Introduction and First Impressions
The ASUS X205 offers the full Windows 8.1 notebook experience for the cost of a Chromebook, and the design offers a surprising amount of polish for the price. Is this $199 Atom-powered notebook a viable solution as a daily driver? We're about to find out.
What do you use a laptop for? A thoughtful answer to this question can be the most important part of the process when selecting your next notebook PC, and if your needs are modest there are a growing number of very low-cost options on the market. For example, I personally do not play games on a laptop, typically alternating between web, email, and Microsoft Office. Thus for myself the most important aspects of a notebook PC become screen quality, keyboard, trackpad, and battery life. High performance is not of utmost importance, and I assure myself of at least speedy load times by always choosing (or installing) a solid-state hard drive. For those reasons when I first read the description and specifications of the ASUS X205 notebook, I took notice.
The X205 is a small notebook with an 11.6” display and 1366x768 resolution, essentially matching the form-factor of Apple's 11.6" MacBook Air. It is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM, and onboard storage is solid-state - though limited to 32GB and of the slower eMMC variety (which is in keeping with many Chromebooks). There is adequate connectivity as well, with the expected wireless card and two USB 2.0 ports. One aspect of this design that intrigued me was the trackpad, which ASUS claims is using "smartphone technology", indicating a touchscreen digitizer implementation. Smoothness and accuracy are the biggest problems I find with most inexpensive notebook trackpads, and if this turns out to be a strong performer it would be a major boon to the X205's overall usability. I opted for the Microsoft Signature Edition of the X205TA, which carries the same $199 retail price but does not come preloaded with any trialware or other junk software.
At the outset this feels like a compelling product simply because it retails for the same price as an average Chromebook, but offers the flexibility of a full Windows 8.1 installation. Granted this is the “Windows 8.1 with Bing” version found on low-cost, low-power devices like this, but it offers the functionality of the standard version. While Chrome OS and Google's productivity apps are great for many people, the ability to install and run Windows applications made this highly preferable to a Chromebook for me. Of course beyond the operating system the overall experience of using the laptop will ultimately decide the viability of this inexpensive product, so without further preamble let's dive right into the X205TA notebook!
Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2015 - 01:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb type-c, usb 3.1, dell, asus
DigiTimes has seen evidence that non-Apple fanatics will have a chance to get their hands on USB 3.1 Type C connectors in the near future. Dell will be releasing a Windows 10 powered, 11" LCD Venue 11 Pro in the fall which will sport Type-C connectors for the new USB standard. ASUS will also be releasing gaming laptops with Type-C connectors this year as well although we do not have a specific date nor do we know when they will be included on less expensive models. If you are wondering when we will start to see USB 3.1 devices on the market you can check the list that ASUS provided The Tech Report here.
"After Apple's adoption of the USB Type-C port on its 12-inch MacBook, Dell also recently announced to use the technology for its 11-inch tablet and Asustek Computer is planning to launch gaming notebooks with USB Type-C support in the second half at the earliest, according to a Chinese-language Apply Daily report."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tweaking Ubuntu Unity to Better Suit Your Needs @ Linux.com
- HGST says its NVMe flash card will manage 750,000 IOPS @ The Register
- Scaling down InAs nanowire field-effect transistors for improved efficiency @ Nanotechweb
- Intel: Moore's Law will be more relevant in the next 20 years than the past 50 @ The Inquirer
- Unpatched 18 year-old Windows man-in-the-middle diddle revived @ The Register
- Sinister lobby group (AT&T, Verizon among membership) sues FCC to kill net neut @ The Register
- The TR Podcast 174: PCIe SSDs and FreeSync displays
Subject: Networking | April 13, 2015 - 03:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: asus, router, 802.11ac, rt-a66r, rt-a66u
Until recently, we have been using a Linksys WRT54G. No, not the WRT54GL. We have been using the cheap, $30 v8.0 unit with 8MB of RAM. Since it has been eight years since its manufacturing date, and about the same length of time since it received a firmware upgrade, we decided to upgrade to a newer model. After searching for a while, we settled on the ASUS RT-AC66. We bought it from a retail store, because it was the same price and I could get it the same day without paying for shipping, so our model has an “R” suffix, rather than the direct-from-ASUS “U”. The units are identical besides the model name though.
We are using the stock ASUS firmware.
So what has happened in the last half-dozen years? First, this device has quite a few more features than the Linksys, although not many are applicable to me personally. The most interesting to me is that ASUS offers a dynamic DNS service for their routers. It seems pretty straight-forward honestly. I was looking for a place to register, but it seems like it was just a matter of inputting the desired URL into the router, and ASUS will give it to you if it is available. I was able to use the subdomain within a few minutes too, although I did not try doing much with it.
