Review Asus F8SN-4S001G Notebook

Mobile Gaming Notebook.

The Asus F8SN is a powerful 14" notebook with GeForce 9500M GS video card and Core 2 Duo T9300 "Penryn" processor. This review uncovers among others the disadvantages of this powerful equipment inside a small case.

Test Asus F8SN - Intro

Case

The design of the surfaces follows the current trend. Every fingerprint is visible at the black glossy lid. Striped imprint finishes at the palm rest areas and  the lid, make the appearance a little more vivid. However, overall the used plastics do not give  a high-quality impression.

Another highlight is the movable 1.3 mega-pixel webcam inside the display lid. Due to an aluminium cover around it, it attracts attention, The tilt angle can be changed to up to 180°, which makes it even possible to record a person sitting on the opposite side.

If you remove the battery it gets obvious that one of the feet is at the battery. In case you want to operate the notebook without battery this is disadvantageous. Despite this problem, the Asus F8SN proved to stand tolerably still even without battery.

Unfortunately the pressure resistance of the used materials is only average. If you apply force, e.g., above the keyboard, you can hear a clear creaking and the palm rest areas clearly yield under pressure. Picking up the notebook by holding it on a single corner led to a clear deflection followed by a clearly audible noise. Also the display hinges creak, if you adjust the opening angles. However, the flexural rigidity of the lid is good. We hardly observed any changes of the picture when applying force at the backside of the screen. However, you should carefully handle this notebook in order to ensure durability.

Interface Equipment

The interface equipment of the Asus F8SN leaves hardly anything to be desired.  The highlights are a digital video out (DVI), a S-Video out, an Express Card 54mm slot, and four USB 2.0 ports. Those you like Multmedia will possibly only miss a HDMI port. Furthermore, business-oriented features like fingerprint reader and TPM chip are provided. Wireless communication is possible via Bluetooth and WLAN with Draft-n standard. To summarize, the interface equipment is good.

We also like the order of the interfaces. At least the interfaces are mainly at the back side of a notebook again. However, the audio ports, which are left near the front, might cause cable spaghetti, but this position is good for connecting a headset.

Creditably, a small optical mouse (by Logitech) is among the accessories of the Asus F8SN. This is especially handy, if you work a long time away from your usual desk.

Left Side: DVD, USB, Firewire, Headphone, Microphone, Express Card 54mm (above)
Left Side: DVD, USB, Firewire, Headphone, Microphone, Express Card 54mm (above)
Right Side: 2x USB 2.0, Kensington Lock
Right Side: 2x USB 2.0, Kensington Lock
Back Side: Power Connector, 2x USB 2.0, S-VIDEO, VGA, DVI, LAN, Modem
Back Side: Power Connector, 2x USB 2.0, S-VIDEO, VGA, DVI, LAN, Modem

Input Devices

The keyboard of this Asus laptop is quiet, whereas the feedback is a little fuzzy. The keys are attached sufficiently tightly to the case and have, considering it is  a notebook, standard size. The layout is (beside having the FN key at the left edge) good. So, it is possible to touch-type without typos from the very beginning.

Above the keyboard there are five hot-keys, which control the energy profiles, Bluetooth, respectively WLAN, do a Gamma correction, and launch the Windows Media Centre.

The big touch pad works sufficiently precisely. We liked it especially because of its roughened surface. Because it does not start right at the edge with standard settings, the scroll area at the right edge of the touch pad is difficult to hit, even more, because it is is neither optically marked nor recognizable by touch.

Touch pad
Asus F8SN Touch pad
Keyboard
Asus F8SN  Keyboard

The Asus F8SN is equipped with a reflecting 14.1 inch WXGA+ display with a resolution of 1440x900 pixels. Compared to the wide-spread WXGA displays, this display has a significantly bigger desktop size. This is advantageous, if you work with multiple applications, or with software with multiple toolboxes.

The brightness can be adjusted from 4.8 cd/m² to 189 cd/m² by selecting one of the various levels, whereas the brightest part is in the middle of the display. Unfortunately the surface of this screen is glossy. So, there are disturbing reflections, if you display dark pictures. The illumination of 77% is more or less average.

147
cd/m²
155
cd/m²
146
cd/m²
169
cd/m²
189
cd/m²
167
cd/m²
158
cd/m²
186
cd/m²
168
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 189 cd/m²
Average: 165 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 77 %
Black: 1.1 cd/m²
Contrast: 172:1

The black value, i.e. the minimum representable brightness of this display, is 1.2 cd/m², which is rather high compared to other displays. Together with a maximum brightness of 196.0 cd/m² this gives a calculated maximum contrast of 163:1, which is rather low. The personal impression was that the picture is nevertheless alright, but, the colours could be more vivid.

