Asus V2S User Review

by Reads (24,219)

by Joseph Spangler

The Asus V2 series falls under the "thin and light" category, and is geared more towards power business users as compared to gaming or general home use (but I will try to touch on how it performs for most every situation).

Below are the exact specifications for my V2S-B1:

  • Display: 14" WXSGA+ (1440×900)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 (2.4GHz, 800MHz FSB, 4MB L2 Cache)
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2 667 (1GB x 2) + 1GB Intel Turbo Memory (ReadyBoost)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 8600M GS 256 MB DDR2
  • Hard Drive: 160GB 5400 RPM SATA (Seagate Momentus 5400.3)
  • Optical Drive: 8x Super-Multi DVDRW DL
  • Networking: 802.11 A/G/N, Bluetooth V2.0 + EDR, 10/100/1000 Base T
  • Battery: 6-cell 4800mAh
  • Miscellaneous: Fingerprint Scanner, VGA + HDMI, 3 x USB 2.0, eSATA, docking port connector
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Business
  • Dimensions and Weight: 13.3" x 9.6" x 1.2~1.4" and 5.3 lbs.

Other notebooks in this segment (14" thin and light) are the Asus A8, Asus F8, Dell Inspiron 1420, Dell Vostro 1400, HP dv2500t, HP Compaq 6910p, Lenovo T61 and Sony VAIO BX. I personally find the current generation of 13.3" notebooks underwhelming/too expensive (Dell XPS 1330, Sony SZ), and the 15.4" laptops to be overly large/heavy (more on this in the next section).


(view large image)

Selecting/Purchasing the Notebook

I needed a new computer, and I know I’ll be traveling/moving several times over the next 4-8 months, so a notebook was the best choice. I am a power user (photo/video editing, games, etc), if I just wanted an email/internet machine I would’ve considered 11.1" and 12.1" notebooks, but I wanted something a bit more substantial. However I also know that I’ll eventually build a desktop computer, so I wanted something more portable than a 15.4" or 17" behemoth. I began by looking at both 13.3" and 14" notebooks, but quickly realized that I simply wasn’t going to be happy with a few of the features of the 13.3" segment (lower resolution screen (WXGA), less powerful dedicated GPU, etc).

The V2S series was the first notebook that I really zeroed in on, but it wasn’t actually the first notebook that I tried to purchase. Frustrated with the delays of the V2S (it went up for pre-order on some sites in mid August, not to be seen till late September/early October), I settled for an older Asus W3J, and I tried to purchase it not once but twice, from two different resellers. Both times I thought I had my hands on a new notebook, and both times I was eventually told that there was an inventory error and there was no stock available.

I then went back to my general search, reconsidering the Sony SZ series, the HP dv2500t, and even considering the larger HP and Lenovo business workstations. I didn’t want to play the waiting game for the Asus F8 series, and I was beginning to worry that I was going to have to settle for something that I really wasn’t going to be happy with. Fortunately though, the V2S finally came into stock, and while the purchase process was maddeningly frustrating at times, in the end I’m happy with the outcome.

I purchased my Asus V2S-B1 from EXcaliberPC.com with a free 4GB USB flash drive (approximately $35-40 value). The service I received was excellent, they called promptly to clarify an issue regarding the shipping address, and the order was processed and shipped within 24 hours. I ordered on a Tuesday morning and received the notebook Thursday afternoon (FedEx Express Saver from California to Delaware). The computer was packaged very well (box in a box in a box) and everything was present and accounted for. Based on this experience, I would gladly buy from EXcaliberPC again and would strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a new notebook computer.


(view large image)

Build and Design

First and foremost, the V2S looks great. It’s predominantly black with silver trim/accents. I was initially worried that the integrated swivel webcam would be a distraction, but thankfully it blends rather well into the notebook as a whole (I would still prefer a clean bezel, but the webcam looks much worse in pictures then in person). When closed the notebook appears very sleek, with an all black finish only interrupted by a silver Asus emblem in the middle, and the previously mentioned silver webcam. All of the ports/switches are on the left and right sides, along with the vent, with the exception of the power input (on the back) and a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth switch (on the front). This arrangement takes nothing away from the V2S in terms of looks, and in fact I think it makes it much more comfortable to handle/carry around. The computer feels very solid in-hand, it’s not a tank like other business notebooks, but it’s not flimsy by any means.


