ASUS Lamborghini VX7: A laptop with sports car-like performance, looks and reliability
The ASUS Lamborghini VX7 is an option for gamers who want a fast laptop that also looks the part. Like the famous luxury sports car manufacture it shares its name with, the Lamborghini VX7 is built to turn heads and designed with performance in mind. There is nothing modest about it and there is nothing cheap about it. You pay a premium for a well built machine that can handle most recent games quite well and we think it's a machine that will have a long lifespan thanks to its high-end specifications. However, there are still areas in which the Lambo could be better.
Design and user comfort
Although fans of Lamborghini cars will get more of a kick out of this laptop than most other people — they'll love the badge on the lid and the massive exhausts — we think many well-off gamers and laptop enthusiasts might like its edgy styling and standout colour scheme, too. Those who saw the Lambo during our tests said it was outlandish due to its orange finish and chunky body work, but they liked the styling once we opened the lid. They liked the leather-dressed palmrest, the chrome 'start' button and the backlit keys — and so do we. It's a very nice laptop to look at and it feels good to use.
Its chiclet keyboard has full-sized keys that are soft and possess good travel. Combined with the leather palm rest, this is a laptop that is comfortable to type on for long periods of time. We love the backlight, which has three intensity levels and looks great in a dark environment. The touchpad is the only part of the laptop that, at times, feels uncomfortable. This is because it has a glossy texture that can be very resistive unless your fingers are bone dry. For the most part though, it was responsive and accurate.
The laptop's 15.6in screen has a Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 and it exhibits good brightness and contrast. We're not fans of its glossy finish (or of its glossy frame), but without the gloss the laptop just wouldn't look as flashy. We love the styling of the dashboard in front of the screen, which has chrome shortcut buttons and a chrome 'start engine' button (it's not merely a power button, you know). When the machine boots up, it makes a 'vroom vroom' noise, which is cute the first couple of times you hear it. It can be disabled in the BIOS.
The chassis is based on the design of the G73 Series of ASUS notebooks. It's quite thick and the laptop has an overall weight of 3.8kg — that's the same as three MacBook Airs for you Apple fans out there. It needs plenty of breathing room as it houses powerful components: an Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU, a 1.5GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M graphics adapter, 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM and two 750GB, 7200rpm hard drives (but not in a RAID array). To keep this configuration cool, air comes in through the right-rear vent and exits through the left-rear vent. It's not a very loud operator, even when under a heavy processing load, and it didn't get noticeably warm during our tests.
Performance and battery life
In our performance tests, the Lamborghini VX7 was fast, and it takes the crown as the fastest gaming laptop we've seen (so far) this year. It recorded a score of 13927 in 3DMark06, with its closest competition being the HP Pavilion dv6, which recorded 12103. That laptop has an Intel Core i7-2720QM CPU and an AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics card and costs considerably less — but it also doesn't have as much flair and appeal as the Lambo. The Lambo handled racing and sports games with ease, and it was also decent when running first-person shooters. Games such as Bulletstorm and Sanctum were playable at the native 1920x1080 resolution of the screen, with both recording over 31 frames per second in our tests. You'll have to use lower resolution and detail settings if you want to get smoother performance than that.
In our Blender 3D and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the Lambo recorded times of 24sec and 52sec, respectively. They aren't the fastest processing times we've seen: the Blender 3D time is spot on for the Core i7-2630QM CPU (the ASUS N73SV recorded the same time with the same CPU), but the MP3 encoding time is a little less than we expected. Using the Lambo to transcode a DVD movie file to a 1.5GB Xvid file took 46min, which is commensurate with the CPU's speed.
In our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the Lambo's 74 Watt-hour battery lasted 2hr 9min. This is a decent time for a high-specification laptop, but it's not as impressive as the three-hour runtime produced by other performance laptops that we've seen, such as the aforementioned Pavilion dv6.
Sports car reliability
While we enjoyed using the VX7 very much, it wasn't all smooth sailing during our tests. True to the form of a real sports car, it did have some niggling problems. It couldn't run VirtualDub reliably (something that is common with other ASUS laptops we've seen recently) and it couldn't run 3DMark06 properly without us manually putting a copy of the OpenAL.dll in the 3DMark06 directory. The power scheme also changed back to one of ASUS' own Power4Gear schemes every time we rebooted the machine, rather than staying with our 'high performance' selection.
Furthermore, there is a lot of pre-loaded software on the VX7 and, like most new laptops, it comes with the Bing toolbar pre-installed. If you ever restore the hard drive to its factory state, you'll have to accept the terms and conditions and install the Bing toolbar in order to complete the Windows 7 installation. We're not fans of this forcefulness at all. Another quibble we have is with the Wi-Fi, module, which is a single-band Atheros AR9002WB-1NG. We'd prefer it if such an expensive laptop came with a dual-band, Intel Wi-Fi, module instead.
As for the rest of the VX7's features, you get a DVD re-writer, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, a webcam, Bluetooth, microphone and headphone ports, three USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot.
Trying to decide whether the ASUS Lamborghini VX7 is worth the money is a little difficult. On the one hand, the VX7 has the prestige branding of an iconic sports car manufacturer and looks that are (for better of worse) unparalleled. On the other hand, it's a little underdone: you could just an Alienware M17x, for example, which has slightly better credentials. To be able to consider either the VX7 or indeed the Alienware M17x is a good position to be in though, and if you're a fan of the Italian sports car manufacturer, you will get a lot more enjoyment out of the Lamborghini VX7, that's for sure.