Its 2.4 GHz range is pretty good too, much wider than the WRT54G. The 5.0 GHz makes it from the basement to the TV on the main floor. It reports less than full signal, but I have nothing to compare that with (neither a second 5.0 GHz device nor another 5.0GHz router). The antenna are detachable and higher sensitive versions are available, which is probably good for edge cases, although the default ones seem to work fine for me.
It definitely seems like a good router. I don't feel it getting in-between me and my internet connection. This is not a review though, just my impressions after using it for a bit.
Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2015 - 12:58 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, podcast, nvidia, mg279q, Intel, gsync, gigabyte, freesync, ddr4-3400, corsair, compute stick, asus, amd, 750 series
PC Perspective Podcast #344 - 04/09/2015
Join us this week as we discuss the Intel SSD 750 Series, NZXT S340, an ASUS FreeSync Monitor and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts:Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:26:01
Week in Review:
News item of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Jeremy: GOG being great old guys
Allyn: Acer Predator XB270HU BPRZ WQHD with NVIDIA G-SYNC (IPS)
Subject: Displays | April 7, 2015 - 12:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: variable refresh rate, mg279q, freesync, asus, amd
If you remember back at CES in early January, we got hands-on with an upcoming monitor from ASUS, the MG279Q. Unlike the company's other G-Sync enabled displays, this monitor was unique in that offered support for the Adaptive Sync portion of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard but was also not a part of AMD's initial wave of FreeSync monitors.
The ASUS MG279Q from CES 2015
The screen technology itself was impressive: a 2560x1440 resolution, IPS-style implementation and a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. (Note: the new marketing material indicates that the panel will have a 144 Hz maximum refresh rate. Maybe there was a hardware change since CES?) During a video interview with ASUS at the time it was labeled as having a minimum refresh rate of 40 Hz which is something we look forward to testing if and when we can get a sample in our labs.
At the time, there was some interesting debate about WHY this wasn't a FreeSync branded monitor. We asked AMD specifically about this monitor's capability to work with capable Radeon GPUs for variable refresh and they promised there were no lock-outs occurring. We guessed that maybe ASUS' deal with NVIDIA on G-Sync was preventing them from joining the FreeSync display program, but cleary that wasn't the case. Today on Twitter, AMD announced that the MG279Q was officially part of the FreeSync brand.
I am glad to see more products come into the FreeSync monitor market and hopefully we'll have some solid gaming experiences with the ASUS MG279Q to report back on soon!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 13, 2015 - 09:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: haswell, GTX 960M, gaming laptop, g501, ASUS ROG, asus
Today Asus unveiled the Republic of Gamers (ROG) G501 gaming laptop. The G501 is a 4.54 pound 15.6” laptop that packs high end hardware into a thin aluminum shell.
The ROG G501 features a dark gray 0.81” thick aluminum chassis with a brushed metal finish and red bezel accents. A 15.6” matte IPS display dominates the top half of the PC with a resolution of 3840x2160 (UHD). The lower half includes a red backlit keyboard (1.6mm key travel) with colored WASD keys and a number pad as well as a large trackpad.
External I/O on this gaming machine is extensive and includes:
- 1 x Thunderbolt
- 3 x USB 3.0
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x Audio combo jack
- 1 x SD
- 1 x 1.2MP webcam
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
Asus is using the latest mobile technology with the G501 including a 47W Intel Haswell Core i7-4720HQ (4c/8t) processor, NVIDIA GTX 960M (4GB) graphics card, up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, and an impressive 512GB PCI-E x4 solid state drive (rated at 1,400MB/s reads). The laptop also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Asus claims that its Hyper Cool technology will keep the system running cool by using copper heatpipes and giving the CPU and GPU their own heatsink and fan which can be independently controlled to maintain a balance of heat and noise. The laptop is powered by a 96Wh Lithium Polymer battery.
This beastly gaming laptop will be available next month with an MSRP of $1,999 (with the configuration listed above). More information can be found at gseries.asus.com
In addition to the ROG G501, Asus’ GL551 and G751 series are also being refreshed to include NVIDIA’s new GTX 900 series graphics. The GL551JW will get the GTX 960M while the G751JL will use the GTX 965M.
Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2015 - 05:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb 3.1, Superspeed+, Superspeed Plus, asus, Z97-A/USB 3.1
Not too long ago Al and Ryan had a chance to play with a prototype USB 3.1 enclosure from ASUS and an add-in card with a controller from ASMedia. The Tech Report also received the prototype USB 3.1 enclosure with two mSATA drives running in RAID-0 mode but they happened to have an ASUS Z97-A/USB 3.1 motherboard which has a built in port and ASMedia controller. Their CrystalDiskMark results showed a ~75% boost in sequential read and write performance with 4K random write speeds also vastly increased. That is not the highlight of their review however; ASUS provided a list of upcoming USB 3.1 releases from multiple vendors so you can now get an idea when you might want to upgrade to a board with USB 3.1 on it.
