The notebook space is going to see a lot of change over the next few months, thanks to Ultrabooks being launched by all brands. The Sandy Bridge platform has matured over the months and there are quite a few interesting notebooks that customers have had their eyes on. One of these is the ASUS K53s and we’ve had readers ask us about how good this notebook is, so we got it in for review.
Design and build quality
The ASUS K53s is a notebook priced over the Rs. 40,000 mark, so one expects it to be built well, and it is. It’s impressive to look at and is pretty sturdy. The external body has a matte-like finish that has a fine pattern. The back also has a nice sturdy feel to it and a neat glossy ASUS logo embedded. All in all, it feels like a premium product despite being just around the Rs. 45,000 mark.
The large touchpad on the K53S
It’s not just the outsides that’s built well, but also the insides. There's the brushed metal finish on the inside with a large metal grill around the speakers at the top. The power button, too is well designed, with a neat little indicator light integrated within. Unlike other notebooks that have status indicators lined along the sides of the notebook body, this one has them placed right under the touchpad. This makes them more visible and easier to read.
The power adaptor connects to the laptop from the side instead of the rear, which is slightly different. The keys are built pretty well and you need to put in some effort while typing. The panel that houses the keys feels pretty sturdy as well. The hinge doesn’t make the screen wobble with slight movements – this is great if you’re using the notebook in a car, bus or train. The bezel around the screen could have been a little tougher and sturdier, though. The mouse clicks are a little harder than we’d like.
The ASUS K53S is powered by an Intel Sandy Bridge line of processors, specifically, the Core i5 2450M that runs at a speed of 2.5GHz. It has 4GB of RAM as well, including an NVIDIA GeForce GT630M, which makes it a rather decent system, if you want to get gaming with it. Storage also isn’t too shabby, it comes with a 750GB hard drive, which is more than what most laptop manufacturers will bundle for this price. Other nifty features about the K53S, include USB 3.0 capability, but there’s only one port. the two other ports are USB 2.0 compatible. The only downside if at all, is the lack of an operating system. ASUS bundles DOS along with the notebook.
A neat, spacious keyboard layout with plenty of hotkeys
In terms of design, things are pretty good. There's a proper numerical pad included on this notebook. The keys are all spaced well and typing for long hours on it, is no problem. The num lock and scroll lock keys are put together as a single hardware key, using the shortcut key function.
There are some other customizations to the keyboard made. For example, the Enter key on the numerical pad doubles up as a key to launch the calculator, using the Fn shortcut. Multimedia functions are also placed on the direction keys on the notebook. The speakers onboard the K53S are made by Altec Lansing.
We recently pitted the ASUS K53S against a whole bunch of other notebooks priced around and under the Rs. 40,000 price mark. It was surprisingly faster than most of the notebooks in the test. The reason for this of course is the Sandy Bridge Core i5 processors, as compared to the other notebooks that come bundled with a slower and cheaper, Core i3 2350M or 2330M processor.
One USB 3.0 port on the side of the K53S
The benefits are seen most in the CPU intensive tests, such as PC Mark, video encoding and file compression tests. PC Mark 7 throws up an overall score of 2140 points, as compared to other slower notebooks running the Core i3 2330M or 2350M processor, which got scores in the range of 1700 to 1900 points. Video encoding tests take roughly 111 seconds to complete as compared to 160 and 170 seconds on other notebooks. Graphics performance is impressive as well. The 3D Mark Vantage test reported an overall score of 14,113 as compared to 7500 points on notebooks running Intel’s integrated graphics solution. This additional graphics performance is handy for 3D modeling software and games.
The other side – audio connects and USB 2.0 ports
It’s not just the graphics and CPU subsystems that’s strong. The hard drive performance is also solid. The CrystalMark test for example, gave us read and write speeds of 98.72 and 98.1MB/s respectively, very impressive for notebook hard drives. Battery life is important for notebooks and you’ll be glad to know that the extra performance on the ASUS K53S doesn’t reduce battery life by a lot. In our CPU and GPU demanding battery test that has all the systems at close to full performance, the K53S managed to deliver a time of an hour and 42 minutes. Speaker and screen quality is better than the notebooks priced under Rs. 40,000.
Verdict and price in India
ASUS K53S – a good all rounder laptop
The ASUS K53S is a great product, if you’re willing to spend Rs. 44,999 on it. It’s also a great notebook, if you’re into multimedia applications and gaming on-the-go. The performance isn’t spectacular when it comes to gaming, so don’t expect to be gaming at ultra high quality settings. With medium settings, you’ll be able to play the games just fine. If you’re looking for a notebook for purely desktop applications, then you’ll be fine with something priced at under Rs. 40,000, but without a discrete graphics solution onboard.
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