The latest addition to Asus’ X series is the X53SC, which packs in plenty of muscle under its hood. Its plain vanilla design in no way gives an impression about it being extremely powerful, but anyone’s jaws would drop looking at the configuration mentioned on the palm rest. It looks nice with a slim design and a fine textured lid – a good feature because it does away with the gloss and hence doesn’t attract fingerprints and dust. But on the other hand, those who want something that looks classy won’t like the design. At the first glance, this laptop comes across as an entry-level model.
The X53SC is powered by the quad-core, Hyper Threaded, Intel Core i7-2670QM processor, 4GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce GT 520MX discrete graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory. The processor is clocked at 2.2 GHz, but when Turbo Boost kicks in during heavy load, the speed of the cores boost up to 3.1 GHz, depending on the nature of load and the operating temperature of the processor. Gamers and entertainment buffs will be pleased with the 750GB hard drive – a good capacity to carry a huge collection of media files and install lots of games and applications without getting ‘low disk space’ pop-ups.
The lid has a non-glossy textured surface
2.6 kg of mass and the 15.6-inch display restricts portability to some extent, but it can easily replace your desktop PC. The large display offers comfortable viewing and allows squeezing in a numeric keypad, which is difficult in the case of 14-inch models. The keyboard is chiclet type and typing is very comfortable, except when it comes to using the arrow keys and the numeric pad. The number keys are narrower, which makes typing a tad difficult. Also, the area around the keys is glossy and prone to getting smudged. A good thing is that the palm rest and the frame surrounding the keyboard are of metal with brushed finish.
Better than Power Management in Windows
The core components that heat up are placed on the underside of the motherboard, so that the palm rest stays cool. Asus calls this feature IceCool technology and highlights it as one of the key features. Also highlighted are Palm Proof technology and Power 4 Gear. The former distinguishes between palm and finger contact on the trackpad to prevent accidental cursor movements during typing. But despite this, we faced problems while typing, which got very annoying at times. Power 4 Gear replaces the power plans in Windows Power Options with the ones provided by Asus. Power 4 Gear has its own user interface from where the user can switch power options and customize the profiles.
The rest of the laptop’s features are pretty standard. A Gigabit Ethernet port, D-sub and HDMI video outputs and a USB 3.0 port are placed on the left side. The right side houses the tray-loading DVD writer, two USB 2.0 ports and jacks for headphones and mic. The screen has a standard resolution of 1366×768 pixels, which we feel should have been higher (at least 1440×900) considering this laptop is designed for gaming and entertainment. The speakers, courtesy Altec Lansing, are placed right above the keyboard.
The overall build quality of the laptop isn’t top notch, but quite good. The quality of the chassis, palm rest, keyboard and the lid are good, but Asus should have completely done away with the little gloss that’s on the keyboard and the LCD frame. The hinges have good stiffness and prevent the screen from wobbling with slightest jerks. The underneath of the chassis has a removable panel, which lets you access the memory and hard drive should you need to replace or upgrade them.
This 15.6-inch laptop isn't too bulky
With a quad-core processor, plenty of RAM and discrete graphics, it can be easily said that the X53SC is more than twice as fast than a laptop powered by a Core i5 processor, and our scores show just that. The MSI CR640 (Core i5-2410M, 3 GB RAM and integrated graphics) took 70 seconds to compress 100 MB of multiple files to 7.zip format using ‘Ultra’ mode and 90 seconds to encode an MPEG video to H.264 format. This laptop took 40 seconds and 33 seconds, respectively for the same tasks.
Not an impressive score for a GPU
Despite a discrete graphics processor and 1GB of dedicated video memory, the gaming performance isn’t too impressive as the graphics processor is too weak. It’s more suited for accelerating video playback and media transcoding. 3DMark 11 reported a meager 687 points and Crysis Warhead was jittery at 25 fps in Mainstream mode (a step higher than Performance mode which uses lowest settings).
With stellar processing power, one has to compromise on the battery life. The average battery life of a Core i5 laptop is around 1.5 hours with medium to heavy load. This one lasted for about an hour. You should get about an hour more if you switch to Battery Saving mode and use just the basic applications, such as web browser and word processor.
The X53SC is built for those who want power for demanding applications and multitasking. It’s great for media playback, but the gaming performance is disappointing. Also the design is too plain and the battery life isn’t too great, either. However, all of this can be overlooked because this baby comes in at an asking price of Rs.43,499. It’s one of the most affordable laptops powered by a quad-core Core i7 processor. If sheer processing power is what you’re looking at, and you don’t mind a simple design, this laptop deserves serious consideration.
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