iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS L2B Notebook Review

November 4, 2002

The Pentium 4 based notebook for a wide range of users. Multimedia capabilities and slick design; but its primary advantages are reliability and performance helping you out wherever you can go and whatever task you can face. It will help you do any work, and in your free time you can estimate its richest multimedia capabilities. The ASUS L2 can be tireless in operation and exceptionally gaming when you are having a rest wandering around the Internet or listening to your favorite CDs - this is how this model is positioned by the company. As compared with the accented austerity of the L3 this one is also a playful "boy", which indicates that the tested model is not just for work but also for entertainment. 

Technical characteristics of the Asus L2B (claimed by the manufacturer)

  • Processor - Intel Mobile Pentium 4 Processor, 512K On-Die L2 Cache, up to 1.7 GHz (400 Mhz FSB) (the tested sample has P4-M 1.6GHz). 
  • Chipset - Intel 845MP 
  • RAM - 2 x SODIMM supporting up to 1024MB, the tested model has 256MB) 
  • Display - 14.1" active matrix color TFT with the maximum resolution of XGA of 1024x768 
  • Video system - ATI M7-CSP16 (a.k.a. ATI M7D), 16MB local memory
  • External monitor modes: 
    • VGA 640 x 480, 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors 
    • SVGA 800 x 600 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors 
    • XGA 1024 x 768 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors 
    • SXGA 1280 x 1024 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors 
    • UXGA 1600x1200 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors
  • Audio system - AC 97 S/W audio compatible with SoundBlaster Pro; built in speakers and microphone 
  • PC Cards slot - Ricoh 476II PCMCIA 2.1, two Type II/I cards or one Type III card
  • Hard drive - 10/20/30/40 GB and more, Ultra ATA66/100 (the tested model has Fujitsu MHR2030AT 30 GB, Ultra ATA100) 
  • 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
  • Optical devices
    • ATAPI 24X (max.) CD-ROM 
    • ATAPI 8X (max.) DVD-ROM (the tested model has ASUS SDD-0824) 
    • ATAPI CD-RW 8/4/24X (max.) 
    • ATAPI DVD 8X & CD-RW 8/4/24X (max.) combo drive 
  • I/O ports: 
    • 1 EPP/ECP Parallel port/D-sub 25-pin 
    • 1 PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port 
    • 1 Infrared port support IrDA V1.1 
    • 1 Headphone-out jack (Stereo) 
    • 1 Microphone-in jack (Mono) 
    • 1 VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external monitor
    • 1 S-Video output
    • 1 RJ11 Modem jack for phone line
    • 1 RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
    • 2 USB ports
    • 2 IEEE 1394 ports
    • 1 connector for Port-Bar II 
    • 1 connector for COM port (with adapter used) 
  • Optional - IEEE 802.11b compatible and/or Bluetooth wireless network (no on the tested model) 
  • Dimensions and weight
    • 310 x 262 x 38/43 mm 
    • 3.2kg 
  • Power subsystem
    • 9 cells Li-Ion battery pack, 2000mAh/cell 
    • 60W 100-240V AC adapter
It's interesting that, being smaller, the L2B weighs as much as the L3.

Preinstalled software:

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

What's in the box:

  • notebook
  • power supply unit with a cable
  • phone cable
  • mouse
  • S-Video-RCA adapter
  • COM port's adapter
  • printed user manual
  • guide to utilities and drivers
  • ASUS international warranty
  • CD with drivers and utilities
  • CD with ASUS DVD2000 
  • card with addresses and phone numbers of the ON-line support
  • warning card (the maximum load on the display panel must not exceed 1.5 kg)

First impressions

First I didn't like this model. Well, it certainly is in the style of ASUS with its typical angular shape. But I think the LEDs are not in the proper places (look at the enlarged photo or the separate photo).

Again we are warned against throwing heavy stuff on it (over 1.5 kg). Good bye, light-alloy cases... As for me, I don't understand why a gaming notebook should be of the all-in-one format. I suspect that because of the speakers located in front they couldn't resist using the free space left :) Taking into account that the site now offers "drawings" instead of photos I had to take pictures myself. 

Front View: 

  • Display Panel Latch
  • Audio Speaker (not well seen on the small photo) 
  • CD playback keys (DJ play supports) 

The back panel, in spite of the fact that cooling systems take more and more space, has still enough space for main connectors (left to right) 

  • Air Vent
  • Modem Port for phone line 
  • LAN Port
  • Fan
  • PortBar II

    Extension slot. It connects to a port-replicator measuring 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 keyboard/mouse port
    • 2 USB ports
    • VGA / D-sub 15-pin port for external monitor
    • power supply connector (when connected to a power source, the notebook gets power from the replicator's interface) 
    This connector becomes standard for ASUS notebooks irrespective of how they are positioned. But I don't get the idea - here most ports are simply duplicated. 
  • External monitor output
  • 2 USB ports
  • PS/2 port
  • Kensington lock connector

Left View: 

  • PC Cards slot
  • under it, left to right
    • IR port
    • connector for COM port's adapter
    • 2 IEEE 1394 ports
  • audio connectors
    • line-in
    • mic-in
    • headphone out
  • and battery compartment to the right

On the right panel we have input devices - a 3" floppy drive above and an optical drive with a volume control below. To their right you can see rarely used (according to the designers) connectors - a parallel port and a video-out. I would take here a connector for external monitor as well. Finally, there we have a DC power input jack. 

The L2B is not less abundant in connectors than the L3. It misses only the S/PDIF-out, and this is certainly a downside for a gaming notebook. 

