Review Compal FL90 Notebook

Hit of the summer. The Compal FL90 notebook is one of the VBI (Verified by Intel) notebooks. Performance and hardware were considered far more important than the look. Of course, also the price has to be reasonable. The Compal FL90 meets these requirements very well. Although, it might not look as elegant as 'brand notebooks', it is excellently equipped, e.g., with a GeForce 8600M GT video card.

Following review is provided by notebookcheck.pl, our Polish editor team.

Case

The Compal FL90 is a very popular notebook currently offered as part of the VBI (Verified By Intel) program. The products offered as a part of this program have to follow a set of guidelines specified by Intel.

It is often said, that no-names differ from brand laptops basically because the lack of a logo. Be this as it may, the Compal FL90 looks quite nice, but not outstanding. It is a solid notebook, without any fancy, unnecessary details. Nevertheless, some hot keys are provided, and the power button is even equipped with a blue LED.

FL90 is mostly dark blue - almost black. The top case is made of matte plastic and the display cover is coated by metallic paint.

In the middle of the display cover there is a round hollow. It's for the logo of the brand under which it will be sold. Furthermore, there is a space for putting a sticker onto the display cover.

Touching the rough surface of the case it gets obvious that this notebook is not designed a top notebook.

The case is solid and sound all around, and in general totally robust. Only the display cover yields a little bit under pressure. However, the cover of the base unit vibrates quite loudly, if you touch it. This especially annoys when using the touch pad.

The broad hinges work well and the screen doesn't wobble after adjusting its position.The biggest weakness of the Compal FL90's case is that the transport hook is missing. There isn't even a magnetic mechanism, only the hinges, keep the display more or less closed. If the notebook is held upside down, the display cover will open for about 1.5cm due to gravity. Furthermore, the hinges are designed in a way that makes in impossible to open the notebook with one hand.

The ports and the vent hole are located at reasonable places.

Front Side: WLAN switch
Compal FL90 interfaces
Left Side: VGA, LAN, Modem, S-Video, 2x USB, FireWire, ExpressCard, Card Reader, Microphone, Headphones
Compal FL90 interfaces
Right Side: Optical Drive, 2x USB, Power Connector
Compal FL90 interfaces
Back Side: Kensington Lock
Compal FL90 interfaces

Input Devices

Writing with the Compal's keyboard is very comfortable. It's layout is nice. However, Fn and Ctrl keys are reverse than usual. The cursor keys - although squeezed between other keys - are suprisingly large and easy to use. The size of the keys is generally very good, except of the small enter key.

Typing on this keyboard is rather quiet - only Caps Lock, left Shift, Enter, and space bar are a little louder.

The touchpad's dimensions are 6.8x3.6cm. This means that it isn't big (especially vertically) and has an unusal format. Nevertheless, it is very good touchpad - it's precise, sensitive and has nice sliding properties. The only con is the already mentioned vibration when double-tapped.

Its buttons are hard to press on the edges. We feel that they are quite loud - especialy because of a vibrating sound that is created when pressing them. However, they are quick and precise.

In addition to silver multimedia hot keys above the keyboard, the Compal also provides two more hot keys located at the left side of the case. They are white, and hard to press. One of them (Q-Charging) serves to charge the battery to full, even if an option to charge it to 50/75% is selected. The other (Power USB) allows the USB ports to gain electricity even if the notebook is turned off.

Touch pad
Compal FL90 Touch pad
Keyboard
Compal FL90 Keyboard

Display

Color Diagram
Compal FL90 Display

The reviewed Compal came with a glossy 15.4" WXGA screen (1280x800). It has been manufactured by LG.Philips (Some HP Pavilions are, e.g., equipped with the same display). The maximum brightness was 217.2cd/m², which appears to be a very good result, especially compared to other panels by this manufacturer. The illumination is rather poor at 74.3%. The maximum contrast of 241:1 is again alright. Overall the quality of this display is satisfying.

