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ASUS U6S Ultraportable Notebook
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Date: Feb 13, 2008
Section:Mobile
Author: Michael Lin
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Introduction & Specifications

If you're the type who wants to make a statement with your notebook, names like Apple, VAIO, and Alienware may come to mind. But what about ASUS? While you may know them best for their motherboards and video cards, ASUS is a seasoned veteran when it comes to manufacturing notebooks, and they definitely make more than just EeePCs.

Besides being a notebook contract manufacturer for the likes of Dell, Sony, Samsung and Apple, ASUS also has their own lineup of ASUS branded notebooks, and over the years they have produced some of the most attractive notebooks you may never have heard of. If you haven't flipped beyond the EeePC section of ASUS' notebook catalog, you may be surprised by the massive, burgeoning selection of stylish notebooks they offer.


Thanks to the EeePC's tremendous success which brought with it global mainstream and retail exposure, ASUS' other notebooks are ready to burst onto the scene. With well over a dozen different notebook lines, ASUS has something for almost everyone, and one area where ASUS is especially adept is the design of stylish fashion-conscious notebooks.

While ASUS has several very attractive notebook series, the star of the show is definitely the U-series. Each model in the series offers a seductive blend of portability, features and style. The modern U-series currently consists of three models with a fourth one on the way. While all U-series notebooks share the same sense of style and portability, they differ slightly on emphasis. Today we'll be looking at the most well-rounded of the bunch, the 12.1" ASUS U6.




ASUS U6S Ultraportable Notebook
System Specifications - As Reviewed
Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.2GHz,4M L2 Cache,800MHz FSB)

Operating System
Genuine Windows Vista Business

Memory
2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz - two 1GB modules

Screen
12.1" LED backlight WXGA (1280x800) with ColorShine,Crystal-Shine (High brightness),Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology

Graphics Card
128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M G

Communications
Gigabit LAN Controller
Integrated 802.11a/b/g/n
Built-in Bluetooth™ V2.0+EDR
3G/3.5G Antenna support
HSPDA adapter (optional)
Integrated MDC Fax Modem

Camera
Integrated 0.3 MP camera

Audio

Built-in Azalia compliant audio chip, with 3D effect & full duplex
Built-in speaker and microphone


Hard Drive
160GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive

Optical Drive
Ultra Slim DVD Super Multi Double Layer

Power
6-cell 4800 mAh Li-Ion Battery
90 Watt AC Adapter

Color Option
Mocha Brown

Weight & Dimensions
Width: 11.7" (300 mm)
Depth: 8.6" (220 mm)
Height: 0.9"-1.2" (25.3 mm - 31.6 mm)
Weight: 3.46 lbs (1.57 kg) - includes 3-cell battery

External Ports
4 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin
1 x HDMI Port
1 x RJ11 Modem port
1 x RJ45 Ethernet (
10/100/1000
) port
1 x 8-in-1 card reader
1 x ExpressCard 54mm slot
1 x headphone port (S/PDIF)
1 x stereo line-in (microphone) port


Included Accessories and Extras
S-Video to Component Adapter
Phone/modem cable
LCD Cleaning Cloth
Velcro Cable Tie
Recovery DVD
NERO Express V 7.0
Norton™ Internet Security 2007
FREE ASUS Brand Suede Notebook Sleeve
FREE ASUS Brand Messenger Bag
FREE ASUS Branded Logitech V270 Bluetooth Mouse

Warranty And Support
2-year limited global hardware warranty
1-year battery pack warranty
On-line problem resolution through web interface (BIOS, Driver update)
OS (Microsoft Windows Vista) install/uninstall consultation
Bundled software install/uninstall consultation
ASUS software supporting



Price: $1,655.00 USD (as configured here)






 



The ASUS U6 is best described as a full-featured ultraportable laptop. Except for the relatively small 12.1" LED backlit screen, the U6 offers all the same features of a standard full-size notebook in a compact ultraportable body. Built on Intel's fourth-generation Centrino platform, also known as Santa Rosa, the U6 manages to cram the same level of performance as a full-sized notebook into a small 3.5lb package. When fully-equipped with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo T7700 processor, 4GB of RAM, 160GB hybrid hard drive, 128MB GeForce 8400M G, HSPDA and integrated DVD burner, it is not hard to see why this is a very attractive little machine.

