The performance levels of the various configurations are close to the version we have tested, however expect slower multimedia capacities (photo work and video editing notably) with the Core i3 processor.
The Asus N71Jv is one of the first laptops to use NVIDIA's Optimus technology; a technology that allows you to move between the 2 graphics solutions. In addition, it also includes the recent USB 3.0 format and audio that Asus is claiming to be more realistic than the standard. All these innovations in a 17.3 inch model might be hard to resist.
Handling, design and build: soft to the touch and good ease-of-use
The N71Jv is a well designed product with a nice finish. Inside it's covered with soft, satiny plastic which is very agreeable to the touch. Only the screen surround and the keyboard base are in glossy blacks. There's a length of brushed aluminium between the screen and keyboard which adds to the look nicely. The materials used are of good quality and it all gives an impression of sturdiness.
The keyboard has separated keys (15 x 15 mm). It includes a number pad on the right with slightly slimmer keys. Typing is supple, rapid and quiet.
Above the keyboard, on the left side of the length of brushed aluminium, the multimedia buttons give control of audio and video playback. It's a shame that the keyboard isn't backlit.
The multi-touch touchpad is a good size. It offers a good glide and satsifactory precision. It would have been welcome to see more surface area given over to it. Underneath, the click bar is in the same glossy black plastics as around the keybaord keys.
The webcam gives a generally ok image. It's fluid and the contrast is fine. Note however a tendency to overexpose light areas.
The N71Jv's fan is discreet when processing office documents. It is quiet overall and only becomes audible during heavy tasks (photo work, video encoding, 3D gaming and so on).
Connectivity is comprehensive and even includes a USB 3.0 port which is very practical for obtaining higher speeds than you can get with the USB 2.0 format. There are 3 USB ports, an e-SATA, an RJ45, an HDMI, a VGA, a headphones socket (+ S/PDIF) and a mic, an ExpressCard 34 and an 8-in-1 card reader. There is of course Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The only thing lacking is a Blu-Ray player (available on some versions). We should say that the power supply socket is poorly positioned as it is almost centrally placed on the left side of the machine.
Under the PC, 2 panels give acces to the RAM and hard drive, as well as a mini PCI-E space.
||2 audio outs (including S/PDIF), mic, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, DVD burner
|Antitheft, power socket, VGA, RJ45, e-SATA, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0s, ExpressCard
||Touchpad and click bar
Processing: an allrounder
The Asus N71Jv can handle both office doc tasks and multimedia. Its Intel Core i5-430M processor gives it a score of 104 in our test protocol, which is on a par with our reference machine (100 on the index), the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400).
Photo work and video (editing and encoding) is no problem.
The processor can handle HD 1080p (Blu-Ray equivalent) on its own. We nevertheless recommend you to use the excellent video decoding capacities of the dedicated NVIDIA graphics card as this will free up the processor for other important tasks. To economise even further on power, you can also carry out video decoding on the built-in Intel graphics part.
3D gaming: several games with low graphics settings
The NVIDIA GeForce GT 325M is a mid-range card. It can handle recent titles at native resolution with medium graphics settings (Far Cry 2, Race Driver GRID). More demanding games such as Crysis are only fluid at low settings.
Audio: better than average and well-equipped in terms of audio outs
The audio is highlighted by Asus on this machine. More work has been done here than on other Asus products and you can hear the difference straight away. You shouldn't expect very deep sound of course but at least for once you do get something that's acceptable. It's relatively detailed and the treble doesn't dominate things too much. There's no hiss on the headphones out and it gives good results. You can also link up a 5.1 speaker kit, either analogue, using the 3 jack sockets, or digital with the S/PDIF optical out or the HDMI. Best however to deactivate the SRS effects which denature the sound.
Mobility, battery life: Optimus lacks munitions
Thanks to its 2 graphics circuits (Intel and NVIDIA) and the Optimus technology, the Asus N71Jv can switch from one to the other to reduce power consumption and increase battery life. The NVIDIA graphics part (which consumes most) can therefore be reserved for times when the Intel solution doesn't give high enough performance. This is typically the case with gaming. The rest of the time, the display can be handled by the Intel graphics on its own.
Unfortunately, though the Optimus technology looks great on paper, it doesn't mean you'll be getting hours and hours of battery life on this machine. The 6-cell 4400 mAh battery is too limited for that and only gives 2 hours video playback (brightness at 100 Cd/m², Wi-Fi disactivated and headphones plugged in).
In terms of size, the N71Jv isn't the most compact of 17.3 inch models. At 3.4 Kg, it is a real weight to lug around. The Samsung R780 is much lighter at 2.84 Kg. The Asus model will therefore be confined to the house for the most part. The mains charger is similar to what you get on other brands, which means pretty big.