Our testing actually begun - with a bug found in the first few minutes of working with the notebook, which was resolved after talking to nVidia and ASUS. The bug was something atypical - if you would click on full-screen when playing a Flash video, the screen would turn black. That’s right, no YouTube or just about any other Flash-based video file. The culprit here was a 1080P trailer for Avatar [seen the movie four times in 3D]. As you might have guessed, this is not something you should experience… anywhere. Upon contacting nVidia, we were delivered a new driver. Following the installation of the 188.97 drivers and subsequent arrival in Zagreb on Sunday, we went on and re-did all the benchmarks using these drivers. According to Sean Pelletier, these are the drivers that users will experience when they purchase a notebook, so we went on and compared our previous benchmark runs to the newer one.
Our notebook booted at 1.3 GHz, but we wanted to see the 1.73 GHz as well, which can be easily activated by clicking on the battery icon in the taskbar, selecting the Power4Gear utility [on the left side of the Window] and setting the computer into a Turbo mode.
In order to overclock the CPU, the system will go down to standby, change the FSB speed from 200 to 266MHz and resume from standby. In a way, this reminded me of AMD-switchable graphics demo on HP’s Envy and the nVidia-switchable graphics on previous-gen ASUS CULV notebook, albeit much faster. Unfortunately for the whole Optimus experience, CPU clock change doesn’t go as invisible as the GPU on-off switch. While screen blinking and standby is a normal thing on non-Optimus UL50VT, UL50VF GPU switching works much better than the CPU one. It is exactly with this small thing - you start to see the real value of Optimus technology. No hassle, it just works. And when a friend asked me to summarize this technology in a plain language, I had only three words in mind: invisible game changer.Power4Gear Hybrid application, where you can control all the power aspects of this notebook
The funny thing about this notebook is that it comes with a Chinese keyboard enabled by default. Thus, if you accidentaly press Ctrl+Space or Alt+Shift, the keyboard will change from English to Chinese - it might be a good idea to delete the Chinese keyboard layout as well. Unless you need it, naturally.
During our everyday work, we managed to get around 10 hours of battery life. Seeing 93% battery life stating "10hr00min remaining" brings something warm around the heart. Even though the specifications claim 12 hours, we were really happy with more than 10 hours of autonomy, which we used and abused during traveling. San Diego to Los Angeles and back, and the laptop had disabled sleep mode. The laptop also lived throughout the flight between San Francisco and Frankfurt, even though we did watch two movies - DVD version of YPF
and a digital copy of our Star Trek Blu-ray [Thank You Dolby]. During playing both of the movies, G210 spun to life and took over, rather than 100% CPU utilization and choppy framerate on GMA 4500, as we experienced before. In my life, I’ve flown around 800,000 miles and during those countless hours up in the air [the movie
is actually quite sad - I met very interesting people while taking a break from economy seating], I’ve used numerous notebooks from $500 to $6000 in value - from 12” SSD powered Samsung to 18.4” Toshiba Satellite Pro. Yet, incredible how it may sound, this $800 notebook is the most comfortable to fly with. Watching movies in HD without worrying should you start this or that one, but rather watching what you want - is priceless. Performance - Real World
Loading Windows 7 System Properties reveals a score of 3.4, essentially a very poor result, especially when you see how that score was obtained: CPU scored 4.9, memory scored 5.4, Hard Disk scored 5.7… and the bottleneck was of course, Intel GMA 4500 - which scored only 3.4. The reason for G210M not activating lies in the way how Windows 7 runs the test - essentially, it didn’t allow the nVidia driver to activate the discrete GPU. This is something nVidia will probably work in the future but it isn’t exactly a show stopper.Badaboom GPU transcoding - 38.6 frames per second sound and feel much better than 3-4 frames.
