Introducing the ASUS X72D/K72DR

The ASUS X72D is an interesting beast and a testament to just how far prices have fallen on Blu-ray capable hardware. It also gives us the opportunity to play with a triple-core mobile AMD chip, something we haven't yet enjoyed on the review bench. While a mobile Phenom II and Mobility Radeon HD 5470 may not be the most exciting pieces of kit in the world, they can be used to buttress an attractive and affordable build able to handle most computing tasks without breaking the bank.

Today we'll be figuring out just how well three AMD cores can compete with two hyper-threaded Intel cores at the entry level, and whether or not the X72D delivers the solid multimedia experience it was intended for. Note that our review model is labeled X72D, but it's the same design as the readily available K72DR--only with Blu-ray and a 7200RPM drive compared to the stock model available at Newegg. We'll refer to the notebook as the X72D throughout this review, but the two names are synonymous--the X72D is just the upgraded model. Here are the specs of our review sample.

ASUS X72D Specifications
Processor AMD Phenom II N830
(3x2.1GHz, 45nm, 1.5MB L2, 35W)
Chipset AMD RS880 northbridge and SB850 southbridge
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1GB DDR3
(80 Stream Processors, 750 MHz core clock, 1600 MHz effective memory clock, 64-bit memory bus)
Display 17.3" CCFL Glossy 16:9 900p (1600x900)
Chi Mei N173O6-L02
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 7200 RPM Seagate Momentus 7200.4 Hard Disk
Optical Drive Blu-ray Reader/DVD+/-RW Combo Drive
Networking Atheros AR8131 Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9285 Wireless 802.11n (150Mb capable)
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers, headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 10.8V, 4400mAh, 48Wh battery
Front Side Speakers
5-in-1 Flash reader
Left Side Exhaust vent
2x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Right Side Headphone and microphone jacks
2x USB 2.0
Ethernet jack
AC adaptor
Kensington lock
Back Side Nothing
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 16.7" x 11.2" x 1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 6.9 lbs
Extras 0.3MP Webcam
Keyboard with 10-key
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo, xD)
Altec Lansing speakers
Blu-ray reader
Warranty 2-year standard warranty
Pricing Available online as K72Dr

Even if it isn't that exciting, the most interesting part in the X72D is the AMD Phenom II N830 at its heart. AMD processors have been somewhat rarefied around here since manufacturers are typically more interested in throwing flashier, more exciting Intel-based units our way, so it's nice to get our hands on one of AMD's faster tri-core mobile chips. The Phenom II N830 runs its three cores at 2.1 GHz and is basically a mobile, power-binned version of the L3 cache-less desktop Athlon II X3. While these cores aren't as fast clock-for-clock as competing Intel chips, they're fast enough, and a healthy jump over AMD's old K8-based mobile chips.

There's still a major stumbling block for AMD in terms of power consumption, though: an AMD-based notebook has to power both a northbridge and a southbridge, while most of this functionality is either handled by integrated hardware in Intel's mobile processors or by the single power friendly HM55/PM55 chip. It's not a case of just having more chips, but when you look at the manufacturing processes in use and the historical data, AMD hasn't done well on getting power use in check. Having to run three of their chips compared to two of Intel's chips is going to be a big hurdle.

The odd choice is the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 dedicated GPU. Given the 17" chassis we would've liked to see at least a Mobility Radeon HD 5650, but what makes the anemic 5470 even more puzzling is how aggressive of an implementation it is. While the chip itself is still the same dismal DX11 rehash of the old 4300/4500 series, plugging along with just 80 stream processors and a paltry 64-bit memory bus, ASUS has opted to clock it at a staggering 750MHz. As has become customary with low-end chips, the 5470 has also been outfitted with 1GB of DDR3—about 512MB more than it could ever use—clocked at a healthy 1.6 GHz effective. This is pretty much as good as the 5470 is going to get, but that isn't saying much. For comparison we have the Dell Studio 14 in our charts, which uses a 5470 at a lower 675MHz core clock.