The ASUS U6 comes in two flavors, the U6E and the U6S. The U6E comes with a glossy Pearl White paint job and uses integrated Intel graphics while the U6S sports a 128MB GeForce 8400M G and comes in Mocha Brown. Besides that, the two are identical. For this review, we will be looking at the U6S.
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Presentation, Package & Warranty

Just like their popular motherboards, the ASUS U6 comes in a well protected, well packaged box with a striking design and built-in carrying handle.
While ASUS as a notebook manufacturer may be new to many people, it isn't new to ASUS and they know how to put on quite the show when it comes to presentation and packaging.  It's clear they have a pretty good idea of how this game is played.

Inside the box, you'll find your brand new notebook, AC power adapter, standard selection of driver and trailware CD/DVDs as well as the requisite reading materials; like the manual and quick-setup guide. You also get a length of modem cable, S-video adapter, a Velcro cable tie and a micro-fiber cleaning cloth to keep your notebook's screen and shiny exterior clear of fingerprints. This is where most notebook packages end.
However, like other ASUS notebooks and reminiscent of their premium motherboards, the U6 comes with an impressive package that is over and above what most manufacturers include. In addition to the previously mentioned items, you also get an ASUS branded notebook bag and notebook sleeve of the appropriate size as well as a wireless optical mouse.
 


     

The notebook bag is made for ASUS by Targus and is quite sturdy with good padding. Inside is a padded notebook compartment and dividers for holding paper. There is also an extra zippered pocket for accessories on the front of the bag with a metal ASUS badge on the top right corner. The bag has two sown-on handles and comes with a sturdy removable carrying strap. Overall a fairly unremarkable and perfectly functional notebook bag that will keep your U6 safe while on the go. The same notebook bag is also bundled with several other ultraportable ASUS notebooks such as those in the W7 series.

Instead of the standard neoprene notebook sleeve included with the W7 though, the U6 comes with an ASUS branded, suede notebook sleeve with leather accents. Although it isn't padded, the material is fairly thick and the sleeve is rigid enough to hold its own shape. Two relatively strong embedded magnets hold the flap closed. While the sleeve is of very high quality and looks great, we found that it is a snug fit on the U6. We were able to slip it inside but not without some tugging and pulling. Luckily there is plenty of room vertically and it was not necessary to remove the extended 6-cell battery. There are two elastic bands attached to the inside of the sleeve which are supposed to slip over each edge of the notebook to hold it in place. However, the sleeve fits so snuggly the bands are unnecessary which is lucky because it is nearly impossible to reach the bands and pull them over the corners when the laptop is inside.

The included wireless mouse is a rebranded Logitech V270. The V270 is a Bluetooth mouse, which compliments the ASUS U6 nicely since a Bluetooth 2.0 module is standard equipment. It has a classic ambidextrous form factor and it is powered by two AA batteries (included) with an estimated battery life of 3 months. The scroll-wheel doubles as a button but does not have side-scroll functionality. A low-power indicator LED is located on the rear of the mouse and a on/off switch can be found on the bottom. The V270 features a 1000 DPI optical sensor and a power-saver feature which automatically puts the mouse in a low-power suspend mode after several minutes of inactivity. The mouse "wakes up" and returns to full-power mode nearly instantly when activity is detected. The Logitech V270 has been in production for several years, is well reviewed and reportedly very reliable; overall a welcome addition to the package.



Rebranded Logitech V270 (Included)

Retail Logitech V270 (Silver version)

Overall, this is a very complete package. With your ASUS notebook purchase, you also get all of the key accessories you will need to take care of and live with your new ASUS notebook. The quality and completeness of the package reminds us of the premium packages included with Dell XPS machines, except nearly all ASUS notebooks have a similar package. Although the U6's suede notebook sleeve and Logitech Bluetooth mouse are decidedly premium, even for ASUS.



 ASUS U6 Warranty Coverage
 Some Of The Best Coverage In The Industry

All ASUS notebooks purchased in the US and Canada are covered by their extensive ASUS 360 warranty package. Every ASUS notebook receives a two year global warranty which entitles you to free service at any ASUS service center, in person or via shipping. The battery, AC adapter and any ASUS branded accessory included with the notebook also receive one year of warranty coverage. The ASUS 360 package also includes a 30-day zero bright-dot guarantee which means if even a single bright-dot (stuck on pixel) is found within 30 days of purchase, ASUS will replace the entire screen free of charge. All warranty service includes free overnight express shipping, both ways. Additional details and instructions on how to make a RMA claim can be found on the ASUS 360 promotional page.

