Asus V6J review
Strong performance thanks to Intel's Core Duo processor and 1GB of RAM, but some of the V6J's competitors offer better value for money
Intel's Core processor may only have been launched last month, but we've already seen a flurry of notebooks that take advantage of this impressive dual-core technology. In fact, the Asus V6J is the third notebook we've seen to use the Core Duo T2400 processor, with Evesham's Voyager C550 and Sony's VAIO VGN-FE11S debuting the 1.83GHz version last month. They scored 0.98 and 0.89 respectively, so it's no surprise to see the V6J managing a score of 0.91.
It's easy to get blase about such speeds; it's only when you consider that our reference PC, which by definition scores 1.00, is powered by a dual-core 3.2GHz Pentium D chip that you realise just how quick this mere notebook is. What's more, it's backed up by a generous 1GB of RAM, so it's unlikely you'll be able to find a task that will give it much trouble.
Asus opts for nVidia's GeForce Go 7400 to provide the 3D acceleration, but don't think this means fantastic frame rates. Although it's part of the same hardware generation as the Go 7800, the V6J isn't ideally configured for gaming. It borrows 128MB of system memory to produce a respectable total of 256MB, but it juddered through our Half-Life 2 and Far Cry benchmarks at 12 and 10fps respectively. The version of the GeForce Go 7400 inside Sony's dual-core laptop pushed it to 17 and 15fps in the same tests.
So this isn't a gaming laptop, but you'll appreciate the nVidia chip inside the Asus when the time comes to upgrade Windows XP to Windows Vista - it will fly along with the full Aero Glass interface.
The V6J has a spacious 100GB hard disk and, should space become an issue, the optical drive will write to all standards of writable DVD, including dual layer. Elsewhere, there are Gigabit Ethernet and, naturally, 802.11a, b and g WLAN networking capabilities. Another plus is the memory card reader on the right-hand side.
The looks, while just a little too industrial chic for some of PC Pro's style judges, will certainly get approving nods from fans of brushed aluminium and minimalist design. But, as nice as the finish looks, it doesn't have the 'feel' of a Sony, for example. There's an unpleasant nail-on-blackboard sensation if you accidentally scrape a fingernail against it, and the stiff mouse buttons are made of the same material. The keyboard is run-of-the-mill, too, with our biggest complaint being that it rattles during use; so, typing long documents can become annoying.
Fortunately, Asus has ensured the screen is a good one, and the resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 on a 15in TFT means you can fit plenty on the it without squinting to see minor details. It isn't glossy, which will mean fewer reflections if you work somewhere with bright ambient lighting. Watching a fast-moving DVD revealed no noticeable problems and viewing angles are good - we found that the screen was viewable, if a little darker, at nearly 180 degrees off-centre.
The V6J is quite big - 334mm wide and 275mm deep means you might need to clear out your bag before you can accommodate it. It weighs in at 2.6kg, which is surprisingly light for its size, although it's nearing the limits of portability for those constantly on the move.
Despite doubling the raw power available, the Core Duo should offer comparable battery life to Intel's old Pentium M, and the battery lasted three hours, 13 minutes under light use and one hour, 59 minutes in our intensive-use test. These times are perfectly respectable, but still a long way from the superb life of machines based on the ULV Pentium M, such as the Sony VAIO TX2XP.