iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS S1 Notebook Review

May 18, 2002


According to the ASUS site this ultra-portable notebook, combining the refined style and performance, will prove itself wherever you can go. So, image and portability are the most important things. Let's see it.

Technical characteristics of the Asus S1 (specification)

  • Processor - Intel Pentium III® -M Processor, 512K On-Die L2 Cache at 933M/1G/1.06G/1.13G/1.2G/1.26G Hz (1.13 GHz of the tested model).
  • Chipset - Intel 830-M
  • RAM - 128 MBytes PC133 DRAM + 1 x SODIMM (expandable to 640 MBytes, 384 MBytes on the tested model)
  • Display - 13.3" active matrix TFT, XGA 1024x768, 64K colors max.
  • Video system - integrated (Intel® GMCH2-M), 24-bit 330 MHz RAMDAC & 32 MBytes 32-bit (Max.) 133 MHz SDRAM allocated for Display Cache with DVMT (Dynamic Video Memory Technology) II support
  • External monitor modes supported: from VGA 640x480 16/256/32k/64k/16M colors to UXGA 1600x1200 256/32k/64k/16M colors
  • Audio system - 3D effects and full-duplex supported. Built-in speakers and microphone
  • PC Cards Slot - PCMCIA 2.1 supports one Type II/I cards, 32-bit PC CardBus 1.0
  • Hard drive - 20/30 GBytes Ultra ATA100 (the tested model has Fujitsu MHN-2300AT 30 GBytes)
  • 3.5" 1.44 MBytes USB FDD of the modular type (optional, available in the tested model)
  • I/O ports:
    • PortBar II 68-pin connector
    • Infrared port with IrDA V1.1 support
    • Headphone-out jack
    • Speaker-out jack
    • Microphone-in jack
    • VGA opt/Mini D-sub 15-pin for an external monitor
    • RJ11 Modem jack
    • RJ45 LAN jack
    • 3 USB ports
    • IEEE 1394 port
    • connector for AiBox
    • connector for PortBar II

  • CD/DVD - to be installed into the AiBOX
    • 5.25" ATAPI 24X (max.) CD-ROM drive (Modular Type)
    • 5.25" ATAPI 8X (max.) DVD-ROM drive (Modular Type) - ASUS SCD-2400 on the tested model
    • 5.25" ATAPI DVD+RW 8/8/4/24X drive (Modular Type)

  • Dimensions and weight
    • 296 x 240 x 21mm front (min.) 27mm rear (max.)
    • 1.9 kg

  • Power subsystem
    • Li-Ion battery pack (6 cells), 11.1V 1450 mAh, 32.2W
    • 50W 100240V AC adapter
    • Run-down life, 23.5 h (depending on the Power Gear setting)
    • ACPI 2.0 support

Preinstalled software:

  • ASUS DVD2000 (PowerDVD v3.0 & WinDVD v2.6)
  • Adobe® Acrobat Reader v4.05
  • Trend® PC-Cillin 2000 (antivirus)
  • ASUS ChkMail Program
  • Instant Key Utility
  • ASUS PC Probe (system information)
  • ATKACPI Utility (power saving modes)


  • notebook
  • bag
  • power unit with cable
  • telephone cable
  • adapter for printer
  • USB drive 3.5"
  • printed user manual
  • printed guide for utilities and drivers
  • ASUS' world-wide warranty
  • CD with drivers and utilities
  • CD with ASUS DVD2000

First impressions

The designer's tricks typical of ASUS - right angles - are not strongly pronounced, though I can't say the notebook has a roundish shape. In general, it looks pleasant. The case made of the magnesium alloy is pleasant in color, but I didn't try to scratch it :)


Front panel:

  1. mic-in.
  2. speaker-out
  3. power indicator
  4. battery status indicator
  5. E-mail alert indicator
  6. display panel latch
  7. wireless network indicator (optional)


The rear panel doesn't have much things, which is typical of ultra-portable devices - some connectors are located on the port-replicator (which, however, is to be bought separately).

  1. air vent and cooling fan
  2. USB port
  3. modem jack for telephone line
  4. network connector
  5. external monitor connector
  6. expansion connector (it is also a port for printer used with an adapter supplied). The same connector is used for the port-prelicator (200 x 160 x 37mm max.) with the following connectors:

    • 100/10 MHz RJ-45 LAN port
    • EPP/ECP Parallel port/D-sub 25-pin
    • PS/2 port for keyboard/mouse
    • 2 USB ports
    • VGA connector / D-sub 15-pin for external monitor
    • power socket (when the power source is connected the notebook is powered via the replicator's interface)

    As you can see, we get a miniature dock station


Left panel:

  1. DC power input jack
  2. AiBox port
  3. PC-card connector
  4. IEEE1394 port
  5. 2 USB ports
  6. Fast Infrared Port (IrDA)


The right panel has only an air vent.



Let's open the lid. Frankly speaking, the design of the keyboard and touchpad is better in the other ASUS models, for example, the T9400. But tastes differ, you know. The plastic surface and plastic touchpad buttons and a semitransparent keyboard do not suit the general style.


