Review Asus K61IC-JX019V Notebook

von: Bernd Müller 16.11.2009

Frosty Fellow.

Asus expands its K-Series to a 16.0 inch dipslay with the K61IC. The ice-cool technology is once again on board and provides for comfortable temperatures around the palm rest. But this isn't the only surprise. The maker also amps up the graphic card to a Nvidia GeForce GT 220M. Does this perhaps turn the once lame office notebook into a true racer?

Asus K61IC-JX019V - Can the new member of the K-series stay "ice-cool" - despite dedicated graphics card?
Asus K61IC-JX019V - Can the new member of the K-series stay "ice-cool" - despite dedicated graphics card?

In the summer of 2009 Asus advertised its then young K-Series as an upscale all-rounder platform in the theater-friendly 16:9 format. Up to now the K51 laptops have fallen short of this claim: Instead of a mainstream graphic card there was only an ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated in the chip set. Instead of a powerful processor there were only inefficient AMD-Athlon CPUs. The same 15.6 inch bare-bone popped up here and there under the guise of X5DIJ, which was equipped with a somewhat faster Intel Pentium Dual Core T4200.  But the weak link was the graphic card, and it remained identical with the X5DIJ, still being based on a GMA 4500MHD. A big flaw was the missing HDMI connection. But the predecessor of our K61IC tester could prove one thing: No matter under which name and in which configuration, the temperature and the noise emission were surprisingly positive. The Asus K611C-JX019V before us sports the same Ice-Cool sticker. Does it still remain quiet and cool with the dedicated graphic card?

Case

High-gloss finish makes the look
High-gloss finish makes the look

The Asus K61IC has a decently rounded look.  The extremely wide 16 inch display catches ones eye right away. The long extended case allows the maker to easily integrate a complete numeric pad. The palm rest seems very weight, something that should please serious writers. Anyone looking for optical refinement will however be disappointed. Aside from the shiny silver touchpad keys, the case has little to offer. Worth mentioning is at best the matt black aluminum moulding over the keyboard.

The imprint finish on the cover and the palm rest make a point-to-point pattern. The observer will only see this when up close.  The user can tell by hand how stiff the chassis is. We were able to flex the case with both hands, but only a bit. The underside and the sides are made out of coarse plastic. Whereas the ports on the sides are embedded, the base panel allowed us to see into the inner workings of the notebook. After loosening a few screws we could remove the plate giving access to the entire hardware. More on that in the picture montage.

Configuration

The Asus K61IC comes with only a limited number of connections for hooking up external devices. E-SATA, Bluetooth, a display port and Firewire are all luxury items which a K61IC can't support. Still, there is a HDMI port on the backside next to the fan outlets. The previous model X51DIJ brazenly passed on this virtually standard option. The extreme monitor or flat screen can however be connected over the analog VGA interface. There are four USB ports. These laterally aligned ports are positioned so closely to one another that wide USB sticks or snug connectors will get quite cramped. We think positioning them on the area furthest away from the palm rest was a good idea. That way the user can quickly lift up his Asus notebook without disturbing the connected USB sticks.

Left: 2 x USB, CardReader; Right: Audio, 2 x USB, VGA, LAN, Power; Backside: HDMI, 2 x Kensington; Front: No connections
Left: 2 x USB, CardReader; Right: Audio, 2 x USB, VGA, LAN, Power; Backside: HDMI, 2 x Kensington; Front: No connections

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keyboard is suitable for the casual typist. Those demanding high quality pressure points and a solid typing feel will not strike it rich with the Asus K61IC. The keyboard sags noticeably and the keys allow a stroke that is too limited. The feedback when writing is thus too vague and certainly not satisfactory for many writers. Still, we find a completely integrated numeric pad. This helps those workers using Excel when entering number columns or simply when using it as a calculator.

