by Kare W. Christensen, Aalborg, Denmark
Overview and Introduction
The Asus V6J is the new “thin and light” V6 series notebook from Asus, which are known for their sleek, elegant design and outstanding performance. The new V6J features Intel Core Duo and better video graphics which makes it capable of handling very demanding programs, and more importantly, makes it ready for Windows Vista. It weighs around 2.55kg with a 8-cell battery – a little heavier than the previous V6Va – thus still placing it in the heavy end of the “thin and light” notebooks. The reviewed model is Asus V6800J with a Danish keyboard layout.
Asus V6J open (view large image)
Asus V6J above view closed (view large image)
Specification for Asus V6J (-8006P)
- Processor: Intel (Yonah) Core Duo T2400 (1.86GHz/2MB L2 Cache)
- Screen: 15″ SXGA Color Shine (1400 x 1050) (Bright Spot Warranty)
- Graphics: NVidia Geforce Go 7400 128 VRAM (256/512MB Turbo Cache)
- RAM: 1.0GB DDR2 SDRAM (Max. 2GB)
- Hard Drive: 80GB (5400RPM)
- Optical Drive: Combo, DVD-multi, and DVD-super multi
- OS: Microsoft Windows XP Professional
- Battery: 8-cell lithium ion
- Weight: 5.62 lb (2.55Kg)
- Wireless: 802.11a/b/g (Intel) and Bluetooth (Toshiba)
- Dimensions: 331x 272x 25.4-30 mm (W x D x H)
- Ports: 1 x Express Card, 1 x VGA port, 1x Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO), 1 x Headphone-out jack (SPDIF), 1 x Microphone-in jack, 1 x RJ11, 1 x RJ45, 4 x USB2.0 , 1x IEEE 1394 port, 1 x Infrared Port, 1 x FIR supported
Reasons for Buying
I had been looking for a new notebook for some time, but knew that I wanted one which was prepared for future requirements, such as the upcoming Windows Vista. Moreover, it should be capable of handling a high degree of multi-tasking and possible games from time to time. The Intel Core Duo notebooks were therefore a natural choice. Mobility was not my main concern, but definitely a factor since I carry my notebook to and from work and usually bring it to meetings.
My list of possible notebooks included the IBM/Lenovo (T60), Asus (V6J), Acer (TravelMate 8204), and Toshiba (M5-100), because I knew I wanted an Intel Core Duo processor, a decent graphic card, and a notebook from an established brand. I chose the Asus notebook due to the fact that I did not want to exceed the $2000 limit and the specs for it were, in my opinion, the best compared to the price. Furthermore, my previous experiences with Asus have all been positive.
Build & Design
The design of the Asus V6J was one of the main reasons for buying this notebook – it’s just extremely elegant and in my opinion Asus did a very nice job of implementing the overall design in all parts of the notebook. The sleek black (dark grey) look of the notebook gives it a very modern and professional look. It’s definitely one of the most aesthetically beautiful notebooks on the market at the moment. All the people I have shown it to so far all agree on its beauty and elegant design. So if you like notebooks with beautiful and thought through designs, the V6J is definitely for you.
The notebook has a solid aluminium magnesium casing and doesn’t flex/squeak when you try to twist it. Furthermore, the screen joints are made of metal and are very solid and tight, which ensures that the screen only wobbles very little and stays down when closed. However, it is not IBM/Lenovo sturdy/durable, but definitely above average. This means that if you travel very often and use your notebook outdoors the V6J properly isn’t your first choice. I.e. there is no protection system for the hard drive, so if the notebook is dropped the hard drives content might be lost.
The optical drive, ExpressCard, and card reader are all of good quality and I can find no parts on the notebook which might be break with time. So I’m very satisfied with the build and design of this notebook.
The notebook is equipped with a 15” screen, which is a colour-shine screen (glossy), on the model I bought, and has a maximum resolution of 1400×1050 (SXGA). Personally I really like the screen. It is not too vivid and gives a really good natural look. The display is really clear and crisp both in the middle and the corners. The colour-shine increases the amount of contrast which means that blacks are blacker and whites are whiter. However, it also increases the reflection in the screen, but I really haven’t noticed it. The vertical viewing angle on the V6J is very good. On my previous notebook (a Dell C640) the viewing angle was below 15 degrees, but on the Asus the picture is still clear from a 45 degrees angle to each side. It does get a bit a bit darker, but not much. The vertical view angle isn’t as good. When seen from above the picture gets really matte and has very little contrast. The same happens when you see the screen from a lower position. However, it still has a vertical view angle of around 20-25 degrees.
