When searching for a notebook I was looking for something that would last me for at least my four years of undergraduate studies, something that would be light and easy to carry without compromising performance, and something that can handle a few advanced and demanding programs from time to time. My intensive search ended with the ultraportable Asus F9S-B1, which had all of the things I was looking for with only a few compromises.
Asus F9S (view large image)
I bought the Asus F9S notebook from btoTech.com. I have to say, I couldn?t be happier with the vendor I chose. The company stuck with me since July, giving me the right advice and the right recommendations, e-mailing me about their available products that suited my requirements, all the way until October, when the F9S-B1 became available. After ordering I received the notebook 6 days after ordering from them, the shipping was free. This was excellent speed and service!
- Screen: 12.1-inch screen WXGA (1280 x 800)
- Processor: 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500
- Hard Drive: 160 GB hard drive (SATA, 5400RPM)
- Memory: 1 GB RAM 677 MHz DDR2 (1x1GB)?2GB Max
- Optical Drive: 8X Super-Multi DVDRW Dual Layer
- Interface: Three USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, headphone/microphone jacks, LAN and phone jacks and one express card slot.
- Wireless: Integrated Intel 3945 ABG
- Graphics: nVidia Geforce 8400m G 128 MB dedicated
- Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
- Weight: 4.2 pounds with 6-cell battery.
After taking the notebook out of the box, these were my first impressions:
- I liked the very nice and simple design
- The build looked good
- The plastic should have been of a better quality, or else it looks a bit fragile
- The keyboard is big and comfortable to use, especially for an ultraportable
All in all, I was satisfied with how the notebook looked and felt.
The dimensions of the Asus F9S are the following:
- Width: 12.1? / 31cm,
- Height when the lid is closed: 1.25? / 3.0 cm
- Length when the lid is opened at 90 degrees: 9.7? / 24.5cm
- Depth without the battery: 8.5? / 21.5cm
- Depth with the battery: 9.5? / 24.25cm
It may be a gratification for some people while an aggravation for others that the lid contains no latch. Most laptops I?ve worked with have a latch for the user to slide in one direction to open the lid, and then securely hold the lid when it is shut. This is not the case with the F9S. For this notebook, once you bring the lid close enough to its fully closed position, the lid automatically goes in and sits in place. This works just like when bringing two magnets close to each other.
The F9S has a body that some may find a bit too big for an ultraportable — its size is big enough to house a 13.1? screen. Even though that may be the case, the bigger borders around the reinforce it and add to the firmness of the screen.
(view large image)
Another point to mention about the notebook is that if you plan on using the notebook during car drives or during a train ride, then be advised that the lid/monitor will shake a little bit when passing over bumps.
The bigger body of the notebook allows for a more spacious keyboard, which is a lot more comfortable to use. So far, I?ve written seven papers on this notebook and its keyboard is definitely well made — keys suppress easily with the right amount of force (not too much, not too little). The touchpad is nice as well, the only problem I have had so far with it is that it?s a little bit tricky to scroll up and down through pages. Also, the F9S is equipped with a fingerprint reader, definitely an asset for those of us who get tired of entering passwords! Also, the notebook lacks shortcut buttons, so you must rely on using the ?Fn? button for shortcuts.
As I said before, I was looking for a notebook that wouldn?t sacrifice performance and power for portability and lightness. This ultraportable has a roaring 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo, 1 GB memory, and most impressive of all, a 128 MB dedicated graphics card (nVidia 8400m G). This notebook compromises no part of performance for portability or vice versa.
The CPU can handle pretty much anything thrown at it. Just to give you an idea, on high performance setting I?ve been able to run Super Pi to the two million digits of accuracy while working on Microsoft Word, having two Internet Explorer windows open, and running AOL Instant Messenger all at the same time without any drawbacks.
The only thing that I would consider changing on this notebook is maxing out the RAM to 2 GB, but this is mainly because of Vista. I?ve noticed that with Vista, the RAM utilized is rarely ever below 50%, and if the system ever chokes (which happens rarely), it is mainly because the RAM is close to 100%. If Asus had Windows XP drivers for this laptop, then I would replace Vista with XP in a heartbeat.
