Asus 13.3" U30Jc Laptop, Optimus-Enabled Mobility

User Experience

Using the Asus U30Jc was an outstanding experience, filled with many positive surprises and few negatives. For whatever reason, we found this machine to be more responsive than the Samsung R580 we recently tested, despite the fact that the R580 was equipped with a Core i5 CPU.

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We found that opening, closing and changing applications was an extremely smooth process on the U30Jc, far outpacing the CULV machines that listed for just as much at the end of last year. The Core i3 CPU may be the weakest of the Core 2010 lineup, but it's still an extremely powerful piece of kit. For average desktop chores, it provided enough power to churn through our multi-tasking without ever breaking a sweat. Overall, we were extremely impressed with the Core i3; we expected it to be appreciably slower than the Core i5, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't.

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Bootup and wakeup from 'Sleep' mode were both snappy, and we never experienced any real lag when using the most common applications. Having 4GB of DDR3 RAM onboard allowed us to have a whole slew of application on at the same time, and even with a bunch of apps running in the background, we were able to play back YouTube HD and standalone high-def files without any stuttering.

We should also mention the performance of NVIDIA's Optimus. This machine is equipped an Intel integrated GMA chipset and a discrete 512MB GT 310M GPU. The magic of Optimus is that the system itself chooses which GPU should be used based on the type of application you're running. If you're just typing a Word document, the integrated graphics will be active in order to save battery life. If you fire up Half-Life 2, the discrete GPU will become active in order to boost frame rates. And you'll never know outside of the increased or decreased graphical performance. NVIDIA has solved the issue of users having to manually switch a discrete GPU on or off, and in our experience, it worked perfectly. We shifted in and out of graphically intense apps, and each time, the GPU turned on and off without any system lag. It's a beautiful system, and it worked great on the U30Jc.

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HD multi-media playback was as smooth as ever, with even a 1080p clip taxing the CPU. YouTube HD and Flash were obviously no problem for the system, and even our gaming tests led to impressive results (more on those in the pages to come). We can only imagine how much better things would be if you swapped out the 5400RPM drive with a 7200RPM drive or an SSD.

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We also appreciated having an optical drive onboard. The DVD drive is becoming a component that is increasingly being left out, but it's still really useful. Many CULV laptops that cost $700 or $800 don't have an optical drive, yet this one does. It's not a slot-loading drive, but it's pretty quiet in use. We also found the machine overall to be quiet, with the fans only kicking in during extended gaming sessions. The heat output was reasonable; even after long gaming sessions, it never got so hot that we couldn't let it reside on our lap.

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