Asus W90 - Impressions
Naturally, it feels like you're typing in the middle of a big, thick slab of rock. The keyboard is pleasant to type on and there's naturally plenty of wrist space.
The advantage of this is that there's room to fit a numberpad to the right of the main keyboard, without having to type off-centre too much, as well as not accidentally moving the mouse with the palm of a hand, while using the keyboard.
Conversely, this also means that it takes more effort to use the trackpad but we'd suspect most people will use a mouse with a desktop replacement anyway.
Inside Asus has shoehorned not just a P45 chipset - but a full X38 Xpress instead! The three DDR2 SO-DIMM memory slots are full, and the HD4870 512MBs get their own heatpipe and fan each, as well as a small CrossFire cable between them as well.
We briefly tested the machine to see what it was capable of and it does play Crysis
at its native 1,920 x 1,200 resolution at Very High settings reasonably well. You'll see framerates somewhere between 20 to 30 fps. Up on dropping the in-game settings down to High, we were able to achieve a smooth frame rate of over 35 fps in general.
AMD doesn't offer publicly available drivers for notebooks and Asus didn't have 64-bit Windows Vista drivers available initially. The Catalyst team kindly express delivered some 64-bit mobile drivers specifically for testing the W90, since it doesn't fall under the normal Catalyst drivers and it's also unique among notebooks too. We'll get back with some benchmarks later!
Click to enlarge
Asus wasn't so sure how to market the W90 and initially it said that it's a home entertainment or lifestyle machine. We think it's gaming notebook through and through though, but it's just a lot more reserved than a typical gaming notebook because it comes without the Republic of Gamers tat and flashing LEDs strewn across it. In some weird oxymoron, it's become a large subtle notebook for gamers.. if there is such a market segment?
So are we talking about the ultimate LAN machine or is the W90 just a grotesque piece of "mobile" hardware? Let us know what you think.