll be greeted with a lot of shiny black plastic which looks just like the price you paid for it.
We really like the fact that there were only two stickers on the notebook, and they aligned nicely with the notebook. Yes, we do understand that a final retail version has to come with a Windows 7 sticker, but if I were you, I would remove every sticker sans one or maybe two nVidia ones.Everything is stylish and there aren't any excessive design faults typical for Far Eastern vendors
The full-sized keyboard is a delight to type on. It is really good to see that more and more notebooks are adopting Intel’s genius patent of taking the air from the holes in the keyboard for cooling as it not just cools down the components but also creates a tiny amount of airflow around the keyboard. No sweaty palms here, that is. There are only three special keys on the whole laptop: The ExpressGate button is located above the Escape key, Power button is located on the right, above the End key, and large single key in the middle for left- and right-click below the touchpad. Every other command is located on some of the keyboard keys and you have t ouse a Function Key plus that particular key to execute command [WiFi On/off, Standby Change Screen, Play/Pause, loudness etc.].
The second thing that we really liked is the inclusion of a multi-touch touchpad. Asus was the first company to incorporate multi-touch pads even on their netbooks, back in the day when Apple was only switching to the PC platform.
The weakest part of this whole notebook is an optical drive unit. It’s not an issue of quality as it is rather an issue with the design. The optical unit is located on the right side of the notebook and there would be nothing wrong with that if there wasn’t for the eject button. You’ve guessed it right; eject button is located exactly at the ridge and well, you will accidentally open it… and again, and again and again. In the first week of testing, the unit opened at least a dozen of times. Given that the world is moving away from the optical drives, we hope that future versions will have a bracket in the box, so that you can put the optical drive out and who knows, gain maybe 5-10 minutes to battery life.
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