by Lenard Gunda, Finland
Reasons for Buying
I had my second notebook, an Asus V6V for almost two years. I have been looking at Core 2 Duo notebooks since they were announced last summer. I was not in a real hurry to get a new notebook, I really wanted to wait for a system that was the perfect fit. A multi core CPU is important for me because I do software development and often have to run many applications at one time. Also, I required more RAM for some time now, but decided against upgrading it in the current notebook because I knew I wanted a new one eventually.
I did not really want to wait for Santa Rosa. It might turn out to be something very cool, but at the moment I'd rather take something proven. I also did not want to wait until the next thing after Santa Rosa (which might be another year), so that pretty much left the current Core 2 Duo platform as my choice. I also wanted a notebook that could be used for gaming. Not the ultimate gaming machine, but something respectable.
My previous two notebooks have been made by ASUS, and although I had some problems with them, I still like them very much. I checked out other brands, how they look, what they provide and I just couldn't find anything like ASUS that would fit my needs. I also considered the Asus G1 notebook, but the sleek look of the V1Jp, plus the fact that a power station was included made be go for it in the end.
Where and How Purchased
I bought the notebook at a Finnish web site called Verkkokauppa (their website is only avaialable in Finnish), and I went to get it personally from their main store location as it saved on postage and was faster.
The price was on the high side at €2,319 ($3,036), but considering that a Power Station is included (which is also sold separately for 199€) the price was justified for me.
Specs for the V1JP-AJ008P
The specs for the V1Jp that is sold here in Finland is a little bit different than other parts of Europe or the USA. The one I got is identified by the model code AJ008P. The models vary in the CPU, RAM, HD and this particular one had the ASUS Power Station included in the package by default.
What is in the box?
The packaging is generally the same as what I have come to expect from ASUS, this is my 3rd ASUS notebook. The big cardboard box contains the bag and the notebook box. The notebook box contains the notebook itself, and another smaller cardboard box has all the accessories like the mouse, cables and manuals inside. The notebook is packaged and padded really well, and the whole package is well organized.
The box includes Finnish and Swedish manuals. However, these were not specific manuals for a particular ASUS notebook, rather, generalized versions, that could be bundled with all notebooks. I was a little bit dissapointed in this. For example, there is no mention of TPM or the fingerprint sensor in them. The English version manual is avaialable as a PDF download from the ASUS website, which is even better for me, because although I do read and speak Finnish, it is not my mother tongue.
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Build & Design
I am very satisfied with the build quality of this notebook. My previous notebook was an ASUS V6V. I think they are very similar in build quality though the materials are a bit different. The lid is made of magnesium alloy while the base is carbon fibre. From the outside the notebook has a dark gray and black design with silvery edges. When opening the lid, the palm rests are revealed in gray, in the middle sits the touchpad. The touchpad is also a wide model, 16:10, just like the screen.
I was more comfortable with the locking mechanism on the V6V which has magnets and no latch. The latch system on the V1JP does not feel that solid. The latch that holds the lid in place does not hold the lid tightly closed. The palm rests have a little flex on them, the left side maybe a little bit more than the right. Overal however, the notebook feels very solid.
One problem that I would point out is the closing of the DVD drive. This seems to be rather difficult. Gently clicking it close will not actually close it. I have to "slam it shut.", or otherwise it just pops open again. It also stuck in once, I had to gently move the cover around a little so it would open.
There is very little light leakage at the bottom, it is almost invisible unless the screen is black. The picture is crystal clear, the colors are beautiful. The ASUS Splendid utility allows you to instantly apply color profiles to the screen that suit different situations. The brightness of the screen can be adjusted in 16 steps, even the 3/16 setting gives enough light to type some text or browse comfortably and saves on battery life. When turned up to the maximum or 1-2 steps below, the picture looks really nice.
Viewing angles are excellent, at least compared to what I have seen on notebooks.
Processor and Performance
Equipped with a 2 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor there is not much in processing power that this notebook cannot provide. While using it I always got a fast response time, no matter what I was doing.
As you will read further down, I also installed Windows Vista on the notebook. For this reason I tried ran the benchmarks under Windows XP and Windows Vista as a comparison.
Super PI measures performance by calculating digits of PI. It was the first benchmark I ran, and it calculated 2 million digits in 1 minute and 02 seconds.
PCMark05 gives an overall benchmark of system performance, I ran this benchmark application under both Windows XP and Vista:
Windows XP Professional - 4536
Windows Vista Ultimate - 4701
|Asus V1Jp with Windows Vista (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1700)||4,701 PCMarks|
|Asus V1Jp with Windows XP (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1700)||4,536 PCMarks|
|Asus A6KT Q086 (1,8GHz Turion64 MT-34)||2,539 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, NVIDIA Go 7900 GS 256MB)||4,994 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950)||2,994 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950)||2,732 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo)||3,427 PCMarks|
I was a little surprised to see an increase in the score under Vista. I am just guessing that the scores can be compared even if the test was run on a different operating system.
