Asus F3Ja Review (pics, specs)

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Asus F3J Review

The Asus F3J series laptop is considered a “portability” laptop. It offers a great machine for business and gaming and it is also a portable machine.


Asus F3Ja (view large image)

According to the Asus website the F3Ja offers “True-to-Life Gaming Enjoyment [the] F3Ja offers outstanding dual-core performance to enjoy multimedia management and digital content creation”

The model I specifically have is the F3APT2400, also known as the F3Ja.

Specifications for F3Ja as reviewed:

  • Intel Core Duo Processor T2400 1.83GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 667MHz
  • Mobile Intel 945PM Express Chipset
  • 2 GB DDR2 667MHz Ram (I upgraded from 1GB)
  • 15.4″ WXGA
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 External 256MB VRAM /with 512MB Hypermemory
  • SATA 100 GB 5400rpm
  • 8X DVD Super Multi Burner
  • 7 in 1 MMC/ SD/ Mini-SD/Memory Stick/ MS Pro/ MS-Duo/MS-Pro-Duo Card Reader
  • 6 Cells 4800mAH Battery
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • Bluetooth V2.0+EDR
  • 1.3M Megabyte Pixels Built in Webcam
  • Ports: 1 x Headphone-out jack, 1 x Microphone-in jack, 1 x Line-in Jack, 1 x RJ11 Modem jack for phone line, 1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert, 4 x USB 2.0 ports, 1x IEEE 1394 port, 1 x TV Out (S-Video), 1 x Express Card, 1 x DVI Port, 1 x VGA Port
  • Dimensions: 365 x 269.5 x 28-40.5 mm
  • Weight: 2.95kg / 6.5lbs (With 6 cell battery)

Reasons for Buying:

I am going to the University of Washington this fall. I need a computer that is portable enough for me to take around campus and powerful enough for me to play games such as Battlefield 2 — or any other high end graphic games. At first, I thought about getting a Dell XPS M1710, but the laptop was too big and heavy for me. It is also ridiculously expensive. I wanted to find a system that is around 15 inches and capable for gaming. I spent nearly two months trying to find a perfect laptop for myself. Then I went to a computer convention in Taipei (I live in Taiwan). It was there that I was introduced to the Asus F3 series laptop. I was told the F3 is the upgrade from the Asus A6 or S96j. I tried looking for other similar laptops at the convention, but couldn’t find any that would fit my criteria as well as the F3Ja.

My Criteria:

  • 14 inch ~ 15.4 inch
  • Portable
  • Powerful dedicated graphic card
  • Worth the price (value)
  • Simple and fine looking, but nothing fancy like Alienware.
  • Made in Taiwan (to support the home country)

Where and How Purchased:

In the end, I bought the Asus F3Ja at the convention. I haggled a little on price. I also added another 1GB of ram (total: 2GB ram) after market. The final price was 48,800NT, which is around $1,484.41 USD. I thought it was an awesome deal!

Build & Design:


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The design is one of the best I’ve seen from Asus. I used to think that Asus made cheap looking laptops, but I changed my mind after I got the F3Ja. The laptop itself is silvery grey with a combination of black on certain surfaces (such as the keyboard and black strip at the bottom of the laptop lid). The texture is smooth and comfortable. The design is very simple yet elegant. You open the lid by pressing a black small button at the front of the laptop. The lid opens smoothly without any problem. I don’t get any wobbling when I push the back of the LCD. The laptop weighs about 2.95kg (6.5lbs) which in my opinion is a decent load for a 15.4-inch laptop. The build and design of this laptop is very nicely done.

Screen:


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The screen is a widescreen 15.4″ glossy WXGA @ 1280X800. There seems to be an extra layer of glass or plastic that protects the screen. If you feel the screen with your fingertips, you will notice this hard and protective layer. When compared to a regular LCD with a soft and sensitive surface, the F3Ja’s screen seems much better protected. The color and the contrast of the screen are great. The screen is very bright and the viewing angle of the screen is fine too. You can look at it from both sides without any major distortion or color change. However, you do see a contrast difference when viewing it from a high and low angle. But this shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. I play Battlefield 2 on this laptop with good response time. Asus also supplies pre-installed software called “ASUS Splendid Technology Utility”. This software can be used when users want to change the settings for the screen. It has six modes which include: Normal, Gamma, Vivid, Theater, Soft and My Profile (where you set your own setting). The software is very easy to use, just a click of a button and you’re done. Asus also has a hotkey built for this software. We will talk about that later. Overall, I’m very happy with the screen.


Watching my favorite TV show, The Office (view large image)

Speakers:

The speakers are located at the top of the keyboard and just below the screen. The speakers are fine considering they’re laptop speakers. You can listen to your MP3s and watch video on it, but there’s hardly any bass presented with the sound. The overall sound quality is average. As for the volume, the volume of the speakers is fine. I’m not surprised or displeased with the speakers. They are just average laptop speakers.

