Overview and Introduction
Asus W3v (view larger image)
With the coming of the Intel Duo Core age, Centrino based laptops are reaching the peak in performance packaging. With prices falling on models even with dedicated PCIe, you can now get mobility and graphics in one at affordable price. The Asus W3V is one of those great packages that also come with a beautifully designed shell at a reasonably portable size.
I purchased Asus W3H760DD after Boxing Day in December 2005 which shipped with a Pentium Centrino M 760 Processor. Here is the specification:
Reasons for buying
I have recently started graduate school. I needed a laptop for my office that would allow me to browse the internet/check e-mail with plenty of computing power to spare as well as some graphics power and memory capacity to process large and high resolution images for my papers and presentation. I also wanted something portable so I can take the computer to group meetings, seminars and conferences. 12" was decidedly too small and a punishment to the eyes after prolong usage. 15.4" was too big to carry given my petite stature. So the only size ideal for me is a 14" widescreen.
Where and How Purchased
The laptop was purchased in Taiwan for a markedly cheaper price than I would've paid in Canada. The vendor upgraded my processor to expo model with a 2.0 GHz processor and an extra stick of 512mb RAM, effectively making it 1gb operating in dual channel.
Build and Design
The brushed aluminum exterior has got to be the main selling point. The material itself offers both lightweight and great tensile strength over plastic. With the 8-cell battery intact, the laptop weighs in at about 5.5lbs. The overall construction feels solid, even the plastics casing taps to a lower pitch knock compare to the filmsy exterior seen on some of the lower end budget laptops.
Asus W3V Top View (view larger image)
The hinge has a good grip on the screen and does not feel overly loose. There's no clip or latch holding the cover when closed, instead, Asus uses a magnetic strip to hold the top and bottom together.
As mentioned in the other reviews, W3V comes with a native resolution of 1280x800, which may be a bit high given the 14" widescreen. But it nevertheless displays sharp text and vibrant photo images and is comfortably visible at normal working distance. One complaint I have regarding the screen is that it has a blue hue, giving it a "cool" overtone, which can be adjusted under the color management in video properties. But calibration requires some time with a CRT monitor nearby.
Decent speakers with 3D surround sound, enhanced with software control. They are not phenomenal but very impressive for a laptop. I doubt anyone really uses laptop speakers for serious multimedia application.
Processor and Performance
Standard benchmarks were run on the laptop with reside Asus application running in the background plus anti-viral software.
|Asus W3H760DD (2.0 GHz Pentium M)||1m 35s|
|Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 6s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
Though not crashingly fast, the Asus W3V does manage to tune out the fastest time so far, even when compared to other 760 core based laptop, the W3V still edged out a second faster.
|Futuremark PCMark04 Scores|
|Asus W3H760DD (2.0GHz, ATI X600 128MB)||ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz, ATI X600 128MB graphics)|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression||3.8 MB/s||3.38 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption||29.42 MB/s||28.13 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression||25.8 MB/s||24.94 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing||11.86 MPixels/s||11.45 MPixels/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning||1780.65 MB/s||2025.38 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check||3.1 KB/s||2.78 KB/s|
|File Decryption||58.28 MB/s||57.15 MB/s|
|Audio Conversion||2716.85 KB/s||2610.98 KB/s|
|Web Page Rendering||5.95 Pages/s||5.4 Pages/s|
|DivX Video Compression||53.55 FPS||54.6 FPS|
|Physics Calculation and 3D||188.5 FPS||182.77 FPS|
|Graphics Memory - 64 Lines||1609.13 FPS||1635.2 FPS|
|Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores|
|3DMark Score||1263 3DMarks||1682 3D Marks|
The slower hard drive definitely has its toll on performance. I wondered why Asus decided not to install a SATA 5400rpm HD. Cost was probably the first issue. Second may be heat. A faster HD also meant more heat. The performance gain from a faster HD may be offset by the extra heat generated under load. Case in point, the 3DMarks05 score, which is about a factor or so lower than its 15.4" siblings of identical hardware specification. It's probably a good idea that Asus went for the X600 rather than the X700. If the latter were in place, the computer might run even hotter. Regardless, the score is still on the magnitude of 2-3 factors higher than an integrated graphics card. So I am happy with that.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Asus W3v keyboard from the right side (view larger image)
The Apple PowerBook is often praised for its sturdy construction. It claims to be able to survive a drop at waist level. But realistically, you don't buy a laptop so you can drop it. When considering build and construction in a laptop, the main thing that I look at is the keyboard and touchpad, because typing and touchpad gliding are the only impact/friction related mechanical wear-down that your laptop is ever likely to see. What deters me away from the Acer Aspire 5504 is the flimsy keyboard and grainy touchpad. It seems too much like a disposable laptop that is likely to retire the same time its technology go out-of-date. The Asus does not disappoint. Touchpad is of a fair size, not overly crowded like the Toshiba Satellite M55; keyboard is solid, no warping or bending no matter how frustrated you type. The widescreen dimension gives it a full size length, with plenty of room to stretch without having your hands constantly falling off the keyboard like I did when I tried out the Dell Inspiron 600m. It's more than just adequate. It's just right.
Asus W3v from the left side (view larger image)
Operating System and Software
Asus W3V features an AudioDJ mode that launches with the built in hot keys and does not require windows to boot-up, similar to the theatre mode in HP/Compaq's DV1000 series. I don't know if this feature is unique to the Asian Asus, because I haven't seen this mentioned in other W3V reviews. The feature itself is not a particularly useful one given that most people who own a laptop would have some sort of portable audio device. But it's the dual boot nature that might allow some potential for hacking.
The Asus W3V gets about 4:14 on the battery saving mode, which just about turn down everything. Under minimal operation where work involves typing only, it can go for about 3:45-4:00, decent for a laptop with a dedicated video card. The power4gear software included with the package supposedly help you manage and conserve power when going mobile. But it's really just a software that turns off devices when not in use for x number of minutes.
Just about everything that I wanted in a laptop, this Asus has. Mobility, graphics power, build construction and price. It's a real bargain. Here's a run down on the good and the bad.
Cons (being really picky here):
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