Saturday, June 18, 2011


The new ASUS UL50Vf is an update to the popular 15-inch UL50Vt and offers the all-new Nvidia Optimus switchable graphics. Why are we reviewing this modest update? Because Optimus is honestly the first switchable graphics solution that works like it should.

Our ASUS UL50Vf has the following specifications:

* 15-inch 720p (1366x768) display with LED backlighting
* Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
* Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 Ultra Low Voltage processor (1.3GHz/3MB L2/800MHz FSB) overclocked to 1.73GHz/1066MHz FSB
* Switchable graphics: Nvidia GeForce G210M w/ 512MB GDDR3 dedicated and Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated with Nvidia Optimus
* 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM
* 320GB 5400RPM hard drive
* 802.11n wireless
* DVD Super Multi drive
* Two-year warranty w/ one year accidental damage coverage
* 8-cell Li-ion battery 84Wh (5800mAh)
* Weight: 5.3 lbs
* Dimensions: 15.4” x 10.4” x 1.1”
* MSRP: $849.99

Build and Design
The ASUS UL50Vf features a design that is identical UL50Vt and similar to the 14-inch UL80Vt. This is a classic clamshell design with smooth lines and rounded edges. The drop point hinges give the notebook an almost aerodynamic look and the plastic construction keeps this 15-inch notebook reasonably light weight. A height of only 1.1 inches it is certainly a thin machine, and the inward chiseled sides make it look even thinner. The UL50Vf, like the rest of the UL series, has an all-plastic construction with the exception of the aluminum-backed lid. All visible plastic surfaces are glossy which means dust and fingerprints show up easily. If you like to keep your notebook looking new you'll need to keep a microfiber cloth handy for constant cleaning.

The brushed aluminum lid is the most classy design element on this notebook and gives this otherwise all-plastic notebook a touch of durability. Once open, the island-style (Chiclet-style) keyboard helps to make this visually boring notebook a little more appealing. The palmrests are large enough to give you a comfortable resting place while typing and the flush-mount touchpad is likewise nice and large.

Unfortunately, those glossy plastics that give the UL50Vf a modern look and keep weight low also make the notebook chassis too weak and flexible. We were able to visibly twist the notebook (both open and closed) with modest pressure, meaning this notebook might be vulnerable to damage inside a backpack with heavy books. This high amount of flex indicates that the notebook's internal frame is not strong enough to overcome the weakness in the external plastics.

In addition, the plastic screen bezel below the screen is flimsy enough that we can pull it away from the screen with little effort. In short, while the plastics themselves offer reasonable build quality, the lack of a strong internal frame and poor fit of some plastics make the UL50Vf feel less durable than most 15-inch notebooks.

The bottom of the UL50Vf offers users the ability to quickly access the RAM and hard drive bay for easy upgrades at home. We like the fact that ASUS uses a single access panel so owners don't have to remove multiple covers from the bottom of the notebook if they want to upgrade the RAM and hard drive at the same time. However, the use of four screws seems like overkill and makes upgrades a little more time consuming than needed.
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