Processor and Performance:

The processor is an Intel Core Duo Processor T2400 1.83GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 667MHz. I wish it was 2.0 GHz, but 1.83GHz is fine with me. It takes about 45 seconds to get to the login screen. It takes about another 35 seconds to load and finish most background and startup software. The Processor performs extremely well; I can play Battlefield 2 and Madden 07 without any hassle or problem. Note: These load times quoted above were taken after I installed all the software I usually use, so it should be faster when you have your first startup.

The hard drive is a SATA 100 GB 5400RPM. I wish it were 7200RPM, but that option wasn’t presented at the time I bought it. Overall though the hard drive performs well — I haven’t had any problems with the speed of the hard drive. Files copy and program installation is normal and occurs at decent speeds.

Benchmarks:

Super Pi: (In Asus Super-Performance Mode)

SuperPi measures CPU performance by calculating Pi to a specific number of digits.

Notebook

Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits

Asus F3Ja (1.83GHz Core Duo)

1m 16s

HP dv6000z (1.8GHz Turion64 X2 TL-56)

1m 54s

Compaq V3000T(1.6GHz Core Duo)

1m 26s

Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.00 GHz Core 2 Duo)

1m 02s

Toshiba A100(2.0GHz Core Duo)

1m 18s

Acer Aspire 5102WLMi(1.6GHz Turion64 X2 TL-50

2m 22s

Gateway E-100M(1.2GHz Core Solo ULV)

2m 02s

Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)

2m 10s

HP dv5000z(2.0GHz Sempron 3300+)

2m 02s

 

PCMark05 Comparison Results:

PCMark05 provides an overall system performance evaluation that includes the graphics card and processor.

Notebook PCMark05 Score

Asus F3Ja (1.83 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)

3,918 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Intel T2300) 2,879 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3,646 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz) 1,877 PCMarks

Again, the benchmark performance is good.

3DMark05 Results and comparison:

3DMark05 tests the graphics processing capabilities of a system:

Notebook  3DMark 05 Results

Asus F3Ja (1.83 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)

 3,696 3D Marks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)  2866 3D Marks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800 GTX)  7,078 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2,530 3D Marks
 Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)  2,273 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2,536 3D Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4,157 3DMarks

This is where I am disappointed. The 3DMark05 score is clearly lower than other similar spec laptops. It should be close to the score of 4000. But after playing through a problem/lag free Battlefield 2 game, I’m not all that concerned about the score. This laptop can run games in high settings without any problems. At the end, this is only a benchmark score; it doesn’t translate into actual gaming experience.


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3DMark06: 1,893 (In Game Mode)

A little bit disappointed, but 3DMark06 is a tough benchmark to run anyway.

HD Tune: Average 30.8MB/Sec. (see picture)


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Heat and Noise:

The laptop has felt surprisingly cool throughout my use. When playing Battlefield 2, you can feel a little bit of warmth at the lower right corner, but it doesn’t distract you. The cooling system must be very efficient. The cooling vents are located at the left of the laptop (next to the DVD burner) and at the top right corner (near the USB ports). The cooling vents are placed well so you won’t feel hot air blowing out of the vent when using a mouse. As for the noise, you will hardly notice any noise from the laptop. The DVD-Burner is surprisingly quiet when compared to other laptops I’ve used. It only makes limited sound that comes when initially reading a CD. The Asus F3 once again proved its quality in this section.

Keyboard & Touchpad:


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The keyboard is great compared to other laptop keyboards. It does not flex. The keys require limited pressure to press. The pressure is just right in my opinion, not too soft and not too hard. It does make that small clicking keyboard sound when you type fast but it shouldn’t be a problem after you get used to it. I’m perfectly satisfied with the keyboard.

Also, a lot of people have complained about Asus’s Ctrl and Fn key setup. Asus finally switched the two keys around so right now the Ctrl key is located to the far left and Fn key is at the right. This is a good decision by Asus.

Touchpad:


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As for the touchpad, it takes me a little bit of time to get use to it. It is like any other touchpad but with a small exception, the scrolling function is located in the right side of the touchpad, instead of the normal separate key in between the mouse buttons. This is “okay” in my opinion but it does take a while to get used to it. Sometimes I would accidentally touch the scrolling function and a webpage would move up and down. You just need to know where the boundary is and you’ll be fine. As for the touchpad mouse button, it has an Apple like design. It looks like a single mouse button but it is actually two buttons in one piece. It works like any other touchpad mouse button so this is fine in my opinion.

Hotkeys:


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There are six hotkey buttons on the top right corner of the keyboard. I will name the function keys in order from left to right: Asus DVD player (I don’t know how to change it to another media player), Power4 Gear (for changing to different mode such as game mode, battery saving mode, etc.), able/disable touchpad, ASUS Splendid Technology Utility (quick key for changing the screen setting), Default web browser (in my case, it is FireFox), Power button.