The remainder of the X72D is fairly healthy. 4GB of DDR3 is clocked at 1333MHz instead of the usual 1066MHz, and ASUS saw fit to equip the unit with a 500GB, 7200 RPM Seagate hard disk. 5400 RPM drives are starting to phase out of the ASUS lineup, and that's a good thing. There's also a combination Blu-ray reader, DVD writer, suggesting the X72D's intended market, but that Blu-ray drive is only going to be pushing a 1600x900 screen—no 1080p for us. What's puzzling is the lack of eSATA, USB 3.0, FireWire, or ExpressCard. Any one of these would be excellent for external storage, but apparently we're stuck with USB 2.0 still. This is even more bizarre when you recall the concerted push ASUS was making to add USB 3.0 to all of their hardware.

Kicking the Tires of the ASUS X72D


View All Comments

  • debacol - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Except it isn't useful. The i3 compares to it in performance yet destroys it in battery life. Plus you can get a similar laptop with an i3 in it for cheaper than this. I'm really hoping bobcat competes, because Intel has completely mopped the floor with AMD in the mobile sector. Reply
  • Malih - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link


    this cries for Zacate, I'm on the market for 12"/13" new notebook right now, but until Zacate is released and reviewed here on AT i'm not gonna make any decision, my 3 years old 12" acer 2920z will still be around.
  • xxtypersxx - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    Holy thermals, that is high for even an intel chip and all the guidance I have ever seen with AMD's 45nm chips reccomends 60-70C as the top end. Reply
  • blackshard - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    60-70°C are reccomendations for desktop chips.
    mobile chips have far higher tolerances (up to 100°C and more).
  • mino - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    Reasons for 5470 to exist:
    1) Crappy/incompatible Intel IGP drivers (counts for Intel platform)
    2) 3x the performance of IGP's (RS880/Arrandale)

    3) Hybrid Crossfire anyone ??? You mention the uselessness of IGP and yet you not even bother mentioning whether Hybrid crossfire id available ...

    Sorry Dustin, but your bashing of HD5470 is just a spoiled kid's talk not worth of this site.

    This issue aside, thanks for an interesting revue.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    Take your comments in light of the laptop being reviewed and you'll see the problem. Intel IGP is a different platform, 3x slow is still slow, and ASUS didn't use Hybrid CrossFire--or switchable graphics. The bigger problem is that there's just not much utility in these low-end parts anymore.

    If you were talking about the old Core 2 GMA 4500MHD IGP, I'd give you point one, but the Intel HD Graphics has had very few problems, particularly with the latest drivers. It is, as far as I'm concerned, essentially equal to the HD 4200 IGP. Yes, there are a few areas where I'd give the 4200 the edge, but for casual users it just doesn't matter. It can handle HD video (including YouTube HD), and even if you wanted to argue about audio bitstreaming capabilities Intel can do DTS-HD and DD TrueHD if I'm not mistaken (though it may require getting a setup with proper BIOS support).

    Anyway, I'll give you the existence of the HD 5470 as something the market wants, but when we say "the market" I think we all understand that it really means "big OEMs like Dell and HP". Any consumer that knows their stuff understands that entry-level discrete graphics chips are a joke. The "midrange" stuff only costs a bit more, typically doubles performance and allows improved quality, and it doesn't even use that much more power. If you have switchable graphics thrown in, then there's really no reason to bother with 5470.

    NVIDIA's GT 415M looks to be more like a low-end 5650 competitor based on the specs, so hopefully the next-gen AMD mobile parts will finally move beyond the pathetic 80 Stream Processor mark. That's our real complaint: IGP = 40 SP, entry dGPU = 80 SP, midrange GPU = 400 SP. That's a major jump in shader capabilities.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    Jarred covered me but I'd like to point out...we haven't had Hybrid Crossfire since the 3400 series. Reply
  • BaronMatrix - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    If you notice the Asus i7 has an 84Wh battery where the AMD has a 48Wh battery. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Which is why we have the "relative battery life" chart. Reply
  • orionmgomg - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    about 1,000$

    I would say a little too high for this computer.

    For 1000 you can get a better set up, or better hardware (better GPU) and performance

    I dont understand why you did not have a price chart necx to overall performance chart - that way you could clearly see what you get for your money, system to system,

    but oh well - hooray for AMD and their ability to get any traction in the laptop marketshare catagory

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