"Today, we're going to take our very first look at some USB 3.1 gear. Asus has supplied us with a drive enclosure and a matching motherboard, which will help us gauge the kinds of performance gains users can expect."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Mushkin ECO2 240GB 7mm SSD Review @ TechwareLabs
- Crucial BX100 250GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- EDGE Boost Pro Micro SSD @ The SSD Review
- Crucial BX100 250 GB @ techPowerUp
- Crucial MX200 SSD @ HardwareHeaven
- Using RAID-5 Means the Sky is Falling! @ Benchmark Reviews
- Western Digital Green (WD60EZRX) 6 TB @ Tech ARP
- Western Digital 3.5″ Red 6TB NAS HDD @ eTeknix
- An uncomplicated Buffalo in SOHO: The LinkStation 441D 4-bay NAS box @ The Register
- Thecus N4310 Soho/Home Linux NAS Server Review @ Madshrimps
- Synology DiskStation DS115 NAS @ Kitguru
- SanDisk UltraFit USB 3.0 FlashDrive (16GB) @ Bjorn3d
- MyDigitalSSD OTG mSSD 512GB USB 3.0 @ eTeknix
- VisionTek USB Pocket SSD 120GB @ Bjorn3D
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The X99-A is the base level board in ASUS' Intel X99 line of motherboard offering. Don't let the term "base level offering" throw you off though, ASUS put their best foot forward in designing this beauty. The board features full support for all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory operating in up to a quad channel configuration. Priced at a competitive price point of $274.99, the X99-A gives the more feature-packed (and vastly more expensive) boards a run for their money.
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS
Just because the X99-A motherboard is designed to be the "entry-level" model of ASUS' X99 product line does not mean that they skimped on its design or features. The X99-A features the enhanced OC Socket and an 8+4 phase digital power system similar to that featured on its more costly siblings, centered around the Extreme Engine Digi+ IV solution. Extreme Engine Digi+ IV combines ASUS' custom designed Digi+ EPU chipset, IR (International Rectifier) sourced MOSFETs, high-quality chokes, and 10k Black Metallic capacitors for unrivaled power delivery capabilities. The board is further augmented by the integration of ASUS' Crystal Sound 2 audio subsystem for superior audio reproduction.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2015 - 05:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: strix, gtx 960, factory overclocked, DirectCU II, asus, 4GB
The ASUS Strix Series is popular around PC Perspective thanks to the hefty factory overclocks and the quiet and efficient DirectCU II cooling. We have given away 2GB versions of the GTX 960 and Josh recently wrapped up a review of the tiny GTX 750 Ti for SFF builds.
Today ASUS announced the STRIX-GTX960-DC2OC-4GD5, a 4GB version of the Strix GTX 960 with a base clock of 165MHz higher than the default at 1291MHz and with a 1317MHz boost clock and memory clocked at 7010MHz. The DirectCU II cooling solution has proven to live up to the hype that surrounds it, indeed the cooler is whisper quiet and even under load which heavily overclocked it is much less noticeable than other solutions, especially when attached to Maxwell.
The outputs are impressive, DVI, HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs will have you gaming on a variety of monitors and it will support 4k resolutions, at reasonable graphics settings of course. Along with the card you get the familiar GPU Tweak utility for tweaking your card and for a limited time the card will come with a free one year XSplit Premium License to allow you to share your best and worst moments with the world. So far only the 2GB model is showing up at Amazon, NewEgg and B&H so you might want to hold off for a few days but it is worth noting that these cards will get you a free pre-ordered copy of Witcher 3.
Subject: Processors | March 10, 2015 - 10:20 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: uefi, motherboards, lga 1150, Intel, Broadwell, bios, asus
ASUS has announced that all current Intel 9 Series motherboards will support the upcoming 5th-Generation Intel Broadwell LGA 1150 CPUs with an UEFI update.
We reported last week that Intel’s 5th-generation Broadwell CPU had been demonstrated at GDC using Intel’s Iris Pro graphics, though official details about the new LGA versions of Broadwell are not yet public. The desktop variants will no doubt use the same 14nm process technology of the current BGA parts, and it has been rumored that the new CPUs will initially launch in both Core i5 and i7 versions, with the potential for Core i3 and Pentium branded parts to follow (though any potential product information is mere speculation at this point).
It will be interesting to see if the upcoming LGA 5th-Generation CPUs will be able offer any higher perfomance for desktop users compared to existing Haswell parts (such as the i7-4790K), or if there will even be unlocked processors. Considering Broadwell is a mobile-focused part designed for efficency and lower power consumption the chips could offer a compelling solution for small form-factor computers such as HTPCs, as they will presumably provide lower heat and higher IPC than existing parts.
The UEFI updates will go live later today (some updates have already been released) and include all ASUS motherboard models with Z97 and H97 chipsets.