Built-in Webcam/Microphone:


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The Asus F3Ja has a built-in webcam and microphone sitting directly above the LCD screen. The camera is 1.3 mega pixels in resolution. I did a Skype webcam test with my sister in New York (half way across the world!). The result was excellent. She said she didn’t see any lag effect and that my mouth was in synch with my voice.

Input and Output Ports:

The ports are mostly located on the right side. It can feel crowded with all the things connected to the laptop. Other than that, it has everything I need. There are even two USB ports located at the rear side, which is good for external mouse users. What surprises me the most is that the F3Ja has two video outputs, one VGA and one DVI. One small problem I encountered is that it is quite annoying when you need to connect your laptop to external speakers because the headphone jack is at the front of the laptop.

Right side:


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  • l Express Card
  • l 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • l IEEE 1394 port
  • l TV Out (S-Video)
  • l DVI Port
  • l VGA Port
  • l RJ11 Modem jack for phone line
  • l RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert

Left Side:


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  • l Kensington lock port
  • l 8X DVD Super Multi Burner

Rear Side:


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  • l DC Input
  • l 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • l Battery

Front Side:


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  • l Wireless on/off switch
  • l Open button
  • l 1 x Headphone-out jack
  • l 1 x Microphone-in jack
  • l 7 in 1 MMC/ SD/ Mini-SD/Memory Stick/ MS Pro/ MS-Duo/MS-Pro-Duo Card Reader

Wireless:

The Asus F3 comes with an Intel 3945 a/b/g wireless chip built-in. I didn’t encounter any wireless connection problems. It works like any other laptop wireless connection. I myself like the Intel wireless utility, I find it much easier and simpler to use than window’s own wireless utility.

The Asus F3Ja also has Bluetooth 2.0 built-in. I haven’t had the chance to test the Bluetooth but it should work fine. Just as a reminder, remember to install the Bluetooth driver before you want to connect any devices through Bluetooth. The driver is already pre-loaded in Windows; you just need to run the installation.

Battery:

Battery life and performance differs with the use of each different Power4 Gear mode. There are 8 Power4 Gear modes, below are the predicted battery times in each mode:

  • Super Performance: disabled during battery mode
  • High Performance: about 2h 30m
  • Game: about 2h 30m
  • DVD Movie: 2h 40m
  • Quiet Office: 2h 40m
  • Presentation: 3h (screen brightness decreases)
  • CD-Audio: 3h 10m (screen brightness decreases dramatically)
  • Battery saving: 2h 50m (screen brightness decrease)

Supplied Items:

The Asus F3Ja comes with a mouse and a laptop messenger bag


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The mouse is a V100 optical mouse made by Logitech. The mouse is very good for travel. It is very lightweight and portable. One major upside of the mouse is that it comes with side to side scrolling ability. The USB cord is pretty short (70cm/27inch), so it is not ideal for desktop use. You can see more detail regarding the V100 optical mouse on Logitech.com.

Messenger Bag:


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As for the messenger bag, it is very handy. It fits the 15.4 inch laptop just right. However, it does not provide enough capacity for long-distance travel or even to server as a school bag. It is pretty much packed when I put in my mouse, Ethernet cable, battery charger and a book novel. You’d be better off buying a bigger laptop bag. I myself am buying an Ogio Fugitive bag as a school bag. But if you’re only going to put the laptop and some laptop accessories in it, then you’ll be fine with the included bag.

Operating System and Software:

Window XP Home edition is pre-installed by Asus. All the pre-installed software is useful in my opinion.

List of other pre-installed software:

  • ASUSDVD
  • ASUS Live Update
  • ASUS Splendid Video Enhancement Technology
  • Net4Switch
  • Power4Gear
  • Catalyst Control Panel
  • Bluetooth Software
  • Nero OEM Suite
  • Intel PROSet Wireless Software
  • Synaptics Touchpad Software
  • ATK media
  • Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0

Software included in the CDs:

  • Asus DVD
  • PowerDirector Pro
  • Medi@ Show
  • Norton Internet Security 2005
  • Asus F3 Driver & Utility CD
  • Nero OEM Suite
  • Windows XP Home Edition Recovery Disk

Customer Support:

The Asus F3Ja comes with a two year international warranty. I didn’t have any chance to test the Asus customer support but I do know they have excellent customer service in Taiwan. However, the same thing probably can’t be said about the customer service in the US. I suggest readers to check other Asus laptop reviews to get a better glimpse at Asus US customer support.

Conclusion:

I love this laptop! It has everything I want. When it comes to buying a laptop and computer parts I’m very picky. However, this laptop has very few problems that I can pick on. This is a perfect laptop for any college student or business person. It is both portable and powerful. It is awesome!

Score: 5/5

Pros:

  • Stylish design
  • Great and sturdy build quality
  • Powerful dedicated graphic card (ATI X1600)
  • Has both DVI and VGA ports
  • Awesome value and price

Cons:

  • Disappointing benchmark score
  • Ports are crowded at the right side of the laptop

 

Extra pictures:


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