by Kevin O’Brien
The ASUS G50Vt-X1 is an “affordable” gaming notebook available through BestBuy for a low price of $1,249. Priced and configured to compete against other popular notebooks such as the Gateway FX series of notebooks, ASUS is taking aim at this new market segment. Once reserved for notebooks cost well over $2,000, we are seeing more and more companies try to get as low as possible in this slow economy. In this review we see how well the ASUS G50V does in the latest games such as Left 4 Dead and find out if it deserves a place at your next LAN party.
ASUS G50Vt-X1 Specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400 (2.26GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 3MB L2 cache)
- NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GS with 512MB of GDDR3 discrete video memory
- 15.6” WXGA Glossy LCD (1366×768)
- Genuine Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit) SP1
- 4GB (4096MB) DDR2 Memory (2 x 2048MB modules)
- 320GB 7200RPM Seagate HD
- 8x Multi-Format Dual Layer DVDRW with LightScribeTechnology
- Integrated 1.3 Megapixel Web Cam
- 6-Cell 11.1v 4800mAh battery, 120w power supply
- Size: 15.4″ x 10.5 x 1.4-1.7″
- Weight: 7lbs 1oz
- Warranty: 1 Year
Build and Design
The ASUS G50Vt-X1 is designed with gamers in mind, having a extravagant lid graphics and LED accents. The LEDs can be setup through software to blind in various patterns or even give an indication of system activity. The exterior shell has a glossy black finish with blue graphic overlays, while the brighter silver finish. Touch sensitive media buttons are outlined by blue LED’s underneath the LCD paired up with a cool OLED mini-display. Blue LED’s are also used to outline the touchpad, almost reaching the critical level of too many blue lights around the notebook.
Build quality is above average, with generous use of thick plastic. The body and screen lid feel tough and resist flexing when carrying the notebook around. Pressing firmly on the back of the display doesn’t produce any ripples, keeping the screen safe even when being tossed around in transit. The painted surfaces don’t seem as scratch resistant as the HP Imprint or Toshiba Fusion finishes, but it did hold up well during our review.
For gamers interested in upgrading components inside the notebook, they will be glad to know that all serviceable part are easily accessed through a single panel on the bottom. This exposes the processor, video card, RAM, wireless card, and hard drive. While a “warranty void if removed” sticker is on display, it is only for the processor and video card heatsink assembly.
The 15.6-inch display borders on average to below average for a gaming rig, with poor contrast and very limited viewing angles. Playing Left 4 Dead in dark scenes left me cranking the brightness inside the menu to see anything going on. The viewing angle sweet spot was so narrow that even at the perfect screen tilt, either the top was starting to wash out or the bottom started to invert. With the screen being the most important part of any gaming rig, so you can work with teammates or kill opponents before they kill you, this is a big downside.
Contrast and black levels were also lacking, with black showing up as a washed out grey. Colors were decent when you were in the viewing angle sweet spot, but quickly inverted if you tilted the screen forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were better, staying true to steeper angles.
The ASUS G50Vt also offers a mini display to show memory or processor usage, as well as showing email or instant messages as they come in. This helps you keep on top of things at work, even if you are in an empty conference room gaming away. The display color is a blue-green with a fixed brightness. It was easy to read, but it could have been slightly larger.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The full-size keyboard on the ASUS G50Vt was comfortable to type on and also gave you a full numpad off to the side. With the extended width of the 16:9 display, many manufacturers are taking use of the added space to cramp very large keyboards. Key spacing was excellent and it took very little time to adapt to the layout coming from my ThinkPad. The typing surface is a glossy textured surface, giving the keys a nice smooth feel with just a bit of traction to keep your fingertips in the right spot. Individual key action is smooth with a soft click when fully pressed. It wasn’t the quietest keyboard we have ever reviewed, but as long as you don’t hammer on the keys in a classroom you should be unnoticed in a quiet area.
The Synaptics-based touchpad is fairly large, and centered under the letter portion of the keyboard. It has a matte finish which is easy to slide around on and worked well for mild gaming on the notebook (usually I fight by external mouse). The sensitivity was great, making precise moves in games easy. The touchpad buttons are large, but don’t give that much tactile feedback. Each button has a shallow throw and gives an audible click when pressed.
Gaming was a breeze with 4GB of system memory, an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor, and above all else an NVIDIA 9800M GS graphics card. Games like Left 4 Dead or Half-Life 2: Episode 2 played at very high framerates. Left 4 Dead on the highest settings stayed between 70-80FPS during most scenes, only dipping to the mid 30’s under a heavy flood of zombies. HL2:EP2 was even better, staying above 100FPS under most sections, dipping to the low 70’s in active areas. Under normal activity such as typing a document or browsing the web, the ASUS G50Vt had no problem keeping up. Little lag was seen outside of game loading with the 7200RPM hard drive, which also helped with fast boot and shutdown times.
