The following is a review of the Asus M3N centrino notebook. I bought this
machine on Ebay, it was an open box barebones kit.
The specs on the M3N (and mine in particular) are as follows:
- Processor Type : Intel Pentium-M 1.4 GHz Banias 1MB L2 cache
- Processor Speeds Supported : 1.3GHz – 1.7GHz, Dothan as well
- Chipset : Intel 855GM / ICH4-M
- Memory : 512mb expandable to 1 GB
- Graphics : Integrated Intel 82855GM graphics controller with up to
64MB of shared memory for video RAM
- Display : 14.1″ XGA (1024×768) Active Matrix TFT
- Hard Drive : Hitachi 80gb Travelstar 5K80 5400rpm Hdd
- Optical Multimedia : 24x16x10x24 DVD/CD-RW combo. Supports
- Networking : Integrated 10/100 Ethernet via Intel 82562
- Modem : Integrated V.92/56K modem
- PCMCIA Slots: One Type II slot
- Mouse : Touchpad with 4 buttons, and scroll up/down button
- Keyboard : Desktop-like full-size 85/86/88 keys with 3 instant keys
-> internet, email, pad-lock (instant key enable/disable)
- Sound : Built-in AC’97 compliant audio chip, with 3D effect & full
duplex. Built-in stereo speakers and microphone
- I/O Ports : RJ-45 LAN Port, VGA 15 pin D-sub, 4 x USB 2.0 Ports, RJ-11
Modem Port, PortBar III connector, IEEE 1394 (Firewire), Parallel, Microphone-in, Fast Infrared
(FIR), Kensington Security Lock, Headphone-out or SPDIF
- Wireless : Intel PRO/WIRELESS 2100 802.11b Wi-Fi Mini-PCI module
- Battery : Lithium-Ion battery w/8 cells and 65Whrs capacity. 2nd
battery option using hot-swap ODD by. 5+ hrs. operation time
- Dimensions : 12.2″ x 10.0″ x 1.2″ (WxDxH)
- Weight : 5.0 lbs
I had read for a while about the reported quality of Asus laptops.
Unfortunately they command a premium price which put me off. Checking
fleabay always results in about 40 machines preconfigured and none less than
$1200. Barebones, aka Whitebox, can be found from a number of vendors, but
again prices are not cheap.
I saw a M3N on fleabay that was only available
via ‘buy it now’ for $499, which seemed fairly reasonable. I contacted the
seller and asked if he could do $575 shipped, tax included with a cdrw/dvd
combo drive thrown in. He said sure so I bought it.
I bought a used 1.4 GHz
Banias Pentium M for $60, a new Hitachi 80 GB Travelstar 5K80 5400 rpm Hdd for
$90, 2 x 256 MB Hynix PC2700 sodimms for $24 total, and an Intel 2100B mini
pci WIFI card for $9, again all on fleabay. Bottom line was $758.
machine arrive missing the proprietary hard drive-to-motherboard adapter.
The seller refunded me $75 for my trouble and I contacted Asus and they shipped
out one for $18. So my final final was $701, without an OS – I had an extra
XP laying around.
The M3N is a discontinued model. It is essentially a first generation
Centrino laptop. It is very solidly built and the engineering is well
thought out. As far as aesthetics go, that is a personal thing, but I think it looks great. I think that Asus makes some of the slickest looking laptops on the market right now.
As far as performance goes, it is in line with most machines with similar
specs. Paired with the 5400 rpm Hitachi drive and 512 MB of RAM, it is very
quick. Obviously to get the most out of any given laptop, a minimum of 512 MB
of RAM should be installed, and the fastest hard drive you can afford is
also a must – 5400 rpm laptop drives tend to ‘feel’ like a solid 7200 rpm
desktop drive, aka very quick.
Despite having integrated 855GME graphics,
the M3N or any other lappy with the same chipset will play older 3D games
like Quake3 very smoothly (approx. 40 fps) at 1024 x 768 at max detail (32bit
color depth/32bit textures, texture detail high), and image quality looks
good. I don’t game on it, so it’s a non issue for me, but for those that say
you can’t game on a Extreme Graphics 2 machine, I call bullsh!t, you can –
just don’t plan on trying HL2 or other current ball busters.
Cooling is handled by a small heat pipe and fan that seem similar to cooling
in most Pentium M notebooks these days. The fan never kicks on during normal
usage, so the machine is dead quiet except for light Hitachi HDD clicking.
The machine always feels cool to the touch with the exception of a few warm
spots near the chip and hard drive.
The keyboard is nice and comfortable, full sized as well. I added a few pads
underneath to take some of the flex out, which worked well. The Synaptics
touch pad is good and has a middle scroll button. You can see in the picture
that the touch pad is part of the palmrest mold, which is a nice
style/engineering touch – very elegant.
The screen is a standard 14.1″ matte finish TFT that looks great. Bright and
clear. I like the new high gloss screensand would certainly prefer one,
The M3N has a 4400ah 8 cell lithium Ion battery that is phenominal. With
medium power saving settings, you are looking at 5+ hours of run time. I
haven’t done any definitive benchmarking of the battery, but I have used the
machine for about 2 hours doing basic email, word processing and web
surfing, followed by my kid watching Finding Nemo start to finish, and there
was still 1 hour left on the meter after the DVD – pretty impressive!
I still haven’t determined what the deal is with warranty on this machine,
but I am hoping it is covered by Asus for at least a year. I’ll be looking
into that soon.