Asus M70S Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (59,424)

by Kevin O’Brien

Notebooks have always lagged behind desktops in speed, screen size, and until recently storage space. Asus released two new laptops, being the M70S and M50S, both of which hold the claim as being the world’s first laptops with 1TB of storage space. To get this large capacity, the notebooks are equipped with two 500GB drives that can run in RAID 0 or 1, or as separate drives. Obviously this is a nice trend for notebooks, as people start storing more movies and games and want more scratch space for whatever comes their way.

For this review we are covering the M70Sa configuration notebook, which has the following specifications:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9300 (2.5GHz, 6MB L2, 800MHz FSB)
  • 17" diagonal widescreen TFT LCD display at 1920×1200 (WUXGA, Glossy)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 with 1GB DDR2 video memory
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/g/n)
  • 4GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 1TB Storage, 2 x 500GB Serial ATA hard disk drive (Hitachi 5400RPM)
  • DVD-Burner with 2x Blu-Ray reading capabilities
  • TV Tuner
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 16.2" x 11.8" x 1.7"
  • Weight: 8 lbs 13.1oz with nine-cell battery
  • 90W (19V x 4.74A) 100-240V AC Adapter
  • 9-cell (14.8V, 5200mAh) Lithium Ion battery
  • 2-Year Limited Global Warranty
  • MSRP: $2,399.99


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Build and Design

The design of the notebook is very basic, with a high gloss plastic surface, meshed with chrome and gloss black accents. This gives the notebook a very clean look without standing out too much. The notebook surface is similar to the Toshiba Fusion finish or the HP Imprint finish in that it holds up well to minor scratches to keep the glossy finish looking clean long past the first day out of the box.


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Build quality on the Asus M70S is average; with most of the plastic feeling very solid overall. One area that does stand as needing some improvement is the screen lift point, which is weakened by the webcam pivoting area.


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When you open the lid, this area tends to flex upward quite a bit working against the stiff screen hinges. Beyond that the notebook feels pretty sturdy, with little flex when you lift the notebook up by the corner and carrying it around. The extra LED lighting on the interior surface of the notebook is more subtle than what we see on most consumer notebooks. The power button and indicator lights are the only other light sources that might distract you when watching movies in a dark room.


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Display

The WUXGA display on the Asus M70s is very nice and would be considered above average. It is very bright and vibrant and great for movies or game play. Black levels are quite deep, and there is only minor backlight bleed along the bottom edge. Some of this can be seen as a brighter "bump" on the taskbar during normal use, but it is still very minor. One flaw that the screen had that you don’t tend to see that often on glossy screens is a minor grainy look, but it was only visible on solid bright colors like white.


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Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is above average, and very easy to type on for extended periods of time. Having the real estate of a 17" notebook allows for a full size keyboard and number pad, with almost all the keys being the same size as what you would find on a desktop keyboard. The texture of the individual keys is a mild matte finish, which given them a very soft feel during use.


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The touchpad on the Asus M70S is designed for multiple uses, one obviously being mouse movement, with the other being multimedia controls. As a touchpad the surface texture and sensitivity is great. The surface is very large and spacious. Adding the multimedia controls though did make things awkward at times, since they are activated when you tap a certain corner of the touchpad. Sometimes you accidentally graze that part and effectively disable the touchpad until you turn off those functions again. I would have liked to see an activation key separate from the touchpad to toggle the separate functions on and off.


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The multimedia keys when activated are backlit, for easy use at night if you are watching a movie in a dark room. The touchpad buttons are adequately sized, with shallow feedback when clicked.


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Performance

System performance not problem with the Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 dedicated graphics with 1GB of video memory. While the system did have 4GB of RAM preconfigured, only 3GB was recognized in Windows Vista with the 32bit version of Home Premium. I was actually kind of surprised to see that amount of RAM and not find 64bit Vista installed.

The twin 500GB Hitachi 5400rpm drives performed quite well, and with options to configure them in a RAID 0 configuration would be even faster. Overall this system would work great with most modern games (not including Crysis) and play movies or music without skipping a beat. In fact with the vast amount of video output connectors you could use this computer as the hub of your entertainment system.

