Asus X59GL review

31 Mar 2009

Asus' X59GL has an outstanding range of features for a knock-down price. Only mediocre build quality sours the deal.

Price when reviewed: 
426(£425 inc VAT)
5

We've seen the X59GL, or rather its chassis, used by several Asus laptops over the years, but while it's unlikely to win any design awards, this laptop is monumentally well-appointed given such a modest price.

Take a leisurely look through the Asus' list of specifications and it's astounding what you get for your money: Gigabit Ethernet, draft-n wireless, dedicated Nvidia graphics, a 1.3-megapixel webcam and a 250GB hard disk for just £370.

Somehow Asus has managed to create this enviable list of specifications without crippling the X59GL in other areas. An Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 processor sits alongside 3GB of memory; not the fastest combination, but it achieved a solid 0.89 in our benchmarks. Graphics performance is fine thanks to the laptop's discrete Nvidia GeForce 8200M G graphics. These helped the X59GL to 13 frames per second in our least taxing Crysis benchmark.

The 15.4in display might not boast a spectacular native resolution - it's the usual 1,280 x 800 pixel affair - but it more than makes up for that by virtue of its image quality. It's bright and, although images have the tendency to look just a little washed out, it's blessed with even-handed colour reproduction and good overall levels of detail. Only some backlight leakage along the screen's bottom edge gives any cause for disappointment.

Using this Asus doesn't throw up many surprises either. The keyboard isn't fantastic, with unresponsive keys that feel a little dead under the finger, but it's still eminently usable given the asking price. The trackpad is beyond reproach and we particularly liked the firm, short-travel buttons.

Take a closer look and feel of the Asus, however, and it soon gives away its low-cost roots. The glossy black lid is the only sop towards any sense of style, and considering the hefty 2.68kg weight the build feels too pliant. Tug on the base or display and the X59GL's frame squeaks and creaks as if in pain. Battery life of 2hrs 16mins is poor, too.

The Asus might find itself outclassed by some of the other laptops here, in looks and build quality, but if you're on a strict budget its performance means it's still a contender.

Details

Price ex VAT £370
Price inc VAT £426
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 6

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 368 x 263 x 42mm (WDH)
Weight 2.680kg
Travelling weight 3.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T5800
Motherboard chipset Nvidia nForce 730i
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 8200M G
Graphics card RAM 256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/150
Hard disk Hitachi HTS542525K9A00
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSST TS-L633A
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 2hr 16min
Battery life, heavy use 51min
Overall application benchmark score 0.89
3D performance (crysis) low settings 13fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery disc
Software supplied CyberLink Power2Go 6