Compared to the screen of our desktop computer, this screen seems to have a somewhat blue tint. Furthermore, the viewing angles could also not convince. As usual there is a loss of contrast, if you look from top down. Even if the colour of an area is solid, it appears to be a gradient.

Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles

Performance

The performance of the Asus F8SN is dominated by its top components, an up-to-date Core 2 Duo "Penryn" T9300 with 2,5 GHz and a Nvidia Geforce 9500M GS. Due to these we expected that the performance of this 14" notebook is high.

The test proved, that this was right. Indeed, the application and the gaming performance are top for this notebook category. At the time of writing the Intel T9300 seems to be regarding price/performance ratio the most reasonable choice for power-users. Due to a clock rate of 2,5 GHz and 6 MB L2 Cache its performance is excellent (please also refer to our comprehensive Penryn Comparison review).

Another innovation is the use of a Nvidida GeForce 9500M GS, the first video card of the 9000M series. Its technical specification match exactly those of the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT (with DDR2 memory). According to Nvidia internal improvements increase the performance and lower the energy demand. At least the performance increase could be proved during this review. The 9500M GS equipped with GDDR2 reaches the performance level of 8600M GT video cards with clearly higher-clocked GDDR3 memory. So, all current computer games will run smoothly. However, very demanding DirectX 10 games (e.g, Crysis or World in Conflict) only with a low level of details and a low resolution (e.g., only medium/low is possible for Crysis).

3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE25834 points
3DMark 0311259 points
3DMark 056781 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
3827 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Asus Eee PC 1101HA (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
68
   ...
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431
 3230M, HD Graphics 4000
3825
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431
 3230M, HD Graphics 4000
3825
Asus F8SN
 T9300, GeForce 9500M GS
3827
Asus VivoBook S500CA-CJ005H
 3317U, HD Graphics 4000
3831
Samsung R540-JS08DE
 370M, Mobility Radeon HD 545v
3831
   ...
Clevo Clevo P157SM (max)
 4930MX, GeForce GTX 880M
29955
3DMark05
3DMark06
Vista Leistungsindex

Tests of Computer Games

Testing computer games, the 9500M GS proves to be a good middle-class video card. So, older games like Doom 3 or F.E.A.R. run smoothly even with highest detail level.

Unreal Tournament 3 was with native resolution (1440x900) and maximum details just playable. Switching to a lower resolution of 1024x768 and detail level 3, the game was well playable, despite some jerking.

Supreme Commander had a frame rate of 15 pictures per second with a resolution of 1024x768 and high details (in the very demanding benchmark). Single-player campaigns and smaller skirmishes should run smoothly with these settings.

However, one of the most demanding shooters of these days, Crysis, reached only 5 fps with a resolution of 1024x768 and high details. This is clearly too low for real gaming enthusiasts.  However, with a resolution of 800x600 and low detail the GPU benchmark ran at an average of 64fps. We tried a short single-player game and it was smoothly playable with these settings (however the video quality was like the one of Far Cry).

Doom 3
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768Ultra, 0xAA, 0xAF84.7 fps
 800x600High, 0xAA, 0xAF127.9 fps
 640x480Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF159.9 fps
 640x480Low, 0xAA, 0xAF160.6 fps
F.E.A.R.
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768GPU: max, CPU: max, 0xAA, 0xAF34 fps
 800x600GPU medium, CPU medium, 0xAA, 0xAF69 fps
 640x480GPU min, CPU min, 0xAA, 0xAF72 fps

Compared to the Zepto Znote 6324W (which is also a 14" notebook with T9300, but, which identically clocked 8600M GT GDDR2 video card and only 2 GB instead of 3 GB RAM like the reviewed notebook) the new 9500M GS video card proves to be very powerful. In average this notebook exceeds the Zepto by 13% in gaming benchmarks (3DMark, Fear, Doom 3), which is noticeably, also because both video cards are driven by the same clock rate. The bigger RAM capacity of the Asus laptop can not completely explain this advance. So, it should be due to the video card.

Performance Comparison of the similarly equipped Zepto Znote 6324W
Performance Comparison of the similarly equipped Zepto Znote 6324W
Performance Comparison of the similarly equipped Zepto Znote 6324W
Performance Comparison of the similarly equipped Zepto Znote 6324W

This equipment is more than sufficient for office applications. Due to 3 GB RAM and very fast T9300 CPU also demanding applications (e.g., picture editing) can be run under Windows Vista.

