This is the second Sonoma notebook to grace our Labs, and we were interested to get this one up and running our benchmarks to see the performance gains that Sonoma offers.
Our review unit came with blazing specifications, packing an Intel Pentium-M 770 (the second fastest available 2.13GHz) processor, and featuring a 2MB L2 cache. Also included was an 8-speed DVD dual format burner with dual layer writing capabilities – one of only a handful of notebooks to offer this. While there are no dedicated graphics on this machine, the notebook does make good use of the integrated 915 chipset graphics to deliver 5550 3DMarks in 3DMark01 SE’s default 1024 x 768 resolution test.
While most notebook vendors are delivering 802.11b/g wireless cards, ASUS has gone all out on this one and included a triband 802.11a/b/g card to suit both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz standards.
Performance wasn’t an issue with this notebook pumping out 3723 PCMarks in the ‘04 version; the score helped along by 1GB of memory and the 80GB 5400RPM hard disk.
One of the best features of this notebook is its flexibility – it can find a place either as a workhorse or home entertainment machine.
The 15.4in LCD display is attractive and responsive with movie playback showing very little tearing. The audio, however, was a little muddy and serious movie watchers may want to look at investing in a set of headphones as there’s no SPDIF output. The inclusion of an integrated BlueTooth module, bonus carry bag and USB mouse sweeten the already good bundle.
For such a high specification machine with a large display, we didn’t have high expectations of battery life. We were wrong. Not only is this one of the best looking and functional notebooks we’ve played with in some time, but this notebook managed to stay operating at full load with a looping productivity test for well over three and a half hours – enough for students, road warriors and home users.
Intel’s Sonoma is opening some interesting doors for the mobile market and we see this as the only foothold for further improved notebooks. In the meantime, this ‘book is well built, easy on the eye and bursting with features for whichever use you intend to give it.