The X71SL is a great all-rounder
Asus’s massive X71SL is a 17in laptop with a Blu-ray drive and a dedicated graphics card.
It has a full-sized keyboard and numeric keypad, plus all the expansion ports you might need, yet costs just £650. Considering its size, it’s no surprise that it weighs in at 3.7kg, making it the heaviest laptop here. It also has a screen resolution of 1,440×900.
It certainly isn’t the most attractive laptop we’ve seen. However, Asus has made some effort to break up the swathes of cheap black plastic with some glossy and textured panels. Two prominent speaker grilles sit above the keyboard, but the sound they produce, although clear, lacks power.
Apart from some wobble in the keys, the keyboard’s action is firm and there’s enough feedback and travel to please touch-typists. The layout is standard, too. The touch pad is reasonably large, smooth and responsive, but the two buttons below are flush with the case, so it’s hard to locate them by touch.
The only other Blu-ray-equipped laptop here is the Sony Vaio VGN-FW31E, which costs £101 more. Asus has managed to undercut its rival by using an older, slower processor, and this means the X71SL returned below-average PCMark scores. In Call of Duty 4, however, it proved faster (with 8.1fps) thanks to twice the graphics memory.
Other features are comparable – a 320GB hard disk, support for Draft-N WiFi and an HDMI port – but three features stand out in favour of the X71SL. The memory card reader supports more formats than the Vaio’s and there’s an ExpressCard/54 slot, which provides more expansion options. There’s also an S/PDIF audio output for connecting to a sound system.
Whereas other laptops here have the odd stand-out feature, the X71SL is a great all-rounder and is the only one to come with a two-year warranty. At this price it offers outstanding value and wins a Best Buy award.
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo T5800|
|Processor clock speed||2GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Realtek High Definition Audio|
|Power consumption standby||1W|
|Power consumption idle||33W|
|Power consumption active||60W|
|Viewable size||17 in|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS|
|Graphics/video ports||VGA, HDMI|
|Total storage capacity||320GB|
|Optical drive model||HL-DT-ST CT10N|
|Optical drive type||DVD+/-RW +/-DL, DVD-RAM, BD-ROM|
Ports and Expansion
|Total Firewire ports||1|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PC Card slots||1x ExpressCard/54|
|Supported memory cards||SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD|
|Other ports||minijack audio output, minijack microphone input, minijack S/PDIF output|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Operating system restore option||restore disc|
|Software included||CyberLink Power2Go, Nero 8 Essentials|
|Warranty||two years collect and return|