iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS A2H Notebook PC Review

September 5, 2003

The main trends in the notebook PC development leave their traces in practice :). With the launch of the Intel Centrino all notebook makers offered slim and light solutions. Now it's time for another kind of notebook PCs meant to replace desktop PCs. In this case we can't allow for a light weight or consider that the run-down time can make up for some downsides. Such kinds of notebooks are used all day long, and no trade-offs are allowed. So, today we will take a look at the ASUS A2 series. Apart from the A2000H line which will be examined today there is also the A2000L built on the mobile Intel Pentium 4. The lines have no difference in design, i.e. they leave the same impression in handling and management, though the performance ay differ. 

ASUS A2000H Specification 

  • Processor
    • Pentium 4 , 533Mhz FSB, 512K Cache-DTP up to 2.8 GHz
    • Celeron value, 400Mhz FSB, 128K Cache-DTP 2.0+GHz

    (2.66 GHz on the tested model)

  • Chipset - SiS M650+ SiS962
  • Memory - up to 1024 MB DDR266 SDRAM, 2 SO-DIMM (512 MB on the tested sample).
  • Display
    • 14.1" XGA (1024x768) TFT 
    • 15.0" XGA (on the tested sample) or SXGA+ (1400x1050) TFT 

  • Video - integrated controller, 16/32/64 MB UMA shared video memory (64 MB available at the RAM >=192 MB).
  • Audio
    • AC 97 S/W audio
    • built-in speakers and microphone
    • SoundBlaster-Pro compatible
    • Audio DJ: CD playback without OS booting

  • Drives.
    • 20/40/60/80 GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive (Hitachi ICN25N040ATMR04-0 40GB on the tested model)
    • fixed optional drive
      • 24 X CD-ROM
      • 8X (max.) DVD-ROM drive
      • 8X/24X 10X 24X (max.) DVD combo drive (Toshiba SD-R2312 on the tested model)
      • DVD-RW

    • Flash memory card reader: MMC/ SD, Memory Stick (optional, available on the tested model)

  • I/O ports.
    • 5 USB 2.0 
    • LAN (RJ-45) 
    • Modem (RJ-11) 
    • Parallel EPP/ECP D-sub 25-pin 
    • VGA out
    • IEEE 1394 
    • FIR
    • Connector for II Non-ZV PCMCIA 2.1 cards 
    • Line-in/ mic-in/ headphones-out
    • S-video TV-out
    • Connector for Secure Digital / MultiMediaCard and Memory Stick cards

  • Communication
    • Built-in AC97 s/w modem
    • Built-in 10/100 Mbit/s ALN adapter
    • IEEE 802.11a/b Wireless LAN (optional, no on the tested sample), built-in antenna

  • Dimensions and weight
    • 328 x 270 x 27-42 mm
    • 3.1 kg (for 14.1" LCD, 9.5mm HDD, 8 x DVD-ROM and 8 cells Li-Ion)

    • 3.3 kg (for 15.0" LCD, 9.5mm HDD, 8 x DVD-ROM and 8 cells Li-Ion)

  • Power supply system
    • 8 cells, 2200mAh, 65Whrs (though the battery itself is marked to have 14.8V, 4400mAh) 
    • power supply unit - output: 19V DC, 6.3A, 120W

  • OS - Microsoft Windows XP, drivers for ME,2K,XP

As you can see, this series is designed for the office use as it has good performance, plenty of ports and rather poor 3D graphics. 


Since we got a preproduction sample, it came only with a power source and a CD with drivers and utilities. The production notebooks will certainly have a different accessory pack. Apparently, it will be the same as for the ASUS L4. 

First impressions

The design of this model is also office-like: austere and substantial. The silvery case makes it looking light - I would never say it weights over 3 kg! I think the ASUS A2 will grace any office desk. 

In front are the display latch and CD playback controls. Some time ago I already expressed my opinion towards such features in office-type notebook PCs, and a bit later I'll tell you what I think about this very realization.

On the back you can find "static" connectors (usually one plugs in cables there only once, when arranging the PC on the desktop). Left to right:

  • 2 USB
  • LAN port
  • Phone line jack
  • Parallel port
  • External display output
  • TV-out
  • Kensington lock

And air vents take free space.

The right-hand side is less loaded. Left to right:

  • 2 USB
  • optical drive
  • FIR port
  • Card Reader (under it)
  • one more USB

The slopes underneath get an original look on the photo but don't look so effective in the real life.

On the left are a power supply source connector, PC-card, IEEE 1394 and audio jacks. 

The arrangement of the connectors is excellent. I can see nothing to find fault with. It's the first time a notebook has 5 USB ports, which are located in different places at that. You can connect a mouse, a keyboard, a photo camera, an MP3 player, and even a USB Flash drive. This is one of the best configurations I've ever seen. Let's see if it is really convenient to use it.

Operation, ergonomics

There is nothing unexpected under the display.

The keyboard is standard for big machines. The "\" key (the location of which badly irritates Mr. Korogod if doesn't occupy its usual place) is on its typical position.

The touchpad design is typical of ASUS models. I find it optimal when the scroller is located between the main buttons. The LEDs are in their standard places (for desktop-type PCs) - on the upper panel in front.

Other indicators are above the keyboard. Here you can find application shortcut buttons, a power saving mode button and an on/off one.

The matrix is ordinary. I have no complaints about it; the brightness level is sufficient. 

The sound is higher than the average one. I think it's because of a hole underneath (above on the left) which smoothes away distortions inside the PC case.

The powerful cooling system copes well with its functions. The hard drive seems to be the hottest spot there (it's located right under the left hand).

In general, this is a convenient office-type computer. There is almost no complaints concerning its design and operation.

Warranty and service

All ASUS's notebook PCs come with the 2-year international warranty since February 2002


The Taiwanese site is user-friendly and has in-depth illustrated descriptions of notebooks. You can also find there a base of the drivers and BIOS updates. 


Any kind of modernization should be carried out in the service center until the warranty period terminates. Otherwise, you lose the warranty.


Here you will see only plain figures since it makes no sense to compare notebooks equipped with CPUs of different clock speeds. 

So, the first aspect is the run-down time.

BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Productivity workload (Performance rating) 146
BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Productivity workload (Average response time) 1.35
BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Productivity workload (Battery life rating) 115
BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Reader workload (Battery life rating) 126

I must say that the model riding the Pentium 4 2.66 GHz falls behind the one with the Pentium-M 1.6 GHz under the hood in the offline mode. But 2 hours of the run-down time is enough for desktop-type notebooks (it's just one more curtsey for the Centrino :).

  Video memory size, MB
16 MB 32 MB 64 MB
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 169 163 165
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 Office Productivity 111 113 113
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 Internet Content Creation 257 234 240
ZD Business Winstone 2002 20.4 20.5 20.7
ZD Content Creation Winstone 2002 30 30.1 30.1

The performance is good, and the test results hardly depend on the video memory size.

MadOnion 3DMark 2001
(32 bit color, 32 bit Texture Format, 24 bit Z-buffer depth, Frame Buffer - Double buffering, Software T&L), 3DMark Result
Resolution 640x480 800x600 1024x768
16 MB 1681 1289 -
32 MB 1691 1302 929
64 MB 1713 1316 945

Well, the beauty of modern games is almost unachievable for this solution.


This is a very good business-type notebook. It has an almost ideal arrangement of the components and nice appearance. The price is not that bad as well - $1390 for the sample tested.

Nikolai Dorofeev (niko@ixbt.com)

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