Touchpad

We were able to get used to the touchpad after some time. The smooth surface initially gives washed-out feedback when moving ones fingers. The small recesses nonetheless help to deliver a fair amount of grip. What we don't like are the painted keys of the pad. These are a collecting point for fingerprints and smudges of all kinds. The panache-touchpad doesn't offer a real multi-touch feature. Though the user can roll vertically or horizontally with two fingers, the touchpad doesn't allow for zooming or rotating. Users can adjust the sensitivity of the hand sensor in order to minimize unwanted mouse movements with the heel of hand.

Keyboard left
Keyboard left
Keyboard right
Keyboard right
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

The Asus K61IC doesn't set a high standard with its input devices. The display doesn't change that either. The non-AR coated Hannstar-Panel HSD160PHW1 has a 1366x768 pixel resolution typical to this price class. This WXGA-resolution is already very rough, but not bad per se. There are many users of office notebooks to whom normally large symbols and writing prove advantageous. The transition from 15.6 to 16 inch has no affect on the user. The 1366x768 pixels come very close to the 16:9 aspect ratio. Wide displays are in theory meant to allow two program windows to be shown next to each other. Practically speaking however, the limited resolution does not allow this unless the user is ready to accept a noticeable resizing.  Resizing means an increase or decrease of the shown content. This is possible in a progressive way in all web browsers or also in Microsoft Office.

The Hannstar-panel has its own flaw in terms of the limited contrast of 204:1. This value is typical for office notebooks and is also acceptable in the price class around 600 Euro. Buyers with high demands on color fastness, or more simply put, crisp colors, should look for an alternative. The glare-type panel does however visually improve the limited contrasts, but that is nonetheless a mere trick of the eye.

214
cd/m²
220
cd/m²
183.1
cd/m²
216
cd/m²
201
cd/m²
186.1
cd/m²
202
cd/m²
191
cd/m²
188.2
cd/m²
Information
Maximum: 220 cd/m²
Average: 200.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 201 cd/m²
Black: 0.98 cd/m²
Contrast: 205:1
Distribution of brightness

Tests of the brightness of the display screen gave acceptable, but in no way good results. On average the illumination was at 200 cd/m². This illumination is not consistent, however, as the Hannstar-TFT reaches 220 cd/m² at its brightest point and 188 cd/m² at its dimmest. On a black screen, for instance when uploading Windows 7, we clearly notice a thin bright strip on the lower edge of the display.

The glare panel during outdoor duties.
The glare panel during outdoor duties.

Those who like to go out in the sunshine with their laptop are out of luck with Asus K61IC. The 16 inch panel is missing a lamination which could minimize reflections.  The modest brightness means that users in sunlight have to bend and turn the laptop in order to read anything on a shadowed spot of the display. The scenario for K61IC users is less menacing indoors. The brightness is always sufficient, so much so that sensitive eyes will even want to dim it. Bright backgrounds, for instance a window or a desk lamp, are, however, a constant frustration.

Viewers have the most leeway when moving horizontally from the ideal viewing angle. If one strays right or left, writing continues to be clearly visible up to 80 degrees and even the colors don't invert. It looks much worse vertically. Colors change at a mere 10 degrees, writing is no longer decipherable at 45 degree and the colors invert to an unrecognizable level.

Viewing angel of the Asus K61IC-JX019V
Viewing angel of the Asus K61IC-JX019V

Performance

The Asus K61IC-JX019V is equipped with a weak, but reasonably priced Intel Pentium Deal Core Processor T4300 (2.1 GHz, 1 MB L2-Cache, 800 MHz FSB). It is the big brother of the T4200 Pentium Processors (2.0 GHz) which we found on the HP Pavilion dv6-1211sg. Together with the Nvidia chipset MCP79/7A and 4 GB memory of the type DDR2 there are enough reserves for typical office tasks.  The performance is made for watching movies, creating documents, editing pictures or surfing the Web. The Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit already installed is always in command of the 2.1 GHz processor.

