Well, what's this? Another 14-inch notebook with discrete Nvidia graphics? TR regulars may recall that we reviewed a very similar system just over a month ago. Try as we might, however, we can't find that product for sale in the Statesat least, not in the configuration we reviewed, which has proper, game-worthy graphics.
Asus' N82Jv, by contrast, is available stateside right now. Amazon sells it for just under $1,000, which is a pretty reasonable asking price for a system with a mobile Core i5 processor, switchable GeForce GT 335M discrete graphics, and a feature we're just now starting to see in notebooks: USB 3.0 connectivity. The 14-inch display size means this system is relatively compact. However, this machine definitely has more in common with entry-level gaming desktops than road warrior-courting ultraportables.
Over the next few pages, we're going to probe and poke at the Asus N82Jv to see just how much it distances itself from more portable alternatives. We're also going to see what kind of battery life we can squeeze out of the system. Our previous 14" contender didn't have switchable graphics, but this one does, courtesy of Nvidia's Optimus technology. At least in theory, that should translate into longer battery run times with tasks that don't stress the GPU.
One last thing before we get our hands dirty: this is the first of a new series of TR laptop reviews built upon an all-new benchmarking suite. We've got new performance tests, new games, and more hoops for systems like this one to jump through, which should all come together to paint a more detailed picture of the N82Jv.
For a more detailed look at Intel's Core 2010 mobile platform and Nvidia's Optimus switchable graphics technology, you'll want to check out our past mobile coverage. The Asus N82Jv doesn't really bring anything new to the table on the platform front, aside perhaps from quicker components. Rather than re-hash what we know about the parts inside, we'll let this handy little chart do the talking:
|Processor||Intel Core i5-450M 2.4GHz|
|Memory||4GB DDR3-1066 (2 DIMMs)|
Nvidia GeForce GT 335M with 1GB DDR3
Intel HD Graphics
|Display||14.0" TFT with WXGA (1366x768) resolution and LED backlight|
|Storage||Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB 2.5" 7,200 RPM hard drive
Toshiba-Samsung TS-L633C dual-layer DVD drive
|Audio||Stereo HD audio via Realtek codec|
|Ports||1 USB 3.0 via NEC controller
1 USB 2.0
1 eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port
1 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet via Atheros AR8131
1 analog headphone output
1 analog microphone input
|Communications||802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi via Atheros AR9285|
|Input devices||Chiclet keyboard
Elan capacitive touchpad
|Dimensions||13.6" x 9.6" x 1.3-1.4" (345 x 243 x 33-35 mm)|
|Weight||5.1 lbs (2.3 kg) with 8-cell battery|
|Battery||6-cell Li-ion 4400 mAh, 47 Wh|
See? We told you; the N82Jv doesn't really break new ground from a platform standpoint. This laptop does, however, have an unusually fast graphics processor for an Optimus system. Nvidia's GeForce GT 335M, which is based on the 40-nm GT215 GPU, packs 72 stream processors alongside a gig of DDR3 RAM, and it pushes bits through a 128-bit memory interface. You might have seen the GT215 in its other role as the GeForce GT 240, which spars with AMD's Radeon HD 5670 in entry-level desktops. (The GT 240 has more SPs and much quicker memory than the GT 335M, though.)
The N82Jv is also blessed with a 2.4GHz Core i5-450M processor, which incorporates both Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading functionality. The i5-450M has a top Turbo frequency of 2.66GHz, although when not particularly busy, you might see it hover well below the 2GHz mark. Two full-featured Westmere cores running at full tilt are something to be reckoned with, though, especially in a mobile system.
Let's not forget the USB 3.0 port, which is backed by an NEC controller. We didn't take the laptop apart to look at the markings on that NEC chip, but we'd wager it's the same UPD720200 silicon we're seeing on virtually all USB 3.0 motherboards lately. It's a little surprising to see Asus go the extra mile to offer USB 3.0 and then turn around and neglect to provide Bluetooth connectivity, however.
Externally, the N82Jv is a somewhat bulky affair, but Asus hasn't forgone refinement. The machine sports a textured metallic lid with an interesting bronze finish, while the palm rest is mercifully matte. Too bad about all those palm rest stickers, though. I gave Toshiba a hard time for littering its Satellite T235D ultraportable with stickers last month, and the N82Jv actually has more.
I've got to give Asus props for making the N82Jv feel solid, sturdy, and not needlessly large. Part of that impression has to do with the metallic lid, no doubt about it, but the build quality seems top notch all around. The thing doesn't look half bad, either, even if it's not my personal cup of tea. (Regulars might know I have a thing for brushed aluminum.)