(view large image)

The favorable impressions continue when the notebook is open and in-use. The screen lid uses a latchless design; it requires a bit of force to open and snaps tight when closing. As previously alluded to, the presence of the webcam requires the bezel to be a little larger than needed … but it doesn’t detract from the overall design. The hinges are very sturdy, and the screen will stay solidly in place at whatever angle I choose. There’s a little bit of flex/twisting, the more so the further away from the hinges, this was expected though as it’s a relatively thin design (like I said, it’s not built to be a tank) and it does require a bit of force on my part to get it to twist.

The screen itself is good, I would not say that it’s the greatest screen ever, but it is by no means terrible. There are no dead pixels, and colors appear to be consistent throughout. There is some light leakage, moreso towards the bottom, but that’s somewhat typical of most models, and it was not enough to be a concern when watching a widescreen movie. It’s a glossy screen (Asus Color Shine), and reflections can be see in certain lighting, but it’s very easy on the eyes and is clear to see at both the highest and lowest brightness settings. The biggest problem with the screen are the viewing angles, specifically the vertical. At best it’s what I consider to be poor, there is definitely a sweet spot for viewing, but just slightly above that everything begins to be washed out, and below things appear darker than they really are. The horizontal angles are better, but not great either, two people side by side reading would be okay, three and the quality would probably suffer too much.


(view large image)

Between the screen and the keyboard are five buttons (power, touchpad toggle, Asus Splendid, Power4Gear, media) and three light indicators (capslock, numlock and hard drive activity). Like the screen, if pressed for a one word description I would consider the keyboard to be "good." It’s very easy to type on for extended periods of time, and the Ctrl key is to the left of the Fn key. It’s not as solid as a ThinkPad keyboard (the defacto standard for notebook keyboards) and the keyboard does flex a little bit, but it’s nothing like the mushy keyboard of a Sony SZ. All around the keyboard is just a solid piece of the computer.

The same is true for the touchpad, it’s not the most responsive that I’ve ever used, but it is very good in its own right. The touchpad has the ability for both vertical and horizontal scrolling, but this can be turned off via the Synaptics control panel if one desires. The touchpad is also the location of the fingerprint scanner, which I was surprised to find was very useful (along with the bundled Asus Security Center software). Besides the six (yes, six, ugh) stickers, the only other item of note in this area are the five indicator lights on the bottom of the left palm rest. There are indicators for each of the following; power, battery, new mail, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. A key combination of Fn + F2 toggles the wireless connectivity, along with the physical switch beneath the right palm rest.


Front View (view large image)

Rear View(view large image)

Left Side View (view large image)

Right Side View (view large image)

As previously mentioned above, all of the ports are on the left and right sides. On the left there’s a single regular USB 2.0 port, along with a combo USB 2.0/eSATA port, HDMI, VGA and S-Video. The vent is also located on the back left, and this is great if you like using a mouse (and are right-handed). The CPU fan does stay on at all times, but unless you’re heavily taxing the system it remains relativey quiet. With the vent comes the matter of heat, the notebook does get warm, but nowhere approaching what I would call hot. The palmrests do heat up a little bit, but they are still very comfortable to type on. The same is true for the keyboard, you can feel the heat dissipating through it, but nothing overly dramatic.

Back to the subject of ports, on the right side you will find another single USB 2.0 port, modem and LAN jacks, the DVDRW drive, a multi-format memory card reader, an ExpressCard slot and finally a headphone and microphone jack. Everything is well laid out, and it’s easy to connect devices to. One thing that I would like to have seen though is a single or double USB 2.0 port on the back of the computer. This would be nice for things such as gaming mice or keyboards, as it would help to keep some of the wiring clutter behind and out of sight.

Overall, I think the notebook is rather stunning. I know I’m nitpicking about a few things in the previous paragraphs, but taken as a whole it’s a solid piece of equipment, everything about the layout flows and works together, and the aesthetics are very pleasing to the eye. Now let’s see how it performs.

Performance and Benchmarks

My V2S came with Microsoft Windows Vista Business. I could have installed a copy of Windows XP Professional, but I wanted to see what Vista was like (this is my first computer with the new operating system) and I also didn’t feel like dealing with any driver issues for the older operating system. Upon initial startup, there were 85 processes running and the memory usage was at about 55 percent. A clean install (before third party driver installation and additional software) resulted in only 38 processes and 20 percent of the memory being used. My final configuration yields somewhere in the middle, I currently have 63 processes running at startup and my memory usage is between 40-45 percent. The biggest hog is the Vista Sidebar, and while it’s definitely pretty to look at, I just don’t find it to be very useful at the moment so I’ve disabled it for the time being. I also use other various Vista tweaks (just search these forums or Google). The computer does take some time to start as well as shutting down, but once in Vista it’s extremely quick and responsive. The Windows Experience Index scores the V2S well, with a low score of 3.4 for Graphics, but all of the other categories falling between 4.5 and 5.3.


