Asus 14" U43F Bamboo Core i5 Notebook Review

Introduction and Specifications

There was a significant influx of CULV based notebooks earlier in the year, due in part to their excellent balance between power, performance, and price. While CULV based machines were a good fit for many users who didn't want to sacrifice much performance for longer battery life, CULV notebooks are being introduced at a less rapid pace these days. Sure, Intel has low-voltage versions of the mobile Core 2010 processor lineup, but the Core i3 and Core i5 have proven that they don't consume an insane amount of energy as-is, and the performance bump from using a standard mobile chip is definitely noticeable.

That's just one of the reasons we're intrigued by Asus' new 14" machine, the U43F. This is a unique configuration that will only be sold at Best Buy retail locations, but considering just how many feet waltz through Best Buy stores on any given day, it's obviously an important unit for Asus. Unlike some of the other U-series machines that are shipping online, this retail configuration strikes a curious balance of power, style, portability and utility.

Click To Enlarge

The 14" display is a good choice, particularly if you simply cannot decide whether to settle for a smaller, less powerful 13" ultraportable or a heavier 15" standard sized notebook. It's not impossible to find 14" notebooks, but the more the merrier we say. Another bonus here is the inclusion of an optical drive. Many machines in the sub-13" category do not have optical drives at all, and for those who frequently need to watch DVDs, read from physical discs or burn archives, the included DVD Combo Drive is a real godsend. 

Asus U43F Notebook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Core i5-450M CPU (2.40GHz; dure-core with Hyperthreading)
  • 4GB of DDR3-1066 RAM 
  • 14" LCD (1366x768 resolution)
  • Intel GMA HD Graphics (Arrandale)
  • 640GB (5400RPM) WD Scorpio Blue WD6400BEVT
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 8x DVD±RW/CD-RW optical drive
  • 0.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • VGA and HDMI Outputs
  • USB 2.0 x 2; USB 3.0 x 1
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • SD / MMC / SDHC  / xD / MS / MS Pro Multimedia Card Reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Intel Wireless Display (TV adapter not included)
  • 'Chiclet' Keyboard
  • Gesture-Enabled Elan Multi-Touch Trackpad
  • 4.73 Pounds (with 8-cell battery installed)
  • Removable 8-Cell (5600mAh) Li-ion Battery
  • "Up To 5.5 Hours" Claimed Battery Life
  • 13.5" (W) x 9.6" (D) x 1.3" (H) (Dimensions)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Price (MSRP): $899 (only at Best Buy)

Another noteworthy aspect of this machine is the GPU arrangement: there's only an integrated Intel GMA HD GPU (Arrandale), which both cuts costs and saves energy for those who aren't gamers. Of course, we're going to test a few older gaming titles on it to see how it stacks up anyway, but far too often notebook manufacturers push discrete GPUs onto buyers of 14"+ notebooks. Like we said, Asus is aiming at a niche with this machine, but we think it's a great combination that isn't well represented in the market just yet. Priced at $899, it's as inexpensive as some of the less powerful CULV machines on the market today, and we haven't even touched on how nice this Bamboo finish (inside and out) looks. Our initial impression is that Asus has a winner on their hands here, but we all know it's the benchmarks and user experience that count. Join us in the pages ahead for our full, in-depth review of the U43F.

Related content