Synthetic benchmark scores were very good, although not as high as the Gateway P-7811FX. This was the case even when overclocking the G50Vt, which only marginally improved scores and performance.
wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, this processor benchmark program is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, it measures the amount of time to run a set amount of calculations.
wPrime comparison results (lower scores means better performance):
|Notebook / CPU||wPrime 32M time|
|ASUS G50Vt-X1 (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||34.008s|
|ASUS G50Vt-X1 (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.50GHz)||31.434s|
|Gateway P-7811 FX (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||33.366s|
|HP Pavilion HDX18 (Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)||27.416s|
|Acer Aspire 6920 (Core 2 Duo T5750 @ 2.0GHz)||44.457s|
|HP Pavilion HDX (2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9500, Windows Vista 64)||28.978s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||34.628s|
|HP Pavilion dv5z (Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80 @ 2.1GHz)||39.745s|
|Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz)||43.569s|
|Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
|HP Pavilion dv6500z (Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)||40.759s|
|Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz)||58.233s|
|Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||38.343s|
|Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||37.299s|
|HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)||40.965s|
|Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz)||76.240s|
|Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||37.705s|
|HP Pavilion dv6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)||38.720s|
PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance (higher scores are better):
|ASUS G50Vt-X1 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GS 512MB)||5,924 PCMarks|
|ASUS G50Vt-X1 (2.50GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GS 512MB)||6,172 PCMarks|
|Gateway P-7811 FX (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA 9800M GTS 512MB)||6,815 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion HDX18 (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9600M GT 512MB)||6,587 PCMarks|
|Acer Aspire 6920 (2.0GHz Intel T5750, Intel X3100)||4,179 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion HDX (2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9500, Nvidia Go 8800M GTS 512MB)||6,921 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA 9300M GS 256MB)||5,173 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion dv5z (2.1GHz Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80, ATI Radeon HD 3200)||3,994 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100)||4,149 PCMarks|
|Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB)||5,412 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT)||4,616 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||4,153 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|
3DMark06 comparison results:
3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook. (Higher numbers indicate better performance.)
|ASUS G50Vt-X1 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GS 512MB)||8,395 3DMarks|
|ASUS G50Vt-X1 (2.50GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GS 512MB)||8,823 3DMarks|
|Gateway P-7811 FX (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA 9800M GTS 512MB)||9,355 3DMarks|
|HP Pavilion HDX18 (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9600M GT 512MB)||4,127 3DMarks|
|HP Pavilion HDX (2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9500, Nvidia Go 8800M GTS 512MB)||8,791 3DMarks|
|HP Pavilion HDX (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB)||4,205 3DMarks|
|Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS)||8,801 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT)||3,775 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT)||2,934 3DMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT)||2,930 3DMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)||1,329 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||532 3DMarks|
|Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)||1,408 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|
|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|
Ports and Features
The G50Vt has a good layout of ports, offering four USB ports, an eSATA connection, LAN, HDMI and VGA, Firewire, and digital/analog audio hookups. It also featured a ExpressCard/54 slot and 8-in-1 card reader. A TV antenna hookup was also present on the side, but our model was not equipped with an internal tuner to make use of it.
Speakers and Audio
The Altec Lansing speakers sounded average, with weak bass and midrange, but adequate volume levels. For gaming the audio is fine for knowing when enemies are approaching, but the channel separation was not that good for knowing which direction they were coming from. I would have liked to see larger speakers, similar to what Toshiba uses on the A305 series notebook.
For most gaming I highly recommend a good pair of headphones, which let you hear the quieter footsteps of enemies around you. Another added benefit is the louder volume levels and the “private” gaming capabilities where you can stealthy slaughter zombies even in a quiet lecture hall.
Heat and Noise
Under heavy to moderate activity the palmrest and keyboard warm up quite a bit. Compared to other notebooks with G50Vt does run on the warm side. Fan noise was noticeable under light activity, with a steady breeze of warm air felt on your leg with it on your lap. Under heavy activity the temperature of the system exhaust increased greatly making it uncomfortable if not resting on a desk surface.
With the screen brightness set to 60 percent, wireless active, and the Vista power profile set to “Balanced” the ASUS G50Vt managed 2 hours and 19 minutes on the 6-cell battery. While most gaming rigs do poorly on these types of test given the substantial power draw of the highend graphics card, some include a larger battery to overcome this. The Gateway P-7811 FX used a larger 9-cell battery and even with a 17″ WUXGA screen managed 3 hours and 10 minutes.
The ASUS G50Vt was designed to handle the latest games while also staying at a price point that the average person can afford. In that respect, the G50Vt meets or exceeds expectations. Handling Left 4 Dead at 40-70FPS and HL2:Episode 2 at 70-100+FPS the G50Vt kept the action moving smoothly without much lag. The display quality was average and poor contrast made it difficult to view darker detail in poorly lit areas of games. The notebook also ran on the warm side, which for a gaming rig can sometimes be expected. Overall the price of $1,249 and great performance make the ASUS G50Vt-X1 good deal, but better performing notebooks do exist in this price range.
- Great performance with the NVIDIA 9800M GS graphics card
- Lots of flashing lights (although this could be a con depending on the person)
- Mini OLED screen handy for staying up-to-date while gaming
- Cooling system could be better
- Display not a good match for a gaming rig