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(Pocket-lint) - Asus have become a well known and established name over the years for their peripherals and products; these range vastly from motherboards to the very first netbook. What they aren’t so well known for is their high end gaming laptops that are outstanding and dismay the critics - this is all about to change.

How the W90 achieves this is by no mere accident in itself. Asus has included the likes of the latest dual core mobile processor, 6GB of memory and dual ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards. With the latter they’ve created a first for notebooks by using a CrossFire configuration normally seen in much higher end gaming platforms.

Here they’ve doubled up on the graphics power to give the best possible visual gaming experience for the user, which really is something to behold. It’s even been overclocked before to the max to produce a 3DMark06 graphical benchmark of over 20,000, which in itself is a feat normally associated with ridiculously costly and powerful machines.

Just in case the W90's graphical prowess wasn’t enough to delight and enthuse even the most staunch critic and gamer, they’ve added more speakers onboard than a pimped out Escalade. There are six, that’s right, six Altec Lansing speakers - five of the normal variety and a beefy subwoofer. All of these really show off the true 5.1 channel Dolby sound to all its splendour.

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We were lucky enough to see a pre-production press sample to review, that’s really only a few slight changes away from the final shipping model. Unfortunately it only had a DVD drive in and we were going to heavily mark the score down as a result. Why would such a beast like this with an 18.4-inch 1920 x 1200 resolution screen not have a high definition media player onboard, when the 1080p capable just screams Blu-ray? Fear not, the final model will have a Blu-ray combo drive for all your HD and DVD playback, with all its 5.1 sound possibilities too.

Adding to the W90’s storage capabilities are two 320GB hard disk drives, along with access to every possible flash memory card known to mankind. The overall combined hard drive size does beg the question though: is 640GB really enough storage space for the hard core gamers that this system is being aimed at? Could a serious gamer really kill all that space? We think very much so.

What would be more apt and appropriate, we feel, would be a twin 500GB option. The overall specs for the machine would then match up fully and complement each other, within this flagship model.

The case design and overall feel, altough brushed aluminium, isn’t as sleek as some of their other models, such as the purpose built gaming ranges of notebooks, such as the G1, and does come off a little business looking in comparison. It does however house a much better screen size and better graphics than these others. Despite Asus calling this a multimedia system we’re most definitely not: it’s a gamers rig.

One of the features we were most impressed about was the keyboard’s layout. It’s a small delight to type on a laptop’s keyboard that’s more or less the same dimensions as a standard desktop computer version. As the 5.2kg beast is a sizable monster Asus has built in a keyboard almost of that very same ilk, which has a decent tactile
feedback along with being very responsive - essential for gaming.

To the left of the keyboard is a touch sensitive embedded volume control, also at the top there’s another embedded set of quick start keys for applications and screen settings. These just add to the funkiness of the whole setup, undoubtedly gamers with marvel at the blue neon LEDs too.


For a computer that’s not being described as a serious gaming notebook, it doesn’t hide the fact too well that it is a notebook for serious gamers. The specs are high, the performance is good and the screen excels in quality.

There is a thought though, that the money outlaid for the W90 could very well be wasted in no more than 2 years when the graphics and processing power needed for the latest games only reaches "minimum requirements". On a desktop based computer upgrading when the specs are old hat is easy as 3.142, on a notebook its another matter entirely and not really all that possible.

Writing by Rob Kerr. Originally published on 13 April 2009.