Asus M50SV-AS030G review
A blisteringly fast processor, strong build and stylish design make this an extremely attractive laptop
Asus' brand-new entertainment laptop, the M50SV, is notable for debuting not one, but two cutting-edge technologies.
Not content with being powered by one of Intel's first 45nm Penryn processors, it also has the first Nvidia GeForce 9000 series gaming chip we've seen at PC Pro.
And all this is housed in a very stylish and desirable chassis.
The processor in question is a 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo T9300, one of the new family recently announced by Intel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The move to the 45nm fabrication process gives more scope for squeezing extra performance from the CPU without raising the power consumption any higher.
It also has a larger 6MB shared Level 2 cache and an 800MHz front side bus - a combination that promised extremely quick performance.
It certainly didn't disappoint. Admittedly, the Asus has a whopping 4GB of RAM to back it up, but a score of 1.32 in our 2D benchmarks is still hugely impressive - ahead of any laptop we've seen previously. And, to put that score into perspective, it's a massive 32% faster than a desktop PC powered by a 3GHz Pentium D processor.
The closest previous laptop to it was the Rock Xtreme 770-T7800, which featured the quickest 65nm processor - the 2.6GHz T7800. This scored 1.25, while laptops based on the more common 2.4GHz T7700 can only manage around 1.15.
It's harder to tell what impact the die-shrink has had on power drain, however. The M50SV gave us just 2hrs 15mins of light-use battery life and a little over an hour under intensive conditions. This isn't an unexpected result as the battery inside the Asus is not massive at 4,800mAh, but as the M50SV doesn't have top-end graphics we'd have liked a bit more juice.
The graphics chip is new, even if it's only Nvidia's latest mid-range offering. The GeForce 9500M GS is more suited to video than hard-core gaming and didn't quite manage playable frame rates at our lowest settings in Call of Duty 2 (it struggled to 25 frames per second at a 1,024 x 768 resolution).
More interesting is the inclusion of an HDMI port. There's no Blu-ray or HD DVD drive to really make the most of the Asus as a high-definition player, but if you have downloaded video stored on your hard disk it will look great on an external HDTV without the hassle of multiple cables.
With the major talking points covered, the rest of the M50SV is polished and attractive. The glossy finish is reminiscent of HP's Imprint finish (where a pattern, such as swirling shapes, is embedded into the lid and chassis) and adds a real touch of class that photos can't do justice. What's more, the grey colouring makes smudgy fingerprints less noticeable, even if they do still accumulate.
A full-sized keyboard makes daily use extremely comfortable, with a separate number pad on the right. The half-height Enter key is a minor fault, but we found little else to criticise. The touchpad is responsive, and the presence of a fingerprint reader and TPM chip eases security concerns.
The model we were sent for review had a 15.4in 1,280 x 800 screen, but when the M50SV goes on sale the resolution will go up to a 1,440 x 900. The screen itself is a bit too reflective for the bright fluorescent lighting of an office, but for home use it really adds to the vibrancy of the picture. The backlight is even and colours appeared accurate throughout our testing.