ASUS recently upgraded their ASUS 360 program on Sept. 10, 2007. Register selected ASUS notebooks (U6 series included) within 60 days of original purchase to receive one year of premium Accidental Damage Warranty (ADW) for free. This is an extremely comprehensive offer. If your registered ASUS notebook becomes damaged due to a power surge, fire, drop or spill, ASUS will take care of it. You can either register online or using the notebook warranty registration card included with all eligible ASUS notebooks.


Register your ASUS U6 to receive one year of Accidental Damage Warranty

There are some caveats to ADW coverage, however. It is not transferable. You will be required to pay for shipping to the repair facility although return shipping is free. ADW does not cover scratches and dents, incorrect or inadequate customer installation, it being lost or stolen, intentional damage, recovery or transfer of data stored on the notebook, or damages caused by acts of God or nature. ADW also doesn't apply to the battery or accessories.

Overall, we believe this is possibly the best notebook warranty coverage offered by any manufacturer in the industry. It is hard to argue with two years of standard warranty coverage complete with a year of accidental warranty coverage. Free shipping both ways and the 30-day zero bright-dot policy is just icing on the cake.

WARNING: We have learned that there is an exception to both ASUS 360 and ADW coverage. Notebooks purchased at Bestbuy, Bestbuy Canada and The Source (Canadian branch of Circuit City) are NOT eligible for ASUS 360 or ADW coverage. You'll be forced to rely on in-house coverage provided by the reseller (possibly at additional cost).

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Design & Build Quality

In terms of appearance, all members of the ASUS U-series share common design queues. The U6S is certainly no exception and it sports the same wedge-like shape, chrome accents, leather bound palm rests and
plain lid, adorned only by a small ASUS logo. The U6S' design, like the rest of the U-series, speaks of class and sophistication. You won't find any soft, rounded plastic here.





The U6 is a very sturdy and well constructed notebook. The chassis is made entirely of light weight magnesium metal. This makes it feel very solid while it is being carried and handled. The underside of the U6S is painted a plain, flat black and while it appears to be plastic, the entire underside of the notebook, including all removable panels, are made of metal. Seams in areas where different parts and materials join are all very tight, which attributes to the U6's high quality appearance.


The notebook is made from high quality materials and it doesn't appear or feel cheap in any way. This is especially true of the lid's hinges, which are some of the best we have ever encountered. The hinges are extremely smooth throughout their entire range of motion, with an almost liquid-like feel to the movement. The lid does not have a clasp or magnets to keep it closed, but the hinges manage to do a good job on their own.

The notebook lid is made of plastic and it is quite thin, as a result there is a significant amount of flex to it. This would normally be of great concern since a standard LCD is backlit by one or more cold cathode tubes which can break if the screen is bent too much. However this isn't much of an issue for the U6 since they are all equipped with LED backlit screens. While it is still possible to damage a LED backlit screen by bending it, they are significantly more robust than standard cold cathode backlit screens since there are no tubes to break. We don't believe there is enough flex in the U6's lid to damage the screen.
 


     

     


By far the most striking and unique feature of the ASUS U-series is the usage of genuine leather. ASUS first experimented with combing notebooks and leather with the ASUS S6F, a 11.1" ultraportable released in 2006. Since then, several ASUS notebook models have appeared that feature varying amounts of leather.
All U-series notebooks come with leather bound palm rests.

We liked the use of leather and found it to be quite appealing.
The leather used on the U6 has been specially treated to help prevent wear and tear. The leather is rather hard and not padded so you don't need to worry about it feeling squishy. The treated leather also appears to be quite tough and difficult to scratch. It isn't wholly different from a textured plastic palm rest and other than its looks, you're unlikely to feel the difference while using it. If you opt for the 3-cell battery, which sits flush with the notebook, you'll be treated to even more leather, as the 3-cell has a leather back. However, the 6-cell and 9-cell batteries are of the plain plastic variety.

As we mentioned on the previous page, the U6 comes in two flavors, each with its own unique paint scheme. While the U6S comes in Mocha Brown and has brown leather palm rests, the U6E has a Pearl White paint scheme and white leather palm rests. Both notebooks look quite striking, however we believe the U6S got the better end of the deal. While the Pearl White paint job is simply your standard high gloss affair, the Mocha Brown paint used on the U6S is very special.

The paint job used on the lid of the U6S is very deep with a brilliant sheen. You'll notice that in most of our photos, the U6S appears to be glossy black and more like coffee than mocha, contrary to what the name would suggest. The paint job on the U6S actually looks different depending on the angle and distance you are viewing it from, as well as the quality and type of lighting available. In some instances the U6S will appear to be black, like in our photos. In other instances, the notebook will clearly be dark brown. In settings with very harsh, bright light such as outside in the sun, the U6S may actually appear purple with shimmering blue fibers. We're not kidding. We tried to capture this effect in one of our photos using a bright flash but it is much more impressive in person, and you'll just have to take our word for it.