An NvidiaGeForce GT 220M serves graphic card duties. The beginner GPU is equipped with GDDR2 video memory which fits with its claims of being an all-rounder graphic devise. According to Nvidia its sister model, the GT 230M, already belongs in the performance class, which is also demonstrated by the GDDR3 memory used there. Interested buyers of the K61IC will likely also come across the ASUS K61IC-TY014V while doing their research on the project. Even if it isn't at first clear from the name, that is a 17 incher with Core 2 Duo T9600 , GeForce GT 240M and 2 x 500 GB hard drive. The 17 inch counterpart costs a lofty 1,150 Euro, however.

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ Memory
Systeminfo CPUZ SPD
Systeminfo GPUZ
Systeminfo HDTune
System information Asus K61IC-JX019V
DPC Latency Checker
DPC Latency Checker Asus K61IC-JX019V

The latencies on Windows are interesting. If too high, they can lead to problems connecting external devices (for instance sound crackling on external sound cards or short interruptions in Real Time audio). The K61IC does not perform all that commendably in this area: According to the Tools DPC Latency Checker, the latencies stay in the not-exactly harmless range under 500µs. The causes of this are normally faulty drivers of internal devices like WLAN adapters, sound cards, USB host controller, etc.

Processor Performance

Processor Benchmark Cinebench
Processor Benchmark Cinebench

Anyone buying a notebook wants enough performance to run the advised applications for the next three years. With the Pentium Dual Core Processor T4300, buyers can bet on a sufficiently fast processor for the Windows 7 operating system. Windows Vista would also be no problem for the two-core CPU. The PC Mark Vantage determines a system performance rating of 3,175 points. In this test, all components from the processor to the internal memory and the hard drive are tested and undergo a synthetic application test. The PCMark-Vantage-Graphic shows clearly: The ASUS K61IC is, and remains a beginner notebook. Systems with faster hard drives and more modern Intel Core i7 processors are miles ahead of it in application performance. Anyone looking for a long period of peaceful hardware operation performance should go for a faster Intel Core 2 Duo (e.g., P8700) instead. Thanks to the influx of the Intel Core i7 four-core CPUs on the market, the previous generation of Core 2 Duos will be more affordable in the future.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
2242
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
3963
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
2834
Help
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage3175 points
Help

The Hitachi hard drive (HTS543232L9A) with a gross capacity of 320 GByte does not deliver good date throughputs during sequential readings. HD-Tune measures 44.7 MB/s, an under-average value, even for a 5.400 RPM notebook hard driver.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K320 HTS543232L9A
Transfer Rate Minimum: 15.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 60.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 44.7 MB/s
Access Time: 20.3 ms
Burst Rate: 103 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1 %

Graphic Performance

The Nvidia Gefroce GT 220M is not a suitable graphic solution for real gamers. Though the same graphic chip found in the significantly higher-performing GT 240M is used, the results of the 3D Benchmarks are appreciably worse due to a lower timing. After repeated runs, the 3DMark06 resulted in a mere 4.010 points. The GT 220M-GPU is not fundamentally so slow, but Asus clocks the GPU, plugged by them as an MXM-Module, much lower. 500, 400, 1.250 Mhz, those are the clock rates of the core, memory and shader respectively. In other notebooks in the field, like the Asus X64VG, the same GT-220M-GPU runs with 550, 500, 1.350 MHz (core, memory, and shader), which makes it possible to get around 5.300 3DMarks06 points with the same processor.

We tried out FarCry 2 and got very modest results: 23 FPS in the higher detail level but lower 1024 x 768 resolution. Those who want to play games every now and then and are also considering more recent games should look for an alternative with at least a Nvidia GT 240M or ATI Radeon Mobility HD4650. Notebooks with these GPUs can already be had for prices starting at 600 Euro.

