- Great graphics performance
- Excellent battery life (7.5 hours)
- Subpar build quality
- Poor keyboard
- Inaccurate touchpad
- Fingerprint magnet
- Not enough ports
Despite fantastic performance and battery life, this notebook fails to deliver in terms of build quality.
The ASUS U41JF is a thin-and-light 14-inch notebook with powerful Nvidia graphics and excellent battery life. Combine that with a good Intel Core i3 processor and a price tag of less than $900. What’s not to like? Keep reading to find out.
Our ASUS U41JF-A1 review unit has the following specifications:
- 14-inch 720p (1366×768) glossy panel with LED backlighting
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Intel Core i3-380M dual-core processor (2.53GHz, 3MB L3, 4.8GT/s QPI, 35W TDP)
- Intel HM55 chipset
- Switchable graphics via Nvidia Optimus technology:
- Nvidia GeForce GT 425M w/ 1GB DDR3 memory
- Integrated Intel HD graphics
- 4GB DDR3-1066 dual-channel RAM (2x 2GB)
- 500GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD5000BEVT)
- Atheros AR9285 802.11n wireless LAN
- DVD burner (MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ892AS)
- 2-year global limited warranty with 1 year accidental damage coverage
- 8-cell battery (14.4V, 5800mAh, 85Wh)
- Weight: 4.8 lbs.
- Dimensions: 13.5 x 10 x 1.1 inches
- MSRP: $849
The U41JF-A1 has respectable specifications for the money, especially considering all this is packed into a 14-inch laptop that measures just 1.1 inches thin. The Nvidia GT 425M graphics card is more than powerful enough to run the latest games. The two-year warranty coverage is notable and it includes one year of accidental damage protection; similar coverage is extra on competing notebooks.
Build and Design
The ASUS U41JF’s silver and black chassis is unlikely to turn heads though it still looks good in its own right. The silver brushed aluminum lid is especially attractive and feels cool to the touch. As mentioned earlier, the chassis is just 1.1” thin; the lid is one of the thinnest I have seen on a notebook in any size range. The U41JF feels a bit heavier than expected due to its large 8-cell battery; it came in at 4.8 lbs. on my digital scale.
Something I like about the U41JF’s appearance is the relative lack of LED status lights; there is just the power button on the top right and four small lights below the touchpad buttons. However, the power button is too bright in a dark room (as is the light on the power adapter). On a related note, the U41JF lacks physical buttons; volume up and down buttons would have been appreciated.
Aside from the aluminum-backed lid, the rest of the U41JC is constructed of plastic. ASUS made the unfortunate decision to use black glossy plastic for the screen surround and keyboard area. Dust and fingerprints show up no matter what; keeping this notebook clean is a challenge. Durability is not one of the U41JF’s fortes either; despite my careful use of a microfiber cloth, fine scratches appeared in the glossy plastic surface.
The U41JF has below average build quality for a notebook in this price range; it is apparent some compromises were made in order to make it this thin. The chassis suffers from an abnormal amount of flex; for example, pressing down on the surfaces around the keyboard with even slightly more than normal pressure makes the entire chassis bend inward. The chassis is also easy to twist by grabbing the front two corners, which is not good; the chassis should be a lot stiffer to prevent any motion transferring to the circuit boards inside. Circuit boards that are allowed to bend have a higher risk of failure in the long term.
Fit and finish is inconsistent. The silver plastics used in the palm rest seem to be of better quality than the black glossy plastic. Tapping on the surface of the notebook with my fingernail produced cheap sounds and some rattling noises depending on where I tapped.
The lid also has some quality issues. Pressing in on the back of the lid creates ripples on the screen, meaning that protection isn’t as good as it could be. The lid is also fairly easy to flex back and forth. Something else I noticed about the lid is that the hinge is not stiff enough, so picking up the notebook quickly when the lid is open can cause it to open further.
Those looking to upgrade the RAM or hard drive are in luck though; gain access to both by removing the two screws from the access panel on the bottom of the notebook.
The U41JF has disappointing build quality on the whole; the chassis feels cheap and echoes some of the same build quality issues I see in other ASUS notebooks.
Ports and Features
Port selection on the U41JF is limited; HDMI is the only notable inclusion. It lacks an ExpressCard slot, eSATA port, or a single USB 3.0 port.
Front: 4-in-1 card reader, speakers
Rear: Battery pack
Left: AC power, cooling exhaust vent, VGA, Ethernet, HDMI, 2x USB 2.0
Right: Headphone and microphone jacks, USB 2.0, DVD burner, lock slot