Asus V6J screen seen from the front (view large image)
Asus V6J screen seen from a 40-degree angle (view large image)
When I’m outside or in very bright rooms, the screen tends to get lower contrast and brightness, thus forcing me to increase the brightness. Furthermore, there is a little amount of backlighting in the lower left corner, but it is only visible when the screen shows dark colours. When working normally in Windows the backlighting isn’t noticeable.
The screen comes with a 30-day Bright Spot Warranty, which means that Asus exchanges the notebook with a new one if you discover a white spot on the screen. My screen didn’t have any errors so I can’t tell
The internal speakers are placed in the two front corners next the touchpad and the Asus team did a great job of blending in the holes for the speakers with the general design of the notebook. In my opinion the treble is a bit too dominating, but that is pretty usual on most notebooks. Overall they sound really good with no distortion. The headphone-out is also suffering from a bit too much treble, but aside from that, the sound is fine, clear, and crisp.
Processor and Performance
The Asus V6J comes with an Intel Core Duo ranging from 1.66GHz (T2300) to 2.16GHz (T2600), which means that processor is optimized for multi-threaded applications and multitasking – and I definitely agree! It is my first experience with the Core Duo and I’m very impressed. At no time have I seen the computer lag due to insufficient processor power. Not even when I load up a game (Guild Wars) and Alt-Tab to do other things like check email, surf, IM chat, and copy large amounts of data. On my previous notebook I could easily tell when the antivirus or backup program started, but on the Asus I can’t. So I’m definitely getting a dual processor for my desktop computer the next time I upgrade The hard drive is only 5400 RPM’s which in my opinion is a bit to slow nowadays.
The notebook has a NVidia Geforce Go 7400 with 128 MB RAM, which is a mainstream graphic card and the equivalent to Ati X1400. The graphic card either has 128 or 256 MB turbocache depending on the amount of system RAM in the notebook. If you have 512 MB the turbocache is set to 128 MB and if you have 1GB or more it is set to 256 MB. This means that the graphic card uses the system RAM in order to increase the total amount of graphic memory, which results in better performance when specifically playing games and using intensive multimedia programs. The notebook was able to play all the games I tried on mid to high graphic setting.
The V6J did very well in the benchmarks I tried – especially those where the CPU was set to a test.
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400)||1m 24s|
|Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 15s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)||1m 36s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|Asus V6Va (Pentium M 1.86 GHz)||1m 46s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
Compared to the previous V6Va (Intel Pentium M 1.86GHz), the V6J (Intel Core Duo 1.86GHz) did 22 seconds better which is around 25% – a considerable improvement.
Below are the results of PCMark05 when run on the Asus V6J. The results are compared to other similar notebooks. It is seen that the V6J performs well.
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400)||3646|
|Asus V6Va (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||2588|
|Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz)||1877|
Below are the results gained from running PCMark04 and 3DMark05 on the V6J and comparison results to the T60. The results aren’t 100% comparable since the T60 has a 2.00 GHZ processor, but it gives a good picture of that the Asus V6J can match the Lenovo T60 in performance.
Asus V6J (1.86 GHz, Nvidia Geforce 7400)
Lenovo T60 (2.00 GHz, ATI X1400)
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption
Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression
Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing
Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning
Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check
Web Page Rendering
DivX Video Compression
Physics Calculation and 3D
Graphics Memory – 64 Lines
Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores
2092 3D Marks
GT1 – Return To Proxycon
GT2 – Firefly Forest
GT3 – Canyon Flight
CPU Test 1
CPU Test 2
Below is shown the output from the benchmarking program HDTune when run on the V6J:
(view large image)
Heat and Noise
The notebook generally doesn’t get very hot and generates very little heat from the CPU. I can easily sit with the notebook in my lap and work for a longer period of time. When placed on a table, the air from the CPU fan doesn’t get annoying, even though it is facing the right hand side, where I usually use an external mouse. The notebook tends to get a bit warm when used for 2 hours or more over the CPU (upper right corner) and over the hard drive (lower mid) where you place your right palm. However, it is only a little annoying and not a big deal.