GT 220M on MXM-Module
GT 220M on MXM-Module
Results of the 3D Mark Vantage
Results of the 3D Mark Vantage
FarCry 2: only smooth in 640x480
FarCry 2: only smooth in 640x480
3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE16782 points
3DMark 0312623 points
3DMark 058051 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
4010 points
3DMark Vantage1378 points
Help
3DMark Vantage
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1280x1024P CPU no PhysX3590 Points
 1280x1024P GPU no PhysX1144 Points
 1280x1024P Result no PhysX1378 Points
Far Cry 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768high DX10, 0xAA23.15 fps
 640x480low DX9, 0xAA43.29 fps

Emissions

System Noise

While the predecessor to the K61IC surprised with a noticeably cool palm rest area and minimal noise, the K61IC fell short of expectations. Under heavy load from the graphic card and processor during our Stress-Test, the Asus laptop got as loud as 44.5 dB(A). Such a heavy load wouldn't be reached in a typical user scenario and 37.6 dB(A) is thus a more appropriate point for orientation.

It would have been to the advantage of many office users if the 16 incher would stay quiet during surfing or working in Excel. This is unfortunately not the case; The fans always make their presence known with at least 32.5 dB(A). This whooshing is created by two separate fans, which each move the warm air from the Pentium processors and the Nvidia graphic card out of the case. The whooshing of both fans is constant and not irritating. It is remarkable, however, that a generally weak-performing notebook like the K61IC is equipped with two heat pipes and two separate fans. The previous models each had only one fan.

Fan outlets: left for CPU, right for GPU
Fan outlets: left for CPU, right for GPU

Noise Level

Idle 32.5 / 32.5 / 32.5 dB(A)
HDD 33.2 dB(A)
DVD 39.3 / 39.3 dB(A)
Load 37.6 / 44.5 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)
12 hour Stress-Test with Prime95 and Furmark
12 hour Stress-Test with Prime95 and Furmark

Temperature

In terms of temperature, the two fans keep the surface cool without any trouble. The Ice-Cool sticker on the left hand rest points in the right direction. Even under stress we measured an average of only 25 degrees Celsius there. That is only three degrees higher than the room temperature during the test. It is remarkable how stable the temperatures stay on the top side of the K61IC, regardless of whether the laptop remains at idle or whether the GPU and CPU benchmarks are running simultaneously. The situation on the bottom panel deserves greater criticism in this respect, though only when the K61IC is burdened with an unrealistically high load. The highest measurements we got at the level of the heat pipes and air outlets was 45 degrees. Operating the laptop while rested on ones lap would be uncomfortable in such a situation. During a realistic scenario of surfing and word processing, the maximum temperature on the underside stays around 38.5 degrees. The areas around the palm rests stay comfortably cool at 26 to 30.7 degrees.

The Asus K61IC doesn't allow itself to get worked up. We put the 16-incher under the stress of the Prime95 and Furmark for 12 hours. The processor did not heat up to more than 75 degrees Celsius and the graphic card was even much lower at 62 degrees. The low overclocking and the separate GPU coolers keep the temperatures low. A 3DMark06 run directly after the Stress-Test resulted in 4.004 points. The Stress-Test seems to have had no affect on its performance (throttling).

Max. Load
 31.3 °C33.8 °C33.9 °C 
 29.8 °C32.4 °C33.3 °C 
 24.3 °C25.9 °C25.3 °C 
 
42.5 °C44.9 °C41.3 °C
36.5 °C35.6 °C30.2 °C
26.2 °C27.2 °C25.6 °C
Maximum: 33.9 °C
Average: 30 °C
 Maximum: 44.9 °C
Average: 34.4 °C
Power Supply (max.)  67.3 °C | Room Temperature 22 °C

Loudspeakers

Asus placed the two stereo speakers under the palm rests. They hit the tabletop with sound, something that doesn't lend itself to high expectations for the sound quality. In practice, the two speakers surprised us with a reasonable volume, which was high and undistorted. Though the Altec-Lansing loudspeakers lack subwoofers and thus have no bass, films, music and games get a suitably balanced sound thanks to the connectable SRS Premium Sound feature. Suitable means that we are dealing with a mid-toned sound. Balanced means that the diaphragms don't wear you out, even with a quick change from loud to quite tones, and that everything is reproduced in a differentiated way. That is especially impressive in action games or videos.

Many users hook up external speakers through the 3.5 mm sound outlet. We tested this with two active Yamaha speakers (YST-M20SDP). If desired, the level can be lowered on the notebook. Despite the onboard soundcard, even the limited input level does not result in rustling.