Luckily, the high gloss coating seems to be relatively resistant to finger print attack and we rarely had to use the included cleaning cloth. According to ASUS, the Mocha Brown paint job is made from a 13-step process and they call the resulting effect, Voile. We just call it awesome.


     

     


The ASUS U6 features a cylindrical hinge design that looks like an updated version of the design used by older ASUS models like the W3J. This design is quite characteristic of smaller ASUS notebooks and it is quite common on Sony models as well. The U6's status and activity indicator LEDs are located along the cylinder, as well as three buttons and the built-in microphone. One of the two buttons on the right launches the webcam program while the second button toggles between power conservation modes via ASUS' proprietary Turbo Gear utility. The power button is located on the far right.

As previously mentioned, the ASUS U6 is a well connected notebook. Ports are spread out on all sides of the U6 except for the front. Starting on the right side, you'll find a USB port, microphone jack and a headphone jack that also offers optical S/PDIF output. Also found on the right side of the notebook is an 8-in-1 memory card reader and the optical drive. Due to the unique constraints of the ultraportable format, many currently available ultraportable notebooks sacrifice the optical drive to save space and weight. We're glad the U6 manages to hold on to its optical drive while still maintaining such a small profile.


Located on the rear of the notebook is the mini D-sub port, RJ45 network jack and RJ11 modem jack. The battery also plugs into the rear of the notebook. Our review sample came with the 6-cell battery which protrudes from the rear of the notebook by over half an inch. The optional 9-cell battery is even larger and more bulky, while the standard 3-cell battery sits perfectly flush with the notebook. We found that the battery sits very tightly when attached. Unlike some other laptops with similar battery configurations, the battery does not jiggle or feel loose while it is attached.

The left side of the notebook has three USB ports, an HDMI port, AC adapter connector, ExpressCard slot and a wireless switch which disables the internal wireless card to save battery life. The notebook's only cooling vent is also found on the left side. The speaker is located on the front of the notebook, which is devoid of any ports.

Overall, we are very impressed by the number and variety of ports ASUS has managed to cram into the U6's tiny frame, absolutely no space was wasted. The only thing it seems to be missing is a Firewire port. Just like the rest of its specifications, the U6 offers full-sized notebook connectivity in an ultraportable form factor which is quite rare.
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Usage Experience

After careful examination, we have found the ASUS U6S to be a well constructed notebook made of quality materials. Now that we've examined the U6S, let's explore what it is like to actually use one.


ASUS U6S Usage Experience
Power & Style On The Go

For a full week, we incorporated the ASUS U6S into our daily routine, substituting it for our usual laptop of choice. We lugged the U6S with us around town on a daily basis and attempted to get into as many usage scenarios as we could think of. From reading HotHardware while sipping lattés and typing up this article to giving Powerpoint presentations and watching movies on the subway, we tried it all and feel we're ready to report our findings.
 




Throughout our week of testing, we brought the U6S around with us everywhere we went and we found that it was quite the attention magnet. People would walk by and openly stare or even pause momentarily to ogle. On more than one occasion we were asked the question "in that real leather?" from a passerby.

The U6S is a very sturdy notebook despite its diminutive size and thin profile. The magnesium chassis and metal underbelly kept the unit rigid when being picked up from one corner and there was never any flex. While we could carry the unit by the monitor and it didn't feel like the unit would come apart, the flex in the laptop lid did unnerve us. The U6S probably isn't as durable as a larger full-size notebook but the U6S never felt flimsy and we rarely worried about damage from rough handling.
While we made no attempt to overtly abuse our review unit to test its mettle, we are fairly confident the U6S can survive the bumps and bruises of daily on-the-go use.

Located above the LCD monitor is an integrated 0.3 megapixel camera. The unit is fixed and cannot rotate. Picture quality was unimpressive although it should be sufficient for webcam tasks. An integrated microphone is located next to the power button and did a good job of picking up our voice through moderate background noise, although it still can't beat a headset.

The overall impression that we were left with after a week of daily usage is that the ASUS U6S is a well mannered and reliable machine. We never had trouble with it overheating, or getting too loud even when it was rested on less than ideal surfaces like laps and sofas.


