Asus UL50Vg – 15.6in Laptop Review - Asus UL50Vg Review

Connectivity on the UL50VG is pretty standard for a slim 15.6in laptop. On the right you’ll find a card reader (that will handle SD/HC, MMC and MS Pro/Duo), HDMI video output, two USB ports, plus microphone and headphone jacks. To the left, along with the DVD-Rewriter, we have a third USB port, VGA, and Gigabit Ethernet.

Internally is where things start to get interesting. The CPU at this Asus’ heart is an Intel Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) chip, specifically a Core 2 Duo SU7300. This frugal processor normally runs at a relatively pedestrian 1.3GHz, which should be adequate for most tasks though it may struggle with intensive multitasking and other heavy load scenarios.

However, Asus has implemented a minor overclock taking it up to 1.34GHz, and the UL50Vg’s BIOS gives options to overclock it by up to eight per cent. Both of these options are great to see, and the maximum overclock (1.4GHz) may just about let it handle workloads it would otherwise struggle with, such as running an application in the background while watching Full HD video (though GraphiX Boost would also allow the laptop to do this as video is GPU accelerated under Windows 7).

GraphiX Boost is the main highlight of Asus’ UL-Vg range, referring to switchable graphics. Usually, when it comes to mobile graphics one has to compromise; it’s either an undemanding integrated chip that falls over and dies at the first sign of 3D gaming, like Intel’s integrated solutions, or a discrete but power-hungry card that may give you the ability to run recent games but will quickly drain your battery.

With the UL50Vg you get the best of both worlds. Asus has complemented the Intel GMA 4500HD, which we know from experience gives great battery life, with an nVidia GeForce G210M sporting 512MB of dedicated DDR3 RAM. The latter is not quite worthy of being called a gaming card, but it’s certainly up to playing older titles at decent resolutions. Just to give you an idea of the difference, it returned a silky-smooth 50.5fps in ”TrackMania Nations Forever” (at 1,366 x 768 and Medium Detail), where the Intel chip only managed an unplayable 15.5fps.

Best of all, you can switch between the two graphics cards on the fly with a chromed button to the top left of the keyboard. While a dual-card solution like this is hardly unique in the laptop world, it’s definitely underused and usually reserved for more expensive machines.

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