Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 Review (pics, specs)

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by Andrew Hake

The Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 is the successor to the very well received N6010, N6210, and the N6220.  Fujitsu’s N6000 series desktop replacement notebooks have been known to have without question the best screen in the business.  The last three mentioned were all similar because they basically used the same chassis as the model before, the color changed from white to black with the N6210 as well as getting an updated processor.  With the N6410, Fujitsu decided to go for a complete redesign of the layout and the chassis to make way for the new motherboard and Intel Core Duo processor.  Well, did they do a good job? Does the N6410 live up to the name of the past N6000’s? This review will answer those questions.


Fujitsu Lifebook N6410 (view large image)

Fujitsu N6410 Specs

  • Intel Core Duo Processor T2300 (1.66 GHz, 2 MB L2 cache, 667 MHz FSB)
  • Windows Media Center (rolleyes)
  • 17″ Color-Enhanced Crystal View wide XGA+ TFT display; brightness 370 nits; contrast ratio 600:11
  • 1 GB DDR2 667 MHz SDRAM memory (512 MB x 2)
  • 320 GB (4200 rpm) hard drive3 (160 GB x 2)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 with 256 MB HyperMemory
  • Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
  • Built-in TV Tuner and Remote Control
  • Multinational4 56K5 V.90 modem and 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network Connection (Tri-mode 802.11a/b/g)
  • 5 USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, Memory Stick /SD/xD slot, PC Card slot, ExpressCard slot
  • Main battery: Lithium ion (6-cell, 10.8V, 4000 mAh, 43 WHr)
  • Realtek ALC262
  • Optional External TV Tuner with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
  • Remote Control, available with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005

Full and complete specs are available on Fujitsu’s website here —
http://www.computers.us.fujitsu.com/www/products_notebooks.shtml?products/notebooks/tech_specs/n6410_ts

Reasons for Purchase

I did not purchase this notebook, it is a review unit sent to me for one month.  But I will give some reasons why someone would want to purchase this notebook.  The first reason is because the screen is the quite possibly the best screen available on a notebook.  The contrast ratio is even higher than on my N6210.  Although this isn’t the lightest 17″ desktop replacement it isn’t impossible to carry around and I believe the size is well worth it.  This unit has the most HDD storage space I have ever seen on a notebook at 320 GB (If I purchased I would rather have 2 100 GB 7200 rpm drives) but I must admit having this much storage space is ridiculous and would be great for someone that needs a lot of room.  Another reason I would choose this notebook over many others is due to the fact that the keyboard is one of the nicest I have ever used, it is just fantastic.  The build quality is quite exceptional and the layout of the ports works so well compared to so many other desktop replacements.

Packaging, Software, etc.

As with my N6210 the N6410 was packaged very well and double boxed, I can’t imagine the unit could receive any damage in the shipping process.  It also had a very nice User Manual, startup guide, Internet Cable, and all of the well packaged Driver, Restore, and Software disks, including Roxio Digital Media Software and Cyberlink DVD software.  It also comes with the remote for Media Center Edition.  This unit has slightly more software loaded than my N6210 mainly because of Windows Media Center Edition but again Fujitsu is still doing a good job of not loading their computers with junk software.

Build and Design


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The design of the N6410 is a very nice looking silver and black that is an evolution of the N6200 series.  The design of the casing actually makes the unit look much smaller than it is with the angled edges, even though it is actually slightly thicker than my N6210.  The reason it is slightly thicker is due to the screen thickness it seems.


N6410 and N6210 (view large image)

The new design of the power button and Application Panel works very well and looks fantastic, I really like the look of the Application Panel with its mirror look with the LED.  I also like the placement of the battery, HDD access and other indicator lights right above the keyboard (this placement however doesn’t allow you to see them if the laptop is closed), there is also a very customizable email notification light that uses a POP and can be adjusted in many different ways simply by going to the Application Panel section in control panel.