Upgradeability


All of the user serviceable components were covered by two metal panels. The hard drive bay has its own panel while the rest of the components were covered by a second panel. The hard drive and RAM were easy to access and in plain view once the panels were removed. Note that nothing else is user serviceable and 'warranty void if removed' stickers prevent further tampering.


     


Worthy of note is that the NVIDIA GeForce 8400M G is integrated into the motherboard, next to the chipset. The processor, chipset and video card are all in a row and connected to the system's single heatpipe. The heatpipe is connected to a blower-style fan, which is the only fan in the system.



Keyboard & Touchpad

We were quite surprised by the quality of the U6S' keyboard. The keys gave great tactile feedback and did not suffer from the 'squishyness' that afflicts many smaller laptop keyboards. The keys are of sufficient size and we liked their positioning. We also liked that all of the primary keys remain the standard size, with the exception of the Enter and left Shift keys which are a little shorter than usual. The Escape and F-keys are half-height, but this is fairly common for notebook keyboards. We noticed a small amount of keyboard sag which was uniformly distributed throughout the keyboard. It was quite minor and probably won't be a nuisance for most users. Overall, the keyboard was on par with other laptop keyboards we have used and relatively pleasant to type on.

The U6S' touchpad is responsive and tracking was reliable. A fingerprint scanner is located between the touchpad buttons and doubles as a scroll "wheel". The fingerprint scanner is not the best unit we have encountered and it sometimes had trouble interpreting what it was scanning.

The U6S' touchpad and touchpad buttons are made of a single piece of brushed metal. While it looks fantastic, it results in the touchpad buttons being quite stiff and difficult to depress. However, we discovered that over time, after a few days of use, the touchpad buttons loosened up. By the end of our week of testing, the buttons were much more flexible but remained somewhat more difficult to depress than they should be. Luckily the included Logitech V270 mouse is excellent and we were more than happy to use it instead of the touchpad.


Display

All ASUS U6 models are equipped with the same 12.1" LED backlit LCD panel. The 1280x800 resolution is quite suitable for the screen size and text remained easy to read. The LED backlight provided excellent brightness and good contrast. The screen was quite resilient to high levels of ambient light and we found that the screen remained viewable in direct sunlight. Color reproduction was good although we found the screen washed out slightly when the backlight was turned up all the way. Backlight leakage was average, with noticeable leaking at the top and bottom of the screen.

Unfortunately, viewing angles were less than spectacular. Horizontal viewing angle was average but vertical viewing angles were quite poor. There was a very narrow "sweet spot" for vertical viewing angle which meant we had to adjust the screen much more often than usual. It wasn't uncommon to shift in your chair and discover that you were no longer in the screen's sweet spot. Luckily screen adjustment is extremely easy thanks the excellent hinges and the screen always stayed at exactly the angle you put it without any fuss.

Overall, we found the U6's screen to be average. It had a few undesirable characteristics as well as some saving graces.


Speakers & Sound Quality

The ASUS U6 series is not positioned as a multimedia machine, which is fortunate since sound quality is not one of its strong points. The U6 has a single speaker located at the front of the laptop, slightly off center and to the right. The speaker is fine for reproducing many youtube videos and the standard beeps of operation but that is about it. Music and movie sound reproduction was weak. The speaker has absolutely no bass and the sound it makes is reminiscent of someone listening to a very loud pair of headphones next to you.

To be fair, most ultraportable notebooks aren't much better and mono sound is also quite common in small business notebooks. Since ultraportables tend to be aimed at business and productivity applications we won't penalize the U6 too much. Overall, we would suggest that anyone who wants to use their U6 for multimedia should invest in a good pair of headphones.


Heat & Noise

Considering that ASUS has stuffed a relatively well specified full-sized notebook into an ultraportable form factor and combined with the fact that the U6 only has a single heatpipe and fan, we expected heat to be a huge issue. Luckily, this is another area where the U6 shines. The notebook never overheated and the chassis never became hot. At worst, the left side of the palm rest became lukewarm after several hours of straight benchmarking.

You might expect that the U6's single fan must therefore make a lot of noise in order to move enough air to keep it cool. That isn't the case. In fact, the U6 is fairly quiet and best of all, the fan almost never spun up or noticeably increased in volume. Also worth noting is that the hard drive was completely inaudible at all times. The optical drive did make a bit of a ruckus, but nothing out of line with other notebooks we have used in the past.
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Test Setup & 3DMark06 CPU

The ASUS U6S was left "as delivered" for the duration of benchmarking. This represents the configuration that the consumer would receive the system in. Nothing was installed or altered, with the exception of the necessary benchmarking software. We decided to compare the ASUS U6S to the ASUS C90S and the XPS M1730 for points of reference.



