I'm never sure why some of the notebooks that perform the best aren't exactly good looking. Some of the good performances tend to be chunky notebooks that are not as easy on the eyes as some of the thinner machines with less power.
Today I am checking out the sexy little ASUS U30Jc notebook. The little machine is clad in shiny aluminum and has a very thin profile. That shiny aluminum and thin profile means that the machine looks very good and ASUS has put some nice hardware inside the attractive machine as well.
If you are shopping for a nice ultraportable, but you still expect good performance for when work has to get done, the ASUS U30Jc might be exactly what you are looking for. Read on for all the details on the ASUS U30Jc notebook computer.
Specifications, Availability, and Pricing
The ASUS U30Jc notebook is very thin and has a great design. Along with those good looks, the machine uses one of the new Core i3 CPUs and has a nice discrete GPU as well.
The ASUS U30Jc sells for $879.99 on Newegg at the time of writing. The official page for the notebook on the ASUS website fails to open at the time of writing, too. Check out the full specs of the machine I am reviewing below:
The top of the ASUS U30Jc is clad in brushed silver aluminum and it looks great. It does catch a few smudges and fingerprints, but nothing like a glossy plastic notebook.
The bottom of the notebook has panels over HDDs and RAM as well as the battery.
There is nothing to see on the rear of the machine but hinges.
The left side of the ASUS U30Jc has a cooling grate, Kensington lock port, VGA output, HDMI out, dual USB ports and mic/headphone ports.
The front of the machine has the WiFi on/off slider and the memory card reader.
The ASUS U30Jc keyboard is well sized and has the island style that ASUS favors. You can also see the track pad here as well.
The screen is glossy and glare ridden as is common, but works well for movie watching.
I had to show you the profile of the ASUS U30Jc; it's nice and thin despite the performance you will soon see.
A/V Encoding Performance and Battery Life
Below you get a look at the main screen CPU-Z screenshot to give you a look at the actual specifications of the unit that we will be testing further on below.
The ASUS U30Jc will be run through the standard notebook/netbook test regime here at TweakTown. This includes iTunes Encoding and Media Transcoding plus Battery Eater Pro for battery life estimation.
Please note that no 3DMark or game tests are included for our notebook/netbook reviews if they are not powerful enough to run the graphics intensive tests. All systems are tested "as is", which means operating systems and drivers can and do vary and some come pre-installed with applications that may or may not affect performance. Any anti-virus or security applications are disabled and uninstalled before any testing is started as they can affect test numbers.
For the iTunes encoding test I take Stone Temple Pilots - Core CD album in MP3 format and encode it to AAC format using iTunes and time the results with a stopwatch.
All tests are performed with the system in High Performance mode with minimum CPU set to 100%.
The ASUS U30Jc was just outside the top five in performance for the notebook realm for the iTunes encoding benchmark.
For the movie encoding test I take the Microsoft Magic of Flight VC-1 WMV video with six channel audio (1080p HD) and transcode it to XviD (1080p HD) with LAME MP3 two channel audio and a MP4 container using MediaCoder 0.7.3.4616 32-bit edition.
All tests are performed with the system in High Performance mode with minimum CPU set to 100%.
The ASUS U30Jc was number five on my notebook chart in performance with solid performance overall.
Battery Eater Pro is very hard on batteries so you are likely to get more run time in the real world, depending on how you use the machine. Since we compare all laptops and netbooks the exact same way though, it creates a fair and balanced playing field for our comparisons.
For the power saving mode test I run the machine in 'Power Saver' mode with turn off display disabled and brightness set to 50%, sleep mode disabled, HDD turn off disabled and minimum CPU set to 5%.
For the performance mode test I run the machine in 'High Performance' mode with turn off display disabled and brightness set to 100%, sleep mode disabled, HDD turn off disabled and minimum CPU set to 100%. Do note that some systems even when set to 100% CPU may force drop down the clock speed when AC power is lost.
Wireless is kept enabled during all tests and nothing else unusual is disabled. Time is rounded up to the nearest minute.
The ASUS U30Jc is number four out of all the machines I have tested. This is a solid machine with good battery life and good performance, which are things that often don't go together in the notebook market.
Hands on Use
With benchmarks done, I came away very impressed with the performance that the reasonably priced ASUS U30Jc mustered and was still able to offer very good battery life. I have already mentioned that the machine is very attractive with its silver-brushed aluminum on the top of the lid and on the wrist rest area. The machine looks very high-end and the brushed aluminum catches less smudges and fingerprints than other notebooks that have glossy plastic lids.
This machine has a very glossy screen that has lots of glare in bright rooms. However, the screen is very good for watching video and movies when the workday is done. The fact that the ASUS U30Jc uses an NVIDIA GeForce 301M GPU means that this is one of the best notebooks for streaming video from Hulu and other sources that I have tried. The ASUS U30Jc can play streaming video in full screen mode with only an occasional hiccup. The video for the most part is smooth and you quickly forget you are watching on a notebook. Things are equally as smooth when watching DVDs using the optical drive.
The ASUS U30Jc has the typical ASUS keyboard. ASUS tends to put small right shift keys on their machines while the left shift key is full-size. I was able to use the slightly smaller left shift key without any issues. The keyboard just looks a bit strange thanks to the smaller shift key. The track pad is well defined and has a different texture that lets you feel when you are on the track pad. The buttons are well placed and easy to click.
The screen of the ASUS U30Jc is great for video and movies as I mentioned before and the GPU is up to the task of making that video silky smooth. Unfortunately, the sound system on the ASUS U30Jc is subpar. At full volume, I could barely hear the audio from the video I was watching in a room with nothing but a ceiling fan and a couple computers running. You can forget trying to watch video in a noisy area, you simply can't hear it. You can hear well with headphones using the onboard headphone jack, but if you want to watch with a group on the notebook, you will need external speakers.
Total Performance Rating
The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which we test our netbooks and notebooks.
The TPR number is a combination of:
Battery life in performance and power saving modes, iTunes encoding time and Movie encoding time.
Due to the nature of some benchmarks where scores having a lower is better result, we've had to change the way we do the numbers when compared to other products. Battery life numbers in performance and save modes are combined outright since higher is better. In iTunes encoding and movie encoding where a lower number is better, we have a base number of 2500. The score we get from the machine in iTunes and movie encoding are both subtracted from that base number and then added to the sum of the battery life scores for the final score.
For example if the performance battery life score (in minutes) is 100 and the power saving battery life score (in minutes) is 125 those numbers will be totalled. The lower is better scores for iTunes in the example is 500 seconds and the movie encoding is 1000 seconds for a total of 1500. That 1500 would be subtracted from the 2500 base score to get 1000, which would then be added to the 225 in battery performance for the final score. That total score would be obtained by using the following equation: (2500 - 1000- 500) + (125 + 100) = 1225.
Total Value Rating
The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the computer. The price of the machine is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the computer isn't listed on Newegg, it will be based on the USD MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.
In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of netbooks and notebooks on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason, the USD price that the kit is based off will be included next to the name of the model.
In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.
TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.
In the end, I really like the ASUS U30Jc notebook. The little machine looks great, it offers great performance and has excellent battery life. It's rare that I run across a notebook that is so well rounded for performance and longevity.
The machine will be at home as a media rig, though the 320GB HDD is a bit on the small size, thanks to its powerful GPU capable of smoothly accelerating video. The only real glaring issue for this machine in my eyes is the onboard sound system. The volume simply isn't high enough for many environments.
Couple this notebook with headphones or external speakers and you have an excellent all around notebook for a very good price.