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Unfortunately the DVD controls do not work with Media Center, as they expect you to use the included remote control, but from reading the user manual it should work with other OS’s as a DVD controller


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One thing I must mention is that with this unit the latch holds the lid closed fine but it is definitely loose compared to my N6210, I spoke to another N6410 owner and he said he did not have this problem so hopefully this isn’t an issue on all of the N6410’s as it was definitely noticeable on my review unit.


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The latch allows for a slight amount of play which really isn’t acceptable but I don’t believe this is an issue on other N6410’s. Only things on the front panel are Latch and Speakers

The layout of ports is fantastic as it was on the N6210 as well, so many notebook manufacturers today don’t put any ports on the back of desktop replacements which doesn’t make any sense to me at all.  If it is going to be on the desk most of the time it is much better to have all of your wires coming out of the back or towards the back of the machine.  Plugging in my external speakers is very simple and the wire doesn’t get in the way of anything as the output port is towards the back.  The card reader works very well also, and the location is good.  I do wish they would have put the right side USB port just to the right of the hand rest area instead of towards the back but that isn’t much of an issue.  Having 4 USB ports on the back side is extremely nice and it is good to see that they added one to this machine.

Again there is no DVI port which I wish every notebook today would have, especially notebooks of this size..


Left side view (view large image)

Left panel View: AC power jack, Antenna Mini-Jack, S-Video input port, Video Input Jack (composite), Audio Input jacks, Optical Drive


Back side view (view large image)

Back panel View:  S-Video out port, LAN port, 3 USB ports (very nice), Air vents, VGA port, USB port (this port must be used for the infrared remote receiver if remote is used), modem port, security lock slot.


Right side view (view large image)

Right Side: Expresscard, PCMIA slots, Memory Stick SD XD card reader, IEEE 1394 Port, Headphone/Audio output jack, Mic Jack, USB port.

One thing I really like about the N6410 over the N6210 is the number of air vents, my N6210 only has on large vent in the back and very slight vents over the secondary HDD. The N6410 has two vent sections on the back and two large vents on the bottom which makes this unit very cool.


Bottom view of the N6410 (view large image)

From top left is both HDD’s, battery, both RAM slots, CPU vents, GPU vents, and Subwoofer.


Bottom view with panels removed (view large image)

Bottom view with panels removed, I couldn’t open the entire thing up without removing the HDD’s I discovered but you can see the CPU and CPU through the vents, The battery is removed in this photo.

One thing I am very disappointed in is that the power brick is larger than the on the N6210, the N6210 was about as small as a power supply gets but the N6410 uses one that is noticeably larger and heavier, it isn’t massive but it is definitely larger which seems somewhat odd to me.

The Display!!!!!!!!!


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The laptop gods are smiling upon the N6410 display, plain and simple

In my review of the N6210 I said I would have bought it for the display alone. The same is definitely true with the N6410.  The contrast on the N6410 display is amazingly better than my N6210, and the viewing angles are slightly better as well.  The only thing I can say negative about the N6410 screen is that it has very slight light leakage on the right and left side that can only be noticed on an all black screen, but again it is quite slight. This doesn’t take away from the glory that is this display however.  Fujitsu is definitely ahead of everybody else when it comes to displays.

The N6410 has a native 1440×900 resolution which works very well in terms of text size and also for gaming.  The text size of this resolution is very good and this resolution works very well with the X1400 in terms of gaming etc. I would like to see the option of a WSXGA+ screen as that resolution seems like it would be perfect for Photoshop etc. but WXGA+ is ok when the screen looks this amazing!


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The screen looks better in person of course, and the N6410 looks great with my setup I must say.


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Having a setup like this is amazing! The screens are very similar between the N6410 and N6210 but I believe the N6410 is just slightly better in some ways, which is amazing in itself.

