Impressions of the ASUS U41JF

There are several easy points of comparison for the U41JF: on the one hand we have the U3x series that we’ve already reviewed extensively; on the other, there’s the larger UL8x and N8x that we’ve also covered. Looking at the U30JC, the U41JF is just a slightly larger option with a significantly faster GPU. Even better, the pricing of the U41JF is competitive; the U30JC-B1 is now on clearance and can save you $140, but you get a slightly slower CPU, the old G 310M GPU, and a 320GB 5400RPM hard drive as part of the package. The UL80JT is pretty much pointless now, unless you’re willing to sacrifice quite a bit of CPU performance for only slightly better battery life (in some situations); besides, we’re not keen on the black glossy plastic used with the UL80JT. Finally, there’s the also outdated N82JV, which will shave off $80 and DX11 support, plus 36Wh of battery capacity. No, no, no… we don’t want any of those now! They were all reasonable a few months ago, but the U41JF supersedes all of them. Here’s why.

First, we like the silver aesthetic a lot more than the glossy black or funky dark brown. Okay, so only the top cover is actually aluminum (the palm rest is a faux brushed aluminum plastic), but fingerprints aren’t much of a concern either way. Somewhat surprisingly, the U41JF is also slightly lighter than both the U30JC and the N82JV. If you still like the idea of a smaller and lighter laptop and you’re willing to give up some performance, the next best alternative is going to be the new ASUS U31JG. The silver model starts at $800, so it’s only $20 less than the U41JF, and you lose some graphics performance and the DVDR in the switch. Still, you shave off about a pound of weight. If you don't mind another black laptop, you can go for the $700 version (with a 320GB 5400RPM hard drive).

The other reason the U41JF wins out over the older models comes down to component choices. G 310M isn’t even as fast as the new Sandy Bridge HD 3000 IGP, so that kills off all of the old U-series in our book. You can get better performance at a reasonable price with the i5-2410M in something like the Dell Inspiron 14R. The U41JF stays relevant by combining a large battery with a reasonably fast CPU and a decent midrange GPU, for only a small bump in price compared to the other options.

For the rest, the keyboard and touchpad are the same as what we’ve tested in many other ASUS laptops. There’s a bit of flex in the keyboard, and we wish ASUS would ditch the chrome rocker button on the touchpad, but otherwise they work well enough. For a 14” (or 13.3”) screen chassis, I’m personally quite happy with the layout ASUS uses, providing quick and easy access to all the keyboard shortcuts (i.e. Home/End/PgUp/PgDn) that I use on a regular basis.

Screen quality is still a sticking point, sadly, and the Altec Lansing speakers don’t sound any better than other midrange laptops I’ve used. There’s still glossy black plastic on the screen bezel (ugh!) and around the keyboard, which are certainly items that we’d like to see changed. I also wish the over/underclocking could happen without a sleep/resume cycle every time the bus speed changes, but it’s probably difficult to keep the RAM timings and everything else happy without it. (For reference, the RAM runs at DDR3-1224 CL9 when overclocked, versus DDR3-1066 CL7 at stock and DDR3-800 CL7 underclocked.)

Ultimately, though, I keep coming back to the price, features, and overall build quality. Not only is the U41JF about the cheapest price you can find for a 14”-screen (or smaller) laptop with GT 425M, but it also comes with the largest battery of the bunch, and ASUS’ Power4Gear utility is one of the best options for tweaking power profiles to eke out every last minute of mobility. As far as CPU performance goes, unless you’re moving up to quad-core Sandy Bridge, the 15% overclock goes a long way towards keeping Arrandale relevant. So let’s hit the benchmarks before we wrap things up.

ASUS U41JF: Granting Arrandale a Stay of Execution General Performance – Overclocked Arrandale vs. Sandy Bridge
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  • veri745 - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    Now it's about time that they give the LCDs on these a resolution upgrade. I'd like to see atleast 1600x900
  • jrocks84 - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    I totally agree on higher resolution LCDs being needed! I haven't searched that hard, but the only two 13" laptops that I know of with a decent res are the Macbook Air and the Sony Vaio Z.
  • lexluthermiester - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I have a Asus EEE 1201N with 1366x768 res. It beats out my old VIAO which was 1280x800. Now granted, the 1201n is only a dual-core Atom , but at a 12" screen and the fact it will some moderate gaming, it packs punch for it's size. Battery life is far better as well.

    Of course we are talking about a $400 price point with the 1201n. But I guess the point I'm trying to make is that if you look into what it is you want good things can be found. And honestly, the system in this review would tempt me greatly if the 1201n didn't already meet my needs.... but oh so tempting....
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I agree. I know many laptops will have to move to 16:9 for cost reasons, but why can't they just use 1600x900 as a baseline resolution?

    768 vertical pixels are unacceptable on anything but 11.6" displays.
  • blue_falcon - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    The industry is trending towards industry standard resolutions (HD at the moment for most systems). I doubt you'll see a 1600x900 13.3 screen.
  • Penti - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    Sony still has some, 13.1" 1600x900 laptops that is. Let's see if they get updated to Sandy Bridge too. If you want it you can have it, even though most use standard displays.
  • DLimmer - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    As usual, excellent laptop review. I relied on a couple years ago when I bought my wife's laptop, and it still does all she asks of it *and* lasts all day on one charge (with intermittent use).
    I also grabbed a Gateway P-6831 based on

    Minor typos (first page third to last paragraph):
    "One the flipside, ASUS’ Super Hybrid Engine (SHE)" -> *On* the flipside

    (page 5, second paragraph from the bottom):
    "and it doesn’t need 960 Steam" -> *Stream*

    Thank you for providing objective and in-depth reviews we can use when selecting items to purchase.
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I almost bought a 14z instead of my MBP13'09. It was on the thicker side, but had a massive battery and a full voltage processor.

    Eventually, I had to have that big trackpad and disk drive.

    In retrospect the decision was pretty murky.
  • DLimmer - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    My wife misses the DVD drive occasionally, but we have an external. It's most annoying when you install some software that requires the disc be in the computer to run. Only other time is when she wants to rip a new CD she's bought.

    All-in-all, giving up the drive for more battery life and less weight was a decent trade-off... however, she wants a drive in her next laptop.
  • Beenthere - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    How could you get it more wrong: Asus and Intel. It don't get any worse than that.

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