Asus has been producing excellent mid-range computers for years. The F50GX is no exception, and represents good value for money.
Its charcoal grey lid is accentuated with grey patterning and the keyboard surround smoothly fades from black to grey at its front edge. But while Asus gets an A+ for effort, the overall effect is a bit lacklustre.
It's slightly bulky, and the mixed patterns of the keyboard surround and trackpad create a slightly cheapening effect. The lid has a lot of flex in it, but despite our twisting and bending, it pleasingly revealed no warping of the screen. The rest of the chassis is just as resilient.
The range of connectivity options is quite small: Expresscard is a good addition to the mix, as is HDMI - Asus has been including both of these on recent models, and it's a trend we appreciate. Four USB ports are complemented by well-placed and easily accessible card reader and audio ports. Wireless-n is included, which, together with Gigabit Ethernet, makes this a speedy internet laptop.
High-end versions of this model carry Blu-ray, but at the cheaper price points, you get a super-multi-DVD drive.
Asus' 2-year international warranty is unmatched by others on test here. Also helping to lift the model above the ordinary is the included numberpad - it's on the slender side, but it's functional and claims to be full size.
The keyboard is a little blocky - keys are squared off and that's occasionally noticeable. The depth and travel is a little less than ideal, but it's responsive overall. The trackpad is nicely roughened for use, and feels comfortable. To contrast, the mouse button is a single silver bar and is not as responsive as we'd hope for.
Performance is right in the middle of the pack, as is battery life, but nothing lifts it above the other models. While the included graphics card makes for decent, if uninspiring Crysis results, at least you'll be able to do a modicum of gaming.
The fan exhausts to the rear, and doesn't get too hot even under full load. We were impressed by heat management.
Overall, it's not the most attractive laptop, or the best performing, but it does have the widest range of features. If you need Expresscard or HDMI, then this is the model for you. Sadly, that's not enough to lift it out of the middle of the pack.