Sound


Left speaker grill (view large image)

Everybody knows that notebook speakers can’t compare to a nice set of external speakers (They really can’t, if you don’t believe me you don’t have the Logitech Z-2300’s, ask forum moderator ChazMan421, he can enlighten you further).  But I must say that I am very impressed again by the N6410 speakers, they can get quite loud and do not distort at the loudest setting.  However, compared to my N6210 I believe the placement of the subwoofer could be better, on the N6410 the woofer is basically right under the power button, on the N6210 the woofer is right under the touchpad and is ported directly to the front, the woofer on the N6410 is ported below the headphone and mic jacks which does not produce as much bass as the N6210.  The sound coming out of both of these machines is very similar but the N6210 has the N6410 beat slightly when it comes to bass.  But again they both sound very nice compared to many laptops I have used.  It is very adequate for watching movies and even sounds good in games etc.  The right and left speakers are both ported and work very nicely.  And the layout does not seem to cover the speakers when typing, at least with my typing style.  One thing I do miss is the independent volume control buttons that my N6210 have. The N6410 uses Fn Key plus F7 and F8 to control volume, it would have been nice to see volume control integrated into the Application Panel.

It does output sound very well to my external speakers, I couldn’t be happier with the way this computer outputs sound in movies, games, music, everything, the RealTek card does a very good job. My Z-2300’s shake the room the same as they do when connected to the N6210.

Performance


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Fujitsu is really showing the power of the newest Intel Processors by using the 1.66ghz version of the Core Duo processor.  The performance increase from my 1.86ghz Pentium M is quite impressive.  This is definitely noticeable with Super PI, the Core Duo manages 1’22 while my 1.86ghz P M manages 1’40.  I was curious so I ran Super PI again on the N6410 while running videos in Media Player, Quick Time, and CyberLink DVD, having many Firefox windows open, using both Photoshop and Image ready, and listening to music with Itunes, and windows defender open. And it still managed a 1″45 which is quite impressive, I am quite impressed with core duos overall and I must say that multiple cores should definitely allow for a nice increase in performance for any user today.

Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo) 1m 22s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 48s
Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 52s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Dothan Pentium M) 1m 57s
HP dv5000t (1.83GHz Core Duo) 1m 17s
Sony VAIO S380 (1.83 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 42s

 


Super Pi results (view large image)


Super Pi results when run with various other applications running (view large image)

I also ran HDtune on both HDD’s of the N6410 and got results that seem to be normal for these HDD’s  the Access time is slightly higher than my 80gb 4200 rpm probably due to platter size but the average transfer rate is better on both of the 160GB HDD’s.  I should also mention that both drives have 149gb space total which is extremely nice.  And the transfer rate is quite fast between the two which makes me very anxious to get my 7k100 for my N6210.  I managed to copy 30GB of files from HDD 1 to HDD 2 in around 20 min. or so, which is very nice, I haven’t used the second HDD for much as they are both very large and I have so much space on the first one, but if I wanted to back up my files etc. it would be very easy. The HDD’s are definitely the bottleneck in this system and having dual 7200rpm drives would definitely be nice, and it is an option.


HDTune for HD1 (view large image)


HDTune for HD2 (view large image)

This notebook also performs very well in 3dmark05, it managed a score of 2273 which is a nice improvement over my X600 which managed a 1660.  This is with the stock GPU drivers however as I couldn’t upgrade due to having media center edition.  There was a noticeable boost in game performance as well, games such as FEAR and Half-Life 2 perform noticeably better with the X1400.  It isn’t the top of the line GPU but it is sufficient for most of today’s games unless you are a hardcore gamer.  It would be nice to see an option for a higher end GPU but the X1400 performs quite well.

3DMark05 Results:

Notebook  3DMark 05 Results
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)  2273 3D Marks
 Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)  1659 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2530 3D Marks
 Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)  2,486 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2536 3D Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4157 3DMarks

It also performs well in 3D apps such as Maya and Softimage XSI as well.


3DMark 05 Results screen shot (view large image)

I also ran PCmark05 and got a score of 3487 out of the box which is also quite good.  These benchmarks are good but when it comes down to it this processor is just nice and fast with everything it does, it just performs very well.  It has 1GB of RAM so maybe having 2GB would allow for even better performance in Photoshop etc. but this machine is just plain quick.  Startup time is slightly faster as well compared to the N6210.