HotHardware's Mobile Test Systems
Covering the bases

ASUS U6S

Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2GHz)

Intel GM965

2x1GB DDR2-667

128MB NVIDIA
GeForce 8400M G

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio

160GB Hard Drive
5,400 RPM SATA

Windows Vista Business
Intel INF 8.3.1.1009
NVIDIA Forceware v101.38

12.1" WXGA Display
(native 1280x800)
Dell XPS M1730
Intel Core 2 Extreme X7900
(2.8GHz)

2x1GB DDR2-667

Dual
256MB NVIDIA
GeForce 8700M GT

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio

2x200GB in RAID0
7,200 RPM SATA

Windows Vista Home Premium
Intel INF 8.3.1.1009
NVIDIA Forceware v163.86

17" WUXGA Display
(native 1920x1200)
ASUS C90S

Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 (2.66GHz)

Intel 945G Chipset

2x1GB DDR2-667

512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio

160GB Hard Drive
7,200 RPM SATA

Windows Vista Ultimate
Intel INF 8.3.1.1009
NVIDIA Forceware v101.16


15.4" WSXGA+ Display
(native 1680x1050)



Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06
Details: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/

To start out our testing, we began with a focus on CPU performance, utilizing FutureMark 3DMark06's CPU performance module. 3DMark06's test is a multi-threaded "gaming related" DirectX metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems. This test consists of different 3D scenes that are generated with software and hardware GPU renderers, which is also dependant on the host CPU's performance. In its CPU tests, the calculations normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the central processor.  GPU rendering tests employ a mix of SM2.0, SM3.0 and HDR techniques and effects.





As an ultraportable notebook, we do not expect the ASUS U6S to pack as much punch as the C90S or the M1730. While it is the slowest of the three, the U6S' 2.2GHz Core 2 T7500 processor was still very fast. A 3DMark06 score of 1919 is very respectable for a notebook of this class.
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Futuremark PCMark Vantage

For our next round of benchmarks, we ran the complete Futuremark PCMark Vantage test suite. This is a relatively new addition to our testing toolbox that is proving to be an excellent overall assessment tool.

"The PCMark Suite is a collection of various single- and multi-threaded CPU, Graphics and HDD test sets with the focus on Windows Vista application tests. Tests have been selected to represent a subset of the individual Windows Vista Consumer scenarios. The PCMark Suite includes CPU, Graphics, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and a subset of Consumer Suite tests."

 

 Futuremark PCMark Vantage
 'Memories', HDD and Communications

The PCMark Vantage "Memories" suite includes the following tests:

Memories 1 - Two simultaneous threads, CPU image manipulation and HDD picture import
Memories 2 - Two simultaneous threads, GPU image manipulation and
HDD video editing
Memories 3 -
Video Transcoding: DV to portable device
Memories 4 -
Video Transcoding: media server archive to portable device

 



The U6S ends up last in our benchmark, however this was to be expected. The primary goal of the U6S is to portability so it is understandable that performance isn't on par with desktop replacement laptops.
 


The Vantage HDD suite includes the following tests:

HDD 1 - HDD: Windows Defender
HDD 2 - HDD: game HDD
HDD 3 - HDD: importing pictures
HDD 4 - HDD: Windows Vista start-up
HDD 5 - HDD: video editing
HDD 6 - HDD: Media Center
HDD 7 - HDD: Adding music to Windows Media Player
 


 

Unsurprisingly, the U6S was the poorest performer out of the systems in the test. While the 5,400 RPM drive was not able to perform on par with the 7,200 RPM drives used in the C90 and M1730, it still provides adequate performance. The advantage of using a lower RPM hard drive is reduced noise, heat output and power consumption.
 


Vantage Communications suite includes the following tests:

Communications 1
- Three simultaneous threads, Data encryption: CNG AES CBC, Data compression, Web page rendering: graphics content, 1024x768, windowed
Communications 2 - Three simultaneous threads. Web page rendering: open various news pages from IE 7 Favorites in separate tabs, close them one by one, Data decryption: CNG AES CBC, HDD: Windows Defender
Communications 3 - Windows Mail: Search
Communications 4  - Two simultaneous threads, Data encryption: CNG AES CBC, Audio transcoding: WMA -> WMA - to simulate VOIP

 




Once again, the U6S comes in last. The U6S features a Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, which is no match for the XPS' Core 2 Extreme X7900 and the C90S' desktop class Core 2 Duo E6700. However, the T7500 is still a very respectable mobile processor, the second fastest in Intel's current Core 2 Duo mobile line-up, not counting Extreme Edition models.

