Upon its release in the first half of this year, Asus' W90 blew us away with its level of performance, and was the fastest laptop at the time to pass through our testing labs.

That crown has now been taken by Alienware's M17X, but that doesn't stop this machine being a large, comfortable and extraordinarily powerful system.

The graphical power available is thanks to dual ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 GPUs running in a CrossFireX configuration – harnessing the power of both graphics cards at once. You'll be able to play all the latest games for some time into the future, and also carry out any video-intensive multimedia tasks with ease.

The large 18.4-inch screen dominates proceedings. It natively supports high-definition video, thanks to its 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, so films and games look fantastic. There is a reflective Super-TFT screen coating in place, however, and this means you'll be plagued by reflections when working in bright conditions.

Heavy to handle

At 6.1kg, this is a hell of a heavy laptop and travelling with the machine for prolonged periods will leave you with sore arms. A rucksack is included in the price, mercifully. Nevertheless, the chassis is well built and clad in brushed aluminium, giving it a reassuringly premium feel.

Five speakers, including a subwoofer, are dotted around the laptop and a bank of touch-operated hotkeys give you quick access to a range of multimedia controls.

Asus w90 build

The W90 has primarily been designed for speed and it's reflected in Asus' component choices. Aside from the GPUs mentioned above, there's a high-end Intel Core 2 Duo processor in place and, because the machine runs Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit, a stunning 6144MB of memory is also included. This means that there is little or no lag when running even the most resource-intensive applications.

The features list is comprehensive and includes a Blu-ray drive for watching the latest films in high definition, 802.11n Wi-Fi for a fast wireless connection when in range of hotspots, and Gigabit Ethernet for wired connections.

Four USB ports leave plenty of room for peripherals, such as an external mouse, and a mini FireWire port lets you transfer data rapidly, such as video from a camcorder for example. VGA and HDMI-out ports let you connect to analogue and digital external monitors.

There's a lot to like about the Asus W90. It may not be as chic as the MacBook Pro and it's certainly lacking the software, but it is right at the top of things when it comes to power, and those looking for uncompromising performance would be crazy to look elsewhere.

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