Asus M51Va

Asus' M51Va passes muster as one of the better laptops out there, and the Centrino 2 certification means you'll be up-to-date with the latest spec. If you're in the market for a mid-weight laptop, make sure to give this one a try.


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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Design
The first thing that strikes you upon picking up the 15.4-inch M51Va is that it is deceptively light. We were surprised to discover that it was actually heavier than we thought at 2.95 kilograms.

Cosmetically, the exterior of the laptop is mostly black, with a half tone-style pattern across a faded wave design. It's attractive but also highly glossy, so expect fingerprints to be left behind.

Opening up the lid via the push button on the lip reveals a straightforward design, which is a joy to use; from the good response with the keys, to the full-sized keypad on the right, to the large mousepad and responsive buttons.

The webcam as usual is built into the top of the 1,440x900-pixel gloss screen, and can be rotated manually to better focus on your target of choice. When we passed the laptop around the office, many people actually confused this for the laptop opening latch — perhaps something for the Asus design team to watch out for next time around.

In an appreciated design touch, the M51Va has slightly higher legs than usual, allowing for greater airflow under the laptop to promote cooler operation.

Features
Aside from the usual shortcut buttons at the top right, the left side of the M51Va features the DVD+-RW drive, the right an eSATA port, USB port, FireWire, HDMI and VGA out, as well as a gigabit Ethernet and modem port, while the rear features another two USB ports. Finally, the front lip features another USB port, an SD card reader and the Wi-Fi switch.

Hardware-wise, Asus has packed in well performing equipment — a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400, ATI Mobility Radeon HD3650, 320GB hard drive, Bluetooth, wireless N and 4GB of DDR2-800MHz RAM mean the M51Va is quite flexible. If you're after a little more grunt, an extra AU$600 will get you a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo T9600 and Blu-ray drive on top of the usual spec.

Annoyingly, despite the 4GB RAM included, Asus has opted for the 32-bit edition of Vista Ultimate. Because of software limitations, the operating system is only able to make use of 3,072MB, so around a gigabyte goes to waste.

One notable feature is the use of an ambient light detector to automatically adjust the brightness of the screen, so it shines brighter in high light, and dims the screen in low light. This could be a handy way to save your battery without having to fiddle with power settings.

In terms of extras, the M51Va sparkles, including a full carry bag, mouse, and surprisingly, a 250GB external USB 2.0 hard drive on top of the usual extras.

Performance
Asus' Centrino 2 certified laptop pulled 3,710 in 3DMark06, indicating that it's decent for older games like Half-Life 2, while PCMark 05's score of 5,612 is an impressive result, showing that it should handle most productivity apps with ease.

Turning off all the power saving features and setting the screen brightness and volume to maximum, we played back a DVD to test the battery life under the most extreme conditions. The M51Va survived one hour, 30 minutes and 14 seconds, around average for the hardware and battery size involved.

Asus' M51Va passes muster as one of the better laptops out there, and the Centrino 2 certification means you'll be up to date with the latest spec. If you're in the market for a mid-weight laptop, make sure to give this one a try.



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Stokes
8
Rating
 

Stokes posted a review   

The Good:Fast, 4GB solid performance, lots of features (WiFi, HDMI, webcam)

The Bad:Below average ASUS support, cheap plastics.

The laptop itself is great, I've had no problems with the screen (it was a bit loose but ASUS fixed it during a service). Audio-jack played up which prevented the speakers working, ASUS took 3-4 weeks to fix a pretty simple problem. 7 weeks after the 24 month warranty was up one 2GB RAM module died - ASUS said they wouldnt cover it, so I would advise getting extra warranty. Fortunately a 2GB 800MHz SODIMM is only about $50. M51Va can run multiple applications at once very smoothly (Office apps, web browsers, MSN, iTunes etc) but struggles running games (even slightly older games) so if your looking for a gaming machine, I'd go for a desktop with a solid GPU. Has a decent size HD and came with a 250GB external. Good quality. If ASUS could provide better service I'd be buying ASUS again, but to be frank they are a waste of time.

nj
2
Rating
 

nj posted a review   

The Good:Powerful, good screen, good connectivity

The Bad:Keyboard problems make this laptop almost useless

I have had this laptop for more than a year now and the keyboard problems are forcing me to buy another (non asus) laptop. Basically if you disable the touchpad in bios and use a mouse the laptop is perfect. However, to use it as a mobile device means either somehow using a mouse on your lap (or wherever) or rebooting and re-enabling the touchpad at which point the keyboard is basically unusable. No driver releases, no config settings or anything else have resolved this (well documented) issue and Asus could not care less.
For someone like me who does a lot of office docs and typing, being unable to type properly (missed and incorrect keystrokes and the occasional mouse jump) is a showstopper. By the way, I'm not talking about occasional keyboard problems - every sentence I type requires backspaces or correction. Yes. EVERY sentence.
Bottom line - good desktop replacement is you are happy with a plugged in mouse ALL of the time. Probably a good laptop if you don't care about typing, but if you're trying to write try another model.
Would love some feedback Asus...asus?...echoes just like on the support forums where other have posted similar criticisms with no resolution.