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Futuremark PCMark Vantage Continued

We continue our test coverage with more modules from the comprehensive PCMark Vantage suite of benchmarks.

 Futuremark PCMark Vantage
 Gaming, Productivity, Music and Overall

Courtesy, Futuremark:  "Gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment for all ages. Today’s games demand high performance graphics cards and CPUs to avoid delays and sluggish performance while playing. Loading screens in games are yesterday’s news. Streaming data from an HDD in games – such as Alan Wake™ – allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action. CPUs with many cores give a performance advantage to gamers in real-time strategy and massively multiplayer games. Gaming Suite includes the following tests: "

Gaming 1 - GPU game test
Gaming 2 - HDD: game HDD
Gaming 3 - Two simultaneous threads, CPU game test, Data decompression: level loading
Gaming 4 - Three simultaneous threads, GPU game test, CPU game test, HDD: game HDD




The U6S' GeForce 8400M G, with 128MB of dedicated memory, is seriously out-gunned by the other two notebooks. The 8400M G is the slowest model in the GeForce 8M line-up and is meant to be an alternative to integrated graphics. With only 8 stream processors, the 8400M G does not wield much graphics horsepower compared to its better equipped siblings, however it does perform well compared to integrated solutions as you'll see in later benchmarks.




Vantage Productivity suite includes the following tests:

Productivity 1 -
Two simultaneous threads, Text editing, HDD: application loading
Productivity 2 - Two simultaneous threads, Windows Contacts: search, HDD: Windows Defender
Productivity 3 - HDD: Windows Vista start-up
Productivity 4 - Three simultaneous threads, Windows Contacts: search, Windows Mail: Run Message Rules, Web page rendering: simultaneously open various pages from IE7 Favorites in separate tabs, close them one by one



The Vantage Productivity test suite tells a similar story as the Communications suite. The U6S comes in last place due to its slower processor and hard drive speed.



 

Vantage Music suite includes the following tests:

Music 1 - Three simultaneous threads, Web page rendering – w/ music shop content, Audio transcoding: WAV -> WMA lossless, HDD: Adding music to Windows Media Player
Music 2 - Audio transcoding: WAV -> WMA lossless
Music 3 - Audio transcoding: MP3 -> WMA
Music 4 - Two simultaneous threads, Audio transcoding: WMA -> WMA, HDD: Adding music to Windows Media Player
 




Once again the U6S comes up short due to having the slowest processor of the bunch. However, performance is still respectable for its class.




The overall PCMark Vantage score is a weighted average of all of the modules in the Vantage suite calculated in total "PCMarks".  Here are the results:





The ASUS U6S came in last in each of the Vantage test suites so its overall score is no different. Despite this, the U6S' performance is actually better than expected. As a ultraportable laptop, the U6S didn't have much of a chance against its larger competitors, however it managed to stay in the same ballpark much of the time, which is impressive.
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Gaming Performance

For our first gaming-related benchmarks, we'll look at the ASUS U6S' performance in Futuremark's 3DMark06. For the overall 3DMark06 score, we have compared the U6S to a collection of laptops we have reviewed in the past. We also briefly looked at the U6S' performance in Company of Heroes and Prey.


Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06
Details: www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06


3DMark06
3DMark06 is the most recent addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups that number to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.




The ASUS U6S performed the best out of the non-gaming laptops in our comparison. However its GeForce 8400M G could not compete with the mid-range and high-end graphics solutions some of the other notebooks were touting. Especially worthy of note is the large difference in performance between the U6S and the Alienware Area 51 m5500 which used an Intel integrated solution, since most ultraportable notebooks should have similar performance.


 Real-world Gaming Performance
 Company of Heroes and Prey

Company of Heroes and Prey were both configured to their lowest possible graphical detail settings. Every graphics setting was either disabled or set to the lowest available setting. Anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were disabled as well.





By now, it should be obvious the ASUS U6S is definitely not a gaming notebook. However, we have included some benchmark results for Company of Heroes and Prey to give an idea of how it would perform if you insist on attempting to play modern games on your ultraportable laptop.

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Battery Performance

Battery Info & Performance
Transitioning Testing to MobileMark 2007

Rounding out our testing, we ran MobileMark 2007 to assess the notebook's overall battery life while running a series of applications through a testing script. 

We are using the standard benchmark settings from Bapco, along with a few other minor system tweaks. The screensaver was disabled and the volume was set at approximately 20%.