Battery Life

Battery life with a DVD movie
Battery life with a DVD movie

The Asus K61IC doesn't win any prices for its mobility. 95 minutes of surfing with WLAN while watching a few Modern Warfare 2 clips on YouTube. That is not even two hours. Those who activate all the power-saving settings and only write Word-files will get away with 139 minutes. The Lithium-Ion battery with only 4.400 mAh has a capacity that is too limited to fairly support the power-hungry Intel Pentium processor. Though it is processed in 45 nanometer lithography, it has a very high TDP with 35 Watt. Those looking to watch a DVD film shouldn't pause it too often. After only 84 minutes our test was over; that's enough for one film, assuming it is of the short variety.

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
2h 19min
WiFi Surfing
1h 35min
DVD
1h 24min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 01min

In this age of ultra-low voltage processors with 10 to 15 watts of power consumption of a laptop, numbers like 43 Watt for normal office operation seem almost shocking. In fact, the Asus K61IC's hunger for energy is remarkable mainly due to the limited performance of the laptop. When we strain the notebook with a 3DMark06 and turn everything on including WLAN, the average true power climbs to 66 watts.  That is simply too high, even with the dedicated Nvidia graphic chip.

Power consumption

Off / Standby 0 / 0 Watt
Idle 29.5 / 43.3 / 44.8 Watt
Load 66.3 / 77.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         

Verdict

Asus dared to do an interesting experiment and equipped the K-Series with an OEM variant of the Nvidia Geforce GT 220M graphic card. Unfortunately, the low clocked GPU doesn't know where to start as it's too weak for recent and even older games. The GPU also has the disadvantage of having two fans in its case and the K61IC is incessantly audible.

The battery life is in every way lousy. Whether 95 minutes of surfing with WLAN or 84 minutes watching a DVD, the mobility is too limited. The source of this shortcoming it the energy need of the components like the Pentium processor and also the Nvidia GT 220M. But even with a longer running-time the K61IC was not mobile: The fact that it weighs 2.8 Kilograms and has a display lacking anti-reflection coating, thus allowing for heavy reflections in the sunlight, go against it. The WXGA panel with its minimal contrasts go along with expectations for a laptop in the 600 Euro price class.

There are few reasons to speak in favor of the K61IC-JX019V. Those looking to Asus for a robust, quiet office notebook should choose the Asus X5DIJ, the K50IJ or the K51AC. All of these 15.6 inchers share the positive trait of having a cool case, but are quieter than the K61IC in this review. Buyers wishing a graphic card also aren't going to reach for the K61IC. The GPU resolution GT 220M from Nvidia is simply too weak to have fun with. This is especially true as the GPU is operated with such a low clock rate from Asus. Moreover, there are already laptops with stronger GT 240M or HD4650 to be had from 580 to 680 Euros.

The Asus K61IC-JX019V with Nvidia Geforce GT 220M is not a suitable gaming-notebook.
The Asus K61IC-JX019V with Nvidia Geforce GT 220M is not a suitable gaming-notebook.
In Review: Asus K61IC-JX019V
Reviewed:  Asus K61IC-JX019V

Specifications

Asus K61IC-JX019V

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Nvidia MCP79MX
:: Memory
4096 MB, 4096MB, DDR2-800, 2 Module
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GT 220M - 1024 MB, Core: 500 MHz, Memory: 400 MHz, DDR2, 186.78
:: Display
16.0 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Hannstar HSD160PHW1, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Hitachi Travelstar 5K320 HTS543232L9A, 320 GB 5400 rpm 5.400 rpm
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC662
:: Connections
4 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 2 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Mic, Line-Out, Card Reader: MMC/SD/Memory Stick,
:: Networking
Realtek RTL8168B/8111B Family PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR9285 802.11b/g WiFi Adapter (b g )
:: Optical drive
Slimtype DVD A DS8A3S
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 35 x 370 x 256
:: Weight
2.7 kg Power Supply: 0.46 kg
:: Battery
48 Wh Lithium-Ion, Asustek A32-F82
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1.3 Megapixel, Cyberlink Power2Go, Windows 7 32bit/64bit, 24 Months Warranty

