ASUS PL80J notebook
ASUS PL80J review: A slim, light and well featured ASUS laptop that's perfect for users on the go
- Light, stylish design, fingerprint reader, Turbo33 feature works well, excellent touchpad
- Optimus technology doesn't provide enough of a performance boost, finish gets easily tarnished by fingerprints
The ASUS PL80J is suitable for anyone who wants a slim and relatively light mid-sized laptop. It's comfortable to use and it has good battery life and performance. We're not sold on its implementation of NVIDIA's Optimus technology though: we think there isn't enough of a performance difference between the integrated Intel adapter and the NVIDIA adapter, but it still offers a decent boost for popular games such World of Warcraft and StarCraft 2.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
With plenty of style, a thin frame and a built-in DVD burner, the 14in ASUS PL80J is a good purchase for anyone who wants a notebook that's easy to carry but doesn't sacrifice features. Add good battery life and performance into the mix and you've got yourself a laptop that can be used for almost any task at home, in the office or on the road.
ASUS PL80J: Design and ease of use
The PL80J weighs just under 2.2kg and is 33mm thick at its thickest point. It feels reasonably light but solidly constructed. Even though it doesn't have a heavy base, you can open the lid with one hand without the base lifting up off the table. It's a comfortable notebook to type on: its keys feel solid, there aren't any in awkward positions (although the right Shift key is small) and the notebook has an ample palm rest. We particularly love the touchpad, which feels very smooth and is super-responsive — it quickly recognises two-finger gestures for scrolling and zooming, too.
Nestled in between the left and right buttons of the touchpad is a fingerprint reader that you can use to log in to the notebook as well as access Web site accounts with a swipe of a finger, rather than always having to enter a password. To take advantage of this, you have to set up the preinstalled DigitalPersona software. The webcam built in to the screen can also be used in conjunction with SmartLogon Manager to allow you to log in via face recognition.
We like the 1366x768-resolution screen, which has a matte finish and enough brightness to be used outdoors; you won't want to use it in the sun though, as the screen will be hard to view and the black base will absorb a lot of heat. But it's definitely a laptop you can use outdoors and while on the go: it's light and it has good battery life. The 84 Watt-hour battery lasted 3hr 5min in our battery rundown test, during which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video file.
ASUS PL80J: NVIDIA Optimus technology
The PL80J uses NVIDIA Optimus technology, which automatically switches between the laptop's integrated Intel HD graphics and the discrete 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 310M graphics adapter. The Intel adapter is activated when the laptop is used to run applications that don't require 3D processing; the extra grunt of the NVIDIA adapter is there for applications that do require more GPU power.
However, the difference between the Intel and NVIDIA adapters when it comes to processing 3D graphics is not huge. In 3DMark06, the Intel adapter recorded a score of 1087, while the NVIDIA adapter recorded a score of 3230. You'll only get a smidgin more performance out of it when running games. You can use the PL80J to run games such as World of Warcaft and StartCraft2, but it will struggle with 3D-heavy shoot 'em ups.
ASUS PL80J: Specifications and performance
The light weight and fingerprint reader seem like business-focussed features, but the notebook also has a turbo function (this is in addition to the Turbo Boost feature that is built in to the CPU). This feature gives mixed signals as to the target market of the notebook, although there is a lot of crossover between home and business notebooks these days. We're sure that many business users, in addition to home users, will get a kick out of being able to extend the notebook's battery life slightly by switching off the turbo, and switching it on when they need a little more power. It actually did give a decent performance boost during our tests.
The standard configuration of the ASUS PL80J is a 1.06GHz Intel Core i5-520UM CPU, which has two cores and Hyper-Threading; you also get 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 500GB, 5400rpm hard drive. In the Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the PL80J recorded times of 1min 27sec and 1min 24sec respectively. In our DVD encoding test, in which we use AutoGordianKnot to encode a DVD file to a 1.5GB Xvid file, the laptop took 1hr 36min. These times are slow even when compared to typical Core i3 notebooks such as the 13.3in Samsung Q330-JS03AU, but that's because the Core i5-520UM is an ultra-low-voltage CPU with a much lower frequency than a regular processor.
The Turbo33 feature gives the notebook a decent performance boost of over 10 per cent in some instances. In Blender 3D, for example, without Turbo33 enabled, the laptop took 1min 42sec to complete our test, which is 15sec slower than with Turbo33 enabled. This extra CPU speed will definitely come in handy for encoding and compression tasks.
All up, the PL80J is a light, nice-looking notebook with good build quality and plenty of features. Security features, such as the fingerprint reader, make it a decent choice for business users in addition to home users. We're not fans of the Optimus technology in this notebook though: we don't think the NVIDIA graphics adapter provides enough of a performance boost compared to the integrated Intel graphics.
Become a fan of PC World Australia on Facebook
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Join the newsletter!
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Sport AT
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Toys for Boys
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
ESET Smart Security Premium
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Tivoli PAL BT
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
ESET Internet Security
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- CES 2019: Dell refresh the XPS 13 and more
- CES 2019: MSI expand Prestige series laptops with PS63 Modern
- CES 2019: MSI ready their MSI GS75 Stealth laptop for the RTX era
- CES 2019: Gigabyte ready a revamped AERO 15 with RTX graphics
- Huawei launch their Matebook X in Australia ahead of Black Friday
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- CES 2019 Round-Up:
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies