ASUS U36SD-XA1 Notebook Review: The Battery That Never Dies
Cooling, Portability, Battery Life, Software
Leave this laptop at idle, and it will make only the slightest of sounds. Having a large number of cooling vents throughout the bottom half of the chassis may not be good for protection from spills, but it is good for temperatures, and may be the reason why this laptop’s fan is almost inaudible in many situations. The SSD means there's no grinding of mechanical drive parts to tolerate, either.
Place the laptop under a heavier load, such as a game, and the fan will rise (in volume) to the occasion. Noise was not excessive even in these situations, but if you have a roommate or significant other trying to sleep in the next room with the door open, they may not appreciate your gaming session.
Lap use of the U36 is unfortunately not a comfortable long-term option due to a hot-spot on the left hand side of the laptop. Once placed on a surface, however, users should be comfortable with external heat levels. Both the keyboard and palmrest warm noticeably during periods of load, but not enough to cause serious discomfort.
Measuring about .75 inches thick, and weighing in just a smidgen over three pounds with the 8-cell battery installed, this laptop couldn’t be easier to cart around. In fact, it brings question to the importance of the “ultrabook” category where portability is concerned. According to official specifications, the ASUS Zenbook UX31 is just .5 inches thinner and weighs only .11 pounds less, distinctions that you’d probably never make without a tape measure and a scale.
No ultrabook could hope to match this laptop’s battery life, either, as you can see in the graph below.
This is a simple formula. Take a big battery, slap it into a small laptop, then build a power saving profile for use when on battery. Presto! Awesome battery life. At over six hours in Battery Eater Standard and almost nine hours of light use, this laptop offers the longest life of any laptop we’ve tested that didn’t use an optional extended life battery.
A combination of Intel's low power processors and NVIDIA's Optimus technology, which disabled the discrete GPU when not in use, are the to thank for much of this battery life. The rest of the credit lies with the ASUS engineers' ability to enable power management.
Our U36 came equipped with some desktop shortcuts to various ASUS utilities, most of which were not of much use, but were also rather easy to ignore. These are not programs that launch at system start-up but rather shortcuts for the user’s convenience. One, for example, opens the electronic manual.
For the most part, user will only be required to interact with the ASUS Super Power Saver gadget, which allows for switching between “high performance” and “power saving” profiles. It’s actually rather useful, in that it at least allows for quick switching between modes. Less useful is the Intel processor monitor gadget, which doesn’t appear to update quickly, doesn’t offer meaningful data, and is obscured by most programs that actually tax the processor.