Windows XP Professional - 1879
Windows Vista Ultimate - 1877
It is nice to know performance is actually the same in both XP and Vista, at least concerning games.
|Notebook||3DMark 06 Results|
|Asus V1Jp with Windows Vista (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1700)||1,877 3D Marks|
|Asus V1Jp with Windows XP (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1700)||1,879 3DMarks|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Intel T2500, ATI X1400)||926 3D Marks|
|Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB)||4,744 3D Marks|
|Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB||1,528 3D Marks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX)||4,085 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3D Marks|
Windows Vista Experience Index
Windows Experience Index - 4.3
This is the score Windows Vista assigns to the computer. The score is between 1 and 5, 5 being the best. It actually measures different parts of the system, and then assigns the lowest score to the entire computer. Below is a comparison chart of how the V1Jp with Vista stacked up against other notebooks.
|Notebook||Processor||Memory||Graphics||Gaming graphics||Hard Disk||Base Score|
|Asus V1Jp with Windows Vista (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1700)||4.9||4.5||4.3||4.8||4.7||4.3|
(1.6GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950, 1GB RAM)
(1.83GHz Core Duo, Nvidia 7400, 2GB RAM)
(2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600, 2GB RAM)
|Compaq Presario v3000z|
(1.6GHz Turion X2, Nvidia 6150, 1GB RAM)
|Dell XPS M1210|
(1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 7400, 2GB RAM)
|Sony VAIO SZ370P/C|
(2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 7400, 2GB RAM)
|Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m|
(2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400, 2GB RAM)
HDTune tests the performance of the hard drive, below is the graph generated by this benchmark tool:
Windows Vista Ultimate
After having done all benchmarks and the bulk of this review under Windows XP, I started installing Windows Vista Ultimate on the notebook. ASUS had just published all the Vista drivers on their webpage. Before starting to install Vista I decided to update the BIOS. The notebook came with V1J BIOS 301. There was some problem updating to V1JP BIOS, because WinFlash kept telling me that the new BIOS image is not compatible with the system. A quick search on the NotebookReview.com forums provided me with a /force switch, that allowed forcing the update (USE WITH CAUTION!).
After the update I had to soft-poweroff (4 seconds of power button pushing) because the notebook did not restart. My initial fears that I blew something quickly went away when after pushing the power button and restoring BIOS defaults the notebook booted normally.
Installing Vista was quite easy. It recognized many devices from the notebook without requiring me to install drivers separately. After setup was complete there were some devices that needed to be installed, most notably the graphics card. Vista can also find drivers after setup is complete by using Windows Update. The drivers provided here might be a little old, and ASUS has more recent ones. ASUS utilities (like MultiFrame, ATK keys support, ATK media keys,etc) are naturally not found on Windows Update, so they need to be installed manually. (it did find the ATK100 ACPI drivers, however) I left out some of the utilities I did not need, like the ip switcher or instantfun applications.
Not all applications provided with the notebook are Vista compatible. Like Nero Express, from which version 6 is included. Nero website offered me to update to Nero 7 Premium, but a price of 47€ for the update is just too much, considering that I would not use half of what is provided in that suite. I wish there was a way to get Nero 7 Express, which should be bundled with V1Jp in the future (at least according to ASUS website). Also some of the ASUS utilities are still buggy. For instance MultiFrame looks and works great, until you check out the number of handles the process has allocated in Task Manager. MultiFrame eats handles like crazy, I got the count up to over 100k in just about 2 hours. Hopefully fixes will come for these problems.
Wireless access configuration was difficult at first, but this was only because the windows and controls have been changed in Vista. Also Vista likes to hide the more advanced things (likes to use wizards and selection lists), and it took some time to figure things out. But I was really happy to notice that after I got it working I do not need the Intel software any longer for the WLAN key to work - on my V6V if I do not install the Intel software (only the driver) I cannot enable or disable wireless using the WLAN key on the notebook. Vista also found the Bluetooth controller and it too can be turned on or off with the key without any other software. For the time being I decided not to install the Toshiba bluetooth stack.
I did not install Power4Gear, rather used the built in tools for Vista. There is an icon in the system tray that allows choosing power plans. It was intersting to see that in battery saving mode as soon as I disconnect the power the nice Aero interface is gone in a second, so it would not eat the battery. It is nice to know I don't need to configure this separately. (Actually in this case what I mean by Aero is the glass like transparency effects of the interface. The window borders and controls still look the same when turned off.). I did one battery test so far in Vista. With wireless on, battery saving selected I was able to get 2 hours and 50 minutes before the 10% mark. I did web browsing, some instant messaging in Live Messenger (MSN), writing some text and browsing Vista settings. I am quite satisfied with this result.
I tried two games under Vista, Oblivion and World of Warcraft. Both games ran without problems, and I was really satisfied with the performance and quality of graphics.
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