The WLAN performance of the integrated Intel 4965AGN Draft-N card convinced in combination with our Trendnet TEW-633GR with good data transfer rates. In our test the transfer rate of this Asus notebook was as high as 30 - 50 MBits/ second, directly in front of the router and behind thick brick walls (whereas the distance was 5-7m). The transfer rate of the 1000MBit adapter by Realtek was in average 470 MBits, but, via cable.

 

PC Mark
PCMark 055511 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Asus M51SN
 T8300, GeForce 9500M GS
5501
Samsung P580 Pro Penfield JA03DE/SEG
 430M, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
5506
Asus F8SN
 T9300, GeForce 9500M GS
5511
Apple MacBook Pro 15" 2.4GHz
 T7700, GeForce 8600M GT
5517
Asus N51VF
 T6500, GeForce GT 130M
5522
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
Hitachi Travelstar 5K250 HTS542525K9SA00
Transfer Rate Minimum: 29.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 46.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 58.9 MB/s
Access Time: 17.5 ms
Burst Rate: 54.8 MB/s
CPU Usage: 8.2 %

Emissions

Loudness

Regarding noise, the relatively loud Hitachi HTS542525K9SA00 hard disk gets obvious at once. Due to a measured noise level of 38.3 dB during operation it is always clearly audible.

Also the fans aren't really silent, whereas the noise is not really annoying. Even without load the fan sometimes reaches a noise level of up to 38.5 dB. The average noise level of 33.5 dB is acceptable. Even under load the average noise level of 37.2 dB are acceptable.

The DVD drive, a HL-DT-ST GSA-T20L, is noticeably loud, when copying data. When watching DVD videos a noise level of 38.6 dB (total noise) is reached, which is acceptable.

Noise Level

Idle 30.0 / 33.5 / 38.5 dB(A)
HDD 38.3 dB(A)
DVD 38.9 / 49.0 dB(A)
Load 37.2 / 38.5 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The surface temperatures of this Asus laptop stay always within a comfortable range. Especially the most crucial parts, the palm rest areas, did not even exceed 31°C after a longer period of load.  The bottom side does also not extensively heat, whereas its maximum temperature is 35.2°C. Therefore, you can safely work lap top.

Max. Load
 32.7 °C31.8 °C40.3 °C 
 31.2 °C33.2 °C33.7 °C 
 30.8 °C34.5 °C31.2 °C 
Maximum: 40.3 °C
Average: 33.3 °C
35.2 °C32.8 °C33.9 °C
30.8 °C32.9 °C32.6 °C
33.2 °C33.2 °C33.6 °C
Maximum: 35.2 °C
Average: 33.1 °C
Room Temperature 22 °C

Speakers

The two small speakers at the front edge sound tinny and aren't proper for high-quality sound. Basses are nearly completely missing.

The sound output of the 3.5 mm jack worked without problems. Even at maximum volume there was no cracking or disturbing noise.

Battery Runtime

The 53 Wh standard battery has, depending on load and selected energy profile, a battery runtime between one hour and two hours and 45 minutes inside the Asus F8SN. This is the disadvantage of the powerful components. So, the mobility is limited, however, this seems to be typical for this notebook category today (also the review of the Zepto 6324W proves this by a nearly identical battery runtime).

Power Consumption

Idle 35 / 40 / 42 Watt
Load 65 / 68 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
2h 45min
WiFi Surfing
1h 38min
DVD
2h 05min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 02min

Verdict

Summarizing the above, the Asus F8SN proved to be a compact 14'' notebook with powerful components. Due to an imprint finish on the lid it looks good. The bottom part does not really attract attention. However, the creaking case is a negative aspect.

The build-in 14" wide-screen display has a fine resolution and a good brightness. Unfortunately, its glossy surface leads to heavy reflections.

The most important aspect is the good performance. Due to fast Core 2 Duo T9300, fast GeForce 9500M GS, and 3 GB RAM it is currently clearly the top 14" notebooks. Compared to the similar Zepto ZNote 6324W the new video card exceeds the gaming performance of the later by about 10 %. So, all current games run smoothly.

However, the small case and the powerful components have a negative impact on noise emission. The advantage of the nearly permanently running fan are low surface temperatures.

Also the battery runtime is due to the powerful components and the low capacity of the battery (due to the case size) low. It ranges from 1 to 2.45h, which is currently typical for this notebook category. Nevertheless, this limits the mobile use.

The current price of 1450,- Euro (Offered for 1250,- by the most favourable vendor) match the performance.