PCMark05 Results

 Notebook PCMark05 Score
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 3487 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3637 PCMarks
Panasonic ToughBook T4 (Intel 1.20GHz LV) 1390 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3646 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz) 1877 PCMarks


PCMark05 Results screen shot (view large image)

Battery

The battery life of the N6410 is again average for a system of this size, it is rated at 1.5 hrs with the TV tuner and 2hrs without which I find to be very accurate as my N6210 gets right around 2hrs and the N6410 does have slightly less battery life in comparison. This is still a decent amount of battery life for this size of laptop, but I would definitely opt for the model without the tv tuner as I don’t have much use for it.  Again the battery life isn’t phenomenal but it is efficient for what most users need with this size of laptop.

Wireless

I can’t say there is much of a difference between the Intel 2915 wireless card and the new Intel 3945abg card in the N6410, I believe the new card has slightly better signal reception and maybe a slightly better range but other than that it is very similar, it is very easy to use and works well, couldn’t ask for much more in terms of wireless access. Also this notebook has a wireless on off switch on the left side of the Application Panel which is very convenient.

Keyboard and Touchpad


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The keyboard on my N6210 was my favorite, until I used the N6410 keyboard and found it is slightly better.  The size and layout is identical but there are slight differences that make the N6410 keyboard a joy to type on.  All of the larger keys such as shift, enter and backspace are more stable than the N6210 keyboard.  All of the keys just have a firmer feel to them overall.  They take more effort to press than the N6210 but this gives a very solid feel to the keyboard that I have never felt with any other laptop.  Flex is not an issue and the keyboard is just incredibly nice to type on.  I have heard many people say that IBM keyboards are the best but I would like to argue that the N6410 may have one of the nicest keyboards today.

Something people will like is the fact there is a dedicated number pad, especially useful for the accountants out there.


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The touchpad works extremely well also, and I also see this as an improvement over my N6210, I like the design of the button better with the N6210 (they are just slightly different in shape, the layout is the same) but the surface of the touchpad is very nice, it has slightly more texture than the N6210 which is just about perfect.  I really like the N6210 touchpad but I must say that I like this one even more.  The buttons have a nice click to them without being too loud, and tapping works extremely well with this touchpad.  And like most touchpads today this one has the horizontal and vertical scrolling features as well as a back and forward gesture at the top. Another thing worth mentioning is that this notebook has a touchpad on/off toggle Fn key which so many seem to be leaving out


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Heat and Noise

A few people complained that the N6010 was very erratic and didn’t like how it seemed to cycle up and down while idling, this wasn’t much of an issue with the N6210 and the issue is completely obliterated with the N6410 as the fans are dead quiet. The fan is usually on at idle but it is so quiet that it is absolutely not an issue at all, and it definitely does its job as the entire notebook stays quite cool all the time.  The warmest part of the notebook is right where the Fujtisu logo is above the keyboard and all of the palm rest area and keyboard area never really get warm, even with both HDD’s under the touchpad it just doesn’t get that warm at all.  And the fan definitely does its job during heavy gaming etc.  But again, noise is truly not an issue with this machine, the fan is just fantastically quiet.  The HDD noise is quite low as well compared to my N6210 but that all depends on what HDD you choose when purchasing, HDD noise isn’t much of an issue for me but I do know some people prefer to have it quite silent which with this configuration the N6410 manages extremely well.  This is a very nice feature of the N6410, its silence is golden.

TV Tuner and Media Center


TV tuner ports (view large image)

I could not test the TV Tuner as much as I hoped because I don’t have a cable TV connection where I’m currently living. So I wasn’t able to test the quality of the image etc.  But I did do some research on other possibilities.  I was interested in seeing if I could use the Tuner to hook up a Sony PS2 to the N6410 screen.  I talked to Fujitsu Help Chat and was told that it is possible but there will be noticeable lag as it wasn’t designed for that.  He was very helpful however and emailed me the 40 step process it took to do this.  I wasn’t able to achieve this as it required a VCR and I didn’t have one available but it seems games wouldn’t really be playable with this method anyway. 