MobileMark 2007 utilizes the following applications

* Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0

* Adobe Illustrator CS2

* Adobe Photoshop CS2

* Apple QuickTime 7.1
* Intervideo WinDVD 8

* Macromedia Flash 8

* Microsoft Office 2003 Pro

* Microsoft Project 2003

* Winzip 10.0



With the included 6-cell battery, the ASUS U6S provided almost two an a half hours worth of battery life during the MobileMark 2007 battery test. While that isn't bad for an average notebook, two hours and a half is rather low for an ultraportable. Battery life is one of the most important features of an ultraportable notebook and the U6S' poor performance really hurt's its ability to fulfill its main purpose of providing an extremely portable mobile computing platform.

Since the ASUS U6S is significantly better equipped than most ultraportable laptops, it isn't a huge surprise that the U6S provides poor battery life for its class. However, it is still disappointing that we weren't able to get at least three hours from the U6S.

Note that 3-cell and 9-cell batteries are also available for the U6S, although they may need to be purchased separately depending on where you purchased your U6S. Battery life with the 3-cell battery is expected to be quite poor, while the 9-cell should provide over three hours of battery life.
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Impressions, Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Analysis:  Performance of the U6S is in line with expectations given our test system's specifications. While it could hardly compete with the desktop replacement notebooks in our benchmarks, it doesn't need to. The U6S provided good performance for an ultraportable and that is what matters.

The NVIDIA GeForce 8400M G found in the U6S struggled with modern games. As the lowest-end model of the current generation of mobile GeForce graphics accelerators, this wasn't a huge surprise. However, the 8400M G does provide enough juice to allow for casual gaming and it certainly outperforms the standard integrated solution in the U6E.

The U6S provides good performance in processor intensive tasks as well as in everyday web surfing, multimedia and productivity tasks. Overall, the U6S is a great performer for its class and it is more than up to any on-the-go productivity or multimedia task you can throw at it.

 





The U6S' specifications are quite impressive for a notebook of this class. While most currently available ultraportable notebooks use low power versions of Intel's mobile Core 2 Duo processor to keep heat and power consumption down, the U6 sports the full-power version and can support up to the top of the line T7700 model. Other nice features not often found on ultraportable laptops are the integrated optical drive and the discrete GeForce 8400M G graphics accelerator (only available in the U6S model). All of these features are nothing special for a full-size laptop, but quite impressive considering the U6's tiny form factor.

Our sample used a Core 2 Duo T7500 processor instead of the top of the line T7700 model, and 2GB of ram instead of 4GB. Despite that, we still expect this configuration to perform exceedingly well, especially compared to other ultraportable notebooks. The U6S is an impressive notebook and it shines when it comes to style, features and performance, however it does have one glaring shortcoming; below average battery life.

Below-class battery life in exchange for above-class performance is an important characteristic of the U6S that needs to be taken into consideration when making a purchasing decision. It also means that the U6S may not be the best choice for an extreme road warrior and is more suited to general portability roles and people who need that kind of power in such a small package, in which case you'll be unlikely to find such a powerful and full featured notebook in this price range.

The U6S weighs in at 3.46lbs. This means it is on the heavy side for an ultraportable, but given its impressive spec sheet, we'll gladly let it slide. While the U6 packs in a lot of nice performance features, it doesn't forget that it is still an ultraportable laptop and it offers a bevy of connectivity options for the road warrior. The U6 has just about every type of connection you could want on a laptop available to it, including support for HSPDA for truly wireless roaming. The only missing connection seems to be a Firewire port.


Overall, the ASUS U6S is a great notebook that speaks of refinement and quality. From the deep, shimmering paint scheme and genuine leather accents to the no-compromise specifications and refined manners, the U6S is unmistakably a luxury device. Just about the only thing that doesn't scream of excess and indulgence is the U6S's modest price of $1649.99. Yes, the U6S does have below average battery life for an ultra portable, but don't let that scare you away. With so many advantages, you may well be able to overlook the U6S' one weakness and enjoy one of the best values in the luxury notebook niche. It's clear that ASUS' wide exposure to the notebook retail market is long overdue and the U6S is evidence that they have something special to offer.




  • Excellent Performance
  • Low Heat & Noise
  • Good LED Display
  • Cool Leather Palm Rests
  • Excellent Paint Job
  • Durable Chassis
  • Overall Features
  • Good Value
  • Unimpressive Battery Life For An Ultraportable
  • Touchpad Buttons Were Too Stiff



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