Better known for their quality PC motherboards and graphics cards, ASUS has in recent years been dabbling in other areas of computing and consumer electronics as well. Among some of their more fruitful ventures, ASUS has been able to carve a niche in the notebook market. In fact, the new ASUS F3JM Notebook, equipped with a pulse-raising NVIDIA GeForce 7600 Go graphics card, is the latest effort by the Taiwanese company to get the attention of gamers on the move.
In contrast to ASUS' ultra sexy carbon W1 models, the loud Lamborghini VX1 or their new S6F leather collection, the F3JM gaming notebook’s aesthetics can be summed up in one word - boring. Make no mistake, the dead tone of gray (spattered with occasional glints of shiny silver) would be what you'll be carrying around to your gaming sessions, if you intend to acquire the F3JM. On top of its plain aesthetics, the notebook is also entirely of plastic construct which gives an impression of a budget driven design.
The amenities available on the notebook though are anything but plain. Sporting a 15.4-inch glossy widescreen panel with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, the F3JM also includes a DVI-out port, on top of the regular 15 pin D-Sub and an S-video out. The more comprehensive range of output ports will enable the laptop to link up with all the snazzy new monitors out there that use DVI links. More good planning from ASUS also ensures that keys on the full-sized keyboard were generously spaced for plenty of ‘WASD’ action, as well as strategically placed microphone and headphone jacks along the front of the notebook for tangle-free VoIP. If you think that the F3JM is already full on ports, you'll be pleased to know that ASUS was able to squeeze in four USB 2.0 ports as well as a FireWire port, more then enough for a notebook to host all the gaming peripherals a gamer could need during a LAN party - USB-powered mug warmer inclusive.
Business users will find the F3JM quite homely as well with its size and portability, TPM functions, Bluetooth 2.0, wireless networking and conferencing features through a built-in 1.3-megapixel webcam with attached mic.
Fortunately, ASUS knows their stuff when it comes to hardware; drawing on its extensive experience from the DIY market and applying their know-how, the F3JM notebook surely lives up to its purpose as a gaming notebook. Sporting an Intel Core Duo (configurable up to a 2.13GHz T2600), 1GB of DDR2 memory (max. 2GB) and a NVIDIA GeForce 7600 Go with a ludicrous 512MB of dedicated VRAM, the F3JM is able to gobble up most of today’s graphic intensive games, spits them out, and asks for more. In fact, just based purely on these specifications, the average desktop platform can be shamed to oblivion just by placing the F3JM next to them.
When put to the test, the F3JM doesn't disappoint. Games ran smoothly and high resolution gaming with most bells and whistles is possible. However, the glossy LCD screen installed on the F3JM has a slightly poor viewing angle, which serves as a double-edged sword – friends sitting beside you may not be able to share the excitement on your notebook, but at the same time, it prevents LAN opponents from looking at your moves. The inbuilt stereo speakers, although pretty average, blended in well enough and will deliver what it has to in a pinch. Of course, if you're gaming, a decent set of headphones is so much better.
The F3JM is without any doubt a no-frills gaming notebook that is able to live up to its promise by delivering where it matters most. With strong gaming oriented components such as the NVIDIA GeForce 7600 Go GPU (and 512MB of VRAM is no joke), Core Duo processor, a decent amount of RAM, the ASUS F3JM is quite a powerhouse, despite being designed as a mainstream portable notebook. In fact, with its selection of video output and connectivity ports, the F3JM can seriously be considered for a desktop replacement. Hook this baby up to an LCD via DVI and you're all set to rock.
*The F3JM may be available in different default configurations depending on your region. Users should consult their nearest ASUS dealer for exact specification details and upgrade options available.