Asus W90 Desktop Replacement LaptopFollow @infoworld
I'm not sure whether "desktop replacement" accurately describes the heft of the Asus W90VP, but I certainly agree with the included warning not to use it on a lap. Slightly more "monster" than "monstrosity," this luggable goes where it wants with a 16.1-pound body and 17.5-inch-wide frame. But that size--which is big even for a power laptop--allows for desktop-like gaming power, even though other features disappoint.
Its specs match or exceed those of a typical full-size desktop PC. You get a 1920-by-1080-pixel, 18.4-inch screen; dual ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics processors; a single 320GB hard drive plus a free bay for another; 6GB RAM; and an overclockable, 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 CPU.
The W90VP felt snappy in every application I tried. Web browsers, productivity software, and other basics posed no threat. The included Bluetooth mouse felt better than the trackpad, although that pointing device worked well too. The springy full-size keyboard includes a number pad, as expected. Aside from the fact that its design, with its large wrist rest, forces you to reach forward to type, this system could easily replace a desktop for typical applications.
It also seemed nimble in running media applications and games. Compared with similar desktop replacements, the W90VP fared reasonably well in WorldBench 6, notching a score of 105 (as high as the HP HDX18). It lagged in Photoshop and ran about average in 3D Studio Max tests, but it still had enough power for typical use. What really stood out, though, was how well it handled games. Enemy Territory Quake Wars sprinted along at 88 frames per second--performance that was toward the head of the pack. In Unreal Tournament III, its 80-fps score was a little closer to average. More-recent games, including Crysis Warhead, Left 4 Dead, and Mirror's Edge, worked well at the W90VP's full 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution, with an always-smooth frame rate. Not too shabby considering that the Eurocomm D901C Phantom-X, a monster machine, earned a mark of 133 in WorldBench 6 and costs over twice as much.
On our standard game benchmarks, the W90VP maintained its tremendous frame rates at high resolutions better than competitors did, likely thanks to its two Radeon HD 4870 chips, each with 512MB VRAM. But if you want even more power, a simple software overclocking pane increases the CPU's clock speed by up to 15 percent. All of these results combined put the W90VP among other quick PCs overall, desktop or portable.
Windows Vista Ultimate seemed quick, although it still took about 82 seconds to boot up and launch Firefox. If that launch time seems long, you could start the limited Express Gate quick-boot environment. When I tried it, the system reached its first splash screen in only 15 seconds, and I got to the Flash-enabled browser in about 33 seconds to watch a Hulu video. You can also listen to MP3s, chat on standard instant-message protocols, browse photos, and make Skype calls; but overall, this narrow environment seems more suited to a netbook than to a desktop replacement that emphasizes tons of power.