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Asus N51V review: Asus N51V

The Asus N51V is an excellent mid-sized laptop, and should absolutely be considered if you're looking for that price/performance sweet spot.

Craig Simms Special to CNET News
Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.
Craig Simms
3 min read

Design

Asus' N51V looks an awful lot like HP's laptops did last year — but this isn't a bad thing. The lid is shiny black, with an inlaid pattern that looks like falling rain, with the silver Asus logo in the middle. Opening it up to the inside you are greeted with more shininess in a champagne colour, with the same pattern as the lid put on the wrist rest. The rear of the laptop is tapered, giving it a more sophisticated look than those with boxy edges. The 15.6-inch, 1366x768 screen is, as most laptops are these days, glossy, meaning you'll have to deal with reflections if you choose to use it outdoors. Needless to say like the vast majority of modern consumer laptops, the thing is a fingerprint magnet.

9.5

Asus N51V

The Good

Powerful graphics card. Excellent value.

The Bad

High performance means lower battery life. High glossiness will attract fingerprints.

The Bottom Line

The Asus N51V is an excellent mid-sized laptop, and should absolutely be considered if you're looking for that price/performance sweet spot.

The trackpad is excellent in both responsiveness and tactile nature, with the oversized buttons below it providing good feedback. Between the two buttons is the obligatory fingerprint scanner, and its equally universal partner the webcam sitting at the top of the screen. The keyboard is excellent, and features a numpad — always a welcome inclusion

Below the screen are the usual array of blinking lights and speaker set of questionable sound quality; however, the usual smattering of media and quick access buttons are nowhere in sight. The only exception is a single button next to the power button, used to load Asus Express Gate — the Splashtop-based quick loading OS when you don't need the full power of Windows. This can only be used when the laptop is off; when it's on, it does nothing.

Features

Aside from Splashtop, the N51V is decked out with Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit, 2GB RAM, 802.11n, Bluetooth and gigabit Ethernet. Our review unit (SKU N51VF-SX032C) came equipped with a Blu-ray drive, an Intel Core 2 Duo T9550 2.66GHz CPU, a 500GB hard drive, an Nvidia's GeForce GT 130M, with a massive 1024MB of video RAM — sure to give most games a kick. All this runs for AU$2699, an excellent price considering what's included.

There are three other SKUs available, all of which swap in a DVD+-RW drive in lieu of the Blu-ray drive. The alternate N51VF includes an Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 2.53GHz processor at AU$2199, while the N51VG model lowers the graphics card to a GeForce GT 105M with 512MB of RAM. Pair this with an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 2.0GHz processor and 320GB hard drive and it will cost you AU$1899, while beefing it up to an Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 2.53GHz and 500GB drive will cost AU$2299.

Ports are the standard fare, with three USB ports, VGA and HDMI outputs, Express Card 54, SD card reader, microphone and headphone jacks. Asus has continued to offer the eSATA port here as separate when competitors have moved to an integrated USB/eSATA port, and as a result this is positioned on the lip of the laptop, next to the microphone/headphone jacks.

What isn't standard fare is that the N51V includes an Air Ioniser — something that apparently "helps to clean the air around the user of allergens and germs, and also promotes air-flow and circulation, providing the user with a cleaner and fresher environment for work and leisurely pursuits", according to Asus. We'd imagine the effect would be rather lost on account of the laptop's size, and have no way of testing its effect, so we'll just smile, nod and assume it's marketing hype until shown otherwise.

Performance

Equipped as it was, we expected the N51V to provide good returns in the performance category, and it didn't disappoint. 3DMark06 returned an impressive 5721, with PCMark05 following up with 6528.

All this power comes at a cost though, and with all power-saving features turned off, volume and screen brightness set to maximum, and a DVD played back, the battery lasted one hour, 38 minutes and 48 seconds, a decent showing for a laptop of this size and power.

The Asus N51V is an excellent mid-sized laptop, and should absolutely be considered if you're looking for that price/performance sweet spot.