Asus F8SN Multimedia-Notebook
Asus F8SN Multimedia-Notebook
Reviewed: Asus F8SN
Reviewed: Asus F8SN

Specifications

Asus F8SN

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM965
:: Memory
3072 MB, 2048+1024 PC2-5300 DDR2 Hyundai 5-5-5-5-15-20
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 9500M GS - 512 MB, Core: 475 MHz, Memory: 400 MHz, GDDR2 Det. 156.80
:: Display
14.1 inch 16:10, 1440x900 pixel, WXGA+ Glare TFT, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Hitachi Travelstar 5K250 HTS542525K9SA00, 250 GB 5400 rpm
:: Soundcard
Realtek HD Audio
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 5 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 DVI, 1 S-Video, 1 Modem, 1 Infrared, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Headphones, Microphone, Card Reader: MMC, SD, MS/Pro, 1.3 MPixel Webcam, 1024 MB TurboMemory
:: Networking
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit-LAN (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (a b g n ), 1 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-T20L
:: Weight
2.65 kg Power Supply: 0.45 kg
:: Battery
53.28 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1 Volt, 4800 mAh
:: Price
1460 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32 Bit
:: Additional features
Logitech notebook mouse (optical), Cinch video cable, cleaning tissue, modem cable, cable clips, manual, Asus Security Center, Asus Tools (Webcam, ...), 24 Months Warranty

 

The reviewed multimedia notebook is a 14 inch notebook by Asus with brand-new components.
The reviewed multimedia notebook is a 14 inch notebook by Asus with brand-new components.
Due to being equipped with a Core 2 Duo T9300 and a GeForce 9500M GS even all current games run smoothly.
Due to being equipped with a Core 2 Duo T9300 and a GeForce 9500M GS even all current games run smoothly.
The built-in Hitachi hard disk is sufficiently big, but, also very loud.
The built-in Hitachi hard disk is sufficiently big, but, also very loud.
The built-in 1024MB TurboMemory are not yet measurably advantageous under Vista.
The built-in 1024MB TurboMemory are not yet measurably advantageous under Vista.
Unfortunately, the fans run, due to the high performance components, frequently and are thereby rather loud.
Unfortunately, the fans run, due to the high performance components, frequently and are thereby rather loud.
In return, the surfaces, e.g., the palm rest areas...
In return, the surfaces, e.g., the palm rest areas...
... and the bottom side stay comfortably cold.
... and the bottom side stay comfortably cold.
Due to the relatively small battery the battery runtime is low.
Due to the relatively small battery the battery runtime is low.
To summarize, the F8SN is a powerful multimedia notebook ...
To summarize, the F8SN is a powerful multimedia notebook ...
The performance of the F8SN is excellent.
The performance of the F8SN is excellent.
Nevertheless, it is due to a heavily reflecting surface not fit for outdoor usage.
Nevertheless, it is due to a heavily reflecting surface not fit for outdoor usage.
We liked its look, especially the imprint finish.
We liked its look, especially the imprint finish.
However, the inside looks boring.
However, the inside looks boring.
The interface equipment is generous and the location of the interfaces is in general good.
The interface equipment is generous and the location of the interfaces is in general good.
Even a fingerprint reader and a TPM Chip are available.
Even a fingerprint reader and a TPM Chip are available.
The picture quality of the striking webcam is sufficient for video telephony.
The picture quality of the striking webcam is sufficient for video telephony.
Furthermore, there are some nice accessories inside the transport box of the Asus F8SN.
Furthermore, there are some nice accessories inside the transport box of the Asus F8SN.
The input devices are user-friendly. We especially liked the layout of the keyboard.
The input devices are user-friendly. We especially liked the layout of the keyboard.
The sufficiently bright 14" display has a fine resolution.
The sufficiently bright 14" display has a fine resolution.
..., which is not as small as expected due to the display size.
..., which is not as small as expected due to the display size.

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Price Comparison

Asus F8SN on Ciao

Pricerunner.de

Pro

+Excellent performance
+Good interface equipment
 

Cons

-Frequently running and relatively loud fan
-Creaking case
-Reflecting display

Rating

Asus F8SN
03/03/2008
Klaus Hinum

Chassis
81%
Keyboard
86%
Pointing Device
82%
Connectivity
88%
Weight
80%
Battery
65%
Display
74%
Games Performance
92%
Application Performance
98%
Temperature
88%
Noise
82%
Add Points
90%
Average
84%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Asus F8SN Notebook
Author: Klaus Hinum, 2008-03-23 (Update: 2012-05-26)