It’s not every day when a machine of such caliber such as the N76VZ arrives, delivered to your front door. And when one does, make sure you spend every moment of the two weeks you have it for review with you. It should, by all means, be by your side at any given time.
A machine of what caliber you might ask? It would be rude to compare the N76VZ to any other notebook out there, well besides the Toshiba Qosmio x870 of course. Then again the Qosmio doesn’t really match up to the way the N76VZ runs and responds to Windows 8 and all its Pro features. Here’s my review:
I have before and will again applaud Asus for the way they manage to use aliminium finishes on their devices to give it that distinctive look that sets it apart from the rest. Well, it has to be said that these days, especially with Ultrabooks they all look similar and have the same ‘feel’ if not bargaining for the same weight. Once you open the ‘beast’ (yes, that’s what I’ll refer the N76 to from now on) the first thing that greets you are the thousands of holes drilled above the keyboard, at this stage you hardly even take notice of the keyboard and its rather small size, right now you’re so excited all you want to do is switch the ‘beast’ on and explore it. The thousands of drilled holes, are positioned on both the left and right side, as these holes circle bigger silver press-able studs. Upon close inspection, only then does one notice that the bigger ‘stud’ positioned on your right is the ‘on’ button. Neat I tell you. Directly above all of this, is the head of course, a matte finish 17.3-inch HD Wide Angle View Display.
First things, let’s get the bad out of the way: The N76 houses one of the smallest keyboards we’ve come across on a Notebook of its size and weight. Another let down was the positioning of the number pad, everything seems all squeezed together as if they were bargaining for space. Mind you, some of the thousands of holes we mentioned above make their way rested between some of the keys as well. While we’re thankful for the keyboard lighting supplied, disappointment sets in when you get a feel of the keyboard. The keys feel rather cheap and plasticky, which takes us back to the fact that it looks like the keyboard was designed in a hurry or as one of those last minute ops.
On the hand, the thousands of holes make up part of the Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio, which of course delivers crisp, clear sound. Once you jack the supplied subwoofer, you can start a party in the office, in your room or hostel dorm.
On your left hand side, the beast plays host to two 3.0 USB slots, an HDMI interface, LAN jack, VGA/Mini D-sub 15 pin port and charger dock. The right side is dominated by two more 3.0 USB ports, a Microphone-in and Headphone-out jack, Blu-Ray DVD RW and SPIDIF speaker out jack for the subwoofer found packed with beast.
Our review device came upgraded running on Windows 8 Pro 64-bit (unlike the Windows 7 launch versions) and ran incredibly smoothly all thanks to the Intel Core i7 processor and HM76 Express Chipset. This is all supported by the NVIDIA GeForce GT650M with 4GB graphics upon running on 8GB (2x4GB) of memory. Explains why I call the N76, ‘the beast’ right? Right.
One of the major let downs of running on the W8 platform is the rather annoying switch from desktop to W8 apps when opening a file or running an external hard drive, nonetheless, the N76 plays the perfect host to W8 and we loved it. All W8 devices come standard with classic apps such Fresh Paint, Taptiles, the Microsoft Solitaire collection, maps, skydrive and photo and video viewing capabilities. To tweak things up, we installed Office 365 Home Premium to test its awesome features. It ran perfectly. (see review)
Although, Asus can lay-off the unnecessary applications and anti-virus software found on the device, if there is one thing users are not keen to its disabling programs you do not know what they are there for. The Asus N76 is one of those hard wearing notebooks you’d love to own. Especially if you depend on your moveable PC for work, this puts it up in the ranks with the MacBook Pro’s, Samsung Series and the likes. We love the collaboration Asus went to for the Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio and amazing HD display.
*RRP of R16 000