Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
Buying a budget laptop often means cutting corners, so let's take a look at the Asus K60IJ-RBLX05. With a 16-inch screen and a 320GB hard drive, it costs just $499. That sounds, right off the bat, like a good deal. So where are the drawbacks?
In the case of the K60IJ-RBLX05, it's the processor. Instead of a true mainstream Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the Asus K60IJ has a dual-core Pentium processor that, while better than single-core processors like the Atom or Celeron, still doesn't cut it for more serious computing. On the other hand, if you're looking for larger screen size and in an affordable package, this isn't bad, as long as you're aware of the performance trade-offs.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$499|
|Processor||2.1 GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T4300|
|Memory||4GB, DDR2 667 MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel GM45 Express|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.6 x 10.1 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||16 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.6 / 6.6 pounds|
Asus' laptops seem to undergo more design iterations than nearly any other manufacturer's, so we're left feeling like the company's mainstream machines keep changing like chameleons. The K60IJ's outer shell has a design similar to Asus' "Seashell" line of recent Eee PC Netbooks, with glossy plastic finishes and smooth lines. Our model, in Midnight Blue, had an attractive minimalist look, but was slightly thick and compact, not unlike some mainstream Toshiba Satellites we've seen.
The glossy, unobtrusive finish continues inside around a large matte keyboard and number pad, and around the edges of the inset 16x9 glossy screen. The Asus K60IJ's keyboard is flat, but with slightly concave buttons, creating a feel of a tapered keyboard. It types well and is very comfortable. There are no media buttons or dedicated keys other than the power button and function-combination keys, which we actually prefer unless the media bar is exceptionally well-designed. The touch pad, a glossy, dimpled, slightly recessed rectangle, emulates some of the feel of the Eee PC touch pads. Some users may not like the overly glossy feel and the lack of traction, but we've used worse. The two silver buttons beneath the touch pad are large and easy to press.
The 16-inch glossy LED-backlit screen on the Asus K60IJ-RBLX05 has a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, and good brightness. Since the K60IJ's width is actually more compact than many 16-inch (or even 15-inch) laptops, the screen looks surprisingly large, although it doesn't have full-HD 1080p resolution. Altec Lansing speakers set in the bottom front of the laptop base should have sounded louder and better; they felt wimpier than we'd have liked. Above the Asus' screen is a 1.3-megapixel Webcam--a nice inclusion (some of our retail low-end laptops have dropped the Webcam altogether).
|Asus K60IJ-RBLX05||Average for category [thin and light]|
|Video||VGA-out||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, multiformat media card reader||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
In terms of ports, the Asus K60IJ does have four USB 2.0 jacks, but that's it, other than an SD card reader. While USB 2.0 is pretty much where it's at these days, the lack of HDMI or other connectivity is surprising.
The included 320GB hard drive is a good size for a basic mainstream machine, and the 4GB of DDR2 RAM is also appreciated--no complaints there. Windows 7 Home Premium is preinstalled. Windows 7 worked well on this machine, and we could do basic multitasking with decent results.
While the CPU inside the Asus K60IJ-RBLX05 is dual-core, it's only a Pentium as opposed to a Core 2 Duo. The Intel T4300 processor handles basic tasks and flash video streaming well, and even does some better-than-average multitasking, but this is still far from being a high-end CPU. It could do the trick for someone looking for an above-Celeron experience, but we'd still recommend looking for a Core 2 Duo laptop, especially since ones can be had in a similar price range (in fact, the Gateway NV7802u can be had for just $100 more).
In our benchmark tests, the Asus K60IJ-RBLX05 was in the middle of the pack or better at multitasking and our in iTunes and Photoshop tests. It's certainly on the "good" side of processor performance--just check our budget performance charts below to see where the bars spike up on certain laptop models--but this Asus certainly doesn't do anything to spark our excitement.
|Asus K60IJ-RBLX05||Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)|
|Raw kWh Number||43.54|
|Annual energy cost||$4.94|
In the battery-life department, the Asus K60IJ-RBLX05 didn't match the very good battery life we've seen in other Asus models. With its six-cell battery, it ran for 3 hours and 14 minutes using our video playback battery-drain test. You can certainly expect better results under normal work conditions, but this is below average. Some of the other laptops we tested--most notably, the much chunkier Toshiba A505-S6980--had twice the battery life.