Games aren't the W90's only area of expertise. The laptop ships with a Blu-ray reader drive so it should be possible to enjoy high-definition movies. It didn't work for us, though, as the bundled copy of WinDVD 8 is incompatible with the laptop's 64-bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate edition, which is a serious oversight. Still, you can always watch a little standard-def television thanks to the bundled hybrid TV tuner, which supports both analogue and Freeview broadcasts.
Storage isn't as impressive as we might have hoped. Asus hasn't neglected this area entirely -- it has twin 320GB drives -- but compared to the 1TB of storage in Asus' M70, or the promise of the 1TB SSD in Asus' VX5, the 640GB of storage is something of a disappointment. Or maybe we're just being greedy.
The W90's 18.4-inch display is worthy of note. Not only is it noticeably larger than the 17-inch panels you get on most desktop-replacement or gaming laptops, its resolution is higher, too. It runs natively at 1,920x1,080 pixels, which is the same number of pixels you see in top-end 'full-HD' TVs.
The screen is finished in a glossy coating, which we'd normally hate, due to the fact it renders laptops almost unusable outdoors. But we'll forgive the W90 this shortcoming, as you'd have to be an absolute moron to want to use it outdoors.
The W90's sound system complements its graphical ability well. It has by far the loudest speakers we've encountered on a laptop. It has a total of five Altec Lansing speakers -- two above the keyboard, three on the front edge, and a subwoofer mounted underneath. It can't possibly compete with a dedicated speaker system, but it's loud enough to fill a room and create the impression of half-decent surround sound thanks to second-generation Dolby Home Theatre audio enhancement.
Asus could easily have included furnished the W90 with the aforementioned specs and called it at day, but it hasn't. The machine also sports clever little touches such as a built-in fingerprint reader, a 2-megapixel autofocus webcam, facial-recognition software, gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n high-speed wireless support. The whole package is pretty comprehensive, but given the price, anything less would be a travesty.
We can't make you wait for the results any longer -- the W90 is the fastest gaming laptop we've ever tested. Its 2D desktop performance, however, wasn't as impressive as we'd hoped. Its Core 2 Duo T9550 clocked a score of 5,550, which isn't quite as impressive as the 7,216 achieved by the quad-core-CPU-toting Asus G71V.
3D performance was utterly staggering, however. Its ATI Mobility Radeon 4870 X2 graphics card, which has two graphics processing units on a single adaptor, helped it achieved a 3DMark 2006 score of 13,344, which eclipses the Alienware M17's score of 11,315. In real terms, the machine managed to propel Unreal Tournament 3 at a rate of 162.2 frames per second.
The W90's instant overclocking feature doesn't really make an awful lot of difference to its gaming abilities. With the CPU overclocked to 2.9GHz, it returned a 3DMark 2006 score of 14,056, which is staggeringly high for a laptop, but not a dramatic improvement over the W90's score at standard frequencies.
We expected the W90 to fall flat on its face in a matter of minutes when disconnected from the mains. Surprisingly, it lasted 1 hour 18 minutes while playing a looped DivX video file. That wasn't long enough to actually finish the movie, but it's pretty impressive considering most gaming laptops give up before an hour has passed.
The W90 is an epic machine. Not only is it the fastest gaming rig we've ever encountered, it's also well-designed and sensationally well-equipped. If you're strong enough to lift it, and you can afford the thing, you have our blessing to buy.
Edited by Jason Jenkins