184.1
cd/m²
183.9
cd/m²
172.1
cd/m²
179.0
cd/m²
217.2
cd/m²
178.0
cd/m²
161.3
cd/m²
181.0
cd/m²
175.2
cd/m²
Information
Maximum: 217.2 cd/m²
Average: 181.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 74 %
Black: 0.9 cd/m²
Contrast: 241:1
Distribution of brightness
Operation Outdoor
Compal FL90 Outdoor

Regarding stability to the vantage point the area of operation is rather narrow. Typical LG.Philips screen black quite quickly becomes gray both vertically and horizontally.

Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point
Compal FL90 Stability to the Vantage Point

Performance

The reviewed Compal FL90 was equipped with a Core 2 Duo T7300 (2.0GHz) processor. Considering performance/price ratio, this seems to be an optimal choice at the moment.

The video card is a GeForce 8600M GT. It is considerably more powerful than the 8600M GS that its competitor, the ASmobile S96S, is equipped with.

Further information about the video card can be found  here or in our comparison of mobile video cards. Detailed information about the Core 2 Duo CPU can be found here.

Please also look at our benchmark list of mobile processors or at our benchmark list of mobile video cards, in order to compare this notebook to other configurations.

 

Benchmark Comparison 3DMark
Compal FL90 Benchmark
Benchmark Comparison PCMark
Compal FL90 Benchmark
3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE20359 points
3DMark 038821 points
3DMark 055251 points
3DMark 06
 
3078 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Sony Vaio VGN-FS485B (min)
 740, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 900
54
   ...
Sony Vaio VPC-EC1M1E
 330M, Mobility Radeon HD 5470
3057
HP EliteBook 2560p LG666EA
 2410M, HD Graphics 3000
3069
Compal FL90
 T7300, GeForce 8600M GT
3078
HP G62-130EG
 330M, Mobility Radeon HD 5430
3082
Sony Vaio SVT1311M1ES
 2367M, HD Graphics 3000
3083
   ...
Alienware M18x R2 (max)
 3920XM, Radeon HD 7970M Crossfire
29496
PC Mark
PCMark 055075 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo Mobile U9210
 T9400, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
5060
HP EliteBook 6930p
 T9400, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
5072
Compal FL90
 T7300, GeForce 8600M GT
5075
Lenovo IdeaPad V560
 370M, GeForce 310M
5083
Toshiba Tecra M11-104
 330M, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
5084
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
160 GB - 7200 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 19.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 57.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 44.2 MB/s
Access Time: 14.5 ms
Burst Rate: 79.5 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.5 %

Gaming tests (with the help of Fraps):

Company of Heroes
1024x768, high/med details, AA off
19-42fps (34.9fps on average)

1280x800, all maxed out
3-15fps (10.2fps on average) - playable non the less

FIFA 07
demo default settings
54-60fps (57.8fps on average)

Genesis Rising
1280x1024, high details, AA on
76-90fps (81.9fps on average)

Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix
640x480, balanced details
56-60 fps (58.8fps on average)

Supreme Commander
1024x768, high details, AA off
18-30fps (23fps on average)

Emissions

Loudness

In idle mode the fan start runnning every half minute. Even a single mouse movement will cause the fan to run more frequently. Under load the fan operates continually and occasionally at higher speeds. We measured a maximum noise level of 41.2dB.

Though the Compal FL90 isn't loud, the dynamic changes of fan speed might annoy. However, this problem can be solved, by a different configuration. The optical drive by TSSTcorp (Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology) is really loud. Its noise level of up to 46dB makes watching DVDs unenjoyable.

Noise Level

Idle 33.5 / 37.5 / 36.1 dB(A)
HDD 34.5 dB(A)
DVD 46 / dB(A)
Load / 41.2 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Because of a powerful GPU, the notebook gets considerably warmer under load. The measured maximum was 42°C at the left of the top side directly under the screen next to the vent hole. The other warm spots of the top side are the left palm rest area (37°C) and the touch pad (38°C). The maximum at the bottom side  was 43°C.

Upper side

palmwrist: 37,9°C max: 42,1°C avg: 34,9°C

Bottom side

max: 43,0°C avg: 38,8°C

Speakers

The sound quality is relatively good. Even at maximum volume their sound is acceptable.

Battery Runtime

We could test two batteries supported by the FL90.

The first one was a 6-cell, 4800mAh battery, which is the standard equipment. Its runtime ranges from one hour to above three hours. In practice with standard settings and WLAN enabled the runtime will be probably around 2 hours.

The 9-cell, 7200mAh battery exceeds the case by about 2cm. Its runtime is between 1.5 and 4 hours. So, unplugged regular work should be possible for about 3 hours.

No matter which battery you finally use, the runtime is be no means big.

Standard 4800 mAh battery:

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 37min
DVD
2h 38min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 29min

7200 mAh Battery:

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 37min
DVD
2h 38min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 29min

Power consumption

Idle 19.7 / 31.5 / 36.5 Watt
Load 70.4 / 58.1 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         

Verdict

The Compal FL90 looks nice and has a good performance. The main pro of this notebook is its powerful GeForce 8600M GT video card. The benchmark tests prove the good performance of this video card. At a closer look the Compal also rates high in other aspects.

The FL90's quality partly exceeds the quality of many recognized brands. The keyboard is alright. The display, although made by LG.Philips and with narrow viewing angles, has a bright picture. The FL90 also provides an excellent webcam, and good speakers. Furthermore, its noise level is low.

Besides the transport hook is missing, the Compal FL90 is an excellent notebook with very good price/performance ratio.

Thanks to our partners of Notebookcheck Polen, who reviewed this notebook.

Compal FL90
Compal FL90
Reviewed: Compal FL90
Compal FL90

Specifications

Compal FL90

:: Processor
:: Memory
2048 MB, Kingston Dual Channel DDR2-667, 2x 1 GB, maks. 4096 MB
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
15.4 inch 16:10, 1280x800 pixel, WXGA Color Shine (LG Philips LP154WX4-TLC1 / LPLDB00)
:: Harddisk
160 GB - 7200 rpm, 160 GB 7200 rpm Seagate ST9160823AS: 160GB, 7200rpm
:: Connections
4x USB 2.0 (w tym dwa PowerUSB), VGA, S-Video, wej¶cie mikrofonowe, wyj¶cie s³uchawkowe, FireWire, LAN, modem
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 35,2 x 355 x 257
:: Weight
2.7 kg
:: Battery
, litowo-jonowy 4800 mAh (6 ogniw)
:: Price
4070 Euro
:: Additional features
Intel Crestline PM965, HDD: 160GB, 7200rpm, Seagate ST9160823AS, Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801HBM ICH8M - HD audio, TSSTcorp CD/DVDW TS-L632D,

 

There are a few decorative details.
Compal FL90 Image
Some of them do not look so good.
Compal FL90 Image
The display does not have a transport hook.
Compal FL90 Image
The keyboard is tightly attached.
Compal FL90 Image
The sound of the speakers is surprisingly loud and clear.
Compal FL90 Image
The optical drive is loud.
Compal FL90 Image
Although it may not look so, this web cam is alright.
Compal FL90 Image
Even with the larger battery the run time is not satisfying.
Although it may appear to black, Compal FL90 is actually dark blue.
Compal FL90 Image
The base unit is very solid...
Compal FL90 Image
...,but, the haptics of the matte plastic isn't so nice.
Compal FL90 Image

Pro

  • Excellent performance/price ratio
  • Solid Case
  • Good keyboard
  • Bright display
  • Good sound
  • Low noise
  • Very good web cam
  • Contra

  • No transport hook
  • Poor viewing angles
  • Case and touch pad vibrate
  • No DVI port
  • Loud DVD drive
  • Similar Notebooks

    > Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Compal FL90 Notebook
    Author: Tomasz Cyba, 2007-08-31 (Update: 2013-05- 8)