In my opinion the biggest flaw on this notebook is the CPU fan. It is always on even when the notebook is booted into windows and idle. It makes a low noise (around 35dB) which is noticeable in quiet rooms or when you have a meeting with one or two persons. In larger rooms or if there is some other background noise (air-condition or other computers) you can’t hear the fan, but since I almost always use the notebook in quiet surroundings I tend to get annoyed and forced to use headphones. However, this is highly subjective since several of my co-workers say they do not think the fan noise is high or irritating. On the positive side the fan always runs at the same constant speed, even when I use a CPU burn program. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the CPU temperature past 70 degrees Celsius, and this was while the fan ran at the normal slow pace.
The optical drive in the notebook generates little noise and the ramp up and down time is rather fast, so nothing to complain about there.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The notebook comes with a full-size QWERTY keyboard, which was a small requirement from my side. The keyboard is pretty OK, but it took me a couple of days to get used to it, because the keys were a bit harder to press than I’m used to. Especially the keys at sides of the keyboard are a bit harder to press in my opinion. The keyboard is a bit loose in the upper right hand corner, but nothing annoying. The font on the keys is really good looking and stands out compared to other notebook keyboards (I really like when the design of the small things fits the overall design of the product). The Fn and Control key should be switched in my opinion, since I hardly use the Fn key. The Del key is practically placed and really hard to miss.
The Asus V6J keyboard (view large image)
The notebook has the necessary function keys; Hibernate, Wifi on/off, Brightness up/down, Volume up/down, Mute on/off, and LCD/VGA. Furthermore, the Asus notebook comes with 5 Asus specific keys (instant keys]; Touchpad on/off, Power Gear 4+, Bluetooth on/off, Internet, and Wifi on/off. The touchpad on/off button is a really good idea and great when you use an external mouse. These extra Asus buttons are all part of the overall design and feels real sturdy.
The 5 instant keys on the Asus V6J (from the left): Touchpad on/off, Power Gear 4+, Bluetooth on/off, Internet, and Wifi on/off. (view large image)
The touchpad works well on the notebook, but the two buttons can be hard to press if you don’t push them in the middle. I hardly use the touchpad, so it hasn’t been a big problem to me. Tapping on the touchpad confused me a little in the beginning, because you can only tap (click) in the upper left corner (as far as I know).
The Asus V6J touchpad (view large image)
Input and Output Ports
The Asus V6J notebook has several output/input ports which is expected on a 15” “thin and light”. The required ones are all there, but in my opinion it is missing DVI output and some people would probably miss the non-existent PCMIA slot. Instead of the PCMIA port Asus has equipped the notebook with an Express Card slot. Furthermore, the notebook only has support for IDE ultraDMA 100 HDs, where the majority of competing core duo notebooks have S-ATA support.
Asus V6J right: USB, Card reader, headphone, microphone, USB, RJ11, 2xUSB, CPU fan, RJ45, Power (view large image)
Asus V6J back: Battery (view large image)
Asus V6J left: Kensington lock, VGA, 1394, infrared, Express card, optical drive (view large image)
Asus V6J front (view large image)
Asus V6J bottom: fan, CPU, 2x SODIMM sockets, PCIe mini, 2.5″ IDE (view large image)
Asus V6J top: four small blue leds are placed on the lid (from left); Power, Battery, Bluetooth, and Wifi (view large image)
All ports, slots and connection possibilities are listed below:
- 1 x 26 pin Express Card (54 mm)
- 1 x VGA port (support up to UXGA 1600×1200)
- 1 x Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO)
- 1 x Headphone-out jack (SPDIF)
- 1 x Microphone-in jack
- 1 x RJ11 (modem)
- 1 x RJ45 (LAN)
- 4 x USB2.0
- 1 x IEEE 1394 port
- 1 x Infrared Port
- 1 x IDE Ultra DMA 100 (2.5″/supports up to 100GB/7200RPM)
- 2 x SODIMM socket (DDR2-/533/667 DRAM support)
- 1 x PCIe mini slot (per default used for an Intel 3945ABG adaptor)
- 1 x Battery slot
- 1 x Power (DC) input (19V DC, 3.42A, 65W)
- 1 x Kensington Lock Port
All ports are placed on either the right and left hand side since the battery takes up the backside of the notebook. This means, that the four USB ports and a couple of other ports are placed on the right hand side, which can make using an external mouse a bit difficult when several of the ports are used.