I wish I had the chance to test the TV Tuners quality etc. but from what I have seen in other reviews and past reviews of the N series the Tuners they have used work very well.  One thing I will say however is that I wouldn’t choose Windows Media Center over Home or Professional because I would rather use Fujitsu’s own software for the Tuner.

The remote that comes with the N6410 works quite well and looks very nice also.  It is very convenient for watching DVD’s and it actually will work with Windows Media Player as well, you don’t have to go into Media Center to use the remote which is very nice if you use Media Player to watch a lot of video files. 

Another thing I should mention about the N6410 in terms of video is that DVD’s seem to look slightly better.  This must be due to the X1400 that uses AVIVO.  The difference isn’t extremely noticeable but it seems like a nice improvement.

One thing that bothered me about Media Center Edition is that getting an updated video card driver for the Mobility X1400 is quite a task compared to XP Home or Pro.  It would be nice if Fujitsu would post updated GPU drivers on the site for users with Media Center Edition.

Customer Support

First of all, I have to say if I was to buy any Fujitsu laptop I would buy it through www.portableone.com because that is where I purchased my N6210 and the service could not possibly be better in my opinion.  From what I have heard ordering directly from Fujitsu is also a great experience so I wouldn’t necessarily hesitate ordering directly from Fujitsu but Portable One just gives that little bit of extra support and customer service.  Fujitsu’s support however has always been top notch for me.  I have used Fujitsu’s help chat many times, all due to Windows issues and they were more than helpful.  Every issue I have had Fujitsu’s help has been able to solve my problems quite well.  My experience with Fujitsu has been top notch from the beginning.

Pros

  • Quite possibly the best display available, Fantastic!
  • The best keyboard I have ever used. I like this keyboard more than any other keyboard I have used
  • Nice touchpad and a nice improvement over the N6210
  • Good build quality almost all aspects
  • Very good design, A fantastic evolution of the N6000 series, one of my favorite looking notebooks
  • Very good speakers compared to most notebooks
  • Performance is fantastic, the Core Duo’s are really at the top right now, and the GPU seems to perform very well on the N6000’s compared to other laptops with the same GPU.
  • Available dual HDD’s with any option you can think of
  • Port layout is near perfection; please keep up the good work with the port layout Fujitsu!
  • Overall just a fantastic evolution of my N6210, almost every aspect is improved, which is very impressive!

Cons

  • Again no DVI port, I don’t see this as a huge issue and the fantastic screen makes up for it! (I doubt there are many displays that can compare to this one)
  • The loose screen latch hopefully isn’t an issue on other N6410’s (other N6410 owners have said that it isn’t) but it is an issue on this unit so I must mention it.
  • Not many aspects customizable (the parts they choose are quite good but it would be nice to be able to customize things such as the processor and possibly have the option for a higher end GPU)
  • The power supply is larger than the one on my N6210, this makes it somewhat hard to carry the supply in my back while my N6210 supply fits easily
  • Very slight light leakage on the sides of the display, doesn’t take much away from the display but it is there on the N6410 and isn’t there on my N6210
  • Weight is somewhat of an issue compared to other 17″ notebooks but not huge as it is a desktop replacement and probably won’t be carried everywhere

Conclusion

I am very pleased to see that Fujitsu has done a very good job of evolving the N6000 series into something better and better with each evolution.  This laptop was a joy to use and I will highly recommend it to someone looking for a fantastic 17″ desktop replacement.  It has the best screen I have seen, the best keyboard I have ever used, and is one of the nicest looking notebooks I have seen.  The negative issues are almost all irrelevant with this type of laptop and the few little hardware issues such as the screen latch doesn’t seem to be affecting other N6410.  I take my hat off to Fujitsu for convincing me yet again that they are truly capable of building fantastic notebook computers.


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