Any reviews of barebones laptops from Asus, MSI, etc?

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Dec 4, 2006
Just built a Z84 barebone.

Maybe took 10 minutes to assemble.

Boots up very fast.

Has integrated video, but its for biz guy.

I love the layout.

Has eSata and express card, totally loaded.

Waiting for Vista DVD to arrive then will load that on it.

If you want a high quality EZ to work on and upgrade get an Asmobile.

17" screen a bit big for my taste, I'd prefer something more mobile.


Jan 11, 2007
You read my mind. I'm a bit of a gamer (read as an ADDICT), but I've narrowed the decision down to 6 finalists, and I'm tied on two:
15" for portability, feature set, chipset (more on this later) and price
17" for raw power, slightly lower feature set, more screen real estate for C programming and web application development

Both will get me through not having a desktop for the next year.
The finalists are <drum roll>
15", the Compal HEL80
17", the Asus Z84Jp (same as the Z84F, but has a Geforce Go 7800 with 512mb dedicated ram)

These two were picked from:
---Asus Z96Js
---MSI 16332
---Compal HEL80

---Asus Z84Jp
---Clevo M570u (rjtech model with Geforce 7800 and 1440x900 screen)
---MSI 171544

What it all came down to was this:
1. Chipset and Hard drive combo could NOT be nForce with SATA hard drive - see note below.
2. Preference for Core 2 Duo over Turion X2 (even though I'm a hard core AMD fan)
3. Overall feature set - preference for ATI video, both Expresscard and PC card support, dual hard drive, fingerprint reader... (you can see that compromises were made)

If anyone has experience with these laptops, or better yet, experience with more than one of these laptops, please post your impressions of the various models.

NOTE: nForce chipset with a SATA hard drive is specifically NOT supported by Mac OSX. nForce with PATA (IDE) is supported, along with nearly ANY laptop with an intel 9xx chipset and Core 2 Duo processors.
I won't say where to find a version of OSX that will install on a non-mac laptop, but suffice it to say that such installations do exist for those who care to dig deep enough to find them.

Before you read any farther, let me tell you that I'm not into consipracy theories, black hats hiding aliens, or any sort of nonsense. What I DO believe in is a right to disclosure, privacy, and the idea of innocent until proven guilty. For all of you reading this who skip right past the EULA without reading it, here's something scary for you to think about. If your computer is completely up-to-date with Windows Update (as mine is), you have granted MS higher administrative rights to your computer than YOU have. You have given Microsoft the green light to make "any necessary modifications, adjustments, and changes" that they see fit. Just think about what changes you can make, and contemplate that they have higher access than you do.

Why mac OSX? Simple. Read the MS Windows Vista EULA. MS reserves the right to sue you for posting benchmark results if you haven't patched windows to the latest version. Doesn't sound so bad until you realize that you cannot post comparative benchmarks. For example, once Service Pack 1 is released, you cannot post benchmarks comparing Windows Vista before and after the Service Pack without express written permission from Microsoft.

You can only register MS Vista on two platforms. This means that the first time you install Vista (or register a preinstalled copy) you use the first of two activations. If you have to reinstall it down the road, for whatever reason, you can as long as the activation code the Vista generates doesnt change.

The catch is that this code is generated by the hardware on your computer and the Windows CD key, and one of the things it checks is the serial number of your primary hard drive. So as long as you don't change the motherboard, video card, processor, or hard drive, you should be OK to reinstall without using your second Activation. However, if you activate Vista on your spankin' new laptop and upgrade the hard drive two weeks later, you've just chewed up the second activation. The next time you need to reinstall and your hardware has changed, MS will require you to purchase a full version of Vista at full price.

There are also some aspects that I have heard, but not yet verified on the MS website. The activation issue is dead certain, straight from MS themselves, as is the benchmarking issue. Depending on how you read the EULA, and whose interpretation you buy into, there could be a HUGE issue with downloading copyrighted media.

The argument is this: The EULA could be interpreted as saying that any copyrighted media that you download through Vista can only be played on the computer that downloaded it. MS could, if they so chose, prevent you from copying that copyrighted media from your computer to an MP3 player, CD, DVD, or whatever device, even if you legally purchased the media.

If you have any questions about the Vista EULA, it is available from the MS website if you want to read it. Personally, I'm going to pick up Vista because I'm a computer tech and I'll be expected to know it inside and out. But it will NEVER run on one of my personal machines.

As for Mac OSX? We all want in on 64bit computing, and it seems that for now, Apple is content to let you run hacked OSX on a PC as long as you purchase a retail copy for the license. If I can get MacOS to run on my new laptop, I WILL pick up a retail copy to stick on the shelf.

OK, enough of that. game on!

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