Sunday, November 6, 2011

Asus N75SF Notebook Review

Soundstage. Average around laptops often suffer from poor image and sound quality. Asus out of masterly drawings routine and has a median rather expensive, but widely known compelling multi N75SF. Find out where the strengths and weaknesses of the unit is 17 inches in our review.

When only the price taken into account, perhaps N75SF not seem particularly attractive. More than € 1,000 for a multimedia notebook than the average?

Once you begin to study the list of equipment, it soon becomes apparent why Asus is demanding a higher than average amount of money. In addition to a Blu-Ray (CD and DVD burning) and eight GB of RAM, the laptop has a capacity of 17 750-inch HDD, 1500 GB, respectively.

The graphics card is not bad - Nvidia GeForce GT 555m scratches only in the premium segment. Of course, a new model of Intel Sandy Bridge processor is used. He is two (Core i5-2410M/2430M) or quad-core (Core i7-2630QM/2670QM). The screen has a resolution of 1600x900 or 1920x1080 pixels either. We broke the N75SF-V2G-TZ117V of about € 1200 (see chart at right) and testing.

Specifications Asus N75SF-V2G-TZ117V :
  • Processor : Intel Core i7 2630QM 2 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 8192 MB, 2x 4096 MB DDR3-SDRAM (1333 MHz), 2 slots, max. 8 GB
  • Graphics adapter : NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M - 2048 MB, Core: 675 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, shader rate: 1350 MHz, DDR3-VRAM, ForceWare 268.74
  • Display : 17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, Chi Mei N173HGE-L21, Full HD, LED backlight, glossy: yes
  • Harddisk : Seagate ST9750423AS, 750GB 5400rpm 2 HDDs with a total of 1500 GB
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC663 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphone (S/PDIF), microphone, Card Reader: MMC,SD,MS
  • Networking : Atheros AR8151 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (NDIS 6.20) (10MBit), Atheros AR9002WB-1NG Wireless Network Adapter (bgn), 3.0 Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : MATSHITA BD-CMB UJ141AF
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 42 x 420 x 285
  • Weight : 3.67 kg Power Supply: 0.564 kg
  • Battery : 56 Wh Lithium-Ion, 5200 mAh, 6 cells, 0.312 kg
  • Price : 1199 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: HD, power adapter: 120 Watt, subwoofer "SonicMaster", laptop mouse, manual, warranty card, cable fixers, driver & tool DVD, PowerDVD 10, 24 Months Warranty
N75SF seems a bit 'bulky when closed. Form is not able to affect anyone socks off. With the exception of the circle of metal, it seems that we are considered normal. It is also sensitive to the shiny cover, which shows fingerprints very easily.

The notebook looks much better when it opens. Many of the key elements of the silver seems to refresh. We especially liked rubber palm rest. Although the Asus uses mostly plastic, N75SF does not feel cheap in any way.

Except for the reader projects there is little reason to complain about the production, either. The case has a good overall stability. Only the battery area (above) and the openings of the fan (bottom) can be a bit depressed. As in many other devices, the cover is the biggest weak point. The screen can obviously distorted by both hands. Another task: A crack is heard when heavy touchpad is used with an abnormally high pressure.

Asus could also improve the hinges. First of all, do not do their work quietly, lifts and a second base station during opening hours. In addition, the vibration of the surface also causes the screen to swing a lot. N75SF not often transport anyway. Nearly 3.7 pounds is not nice to carry around for a long time.

The connectivity is not exactly as expected. Although there are two points N75SF USB 3.0 ports, does not have an ExpressCard slot, FireWire, or eSATA.

Most of the interfaces is on the right. In addition to these USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks (headphone / microphone), 4in1 card reader, VGA and HDMI and RJ45 Gigabit LAN. The right has taken over and Kensington lock. The left has only two USB 2.0 ports. Both the front and the doors are completely free.

Positioning interface is not as attractive to us. The user workspace on the right will be a limit to the number of external devices are connected.

Wireless communication
There are no surprises in the form of wireless interfaces. The module integrated wireless (Atheros AR9002WB-1NG) are capable of WLAN b / g / n and Bluetooth 3.0.

Manufacturer of new it does in the form of software. The laptop is delayed by dozens of programs (some quite unnecessary) in its mode of delivery. This lengthens the boot time and overall response rate directly after the system startup. The laptop can not really take off after a delete action uncompromising.

Despite this, we would like to share some more. Although the technology "Splendid" ensures a living picture, "Power4Gear Hybrid" is synonymous with a specific energy range of areas. Large: Asus brings N75SF with Cyberlink Power DVD 10 Blu-Ray.

