Asus X83VB-X1 review: Asus X83VB-X1

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.6
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 6.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Excellent performance for the price; HDMI and eSATA ports; solid construction; LED-backlit display delivers bright, vibrant image; quiet operation.

The Bad Glossy keys don't provide the best feel and are loud and clacky, and the gold lettering on the keys is hard to see in low light; stiff mouse buttons; no multimedia shortcut keys; no Bluetooth.

The Bottom Line A poorly designed keyboard and stiff mouse buttons prevent a higher recommendation for the Asus X83VB-X1, which is an otherwise well-built 14-inch laptop that delivers chart-topping performance for a low price.

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Editors' note: This review is part of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.

We have tested and reviewed five retail laptops in the $800 to $1,000 range, and the Asus X83VB-X1 is the cheapest and most powerful of the bunch. Priced $849, it still managed to top our performance charts that include laptops that cost up to $999. This black-and-gold 14-inch mainstream laptop pairs a Core 2 Duo T5800 CPU--a chip you'll find offered on many laptops at retail this quarter--with a 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS graphics card. Casual gamers will be able to play older games at modest resolutions with this midrange card, though it proved it's hardly more capable than ATI's current integrated Radeon HD3200 graphics solution. We're not thrilled with the keyboard, and the mouse buttons are too stiff--two drawbacks on an otherwise well designed laptop that delivers excellent bang for the buck. Alternatively, the HP Pavilion dv4-1125nr sheds the GeForce graphics and $50 while providing flashy yet functional touch-sensitive media control keys and less clacky keys.

Price $849
Processor 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800
Memory 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz
Hard drive 250GB, 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM45 Express
Graphics 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS
Operating System Windows Vista Premium 64-bit
Dimensions (width x height) 13.4 x 10.0 inches
Thickness 1.3 to 1.5 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.7 / 6.6 pounds
Category Midsize

The Asus X83VB-X1 delivers a little bling to the mainstream laptop buying public. The glossy black lid features a thin, golden graphic pattern with the "Asus" logo in golden lettering in its middle. Open up the up laptop, and you see more gold. The black keyboard decks fades to gold, resulting in a golden wrist rest. The laptop uses a plastic chassis, but it feels very solidly built. The middle of the lid flexes somewhat, but the wrist rest feels rock solid. It has a nice feel, with gently sloping, rounded edges and a glossy, smooth finish.

Unfortunately, the luxe feel of the chassis does not extend to the keyboard. The glossy keys feel light and suffer from dreaded clackiness. Also, the symbols on the keys are gold--not white--and are difficult to see in low light. Above the keyboard is a row of five buttons. We'd rather these control the volume and offer media transport functions--play/pause, rewind, fast forward--but instead they let you choose among various power management, screen, and wireless settings. Maddeningly, there is a button to turn Bluetooth on or off, but this laptop does not feature Bluetooth.

The touch pad is roomy--much larger than the touch pad on the 14-inch

The display is attached by two wide, sturdy hinges that keep the display from wobbling. The display itself features a standard native resolution of 1,280x800. The screen features LED backlighting, which results in a very bright image. The screen's glossy finish finds a good balance, helping make colors look vibrant but with only a small degree of distracting glare and reflections.

For a pair of small, integrated stereo speakers, the X83VB-X1's speakers provide surprisingly passable audio. It helps that they're located on the front edge of the laptop, where they can better project out than if they had been located along the back edge.

Three vents are located on the bottom of the laptop along with a large vent along the right edge. The vents keep the laptop cool and running quietly. Even when the GPU's cooling fan engages to push air out the right side, it does so with barely an audible hum.

  Asus X83VB-X1 Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA-out, HDMI, Webcam VGA-out, S-Video, Webcam
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 5 USB 2.0, FireWire, eSATA, multiformat card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Modem, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The Asus X83VB-X1 boasts a healthy collection of ports, including some along the back edge. The laptop's five USB 2.0 ports are spread out among three sides of the laptop--one on the left, two on the right, and two in back. Also in back are HDMI, eSATA, and Ethernet connections. The battery is located under the front right corner of the laptop instead of its usual spot along a laptop's back edge. The media card reader turns up in an unusual spot, too: on the back of the left edge, right above the DVD burner.

The Asus turned in chart topping performance among five retail laptops we tested that fall between $800 and $1,000. It finished 4 percent ahead of its next closest competitor on CNET Labs' multimedia multitasking benchmark, while it and the Dell Inspiron 1535-143B enjoyed a 21 percent edge over the other three laptops here on our Photoshop CS3 benchmark. Overall, the Asus X83VB-X1 delivers outstanding application performance for mainstream buyers, particularly for the price.

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Asus X83VB-X1

Part Number: X83VB-X1
Pricing is currently unavailable.