WPrime 32M comparison results

WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better. Lower numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook Time
Asus M70S (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista)
31.132s
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, Windows Vista) 39.732s
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, Windows Vista) 30.359s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista) 31.108s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Windows Vista) 42.085s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7400@ 2.16GHz, Windows XP) 41.40s
HP dv6000z (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.00GHz, Windows Vista) 38.913s
Sager 9260 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6700@ 2.66GHz, Windows XP ) 33.718s
Dell Precision M70 (Intel Pentium-M 780 @ 2.26GHz, Windows XP) 78.992s

PCMark05 comparison results:

PCMark05 represents the overall system performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Asus M70S (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)
6,135 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250) 3,305 PCMarks
Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS) 7,749 PCMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,865 PCMarks
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,261 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 5,377 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,925 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 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
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks

3DMark06 comparison results:

3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Asus M70S (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)
3,799 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250) 301 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

 

There are no HDTune images since I forgot to get them before our review unit was sent back.

Heat and Noise

Heat from the M70S was minimal, even under stress. One nice aspect of large notebooks is there is a huge amount of space to dissipate heat, and they have few problems controlling hotspots. Noise was minimal, but did get apparent during benchmarks when the system had to cool itself down. With one fan controlling heat for both the GPU and CPU, it did have to move quite a bit of air to keep things pleasant.

Below are images showing the temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit:


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Ports and Features

The Asus M70s included a wide array of ports around the notebook, including an external breakout box with Composite Video and S-Video connections. It has enough video outputs to handle all the needs for a portable home entertainment system, and even provide the TV tuner for watching HD digital channels. Another added plus with its built-in Blu-Ray play is the ability to watch HD movies directly on the notebook, or using the HDMI output to your nearest HDTV.

  • Four USB Ports
  • Expresscard/54
  • Firewire
  • Digital TV tuner
  • External video breakout box
  • HDMI
  • e-SATA
  • VGA
  • LAN
  • Modem
  • 5-in-1 Card Reader
  • Two Headphone jacks and one microphone
  • Infrared Port

Front: IR Port


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Rear: AC Power, AV-Breakout connector, HDMI, e-SATA, VGA, Modem, LAN, Kensington Lock Slot


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Left: Digital tuner antenna connector, two USB, Firewire, 5-in-1 SD-Card Reader, Optical Drive


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Right: Expresscard/54, Wireless On/Off, two Headphone, Microphone, two USB


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A Digital TV tuner is also included with the M70s, which even comes with a magnetic antenna for use almost anywhere. In the office our quick test brought up most of the stronger digital channels in the area. A larger antenna would have probably bought in all of them.

Speakers and Audio

The Asus M70S is equipped with Altec Lansing speakers, and an onboard subwoofer for true home theatre in a box experience. Audio performance while watching TV was excellent, with clear and crisp sound from the speakers. Midrange and highs were very good, and the subwoofer was able to reproduce some of the low frequency range usually glossed over on most notebooks without a subwoofer. Peak volume levels were well above the "annoy coworkers" range, and well into the "somebody call the cops this guy is crazy" range.


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Battery Life

The battery like was actually better than I first expected, and improved drastically once I cleaned up the bloatware on the system. Out of the box the machine was giving an expected 45-50 minutes of battery life, and after uninstalling much of the bloatware got to 2 hours and 23 minutes on balanced with the backlight at 50 percent.

Conclusion

The Asus M70S is a great multimedia notebook to compliment any home theatre system or dorm room setting. Not only is this notebook capable of holding 1TB of movies, games, or music, but it can also tune digital HD channels and easily cope with most modern games. Pairing the beautiful screen with the Blu-Ray player and digital TV tuner will also make you the star attraction in any boring lecture room when you want to try and pass the time. While the price is fairly steep, users of this notebook will know that they are getting almost every feature for their money, and a solid notebook to boot.

Pros

  • Every feature under the sun, except a builtin toaster
  • Runs cool and quiet
  • Onboard Blu-Ray player
  • Great looking WUXGA screen

Cons

  • 4GB of RAM and an operating system that can only see 3GB
  • Lots of bloatware


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