Fujitsu LifeBook N6420 Review – Page 2

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Keyboard and Touchpad


A very strong sturdy keyboard, little to no flex, and completely full size (view large image)


Touchpad and fingerprint scanner (view large image)


The fingerprint reader with this unit ships with Omnipass software for logging in and storing your password info (view large image)

One of my favorite things about these Fujitsu notebooks is the keyboard that they use.  I use my girlfriend as a litmus test for measuring a good keyboard — she will walk up to a laptop in a store, try out its keyboard, and if she doesn’t like it demonstrate by immediately walking away — pretty funny stuff. I believe the N6000 to be one of the best keyboards I have used, my very particular girlfriend used it and it’s the only notebook I have seen her use and not say something bad about the keyboard.

First of all, it is a TRUE full size keyboard.  It actually uses larger shift keys and enter key than some desktop keyboards I have seen, and it might be the only keyboard on a notebook to not downgrade the size of any keys at all.

The touchpad seems to be improved from the N6410 as well; the buttons are more responsive and have a good solid feel, no annoying loud click, just a solid feel and sound.  The addition of a fingerprint sensor is also cool, it works pretty well as a scroll panel, and the included software works well to control passwords.  I must say that after using the Apple MacBook touchpad that use the two finger scroll I really prefer that, I hope more laptops can start using touchpads with that feature, even though I am not one to use a touchpad a lot.

Sound


Dedicated volume control switch is back on the N6420 after being left off the N6410 (view large image)

The speakers work quite well, there are two small front panel speakers and one bottom mounted subwoofer. Together these can put out quite a lot of sound, more than the average notebook for sure.  With the woofer mounted on the bottom right side under the power switch, sound is not sent towards the user as much as it could be. But let’s be honest, no matter how great the speakers in a notebook are, they aren’t going to compare to a good external set of speakers. This computer does a fine job of putting out sound to headphones and external speakers without any noise or distortion.

Performance


The Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 and ATi X1600 are well vented (view large image)

I am impressed with the performance of the Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0 GHz CPU, and the ATi X1600 GPU.  The power of the Core 2 Duo alone makes me want to upgrade to the latest and greatest from Intel.  The benchmarks will tell part of the story, but in terms of real world performance, I have been able to compare this directly to my N6210 with a Pentium M 1.86Ghz CPU, and let’s just say the results are extremely impressive.  One of my favorite tests to do was to play full 1080p HD video at the same time on both machines, the Core 2 Duo manages perfect playback with no dropped frames while the Pentium M struggles to keep up.

Here is a video demonstrating this:

 

This processors ability to multi-task is quite phenomenal, and even with a 200GB 4200RPM HDD (which has to be somewhat of a bottleneck in terms of overall system performance) the CPU allows it to do every single task quicker than the Pentium M.  The efficiency of Intel’s entire processor line is extremely impressive.  I hope Intel continues in this direction for a long time. Let’s take a look at some benchmark tests:

Super Pi Comparison Results

Super Pi forces the processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy and gives an idea of the processor speed and performance:

Notebook Time
Fujitsu LifeBook N6420 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s
Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo) 1m 22s
Fujitsu LifeBook N6210 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 40s
LG S1 (2.16 GHz Core Duo) 1m 11s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 53s

 

PCMark05 System Results Comparison

PCMark05 tests the system performance as a whole, below are some comparison results for the N6420 to other laptops:

 Notebook PCMark05 Score
Fujitsu LifeBook N6420 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600) 4,621 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus Z84Jp (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia Go 7600) 4,739 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3,646 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks

 

The ATi X1600 also shows many improvements over the X600 in my machine and the X1400 in the N6410.  I am very glad to see Fujitsu putting this option in the top of the line model, this isn’t a high-end gaming notebook, but it is great that they have opened up a little bit to the gaming market.  Also, this card has 256MB of dedicated memory and can utilize 512MB total using Hyper memory.  I have seen very big improvements in this GPU over the X600 in my current N6210.  3DMark scores demonstrate this:

Comparison results for 3DMark05

3DMark05 tests the overall graphic capabilities of a notebook:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Fujitsu LifeBook N6420 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600) 4,294 3D Marks
Fujitsu LifeBook N6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3D Marks
Fujitsu LifeBook N6210 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, ATI X600) 1,667 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB) 2,530 3D Marks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB) 2,536 3D Marks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3D Marks

 

Half Life 2 Performance 

I am not at all a hardcore gamer, but I know my stuff when it comes to gaming department. The one game that I play the most often is Half-Life 2 and all games related to it.  With my N6210, trying to play the latest Episode 1 expansion with full HDR etc. was not really a possibility, with the X1600 performance is not 100% perfect, but it is definitely possible and playable now.

Video playback with the X1600 really looks fantastic, colors are well balanced and playback looks great.

The amount of storage space is great with the 200 GB HDD, although the speed (4200rpm) is a little lacking.  But this is the only type of 200 GB notebook drive available currently.  The great thing about getting a notebook like this however, is the fact that there are so many choices when configuring HDD options, I would personally go with a 100gb 7200RPM primary drive and a 160GB 5400 RPM secondary. It is only a matter of time before higher capacity 7200rpm notebook HDD’s become available I’m sure. I hope Fujitsu continues to offer the Dual HDD option in their future desktop replacements, it’s especially useful for someone like me who needs as much space as I can get. Editing large bits of film and working on animation, I can fill up space very quickly.

HD Tune Results


The hard drive capacity is great, but the speed is limited by the 4200RPM spin (view large image) 

Another key component about this computer is the fact that it uses an HD-DVD drive from Fujitsu.  I have always been disappointed when watching DVD’s on these higher resolution computer screens, so I am happy to see the higher quality formats making their way to consumers.  DVD technology was a huge improvement over VHS without a doubt, but in the age of high resolution Televisions and LCD screens, its days are almost numbered.  These new formats open up such a huge opportunity for film makers, software developers and consumers in general, especially with the ability to write to high capacity disks as well.

Battery

The N6420’s battery life is not too important as it is a large desktop replacement that probably won’t be used on battery very often, but it is still important to have some battery life for when the time comes you need it.  The battery life of the N6420 is only about 1.5 hours or maybe 1:45 if using the notebook conservatively.

Wireless


A wireless switch is always a convenient thing to have on a notebook (view large image)

This notebook is based on the Intel Centrino platform that uses the same Intel Wireless card as most notebook computers today.  I have had nothing but success with this wireless card, never getting any disconnects, dropped signals, etc. It just works exactly like it should.  It is more likely there is a problem with your network if you are having trouble connecting with this wireless card.


(view large image) 

Pros

  • Improvements from the previous model, more options available
  • Great screen overall
  • Build quality feels very solid
  • Design
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Added features such as dedicated volume control, which the N6410 was missing
  • Good sound
  • Produces little heat, and is very quiet
  • Great Customer service from my experience
  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor offers excellent performance
  • Good Price, able to get this notebook with basic or premium options

Cons

  • Still no DVI port (hopefully more manufacturers will start including this or an HDMI port)
  • Screen had some graininess issues which really surprised me, it might not bother some people who aren’t particular, but it did me
  • Larger and heavier than some other 17” notebooks

Conclusion

Working with this notebook has been a joy, just having Intel and ATi’s latest offerings on board makes this notebook a worthy upgrade.  I was a little disappointed in the screen graininess however and hope that’s a fixable issue.  But overall I think the N6420 is an excellent choice as a desktop replacement style notebook; it’s just so sturdy and usable. Now that Fujitsu is offering a middle to high-end dedicated graphics option the N6420 can fit for the bill for both a multimedia and gaming machine as well.


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