The wireless network works fine and has good signal strength. Sometimes the wireless stops working for no reason and must be reactivated in order to start work again. According to several forums this is a problem on the V6 series notebooks, where the solution is to activate both Bluetooth and wireless. However, I can not confirm if that works or if the Wifi problems I’m having is due to wrong drivers or the like on my side. Furthermore, the Intel wireless manager didn’t work when installing the system (tried twice), but if all Intel drivers are removed and reinstalled it works without a flaw.
The notebook has both Bluetooth and infrared built in and both works fine. The Bluetooth manager is easy to use and gave me no problems.
The model I got had a 8-cell battery with 5200mAh. The battery is a part of the notebook design and is inserted at the back of the notebook. Two other battery sizes exist: a 4-cell with 2400mAh, which reduces the weight to 2.36kg, and an 8-cell with 4800mAh.
I am able to watch DVD’s on the notebook for around 2 hours and 30 min on one battery charge and perform normal work (outlook, word, etc) for about 3 hours and 15 min. The brightness was set to 4/10 and both Wifi and Bluetooth were enabled. This is definitely enough in my case.
Operating System and Software
When first booting the notebook windows XP pro is installed automatically and two partitions are created. A recovery system is placed on an invisible partition and can be used by pressing the F9 during boot. By default a lot of resident programs and various drivers are installed on the system, which may be fine for the average user, but for enthusiasts and super users, you might want to uninstall it all and only install the necessary afterwards with more recent drivers – I know I did.
Several Asus utility programs are installed by default – some of them are quite good while others are below average. In my opinion most of them lack options, like the Power Gear4+. This program controls the power management, but lacks the possibility of creating new profiles and only gives you few options to change. At this time no other power management program (like NHC) works with this notebook. One of the programs didn’t work at all – the Asus liveupdate, which I still haven’t managed to get to work. The AsusTek DVD player works fine and lacks no features.
The notebook comes with the following:
- Recovery CD (in case you wipe you remove the recovery system on the hidden partition)
- AsusTek DVD
- Norton internet security (uninstalled it before trying)
The notebook comes with 2-year limited global hardware warranty and 1-year battery pack warranty. This means that they pay for shipping and repair. Furthermore, the notebook has 30 days Zero Bright Dot LCD policy, which means that an exchange is guaranteed with no questions asked, even if only one bright dot is found.
Overall I am very satisfied with this notebook. I can easily have 15+ programs and 40+ windows open without any lag in performance, and furthermore, it is possible to play new games on medium setting while a virus scanner is running in the background. My only problem with the notebook is the CPU fan, which never stops. Personally I’m annoyed with the noise when sitting in a quiet room or at small meetings. However, this is quite subjective and co-workers of mine are not annoyed by the noise. I would definitely recommend this notebook to others, who need a cutting-edge notebook with an elegant design. Furthermore, it’s possible to use it for both work and entertainment. The price is in the higher segment, which means that the target group is mainly professionals who need a notebook with both high performance and high mobility. All in all, Asus made a real good notebook with the V6J, which I’ll definitely use for the next couple of years.
- 15” “thin and light” notebook which still features outstanding performance
- Elegant design which gives the notebook a modern and professional look
- Solid aluminium magnesium casing
- Intel Core Duo and Nvidia 7400 which makes it very capable of multi-tasking
- Only 2.5cm thick
- The 15” screen is very good, has a clear picture and a wide view angle
- CPU fan runs constantly which makes a constant noise (35dB) (this is subjective)
- Many ports on the right side which can be annoying when using an external mouse
- Touchpad buttons are a bit hard to press
- Can get warm on the right palm-rest after prolonged usage
- No DVI output and PCMIA slot