Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
A heavy device that packs a strong kick.
- Good performance, excellent expandability options, relatively good graphics card
- Heavy, no Blu-ray
This is a powerful mid-range all-purpose notebook that is well worth looking at, as long as you can stand carting around a 3kg laptop.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Although we were somewhat disappointed in ASUS for its M51VA-AS045G, it has also brought out the M50VM-AS001G which is identical but for two points of difference — it has a better graphics card and finally provides Gigabit Ethernet.
For a modern mid-range notebook not to come equipped with Gigabit Ethernet as standard is rare in the same way that a car without wheels is rare. 10/100/1000 Ethernet is even seen in budget notebooks like the HP Compaq Presario CQ50-114AU, so it was perplexing to see it missing from the M51V. Thankfully the M50VM-AS001G has the latest networking connections, including 802.11n wireless, built-in. This is great for users wanting to connect on the move.
Given that both ASUS units have the same RRP of $1999 and were released at around the same time, we struggled at first to discover why the normally price-conscious company had decided to dangle a good choice next to a bad one simultaneously.
The answer comes in the form of a 250GB external hard drive that is bundled with the sans-Ethernet notebook. If you don’t mind missing out on the external hard drive and prefer a better laptop we suggest you stick with the M50VM-AS001G.
The ASUS is a smart performer. A 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 provides the processing power and 4GB of DDR2 RAM helps everything run smoothly. It should be noted, however, that the use of a 64-bit operating system is required to fully utilise the RAM (otherwise only 3GB of the RAM is employed). A 320GB hard drive spins at 5400rpm, proving a good supply of storage space.
All of this resulted in an excellent WorldBench 6 test score of 98, which indicates an ability to execute complex tasks such as video encoding and 3-D rendering without problems. Similarly impressive was the result from our iTunes testing, where we convert 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s. The M50VM-AS001G returned a time of 1min 17sec. While this is a fair bit slower than we were expecting, the system remains quite quick on its feet.
Unfortunately the screen suffers from the same default dimness as the M51V, which makes it difficult for novice users to get increased brightness without fiddling around the advanced settings.
More impressive was the 3DMark 06 score of 4405, thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GS. While this is hardly a mind-blowing result, it is certainly better than most mid-level notebooks and will allow users to play older games like F.E.A.R. at medium to high graphical settings. Even lower-spec modern games like Spore should be able to run without a hitch.
The M50VM-AS001G continues the good form on the outside, with a sleek modern look that isn’t gaudy. The Altec Lansing speakers don’t provide enough bass or definition of treble notes, but are definitely a cut above what is usually seen in this price point.
Larger ASUS notebooks are usually simple to type on, and this laptop is no different thanks to good key response and a full-sized keyboard. A small number-pad to the right is difficult to work with at first, but persistence will pay dividends.
Last but not least is the wide array of expansion options available, including four USB 2.0 ports (one of which doubles as an e-SATA port) and an HDMI output. A FireWire S400 port is great for connecting camcorders directly to the laptop, while the 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, MS, MSPro, SD) will help users quickly transfer images from cameras. The ExpressCard/54 slot that sits above it is icing on the cake, allowing a variety of cards to connect to the unit, while the D-Sub port is good for old monitors and projectors.
With its weight coming in at 3kg without the power supply and 3.55kg all together, this unit won’t be fun to cart around on lengthy trips. The result of 1hr 22min in our worst case scenario means that the ASUS burns up juice a little faster than we’d like, but not drastically so.
Once again we’d like to see a Blu-ray device on a unit at this price point — it has been done before. Instead it has a dual-layer DVD-RW drive.
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