The delivery is impressive. In addition, (120 watts) of power, and (6 cell) battery, Asus has a few cable fixers, the little mouse, manual, warranty card and driver's and DVD Tools. In addition, the buyer finds a subwoofer cylinder, which can be connected to a laptop properly.

Asus offers a warranty of 24 months (12 months on the battery).

Input Devices
The keyboard has a mixed performance. With the exception of the F-row keys are fine companies (17x17 mm). However, the symbols are difficult to read from certain angles, due to poor signage. The combination of controls on the media and placed unfavorable fluid (left side of the main field) has often hit the wrong key at first.

In addition, pressure, and stroke could be more precisely defined. The layout is basically a condition in which some people may be annoyed by the fact that the "INS" and "DELETE" button on the same track. Otherwise, we will also talk about the cheap-sounding noise type. Unfortunately, there is no light installed.

The touchpad can score better. On the pro side, there are not only generous size (108x60 mm), but the rubber surface to ensure a comfortable capacity acceptable slip. The touchpad can earn more bonus points with gestures support, which can be implemented by two or three fingers, as usual. It greatly facilitates the work. Of course, there is a horizontal scroll bar and vertical on the edge.

In essence, the trackpad works quite reliably. Its accuracy is average. Large: Asus has included the disable option so that players do not need to input accidental curse during games. At the same time, we must mention the possibility of a negative approach unsatisfactory. The touchpad does not include or be separated by the color of the palm rest.

Despite the GeForce GT 555m is designed for previous resolutions of the HD + (1600x900), the manufacturer installs a full HD in the model in question. Thanks to 1920x1080 pixels, the image is very sharp and detailed.

Two contiguous open windows are not a problem, unlike the lower resolutions, where the user is always busy with displacement. Meeting the demand for multimedia, Asus has opted for a ratio of 16:9. LED backlighting has become a standard in the interim.

We were pleasantly surprised at the rate specified. Fortunately not happy with it (if not common to the industry) Asus mill along the screen, but pampers the user with a high-end agent. The first thing that will probably hit the purchaser is a good light: An average of 289 cd/m2 is more than decent. It is even recommended to reduce the brightness for office work and internet.

The low value also deserves praise black (0.32 cd/m2). Unlike most other devices, the dark areas have a heavy cast iron. The contrast is too much competition in its place. 919:1 is an excellent rate (a laptop on average reached only 200:1).

Bright colors make a good impression. Games and movies have been made correctly. However, the screen quality is not enough for professional users. As shown in the following figures, the display has already been problems with the sRGB color space (on average, users can ignore this fact).

Despite the reflecting surface, the 17-inch laptop can also sometimes be used outside - thanks to its high brightness. However, outdoor use is not much fun after all, because the user is confronted with the thoughts of a typical anti-glare screen. A matte surface would have been at the expense of color saturation, but would have been much easier on the eyes. In general, the N75SF is mainly suitable for indoor use.

Viewing angles as the display properties. The larger the deviation is necessary to cause a deviation of the picture, especially horizontally. So, the notebook is also suitable for use on television a number of people.

Processor: Intel Core i7-2630QM
In order to adequately equip the user for the future, Asus installed a quad core processor in most N75SF models. The Core i7-2630QM, immensely popular among manufacturers, is based on Intel sandy bridge existing offering high performance and good performance. In addition to the 995 million transistors, the processor manufactured in 32 nm process contains a six-MB L3 cache (Core i5 series: three MB).

The clock of 2.0 GHz base no longer causes the storms of enthusiasm. With Turbo Boost function, however, the processor can be automatically overclocked up to 2.9 GHz when needed. Potential buyers to look more closely can be around to find a model with the new Core i7-2670QM, which can clock higher than 200 MHz, so from 2.2 to 3.1 GHz (about 7% faster).

But it does not matter if 2630QM or 2670QM: Both are quad core can handle eight threads at the same time, because the simulation of four virtual cores (Hyper Threading Technology). In addition, all Sandy Bridge processors are built in graphics chip, the HD 3000 graphics, in common. It allows laptop manufacturers to implement the switch graphic.

CPU performance
Core I7 2630QM is part of a performance level better than its dual-core Sandy Bridge CPU benchmark family. Core i5 2410M, often installed in notebooks, it was a bit 'lost in Cinebench Rendering Single-Core 64-bit (downloaded one of the core) (this HP Pavilion dv7-6101eg for example). I7 2630QM core is lead by almost 2%, and 4634-4551 points. The gap is growing massively multi-core rendering (download all households): 16836-9660 points in less than 74%.

Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GT 555
DirectX 11 compatible video card with the Nvidia model. GeForce 555m is based on Fermi architecture ranged from very successful members of the family, the GeForce GT 555m (midrange) and the GTX 560M (for the high end) into the end zone.

1170000000 transistors, 144 unified shaders, 2048 MB DDR3 video memory and clock frequencies of 675, 900 and 1350 MHz (core / VRAM / shaders) to ensure that the latest games can usually play at high details. If the game does not work properly, is in part due to the memory bus is only 128 bits. Asus has had a better version of the 192-bit interface, such as Dell, for example (see the XPS 17 or the Alienware M14x).

Yet, the benefits are too good multimedia notebook average. Nvidia also boasts of features. PhysX technology is particularly attractive to players. As the name suggests, deals with the calculation of physical effects (it toll on the performance of supported games).

Nvidia Optimus
As more portable media, graphics N75SF also change automatically. NVIDIA Optimus is active or Intel GPU GeForce calculations according to the profile of current needs. Thus, the energy is actually stored on less demanding tasks, such as Office or Internet, which in turn is obviously beneficial to the life of the battery. Optimus works very reliable, manual intervention is not necessary. Nvidia control panel provides options for adjusting the response and multiple if necessary.

GPU performance
GeForce GT 555m had to fight against a direct competitor to AMD's Radeon HD 6770M (HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg) in the benchmark graphics. As expected, takes command of the Nvidia GPU with DirectX 11 based on the Unigine Heaven 2.1 benchmark.

Benefit of the whole adds up to 11% from 18.7 to 16.9 fps (1280x1024, high, normal tessellation). The situation is completely different in a very demanding 3DMark 11. While the Radeon HD 6770M GPU score reaches 1379 points in the test, the GeForce GT 555m to settle for a score less than 9% of 1258 points (1280x720, the performance preset).

HDD performance
Two 750 GB Samsung HDD (no RAID), called ST9750423AS drives and 5400 rpm, are under the hood. The system will check your hard drive and tools CrystalDiskMark HDTune. Sequential read and write has 82 to 87 MB / s is good but not extraordinary. Access to a speed of 17.8 ms, also proves to be average.

Strange: Same as his younger brother, the N55SF, holes in the transfer speed between heavily in (see screenshot above HDTune). Since both drives can be easily exchanged, there is nothing standing in the way of modernizing them (eg with a solid state drive).

System performance
N75SF overall performance is in the middle. PCMark Vantage 7339 points are on an equal footing with other devices with comparable speed and, like the Acer Aspire X6815 Medion 7750G Erazo o. Asus should have given a drive unit 17-inch solid state for a significantly higher score.

Power game
We took a closer look at gaming performance with three existing tracks.

F1 2011
Codemaster Formula 1 driver does not seem smooth with great detail. The racing game stutters with 20 frames per second when 1920x1080 pixels, four times the antialiasing and "Ultra" presets (DX11) are used. By contrast, 1366x768 pixels, high detail and twice the antialiasing has worked with 53 fps. We recommend using a more detailed level, four times the antialiasing and DirectX 9 in the native resolution.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
The GeForce GT 555m also has difficulty playing with the mixture of the person / star, Deus Ex 3. A combination of high level of detail (DX11), MLAA, 16x AF 1920x1080 pixels and 19 fps lead to modest. To really enjoy the dark world of science fiction, it is necessary to reduce the resolution, the level of detail and / or quality improvements. For example, we ended up with 51 fps at 1366x768 pixels, medium details (DirectX9) in AA 4x and AF.

Fifa 12
A successful simulation of football, FIFA 12, there are no problems with GeForce GT 555m. Up to 1920x1080 pixels, high-detail, and four-time anti-aliasing do not carry a portable media player out of phase: 96.8 fps speaks for itself. With this result, N75SF between mid-range devices like the Acer Aspire 3830TG (GT 540M: 67 frames per second) and high-end machines, like Medion Erazer X6817 (GTX 560M: 143.7 fps).

Power Game Verdict
As our benchmarks show, the GeForce GT 555m often begin to stutter and Full HD resolution. Most of the details are not possible in graphic-intensive songs. The performance is adequate only for the level of average quality, in some cases. Instead, less demanding games like FIFA 12, can occur without a hitch with anti-aliasing.