 

Asus equipps its K-Series with dedicated Nvidia graphics for the first time, the Geforce GT 220M.
Asus equipps its K-Series with dedicated Nvidia graphics for the first time, the Geforce GT 220M.
The 16 incher should still stay cool, however - even under load.
The 16 incher should still stay cool, however - even under load.
The Ice-Cool technology consists of a double-fan cooling system. Here is the bottom panel.
The Ice-Cool technology consists of a double-fan cooling system. Here is the bottom panel.
Removing the large panel exposes its whole insides.
Removing the large panel exposes its whole insides.
The processor has its own fan, as does the graphic card.
The processor has its own fan, as does the graphic card.
Asus plugs the Nvidia GT 220M as MXM-Module.
Asus plugs the Nvidia GT 220M as MXM-Module.
The thick alu-cooling bodies could certainly cool stronger GPUs than just the weak GT 220M.
The thick alu-cooling bodies could certainly cool stronger GPUs than just the weak GT 220M.
Will Asus soon bring a version of the K61IC with the GT 240M up to the line?
Will Asus soon bring a version of the K61IC with the GT 240M up to the line?
The palm rests stay cool, since under here are the battery, lubricated hard drive and the DVD drive.
The palm rests stay cool, since under here are the battery, lubricated hard drive and the DVD drive.
The included recovery storage medium from Windows 7 in 64 AND 32 Bit are praiseworthy.
The included recovery storage medium from Windows 7 in 64 AND 32 Bit are praiseworthy.
The 90 Watt power pack is not oversized. The K61IC needs a full 77 Watt under load.
The 90 Watt power pack is not oversized. The K61IC needs a full 77 Watt under load.
The K61IC is a 16 incher from Asus...
The K61IC is a 16 incher from Asus...
...that doesn't try to hide its size.
...that doesn't try to hide its size.
The HannStar-Panel without anti-reflective coating is unusable in daylight.
The HannStar-Panel without anti-reflective coating is unusable in daylight.
The lid hangs securely on its hinges...
The lid hangs securely on its hinges...
... and the robustness of the case is easily seen.
... and the robustness of the case is easily seen.
Unfortunately, the lid only opens to about 45 degrees.
Unfortunately, the lid only opens to about 45 degrees.
The high gloss finish makes the look, but there are also matt finished bits.
The high gloss finish makes the look, but there are also matt finished bits.
The entire keyboard buckles easily under pressure.
The entire keyboard buckles easily under pressure.
The two stereo speakers deliver a balanced sound.
The two stereo speakers deliver a balanced sound.
The battery with 4.400 mAH is found under a lid..
The battery with 4.400 mAH is found under a lid..
The HDMI connection wasn't on some previous models.
The HDMI connection wasn't on some previous models.

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Links

Compare Prices

Pricerunner.de

Pro

+HDMI
+Cool case
+Robust chassis
 

Contra

-Weak graphics
-Short battery life
-Poorly contrasted panel

Shortcut

What we liked

The stable case which appears without too many frills or additional buttons - finally with a HDMI connector.

What we missed

An outright commitment to being a mobile office notebook without a dedicated graphic card.

What surprised us

The almost icy temperatures of the upper side, even with the dedicated graphics.

The competition

For office-fans: Acer Extensa 5230E; For gamers: HP Pavilion dv6-1211sg, Samsung R522-Aura

Rating

Asus K61IC-JX019V
11/15/2009
Bernd Müller

Chassis
85%
Keyboard
80%
Pointing Device
70%
Connectivity
75%
Weight
78%
Battery
61%
Display
79%
Games Performance
79%
Application Performance
84%
Temperature
90%
Noise
88%
Add Points
80%
Average
79%
79%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Asus K61IC Notebook
Author: Bernd Müller, 2009-11-23 (Update: 2012-05-26)