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ASUS N61Jq-X1

New USB 3.0 Laptop and Storage—Tested!
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If the N61 series from ASUS rings a bell, it is because we reviewed the N61Vn for our Laptop Holiday Gift Guide a few months ago. However, this latest entry in the series comes with several upgrades.

The N61Jq-X1 gets a CPU upgrade in the form of a Core i7 720QM and a brand new Mobility Radeon 5730 GPU from ATI. While you lose the Blu-ray drive (it’s a DVD-RW instead), the 4 GB of DDR3-1066 RAM, 320 GB 7200rpm hard drive, 16" 1366x768 resolution LED-backlit LCD, and Windows 7 Home Premium stay the same.


Asus N61Jq-X1
CPU
Intel Core i7 720QM (1.6 GHz, 6 MB Cache)
Graphics
ATI Radeon Mobility 5730 (1 GB DDR3 VRAM)
RAM
4 GB DDR3-1066
Storage
320 GB 7,200 rpm
Optical
DVD-RW
Screen
16" 1366x768 LED-backlit
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions
15.4"x10.6"x1.2"-1.5"
Weight
6.5 lbs.

Like what you see so far? Enter our Newegg and Tom’s Guide Cracking the Egg contest and win all of the USB 3.0-compatible products in this article, including this laptop.

The N61Jq-X1 provides you with three USB ports, HDMI, VGA, eSATA, Ethernet, audio/mic ports, and SD and Express Card slots. USB 3.0 is a great addition, but it would be nice if all three USB ports were 3.0-capable instead of only one, which is located on the left side next to the Express Card slot.

While the boost to a new Core i7 chip is expected and welcomed, you probably won’t notice the difference between the 720QM and the Core 2 Quad Q9000 in the previous N61. Most of the differences come in power consumption and the 720’s Turbo Mode, which boosts the clock speed from 1.6 GHz on four cores to 2.8 GHz when only one core is in use. Since most applications aren’t coded to fully utilize a quad-core, or even a dual-core CPU, this boost will give you an edge in most day-to-day tasks

The 5730 graphics from ATI comes with 1 GB of DDR3 VRAM, which is the same as the Nvidia GT240 in the last N61 laptop. The big difference here is that the 5730 can accommodate DirectX 11, while the GT240 is limited to DX10. In the short term, this means very little because there are only a handful of DX11-capable PC games out there. However, this will change over the course of 2010, so having a capable GPU is certainly handy. DirectX 11 is a boon for gamers because of its enhanced multi-threading support, which means game programmers can better utilize dual- and quad-core processors in computers.

The frame rates produced by the N61Jq-X1 are admirable for a notebook in the multimedia category. Whether you’re playing Team Fortress 2, Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2, or Quake Live, you can expect frames per second (FPS) in the 40s and 50s with high settings and anti-aliasing, and vertical sync enabled at the native 1366x768 resolution. If you want to hit that 60 FPS sweet spot, turning off vertical sync and dialing down the resolution a notch to 1280x720 should do the job. Other benchmarks we ran generated scores of 5912 in 3DMark06 and 4349 in PCMark05. Unfortunately, there isn't much to compare this to on the Futuremark Website. The hardware in the N61Jq-X1 is so new (especially the 5730) that no other systems with the same hardware are up on the site. However, the N61Jq-X1's numbers hold up against most of the mobile hardware available, except the 17 or 18" desktop replacements.

Overall, the N61Jq-X1 is a good value at $1099.99. Its predecessor was the same price only two months ago and it came with an inferior CPU and DX10 graphics (not to mention no USB 3.0). Our one major gripe about the N61Jq is the lack of a Blu-ray reader. If an older model comes equipped for BD, why take it away in a new, more powerful version? If you’re a gamer looking for a capable laptop that won’t cost you $1,500, $2,000 or more, the N61Jq-X1 is worth a look.

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  • 4 Hide
    jrocks84 , February 24, 2010 7:15 AM
    I'd have to say that the laptop has really good value. I'd love if I could win the contest, but it's too bad it's only eligible for people in the US.
  • 4 Hide
    bmgoodman , February 24, 2010 11:16 AM
    Go the extra mile and compare these to eSATA solutions, please! Will USB 3 be an improvement over eSATA?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2010 12:40 PM
    Not too impressive. Considering USB 3.0 is supposed to be x10 compared with USB 2.0, why is it only achieving x2 throughput?