(view large image)

For everyday computing (internet, word processing, playing music/videos, etc) the V2S is very capable. The Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 is blazing fast and can handle pretty much anything I can throw at it. The V2S also shines in more demanding tasks, whether it be editing large files in Adobe’s Creative Suite, or audio and video ripping/encoding. The 160GB 5400 RPM hard drive provides plenty of storage while remaining quick in action, with the only delays I’ve experienced occurring during the transfer of large files (i.e. the 3DMark06 install exe) from one partition to the other. All of this computing power comes at a price though, and for the V2S the trade-off is in its battery life. It seems that two hours, give or take 10 to 15 minutes, is the maximum that you’ll be able to coax out of the standard 6-cell battery. Customizing the various Power4Gear eXtreme settings does help battery life a little bit, but not as much as one would hope.

As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, the V2S is aimed more towards business users instead of the gaming crowd. Therefore you’ll find security/control features such as Infineon’s Trusted Platform Module and Intel’s Active Management Technology. In my experience these programs don’t necessarily decrease the system’s overall performance, but rather it’s more of an individual user’s question as to if they really want and/or need these features activated. The most significant effect on performance is the power of the dedicated graphics card, an NVIDIA 8600M GS. I’m hesitant to say that Asus has completely crippled the 8600M GS in the V2S, but it is clear that in graphic intensive applications (games and synthetic benchmarks) the V2S simply does not perform as well as other, similarly equipped notebooks. The notebook can still play games, and some even surprising well, but it is clear that gaming is not the primary purpose of this machine.

Below you’ll find a compilation of both synthetic, utility and in-game benchmarks. The games include Counter-Strike: Source (see screenshot below for video settings), F.E.A.R. (both Computer and Graphics Card settings on "High" defaults, except for trilinear texture filtering) and Supreme Commander (tested on both Low and Medium Fidelity Presets). If you would like to see other benchmarks for the V2S, then please suggest them in the comments following this review (for games, please choose titles that include a built-in benchmarking tool, i.e. the CS:S stress test).

3DMark05: 3,508 3DMarks


(view large image)

3DMark06: 1,748 3DMarks


(view large image)

PCMark Vantage: 2,955 PCMarks


(view large image)

Super PI: 51 seconds (PI to 2 million)

HD Tune results:


(view large image)

Counter-Strike: Source: 71.27 FPS


(view large image)

F.E.A.R.: Minimum 22 FPS, Maximum 79 FPS, Average 39 FPS, 3% below 25 FPS, 72% between 25-40 FPS, 25% above 40 FPS

Supreme Commander: Low Fidelity Preset Composite Score of 16189, Minimum 4.28 FPS, Maximum 78.18 FPS, Average 36.46 FPS – Medium Fidelity Preset Composite Score of 13480, Minimum 2.25 FPS, Maximum 46.34 FPS, Average 18.70 FPS


Conclusion

The word that keeps coming to mind to describe the V2S is "good." It’s a solid, above-average notebook, an excellent all-around performer, and overall very good in terms of quality. So what’s the problem with "good?" Quite simply, the V2S could have been (and should have been) a truly outstanding notebook. It had the opportunity to be one of the very best notebooks available, but it just comes up short on several points. I realize that the V2S is designed towards a specific audience of business/professional users and not towards gamers (that’s what the Asus F8 is for), but if Asus had just gone the extra mile (a slightly better screen, less crippling of the graphics, another USB port on the side, etc) then I truly feel that the V2S would be without equal in the current market.

Bottom line, if you’re interested in the V2S, make sure that you know exactly what your needs are (this is basic advice for any notebook purchase really). If you’re a student, business professional, and/or power user who may play games from time to time, then you should consider it. If you’re primarily a gamer, then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Overall design (good layout, outstanding build quality)
  • Connectivity options (USB, eSata, HDMI, Bluetooth, etc)
  • Powerful core components (CPU, Memory, HDD)
  • Excellent Asus warranty (Global + Accidental)

Cons

  • Poor viewing angles (especially vertical)
  • Underpowered graphics (as per 8600M GS specs)
  • Short battery life (2 hours +/- 10 minutes)
  • Too many stickers


LEAVE A COMMENT

0 Comments

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.