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Gigabyte G-Max N411 Zenbook review: Gigabyte G-Max N411 Zenbook

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The Good Attractive design; integrated flash-card reader; wide-screen display; excellent battery life.

The Bad Expensive; no third-party graphics options; dicey warranty.

The Bottom Line This thin-and-light is a good performer with excellent battery life, but it doesn't offer enough features to justify its high price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.9 Overall

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Motherboard maker Gigabyte jumps into the notebook business with its stylish G-Max N411 Zenbook. The laptop features solid components and impressive performance, but it costs a steep $1,790.

Measuring 1.1 inches thick, 12.8 inches wide, and 9.6 inches deep and weighing just less than 5 pounds, the N411 is a highly portable machine that falls squarely into the thin-and-light category. Including the light 0.86-pound AC/DC adapter and cord, its entire travel weight remains less than 6 pounds, and clad in matte-white, scratch-resistant plastic, it's certainly eye-catching. Open the laptop, and you'll see some black incorporated into the touch pad, which is very small and slightly recessed, and on the keyboard. The two small mouse buttons are silver, as are the power button and the three small buttons that launch your music player, e-mail client, and Internet browser. Along the top row of the keyboard, function keys double as media and display-brightness controls. The wrist rest area is small and cramped and a bit too close to the touch pad; if you have large hands, your palms may hang off the edge. There's no latch to keep the laptop securely closed, and it does fall open slightly if held upside down.

Our N411 test unit came equipped with Microsoft Windows XP for Home and a basic set of components, including a 1.7GHz Pentium M 735 processor, 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a fixed DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The processor, the memory, and the hard drive can all be upgraded for an additional cost. An integrated Intel graphics chip, which isn't upgradable, handles the notebook's graphics. The N411 has a 14-inch wide-screen LCD, which delivers a clear 1,280x768 native resolution. However, it's not the brightest display we've seen, and its shiny, glossy surface was distractingly reflective.

During our Labs testing, the N411 performed swiftly, turning in a solid BAPCo MobileMark score of 212--better than other systems equipped with the same processor, such as the similarly priced and equipped Sony VAIO VGN-FS570. The laptop's long battery life of 3 hours, 32 minutes was also above average. Although the N411 is one of the better performers in its class, other thin-and-lights, such as the Dell Inspiron 6000, performed slightly slower but cost hundreds less.

The N411 comes well supplied with ports, including a port replicator connector, VGA, modem, Ethernet, Kensington lock, headphone, microphone, FireWire, and two USB ports. You also get a memory-card reader that supports SecureDigital, MultiMediaCard, and Memory Stick formats. An external USB hub is available for an extra $19, but we wish a couple more were built into the laptop. The N411 also comes with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, which has become standard laptop fare, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Gigabyte backs the N411 with an industry-standard one-year warranty on parts and labor with free 24/7 phone support; unfortunately, it's not a toll-free number. For an extra $29, you can buy a warranty that includes depot service. The Gigabyte Web site also provides some limited support with FAQs and downloads.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:

Fujitsu N3510 LifeBook
Windows XP Pro; 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 740; 512MB 400MHz; Mobility Radeon X300 64MB; Fujitsu MHU2100AT 100GB 4,200rpm

Gigabyte G-Max N411 Zenbook
Windows XP Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M 735; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel Extreme Graphics 2 Mobile 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm

Sony VAIO VGN-FS570
Windows XP Home; 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 740; 1GB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS 910GML Express 128MB; Fujitsu MHU2100AT 100GB 4,200rpm

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