    It is definitely not the drive as a bottleneck- I have 2 bog-standard 1 TB Hitachi drives- one as internal sata and 1 as esata (they both have the same contents) when tested by ATTO benchmark the write/read speeds for the eSATA is 100/104 MB/s and the iSATA gives 80/100 MB/S. Im not sure why the isata write speed is slower than the esata, but both greatly exceed the USB3.0 speeds reported here.
    BTW: when the disk is connected by USB2.0 it gives speeds of around 25-28 MB/s and the two disks tested by HDTach max at around 110 MB/s with bursts of around 160MB/s
  • 0 Hide
    jenesuispasbavard , February 24, 2010 6:32 PM
    bmgoodmanGo the extra mile and compare these to eSATA solutions, please! Will USB 3 be an improvement over eSATA?

    I was wondering the same thing. I use my external hard drive over eSATA and it is not even close to the maximum eSATA throughput of 3.0 Gbps. I don't think this will be a big improvement (or any at all), unless you use SSDs that don't even exist yet.
  • 0 Hide
    cadder , February 24, 2010 7:09 PM
    The drive inside of the enclosure is probably running SATA, with an adapter to convert to USB, so the USB 3 probably can't be any faster than SATA.
  • 1 Hide
    godwhomismike , February 25, 2010 4:12 AM
    I want that laptop in the worst way. It's $999 on Amazon too.
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , February 25, 2010 12:25 PM
    I guess the 5730 is not really all that fast?

    It only gets 5,900 something on 3DMark06. My Alienware m15x with 9800GT hits 9800 on 3dMark06 and with a slight OC over 10,000.
  • 1 Hide
    wayneepalmer , February 25, 2010 3:19 PM
    Can't wait until SATA 6 drives (especially SSD) get down to where my wife stops threatening to empty the knife drawer at me for mentioning the word "hardware".
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2010 4:24 PM
    Wierd, i own this laptop and get ~8000ish in 3dmark 06 as do the other people on newegg and in the asus forums. Also most of us recieved 1333 ram with the laptop instead of 1066.
  • 0 Hide
    shiroikaze , February 26, 2010 5:12 AM
    The qualifying questions has some funny answers, I was really tempted to answer all wrong :p .
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , February 26, 2010 8:22 AM
    Since 500 GB is the largest size available inside notebooks today (without using two drives in RAID, of course), the PS 110 is the perfect candidate for an automatic backup drive paired to a laptop.
  • -2 Hide
    bobwya , February 26, 2010 8:27 AM
    Quote:
    Since 500 GB is the largest size available inside notebooks today (without using two drives in RAID, of course), the PS 110 is the perfect candidate for an automatic backup drive paired to a laptop.


    Funny that because I put a WD 750Gb 2.5" drive in my sister's laptop last year. OK so it's 12mm high - but it's still a 2.5" form factor. I didn't have any problems installing it (no need for a hacksaw). The WD Velociraptor I have at 15mm high might be pushing things a bit!! Sorry for being so pedantic...
  • 2 Hide
    dconnors , February 26, 2010 9:15 AM
    bobwyaFunny that because I put a WD 750Gb 2.5" drive in my sister's laptop last year. OK so it's 12mm high - but it's still a 2.5" form factor. I didn't have any problems installing it (no need for a hacksaw). The WD Velociraptor I have at 15mm high might be pushing things a bit!! Sorry for being so pedantic...



    ::crowd groans::

    Let's be serious, you know what I mean when I am talking about a 2.5-inch drive in an external - I am talking about a notebook hard drive. However, I am actually wrong...I forgot that Samsung and WD have 640 GB notebook drives out now.
  • 1 Hide
    FilthPig2004 , February 28, 2010 11:04 PM
    dconnors::crowd groans::Let's be serious, you know what I mean when I am talking about a 2.5-inch drive in an external - I am talking about a notebook hard drive. However, I am actually wrong...I forgot that Samsung and WD have 640 GB notebook drives out now.


    Actually, you can buy WD's WD10TPVT (1TB) notebook drive right now on Amazon.
  • 0 Hide
    FilthPig2004 , February 28, 2010 11:21 PM
    AnonymousNot too impressive. Considering USB 3.0 is supposed to be x10 compared with USB 2.0, why is it only achieving x2 throughput? It is definitely not the drive as a bottleneck-...


    It is. I'll guess that the BlackArmor is using a Momentus 7200.2. Here are the specs.

    http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=412
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 29, 2010 8:45 AM
    For the price of that laptop , I would rather buy a M1 Garand or a shotgun or alot of lapdances and beer at the strip club!!!
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