by Rob Williams on April 28, 2008 in Systems
Have a $1,000 budget for a new notebook? Look no further than the ASUS M51S. Touted as a multi-media notebook, it offers a 15.4" screen, 250GB HD and 3GB of RAM. Included also are 4 USB ports, DVI and VGA outputs, full numpad, fingerprint reader, a face-detection logon system and more.
Oh, where to begin. When I first received this notebook, I for some reason thought it was a $1,500 offering, given the feature-set and styling. When I looked up the price online and saw it was $1,029, I was thrown back in my chair. Nowadays, it’s truly amazing what you can get for your money. I shudder to think of the $3,000 notebook I bought in 2004, which even at the time wasn’t overly impressive.
ASUS did a masterful job with the M51S and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a multi-media notebook within this price-range.
I am personally a fussy bugger, so I’d opt for a bigger model, like the M50S, which features a better processor and higher screen resolution, but it’s all a matter of taste. The important thing is what the M51S does include, is industry standard for notebooks of this price-range.
Design-wise, I have no immediate complaints. As I mentioned on the second page, I don’t quite care for the touchpad, but for semi-regular use, it’s not a deal-breaker. I am not the kind of person who will use a touchpad unless absolutely necessary, so I’m no authority on saying what’s killer and what’s not. I do know that after a lot of use, it began to bother my fingertip, so it was at that point that I plugged in a mouse.
It’s clear that ASUS wanted to make sure there was great value in this notebook, and there certainly is. Not only are there four USB ports and a firewire available, the notebook includes both a VGA and DVI port, so regardless of which one you need, this notebook will have it. They even went as far as to color them black to match the rest of the notebook… a nice touch.
Performance-wise, we discovered that the M51S will certainly not break records, but again, given the price-range, it’s to be expected. For the most part, it’s performance will not hold you back, especially with most of what this notebook is designed for: multi-media.
Then we have gaming. Though not even designed as a gaming notebook, the M51S managed to play all four of our chosen games with no issue… even Crysis! Sure, we are using a low resolution (but native) and moderate settings, but the games all looked good and played well. It was the first notebook in a long time to not lag in a game after a few minutes, so this notebook no doubt has a good airflow scheme.
To touch on other parts that I didn’t in the rest of the review… the WiFi performance was excellent, as would be expected. The audio was not overly impressive, so for better quality, an external sound card would be recommended. Gaming even with my higher-end Ultrasone PRO 750s showed quality issues that might be improved with a better audio solution. Not too much is to be expected from most on-board solutions anyway, though.
No question, this is an absolutely fantastic notebook offering from ASUS, and one that well deserves an Editor’s Choice award. I have used numerous notebooks over the years (and many other ASUS notebooks, even ones not reviewed), and this is the first time I walk away truly impressed with the value factor. For those looking to invest ~$1,000 into their notebook, it’s impossible to go wrong with the M51S.
- For its price, the M51S impresses all-around
- Lots of functionality: 4 USB, 1 Firewire, DVI & VGA, Card Reader, et cetera
- Great overall design
- Not the sharpest display, but good for price range
- Plentiful amount of RAM and storage (3GB, 250GB)
- Includes full numpad
- Great gaming performance at native resolution
- Logon via fingerprint or web cam face detection
- Some might call it bloatware, but most of the included ASUS software is useful
- 2-Year warranty
- People who need fast performance should look elsewhere
- Ditto for battery-life, though this is not dissimilar to competition
- Low-resolution, but common for the price (1280×800)
- Weak speakers, headphones recommended
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