It is quite difficult to read markings of the instant buttons, but this is peculiar to this company. However, it doesn't affect the handling of the computer. The right button allows choosing the energy saving mode (we will speak about the modes later).

The hardware rebooting button has become standard for the ASUS notebooks. The button, or rather the hole, is located on the underside. You should use something sharp to press it.


The only speaker located below will hardly please lovers of good sound. But this is a cost of ultra portability :)


There is nothing much I can say about the bag - well, this is good that it is supplied.


Before we turn to the operation of the notebook let's take a look at its salt - Intel(R) 830 chipset. The system bus works at 133 MHz, the memory is PC133 SDRAM. There are three modifications available - without integrated graphics and with two types of built-in graphics controllers. The 830M modification used in the tested sample comes with the most advanced graphics. This chipset uses the Dynamic Video Memory Technology (DVMT) which allows you to change the memory size allocated for the graphics controller, depending on tasks. Another new feature is the advanced energy saving control on the chipset level. There is a button located above the keyboard which switches the energy consumption modes. When you press it the modes change cyclically, and a pictogram of the current mode comes onto the screen - an airplane (the highest performance, the chipset's frequency doesn't change), a car, a bike and a walking man (the maximum power saving, reduced CPU frequency and screen backlight). In the Tests section we will show how the operating time depends on the selected mode.

Although the notebook is not big, it's quite convenient to work with. There is nothing that irritates you. The model we tested has one "bad" pixel but it was noticeable only during booting - on the black background.

Warranty and service

The notebook has 1-year worldwide warranty. The on-line support works efficiently.


The Taiwanese site is excellent. It is easily comprehensible, the descriptions of the notebooks are detailed and illustrated. There is a base of drivers and BIOS updates.


You can replace the processor and the hard drive and add memory, but you should do it in the service center till the end of the warranty period.


Scores Max. scores Our mark (subjective)
Accessories 25 25
Appearance and ergonomics 25 24
Convenient handling 25 22
User support 25 25

Total: 98 scores.

What we reduced the scores for

"-1" - for the design of the keyboard and touchpad (subjective).

"-1" - scarce information on the sites in other languages.


As the company placed emphasis on quality of the graphics adapter we included into the suite 3D graphics tests. We also extended the Ziff-Davis BatteryMark suite - the tests were carried out for each power saving mode.

BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2001 124
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2001 Office Productivity 126
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2001 Internet Content Creation 122
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Disk WinMark 3750
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Disk WinMark 12900
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Graphics WinMark 407
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Graphics WinMark 1250
ZD CD Winbench 99 v1.1.1 CD-ROM WinMark 99 1480
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 in the highest performance mode 1 h 10 m
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 in the highest performance mode with external devices disabled 1 h 27 m
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 in the power saving mode 1 1 h 14 m
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 with SpeedStep in the power saving mode 2 2 h 18 m
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 with SpeedStep in the maximum power saving mode 2 h 35 m

As you can see, there is a big jump when we change the second power saving mode for the third one. The disc subsystem corresponds to the required level - this is not a modern desktop yet, but it is very close to the Quantum lct20. The video adapter performs excellently in the ZD WinBench; let's see whether it is able to handle tougher applications.

MadOnion 3DMark 2001
(1024x768, 32 bit color, 32 bit Texture Format, 24 bit Z-buffer depth, Frame Buffer - Double buffering, Software T&L)

3DMark Result 857
In detail
Game fps
Car Chase
Low Details 14.5
High Details 5.3
Low Details 16.5
High Details 5.9
Low Details 20.8
High Details 5.8

Well, the controller is rather weak in the 3D graphics. Let's test the notebook in the game of all times and all peoples - Quake.

Quake III - demo four (fps)

16 bit color 32 bit color
Fast (512x384)
59.9 52.4
Normal (640x480)
55.4 38.5
High Quality (800x600)
36.4 23.9 (42.7)
Maximum settings (1024x768)
28.5 (38.8) 14.3 (21.3)

Well, it's possible to play, but the integrated graphics adapter falls by a great margin even behind the GeForce 2 Go installed in the Toshiba Satellite 2805-S402 notebook based on the Intel Pentium III 850 MHz (its results are given in parentheses). Here is one more test - Rage Games Expendable

Expendable, timedemo (fps)

Resolution Color depth
640x480 68.82
1024x768 47.86 28.31

At present there is nothing to compare the result with, but in our future reviews we will definitely include these tests.

Summary. Conclusion

Subjective mark is 98 scores.

Of course, this notebook is not the best model for playing games, but it is unnecessary. In all other respects, this is a good product from ASUS - the performance is high; the style is what everyone should estimate himself. The base configuration - Celeron 1.06 GHz, 128 MBytes/15.0 GBytes, CD ROM 24X - is priced at $1395 (at Nexus), the tested model costs $2105. I'd rather take the base configuration with the CD replaced with DVD (+ $80).

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