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Asus F3Jm review: Asus F3Jm

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The Good Inbuilt webcam. Decent performance. Generous warranty terms.

The Bad Video out ports in a tricky place. Predictably low battery life. Annoying POST chime.

The Bottom Line It commands something of a premium price, but Asus' F3Jm doesn't disappoint when it comes to performance.

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7.0 Overall

Review Sections

Design
Asus has of late been rewriting the rules on notebook design -- it probably helps that they're the OEM manufacturers of a number of brand-name systems such as Apple and Sony, but even Apple hasn't (yet) bothered with leather laptops like the Asus S6. The F3Jm doesn't go explicitly for the fashion crowd in the same way -- its marketing material tries to position it as a laptop for dedicated gamers or multimedia mavens, although whether gamers are going for notebook form factors is as yet a highly debateable point. Measuring in at 365 x 270 x 41mm and with a carrying weight of 2.95kg, this isn't something you'd want to carry around to too many LAN matches, although it's not the heaviest system you can get either.

The F3Jm's design accentuates slim lines, with the keyboard offset by top and bottom silver stripes that hide the power and function buttons at the top and power and wireless network indicators at the bottom. The display screen is a 15.4" LCD with a glossy finish; like most of Asus' notebooks it's a good looking panel and we had no visual problems with it during our testing. The keyboard had good response, and the trackpad worked well for basic mousing tasks.

On a very minor design scale, the Asus chime that sounds when you first boot up the notebook is rather annoying, as it's not a simple matter to switch it off, as the F3Jm uses a function key setup to control notebook volume. It can be disabled in the BIOS, thankfully.

Features
Under the hood of the F3Jm you'll find an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0GHz processor, 1GB of DDR2 memory and an nVIDIA GeForceGo 7600 processor with 512MB of memory. The internal hard drive on our review sample was a 120GB SATA drive. Networking connectivity is provided via wired gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g and bluetooth. Our review sample came with a DVD Super Multi drive, a 1.3 megapixel web camera embedded at the top of the LCD panel bezel, 4 USB 2.0 ports and one IEEE 1394 port. Video output is managed either via a D-SUB or DVI connection, both of which are located on the right hand side of the F3Jm. Our only concern there was that it made connecting the F3Jm to external displays a little cumbersome, as you've got a large cable snaking out of the side where it's quite obvious, as opposed to the rear as is the case on many notebooks.

Performance
The F3Jm performed reasonably well in our notebook benchmark suite overall in both productivity and battery life terms, especially given the power drain of the larger screen on this system. Bapco's MobileMark 2005 returned a productivity score of 245, which was decent but not stellar; the recently reviewed Acer Aspire 5634WLMi managed just 20 marks short of that -- with a price tag some $800 cheaper -- and the single core 2.16GHz Toshiba Qosmio G30 managed the same score.

Battery life at 140 minutes in productivity mode was good, given the drain of MobileMark's suite of applications. The less intensive reader test delivered only seven minutes more battery life, while the DVD spinning playback test dropped that to just over two hours at 127 minutes. Given its size and carrying weight, this isn't a truly portable machine, so those figures are acceptable albeit not that exciting. The F3Jm's PCMark score was a little more complimentary to the system with a very solid score of 4615 PC Marks. Likewise, the inclusion of the 512MB nVIDIA GeForceGo 7600 helped the F3Jm to a 3DMark06 score of 2015.

Asus backs the F3Jm with a two year pickup warranty, which is extremely generous; most notebook manufacturers offer a single year with paid options for multi-year coverage; getting two years without paying a penny more is excellent value.

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