Asus X59GL review
Asus' X59GL has an outstanding range of features for a knock-down price. Only mediocre build quality sours the deal.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£370|
|Price inc VAT||£426|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||4|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||368 x 263 x 42mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo T5800|
|Motherboard chipset||Nvidia nForce 730i|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|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|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/150|
|Hard disk||Hitachi HTS542525K9A00|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||TSST TS-L633A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Front edge|
|Hardware volume control?||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|