If you're on the fence deciding between buying a desktop gaming PC and monitor or going with a less powerful, but more mobile laptop, let us introduce you to the Asus W90Vp-X1. It isn't much to look at as gaming notebooks go; however, it has everything we expect and more in the features department, including dual ATI video cards, and its processor can go from fast to faster in an instant.
Though we certainly wouldn't want to travel with this massive thing (or even move it from room to room much), it is a mobile gaming system that competes with desktop performance. At $2,199, it's a hefty investment, and for laptop gaming on a budget, we still like Gateway's FX series, including the $1,449 FX P-7805u.
|Price as reviewed||$2,199|
|Processor||2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600|
|Memory||6GB, 800MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 7,200rpm|
|Chipset||Intel X38 Express|
|Graphics||512MB ATI HD4870 (x2)|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions||17.4 inches wide by 12.9 inches deep|
|Height||2.5 inches high|
|Screen size (diagonal)||18.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||13.2/16 pounds|
While we're not much on over-the-top gaming notebook designs, the W90Vp-X1 borders on boring and doesn't hint at all at the gaming prowess of its components. The lid is just blue brushed metal, while the inside is a mix of black brushed metal and glossy black plastic.
The matte-black keyboard is also generic and looks and feels small in comparison to the rest of the system, though there is still a full number pad. The flashiest bits are the two touch-sensitive control panels--one above the keyboard, one to the left.
The left-side controls are for media playback, volume, and launching Asus' applications for music and DVD playback. The other has controls for adjusting screen brightness, muting audio, switching off the touch pad, using the 2-megapixel autofocusing Webcam atop the LCD, and changing preset performance modes: Standard, Power Save, and Overclock. A touch of the icon is all it takes to drive the Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 from its factory 2.8GHz speed up to an overclocked 3.28GHz.
Other feature niceties include a button for a launching quick-boot Linux environment called Express Gate, for accessing music, photos, the Internet, IM, and e-mail, without entering Windows; room for an additional hard drive; and an impressive-sounding 5.1 speaker system from Altec Lansing that's Dolby certified, for what it's worth.
The massive 18.4-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution, which is perfect for 1080p HD content, and what we'd expect for a notebook of this caliber. Games and movies look incredible on it and it gets plenty bright for comfortable use regardless of what's onscreen.
|Asus W90Vp-X1||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||5.1 speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, eSATA, multiformat card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner [high-end: Blu-Ray]|
As with most laptops this size, there are plenty of ports and connection options, and we can't find much fault with its assortment. We also appreciate Asus sticking the two video outputs, the power jack for the massive power supply, and the modem and Ethernet jacks on the back of the laptop so there are fewer cables coming from the sides--a design well-suited for a desk-bound system.
Though the W90Vp-X1 is a fixed, retail configuration sold through NewEgg.com, another version, the W90Vp-A1, is more widely available and features a 2GHz Intel Quad Core Q9000 processor, a secondary 320GB hard drive, and a Blu-ray combo drive.
Using a desktop motherboard, a 7,200rpm hard drive, and 6GB of memory paid off for Asus: the W90Vp-X1 outpaced all other notebooks in our processor-intensive performance tests when running in overclocked mode. However, this notebook is built for gaming and it's definitely up for the challenge. In Unreal Tournament 3, we got 143.3 frames per second from the Asus W90Vp-X1 at 1,280x800 in Standard mode; setting it to Overclock mode pushed it to 161.2 frames per second. In comparison, the Gateway P-7808u--our former laptop frame-rate leader--gave us 124.8fps in the same test.
The W90Vp-X1 ran for 1 hour and 18 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included 12-cell battery. We don't expect much battery life from a system this size--especially when it's using desktop components. Plus, our video playback battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use if you ever unplug it (which we find unlikely).