Homicidal Camel
9
Rating
 

Homicidal Camel posted a review   

The Good:The great specifications, the many ports for all different uses, and the free extras

The Bad:The keyboard sometimes messes up, the keys sometimes get stuck, and the whole 1Gb of RAM that goes to waste. Also mine completley crashed and the bios stuffed up, which prevented me from turning it on. I had to totally reset the computer and i lost everything :(

I like this laptop, it has been my 3rd laptop and by far the best so far. As i mentioned before, it has very good specifications but it also has its cons. The BIOS stuffing up could've been my fault... but who knows. I like the wavey design, but hate the way it gets alot of fingerprints all over it. But, overall, its a great computer.

 

Gee_Kanit posted a comment   

The Good:powerful, good features, relatively light, runs cool, good warranty.

The Bad:As someone mentioned earlier, at times letters typed aren't registered. Touchpad is a little temperamental, cursor sometimes jumps for no apparrent reason and page scroll isn't consistant.

Compared to my last machine, an HP pavillion 17" job with a 3.2GHz processor, the Asus runs waaay cool, even running resource hungry applications. It also handles multiple apps well. Battery life is better and weight is lighter than I had expected from such a PC though key feel is quite flimsy, possibly as a result. My decision to buy this machine as opposed to other similarly spec'd ones was based largely on research and assurances from numerous sales people and technicians that Asus customers rarely return with issues and that after their sales service is effectively expedited. So far, unlike my experiences with a HP (which over a 3 year period spent 16 months in repair shops, repeatedly compromised relevant business practices and consumed my own time in various campaigns for appropriate action), the Asus hasn't so much as made a strange sound.
All things taken into account, if this machine disappeared tomorrow I’d likely buy it again.

Samuel Mac
10
Rating
 

Samuel Mac posted a review   

The Good:A great laptop with HDMI, e-SATA, hardware, and rotating webcam.

The Bad:The plastic hinges for the screen are notoriously very loose. They wont stay in.

A overall great laptop and I am pleased with it. I use it for multimedia, and it is great :).
As mentioned though, the hinges are loose and expose wires leading to the LCD. 64-Bit Vista Ultimate would make this the PERFECT laptop. 10/10

ASUS USER
10
Rating
 

ASUS USER posted a review   

IN THE BAD I MEAN ONLY 3GB USABLE BUT CAN BE UPGRADED TO THE 64BIT VERSION OF WINDOWS.

ASUS USER
10
Rating
 

ASUS USER posted a review   

The Good:EXCELLENT FEATURES, REALLY LIKE THE EXPRESSGATE FEATURE, HAS A NUMBERPAD WHICH MAKES TYPING NUMBERS EASIER, GREAT SECURITY WITH THE TPM CHIP AND THE FINGERPRINT READER

The Bad:ONLY 3GB USABLE IS COMPATIBLE TO BE UPGRADED TO THE 64BIT VERSION OF WINDOWS

Overall a very good laptop. I got what i paid for. Really like the E-SATA feature because i am able to connect a second SATA HDD and boot XP off it.
I really recomment this laptop for anyone who is looking for value for money and a fast laptop.

10/10

 

dfm posted a comment   

The Good:good overall..

The Bad:the keyboard.. when i'm typing.. quite often the buttons wouldnt be actually 'pressed' when i did actually type it.. can be annoying typing.. and my wireless internet wouldnt work properly.. its stuffed up... and only had it for like 4 months

it's alrite i suppose, since this is my first ever laptop, i'm not sure how this compares to others..

snicholson
5
Rating
 

snicholson posted a review   

The Good:Great specs for the money, lots of goodies included (USB Mouse, 250GB HDD, etc), love the full-size keyboard.

When everything is working as it should it's great.

The Bad:Some plastics of a questionable quality (and far too glossy), occasional screeching sound during POST, occasional screen fault (fixed by changing resolution), and the TAB key fell off on mine - inexplicably.

Great looking laptop cost versus specifications. The first one I got - the hinge cover fell right off out of the box. One DOA replacement later and I've still got a TAB key that inexplicably came off and won't go back on, a weird screeching sound that occasionally comes through the speakers (even in DOS/POST), and a screen that occasionally shakes and is very almost unusable until I change the resolution - even if it's just to anything else and back again.

Apart from aforementioned issues, a very good laptop performance wise - when it's not driving you insane.


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User Reviews / Comments  Asus M51Va

  • Stokes

    Stokes

    Rating8

    "The laptop itself is great, I've had no problems with the screen (it was a bit loose but ASUS fixed it during a service). Audio-jack played up which prevented the speakers working, ASUS took 3-4 we..."

  • nj

    nj

    Rating2

    "I have had this laptop for more than a year now and the keyboard problems are forcing me to buy another (non asus) laptop. Basically if you disable the touchpad in bios and use a mouse the laptop i..."

  • Homicidal Camel

    Homicidal Camel

    Rating9

    "I like this laptop, it has been my 3rd laptop and by far the best so far. As i mentioned before, it has very good specifications but it also has its cons. The BIOS stuffing up could've been my faul..."

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