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First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook

Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook

Manufacturer: Asus

We never thought we'd see the day to be honest, but the mammoth W90 notebook from Asus comes with two Mobility Radeon HD 4870s and an Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 45nm CPU, buried in a 18.4" 5kg behemoth.

"Notebook" is a loose term where the W90 is concerned and it's more of a compact desktop than a notebook.

With two 320GB hard drives it's got a tonne of storage space and 6GB of memory exceeds most desktop systems. The Altec Lasing tins speakers and a plethora of extra ports for expansion including several USB 2.0, eSATA, IEEE1394a Firewire (4-pin), VGA, HDMI, Ethernet and modem (why?), and 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks.

An SD card and Express card slot sit above the DVD-RW drive, which will be swapped out for a Blu-ray drive on the production model. That's perfectly suited to the 1080p capable 1,920 x 1,080 16:9 screen.

First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook
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Asus also squeezes in Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless connectivity in, as well as a "subwoofer" in the base although we'd hardly consider this a "feature" having sampled some music - just like the 93Wh, 8800mAh battery which seems, like all desktop replacement laptops, as a token to make it a "notebook" rather than a desktop PC.

The buttons along the top and down the left side are of the funky touch sensitive variety although the fine dot pitch TFT screen is also glossy too to improve contrast. The volume and backlight control are touch sliders that work very well at the flick of a finger so no more fishing for function key shortcuts.

First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook
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One of these buttons was an auto-overclock one - similar to the MSI Turbo button on its G-series gaming notebooks, it overclocks the CPU frontside bus by a notch giving it a few extra horses. The function doesn't overclock the graphics cards and we found in our engineering sample at least it was still quite buggy crashing the machine after only several seconds.

The thickness is a pretty uniform 5cm - the display with its brushed aluminium shell covering the back is 1.5cm of that too. This brushed aluminium continues around the keyboard providing a great look - and as a bonus it warms up nicely from the PC underneath.

First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook First Look: Asus W90 Dual HD 4870 Notebook Early Look: Asus W90 Dual Radeon HD 4870 Notebook
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It's probably a little unfair to compare this to the other end of the market - the Samsung NC10 shown here is about as portable as you can get but it does show the two extremes of what you can buy. Likewise, the power brick for this beastie is suitably large, but still smaller than your grey Xbox 360 power box - yet, the Asus W90 features an extra hard drive, graphics card and the other connectivity as well.