nVidia is heavily pushing video transcoding as a major thing - our sample came with Elemental Technologies Badaboom transcoding software. We also tried native Windows 7 transcoding, but given the limitations of native transcoder [transcoding is a drag and drop feature and you have to have a Windows Media Player compatible device - our BlackBerry Bold does not qualify], we went back to Badaboom faster than you could say windowsisaflesxibleoperatingsystemandallofthefeaturesworkasintended
. The G210M is miles faster than a built-in CPU, as it can transcode the DVD to a Blackberry/iPhone resolution [480x240] at 39.1 to 40.1 frames a second. Overall, G210M left Core 2 Duo U7300 [3.1fps] in the dust, proving that for video transcoding, GPU is the right way to go. APDFPR 5.03 Screenshot - GPGPU-accelerated password cracking on the go
There is an application that we really like is not as widely known to the general audience as the more visual Badaboom, but ElcomSoft provides GPGPU password recovery software. We checked the PDF password recovery software as sometimes, it can be a life saver. Yes, I personally know the story about trying to open a six year old PDF document with a different password than the ones you use today. The same thing applies to pretty much any password-protected file you might have created over the course of years and forgot about it. Going on a business trip and all of a sudden needing that Outlook .PST file you archived and forgot the password? Even with tiny 16 cores, ElcomSoft’s APDFPR 5.03 Enterprise Edition
[Advanced PDF Password Recovery] shown impressive speed. At first, the application didn’t used the GPU, but after installing CUDA SDK on the system, we managed to get GPGPU rolling at an impressive pace. If we let the password cracker run on a CPU alone, it would take 170 days to crack the password. Running on GPU, it would take approximately two and a half days. ElcomSoft also creates password breakers for various file types and the company’s largest clients come from security, intelligence and counter-intelligence sector, which is usually always the first to jump the gun on the most advanced and powerful methods of getting the results done. As you’ve might have guessed, ElcomSoft adopted CUDA
long time ago and is contemplating OpenCL when the standard matures. Performance - Games
Now, the question that you all have is the same to the one I had. GeForce G210M and playing games? Essentially a four year old G80 architecture receiving its second silicon spin and, 16 puny cores, 512MB dedicated GDDR3 memory - how could that play any game? In other articles online, you probably saw results in 800x600, 1024x768 and so on. Here on Bright Side of News*, forget about running scripted benchmarks without looking at the screen. Our gaming resolution was 1366x768 and if this laptop could not pull it off, we would pretty much bury this notebook, as it would be completely deserved. Again, if you want to see 3DMarkVantage scores, look elsewhere - we took Futuremark’s Shattered Horizon for the ride instead.
We tested following titles:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Day of Defeat: Source
- Left 4 Dead
- Left 4 Dead 2
- Need For Speed: SHIFT
- Shattered Horizon
- Star Trek Online
- Unreal Tournament 3
- World of Warcraft
We believe this combination of titles If you are wondering why we still use Unreal Tournament, the reason is quite simple - performance of UT3 on GeForce 8800GTX in screen’s native resolution is still our “1.0x” multiplier as far as performance goes.
We started our testing with Left 4 Dead 2 and were discouraged from the get go. According to Valve, our “optimal” configuration would be 800x600 resolution with some details set to high, some set to medium. There was not a snowball’s chance in hell I would play in that resolution; crank it up to 1366x768 pixel resolution, decreased image quality to medium and loaded the game. And imagine the surprise - the game ran well. The game runs on an average between 40 and 54 frames per second in every level we checked it, and it only choked by a second when your avatar is completely covered in ooze and getting hammered by numerous zombies. In Day of Defeat: Source, we played with all the settings either high or medium again, at 1366x768. Trust us, you don’t want to run a non-native resolution on any LCD screen.
Following this, we were encouraged and loaded up Need for Speed: Shift and again, with all the details set to low, the game flew as equally fluent as on my Quadro FX 4800 [desktop counterpart: GTX 260-192], albeit desktop version runs with all the details cranked up at 1920x1200. Gaming on the go slowly started to become a reality with G210M, a GPU which originally, I refused to review. Well, I guess Brian Burke is now eating those Griotte chocolates and drinking coffee, since my original reaction to G210M… well, let’s just say I didn’t had a nice opinion. Yet, this laptop actually works and it works with higher framerates than Acer Aspire 3D, which came with Mobility Radeon HD 4570. To make the matters worse for Aspire, that system came with 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo with 6MB of L2 cache, 4GB of DDR3 memory.
Shattered Horizon proved a tough cookie for the system, given it only has a dual-core CPU and PhysX processing is using the GPU - we thought G210M was the issue, but the performance was equal in 1280x720 and 1366x768. Overall, you can expect 30-35 frames a second with occasional dips below - don’t turn around to Mother Earth, and well, we had issues playing the ISS level. But with details on low, it was pretty good. If you yearn for space action, Star Trek Online worked nicely both in space mode and on the ground. We predominately used medium details. Batman: Arkham Asylum worked at around 20 frames a second no matter what we did. Then again, if you wanted to play it on GMA 4500 - no way. On the other hand, World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament 3 worked perfectly with details on the high side. We only needed to reduce the shadows and in case of WoW, leave Depth of View on stock levels, and 60 frames a second were there.
All in all, quite a compelling gaming experience - NFS, L4D2 and Star Trek Online all come with good framerates and if you’re into these type of games, you’ll enjoy.
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