Super Pi comparison results:
|Asus F9S (2.2GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo T7500)||0m 58s|
|Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)||0m 58s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)||1m 01s|
|Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)||0m 59s|
|HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100)||1m 09s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300)||0m 59s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200)||1m 03s|
|Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300)||1m 24s|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400)||0m 59s|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 02s|
3DMark06 comparison results:
|Asus F9S (2.2GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M G 128MB)||1,704 3DMarks|
|Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)||1,408 3DMarks|
|Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU)||1,069 3DMarks|
|Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB)||2,344 3DMarks|
|Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB||2,183 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB)||2,144 3DMarks|
|Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)||1,831 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||827 3DMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||794 3DMarks|
|Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU)||476 3DMarks|
PCMark05 comparison results:
|Asus F9S (2.2GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M G 128MB)||4,096 PCMarks|
|Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||4,591 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||4,153 PCMarks|
|Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||3,987 PCMarks|
|Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)||4,189 PCMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||4,234 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)||3,487 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400)||3,646 PCMarks|
I decided to test out the notebook?s performance for Quake 4, I was very impressed with its handle on it. Here is a screenshot:
The battery-life is something that I was upset about. For an ultra-portable, I expected to have at least 3 to 4 hours of battery life on power-saving settings, but that wasn?t so. At 10% LCD brightness and with wireless off, I got about 2.5 hours out of the battery. Being an ultraportable, I figured that the battery life should have been better or else one would be dependent on the power cord, which would essentially defeat the purpose of an ultra-portable.
The monitor at full brightness is very nice. In a room with fluorescent lighting, some glare can be seen if the light is directly hitting the monitor (if the monitor is facing the light source) and this is a lot more noticeable when most of the colors displayed are dark.
The screen has no light-leakage, it is evenly lit throughout.
Heat and Noise
When under intense usage the Asus F9S produces a considerable amount of heat, which is expelled through the exhaust on the left side. With the settings set to High Performance, these were the temperature ranges of the CPU for the various tasks the notebook was being used for (please keep in mind that these values are approximations):
- 50 degrees Celsius on idle
- 52-56 degrees Celsius when doing tasks such as word processing or e-mail
- 58-68 degrees Celsius when doing more demanding tasks such as installing a software
- 70-72 degrees Celsius when doing demanding tasks such as gaming for prolonged periods of time
- 80 degrees Celsius when both cores are utilized at more than 95%.
However, when the notebook is set to Power Saving mode and is idle or doing simple and less-demanding tasks, then the core temperature ranges between 48 and 54 degrees Celsius. The exhaust at this setting isn?t bad at all and the notebook itself can be placed on the lap without any discomfort.
The only factor producing noise constantly is the fan. When the face is running at full capacity it can be heard, but it isn?t loud enough to bother most people. In Power Saving mode, or when the PC is idle, the noise is barely noticeable and will blend into the surroundings of a typical office.
The speakers are perhaps the best that I have ever heard on a notebook of this size. The sound produced from the speakers is clear, sharp, and loud. It can be easily heard from more than 10 feet away when the volume is maxed out.
For a notebook of this size, price-range, and class I would without a doubt say that it is one of the most powerful out there. If you’re looking for something that’s both portable and powerful, the Asus F9S just might be it.
- Dedicated Graphics
- Nice and simple design
- Speakers are of very good quality
- Very nice price range
- Excellent performance to weight ratio
- An HDMI port
- Asus provides a full warranty for two years (maybe different for others)
- Build quality could be better
- Better and sturdier plastic should have been used
- Lack of dedicated shortcut buttons
- The lack of a latch to secure the lid to the notebook when it is closed
- Battery juts out 1? from the rear
Suggestions to Prospective Buyers
I?d highly recommend buying an additional stick of 1GB RAM, as this will ensure better and smoother performance. If you plan on traveling a lot with this notebook, you may want to consider purchasing a 9-cell battery for it and some type of enclosure to protect it. Also, to prolong the service of your notebook, I would recommend investing at least $20 on a notebook cooling pad, as the F9S can wear down from the magnitude of its own heat.