The Asus U44SG wedges a 14-inch display into a 13.3-inch chassis, with an elegant appearance and high performance, starting from 1200 euros. For that price you’ll get an Intel i7-2640M CPU NVidia 610M GPU pairing, 4GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. The U44SG measures 30mm at its thickest point, and the body is constructed from an aluminum-magnesium alloy, with flawless build quality all round. Stiff hinges, very little flex.
Asus throws in a wired mouse for anyone who’s not keen on trackpads. Guarantee is 24 months, or 36 months with a 79-euro surcharge.
There are a couple of USB-2 ports for hooking up peripherals that don’t need high performance data transfer – printers, digicams etc, and a USB-3 for demanding use, such as syncing with a second hard drive. That USB-3 port delivers data transfer at 127MB/s, outperforming, say, the Asus U36, a similarly-priced laptop with comparable internals. VGA and HDMI connectors for shunting output to an external display/speakers, 5-in-1 card reader, audio jacks. WiFi-n and Bluetooth 3 HS are both supported, though no UMTS module for SIM-connectivity. There’s a fingerprint reader nestling between the touchpad keys, which I personally find an awkward positioning, but it boosts the U44SG’s security credentials.
The matte-surface 14-inch 1366 x 768 pixel screen renders an average 300 nits of brightness, which doesn’t diminish on battery power, but grayish deep tones give a shaky overall contrast ratio of 132:1. Unsaturated colors is the result, which means anyone in the market for a multimedia center first and foremost should look elsewhere. The Sandy Bridge i7-2640M chip is the fastest dual-core chip of its generation; and coupled with the entry-level 610M discrete GPU and 256GB SSD and the set-up even outperforms some quadcore solutions. Turbo Boost across the four execution threads helps greatly iTunes/video conversions zip along, office software doesn’t cause the Asus U44SG to even break sweat, though CAD or video editing are the sort of applications which call for a step-up to high-end quad CPUs.
World of Warcraft and other less demadnig titles are playable at medium settings but demanding games such as Anno 2070 require low settings to give non-stuttering 30+ frame rates. Data transfer comes in at a commendable 330MB/s; few machines can beat those speeds, and the vast majority of users wouldn’t notice anything faster anyway.
Keyboard on U44SG notebook is comparable to Asus U36 notebooks with popular chiclet style with medium pressure and very little bouncing. This keyboard has proven itself effective for Asus and it may very well be carried over to newer faster models. Touchpad supports three finger gestures, the usual click, zoom, and turn, but the 3 finger gestures have to be setup to say open a specific app. Glide and accuracy are first-class.
The internal speakers lack bass and even middle tones seem under-represented; any half-decent external speakers will greatly improve user experience. Onpower-saving settings we eked out ten hours-plus of battery runtime, and WiFi-surfing and moderate use delivered an unobjectionable 7:30, even with maximum screen brightness. That’s really quite formidable for such a powerful notebook. But the big drawback is the lack of an optical drive; non-streamed movies will require an external drive, and getting music CDs onto the machine might mean proting them from another machine… in every other respect the Asus U44SG is an axcellent package.
Notebookcheck gives Asus U44SG notebook 91% on workmanship and 94% on app performance.
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