Ergonomics and operation

The designers from ASUS have a really rich imagination as touchpad's keys look different each time. 

In the L2B they sacrificed the scroll keys which turned into colorful buttons. Although it looks stylish, they are not very convenient. In all other respects, I have no complains about the keyboard. The instant keys are, as usual, above they keyboard, though they are thinner now.

It's much easier now to insert a 3" diskette - you can push it into the drive without taking your hand off from the upper panel. The eject button of the DVD-ROM tray is the same as on the L3 - it is prominent but hard to press. 

The USB ports are carried to the back panel, though I would put at least one onto the left side instead of the COM port's adapter because USB is the most popular interface (in terms of the number of peripherals). The infrared port it driven into the corner which is certainly the proper place for it. That's what I think of the ergonomics of this computer.

I do not fancy much such extra niceties as a CD remote control (DJ play supports) as speakers used in notebooks do not give decent sound, and it's not the best choice to use a notebook as a CD player. Nevertheless, the solution is elaborate. When the notebook is on, the keys control the main CD player of the system. When it's off the CD player can be switched on by dragging the slider to the right. The LED (on the photo) goes on, and then it's very simple to operate. I wish though it had a display showing at least the minimal lot of information (however, such display is usually not very useful, for example, in the Toshiba Satellite 5105-s501). On the whole, this device doesn't spoil the notebook, though it doesn't add much benefit either. 

It looks like that it's become a fashion to place a processor's fan below in Pentium 4 (even mobile) based notebooks. That's very important for those who like working lying on the back with a notebook on the belly. The increased power of the ventilation system couldn't affect the noise level which gets particularly high at the maximum fan's speed. Fortunately, it happens only when the system starts up or air vents are blocked. That is why a notebook is nearing a desktop system not only in terms of characteristics. And on any flat surface the rubber legs hold the case perfectly. 

Warranty and service

I gave the in-depth information on warranty in the review of the ASUS T9400, and here I will just highlight the key points. 

All ASUS's notebooks come with a 2-year warranty starting from February 2002. The international warranty does work. The online support works efficiently and without much fooling around. 


The Taiwanese site is perfect. It's comprehensible, all the descriptions 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 it should be done in the service center during the warranty period. 

Subjective estimation

So, the scores are:   

Scores max. Our mark
Accessories 25  25
Appearance and ergonomics 25  24
Ease of handling 25  24
User support 25  25

Total: 98 scores. 

We lowered the scores for 

"-1" - I don't like the unit of LEDs. 

"-1" - the touchpad scroll keys are not very handy. 


The L2B will be compared with the L3. You must already know how the Power4Gear works (see reviews on the ASUS L3), that is why the run-down time was estimated in the High power saving mode which corresponds to the maximum performance.   

BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002
Productivity workload - Performance rating 119 128
Productivity workload - Average response time (sec) 1.65 1.54
Productivity workload - Battery life rating (min) 195 119
Reader workload - Battery life rating (min) 214 124
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 143 156
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 Office Productivity  102 117
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 Internet Content Creation 200 208
ZD Content Creation Winstone 2002 22.6 26
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 CPUMark 101 116
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 FPU WinMark 5560 5820
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Disk WinMark 3270 2790
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Disk WinMark 11900 10100
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Graphics WinMark 348 417
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Graphics WinMark 787 1010

Well, the L3 outscores its contestant at the expense of the more powerful processor (even the more efficient disc subsystem doesn't help the L2B). But the run-down time is certainly better in case of the mobile processor. 

Now the graphics tests. The scores of the L3 are given in parentheses. As you remember, the L3 didn't have an extraordinary level in 3D graphics.

MadOnion 3DMark 2001
(1024x768, 32 bit color, 32 bit Texture Format, 24 bit Z-buffer depth, Frame Buffer - Double buffering, Hardware T&L)
Resolution 800x600 1024x768
3DMark Result 2553 (3444) 1974 (2199)
In detail
Game fps
Car Chase  
Low Details 47.6 (70.6) 16 (43)
High Details 6.7 (27) 4.9 (19.8)
Low Details 45.2 (67) 33 (47.8)
High Details 8.8 (28.5) 5 (16.2)
Low Details 69.7 (74.4) 49.5 (46.9)
High Details 30.9 (25.6) 24.6 (24.1)

Well, the processor clocked at 1.6 GHz has actually nothing to oppose to the 2.2GHz giant. However, in the last test, Lobby, the situation is quite weird. I think that the ASUS L3 overheats very quickly when used intensively. At least, I have no other explanations. 

One more test is the Rage Games Expendable 

Expendable, timedemo (fps)
Resolution Color depth
640x480 92.69 (106.83) 73.85 (89.58)
800x600 85.44 (95.12) 73.22 (76.84)
1024x768 69.59 (77.3) 68.98 (61.66)

At 16 bpp the results are expected, but at 32 bpp the L3 "spins down" at the end. It must be a real problem to cool down a desktop processor in a mobile system. Well, the processor can be quickly overheated if you play a lot, though it's not dangerous: the fan will speed up and the frequency will fall down which will decrease the fps almost unnoticeably. But in general, notebooks are not for hard-core gamers. 

Summary. Conclusion

Our mark is 98 scores. 

I would prefer the L3 model ($2245 for P4 2GHz, 40GB HDD, DVD-CDRW Combo and 256 MB memory against $1765 for L2B with P4 1.6GHz, 20GB HDD, DVD-CDRW Combo and 128MB). But it's only because I like the design of the L3 more. But the general impression is that this is a well-developed model from the well-known company. Besides, the price difference of $500 is still quite much. 

Nikolay Doroveev (niko@ixbt.com

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