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ASUS N61Jv

The dust from this year's WGT [World GameMaster Tournament] has definitely settled, and we now know the lucky ones who won. One of the weapons, nay, warriors, at the war gaming event managed to land on our doorstep. We're talking about the ASUS N61Jv, the notebook gamers used during the tournament. Of course, we embraced it with open arms to see just how capable this bad boy actually is.

Hello, handsome

The ASUS N61Jv is a looker. It has an exterior that screams "macho" and "elegant," thanks to its nice curves and modern design. The patterned, glossy lid also adds a tinge of sophistication to the overall look. The speakers, like other notebooks', are placed above the good-sized keyboard, and the rubberized panel would remind you of the carbon-fiber look of sports cars. There's no shortage of lights here, with the huge power button owning the show with its white backlight.

One thing we didn't like, though, is the fact that it attracts prints and smudges like crazy, which is the bane of many of its kind.

When it comes to size, the N61Jv isn't the slimmest, but it's certainly a bit lighter compared to other laptops of the same size.

Physical interface-wise, its layout is simple, with the volume controls placed on the left side above the keyboard and the power button on the right.

There's the multitouch-enabled touch pad, which we find useful especially when viewing photos and browsing Web pages.

It's worth noting that this lappie only has 3 USB ports, but you'd be pleased to know that one of them is the newer and faster USB 3.0. Cool, yeah? Of course, the N61Jv also comes with other standard ports like HDMI, card reader, audio and mic, and LAN ports.

Raw power

As for its guts, the ASUS N61Jv boasts an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a handsome 500GB of storage. It also features integrated Intel graphics and Nvidia's GeForce GT 325M graphics card to provide raw power for running hard-core gaming and graphics software. 

Dubbed "a multimedia-slash-gaming notebook," we were giddy to put the N61Jv to its paces by loading it with several games as well as resource-intensive applications and HD movies. As what we did with the K42Dr, we fed it with older games starting with Doom 3, Halo 2, and Neverwinter Nights 2. It had no trouble playing them at the highest possible settings.

Then we loaded newer games like Mirror's Edge, NBA 2K10, and Mass Effect 2. We experienced smooth gameplay all throughout with video settings set to medium.

Upping the settings to high was a slightly different story. The N61Jv still performed well with Mirror's Edge and Mass Effect 2 (although there's a bit of lag during cut scenes), but with NBA 2K10, we noticed a slowdown during dead-ball situations (where the arena and crowd animations are shown to the fullest). Gameplay was still A-okay, though.  

We tried to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and of course, Crysis. As expected, the N61Jv performed well when playing COD:MW2 at mid-high-level visual settings. The same cannot be said for Crysis, as we expected, but the N61Jv still performed respectably at low and medium settings. We then tried to pump the visual controls to high while enabling shaders and anti-aliasing (2x), and here's where the performance drastically dipped, with gameplay being clunky at best.

We also played Street Fighter IV (the same game played on the N61Jv during the WGT), and as expected, gameplay was smooth all throughout, even at the highest of settings.

Of course, all that power isn't built just for gaming, so we decided to run a few HD vids and resource-intensive software courtesy of Adobe Creative Suite. HD movies played smoothly, even with several Web browser windows open in the background. Editing videos and images was also a breeze, for the most part, with the N61Jv also proving to be a capable companion for graphic artists.

For all its gaming and visual prowess, the N61Jv's screen fails somewhat. Don't get us wrong. It's bright, and the 1366 x 768 resolution is good enough. However, its glossy surface does a bad job of reducing reflections and viewing angles are limited. Image quality is decent, though we wish it had a better display to match its capabilities.

The Altec Lansing speakers are somewhat of an enigma, too. When you turn up the volume, the sound somewhat scatters. Think tunog lata. Another bad news is the bass system, or lack thereof, which is a bummer because the N61Jv is an entertainment notebook. Still, as long as you won't max out the audio settings, you should be fine. 

Benchmarked

NovaBench gave the N61Jv a score of 494, which is among the highest we've encountered so far. The Windows Experience Index grade was 4.2 – still pretty high. As expected, the processor and the gaming graphics got very good scores of 6.6 and 6.1, respectively.

Power-hungry?

You might expect the N61Jv to be one power-hungry gadget given its pretty high specs. However, it has a trick up its sleeve (you may "met" the Nvidia Optimus technology) to save battery power. With this feature, we were able to do 3.5 hours of casual computing (browse via Wi-Fi,  watch online videos, use Microsoft Office) and over 2 hours of gaming. Still not on a par with some netbooks and thin-and-lights, but acceptable given its capabilities nonetheless.

Our take

If not for its subpar screen and speakers, we would have given the ASUS N61Jv a perfect score without batting an eyelash. We have to give it to the laptop, though, for being one of the most versatile we've tested so far. It does give you the needed power for your gaming, HD viewing, or casual computing needs. It's got the looks to boot. So if you have an extra P55,900 to spend and is looking for a multimedia companion, then the N61Jv might be what you're looking for.

Click here to view the ASUS N61Jv in the Buyer's Guide.

Check out additional photos in the gallery below.