Given the graphical output, we would consider to be perfect 1600x900 pixels. If the players can live with the reduction of resolution and detail where necessary, they will get a playmate correct anyway. Meanwhile, fans of AMD to a unit with its straight, GeForce 6750M, 6770M and 6850M.

System Noise
We were pleasantly surprised by the noise. The case fan is not necessarily quieter than other laptops in slow motion, but the 17-inch laptop is relatively quiet under load. While many rivals multimedia exceed 40 dB (A) of the brand in play mode, this counter shows only 34.2 dB (A) for N75SF (distance: 15 cm). The laptop was not unpleasantly noisy, even at full load. 37.4 dB (A) is absolutely unacceptable. Hard drives are never intrusive whatsoever. Thus: Users sensitive to noise can definitely take N75SF. But what about heat?

There is almost nothing to criticize on the basis of temperatures. All surfaces of the matter is entirely within an acceptable range in undemanding tasks (active GPU Intel): An average of 25 ° C in the top and bottom is a great rate. The action gets hot during the game, but not exceeding 40 ° C (keyboard area) is still acceptable. Good: The wrist support does not exceed 30 ° C.

Components naturally reach much higher temperatures. The graphics card and processor set to an acceptable level of 80 ° C in the stress test (Furmark and Prime95). It would be nice if Intel Core i7-2630QM no throttle at 800 MHz over the entire load. We also feel that the processor strangled in practice test kit because of the temporary stuttering. However, the model frame of reference and the results did not support this assumption. If the gas cell during the game, the tool "Throttlestop" might help.

Asus announces the N75SF with a "unique sound" on its website. For this claim can not be classified as "marketing gibberish usual", the producer has chosen to work with the audio specialists Bang & Olufsen. The laptop comes with a subwoofer, even small ("SonicMaster", weighs about 150 grams) to make the perfect listening experience.

The result is a truly impressive standard laptop. And 'possible to believe that an external audio system is turned on, when you listen more closely. The sound is all natural, accurate and complete. And thanks to the subwoofer, you hear a good bass. However, the speakers are not exactly perfect.

Thus, the speakers usually intense fighting during the load, and it shows, more or less depending on the situation. We believe that the maximum volume could be slightly higher. But all in all, very few devices can be the sound quality of a candle N75SF (for example, the Dell XPS 17).

Battery Life
When Intel Graphics HD 3000 is in standby mode, power consumption remains within manageable limits: According to our metrics, 17-inch laptop uses only 20 watts. On the other hand, takes between 87 and 122 N75SF watts of plug load power - the interest rate on accepted performance available. 18-inch Acer Aspire 8951G (including the Core i7 and GeForce GT 2630QM 555m) consumed approximately the same test.

All expectations in the long battery life due to Optimus technology can be lost. Asus only has a 6 cell battery in the box. Is rather low, with 56 Wh (5200 mAh). The laptop just stops after an hour when the minimum energy saving options and maximum brightness are used during charging.

The run-time without significantly improving the Nvidia GPU. Although our test DVD took almost two hours, the laptop lasted about 2.5 hours wireless Internet surfing (maximum brightness and the average energy saving settings). The battery life could really impressed us standby with a minimum brightness and maximum energy saving options. Test drive the team published a good environment BatteryEater 4.5 hours.

Despite the scratches N75SF only for a very good note, Asus has developed a good multimedia notebook. The great sound system is not the only unique selling point, but also high-end display. All types of media to freely develop their atmosphere - that's what we imagine a desktop replacement to be equal.

Asus has done all things well, and components. Intel Quad-core is a good amount of reserves and a lot of data can be stored on the hard drive (2x 750 GB!).

Nvidia GeForce GT 555m is also a good choice, but the compromises often have to make some graphical alternatives to the native resolution HD. At the same time, entertainment, fans were involved in the Blu-Ray drive. Large touch-pad, a generous amount of accessories (mouse and a subwoofer) and a low temperature, respectively, the noise of development are also strengths.

However, several points below counteract a better assessment. In addition to the relatively high weight and short battery life, N75SF suffers from a moderate range of interfaces. Many users expect an ExpressCard slot, a FireWire port and an eSATA port for € 1000. Not to mention the poorly planned disposal of existing interfaces.

The keyboard has also been in second grade, when a bad keyboard lettering and adversely positioned in the media bar, in particular bothered us. In addition, there is a stain-sensitive screen cover, and absolutely filled with the installation of Windows.

However, users who want a platform of diverse entertainment, with good picture and sound quality in Asus N75SF.

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