Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
The Asus K60I-RBBBR05 is among a group of $500 laptops at Best Buy vying for your attention. Along with the $529 Dell Inspiron i1545-4266iBU and the $499 Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018, the $529 Asus K60I is among the cheapest laptops to have a dual-core processor. The Intel Pentium T4400 is the preferred CPU of the three laptops listed. Though it's not the most current chip on the market, the T4400 provides enough oomph for the majority of mainstream laptop buyers.
We prefer the Dell Inspiron i1545's design, but the Asus K60I boasts a unique look with a subtle houndstooth pattern on the lid and keyboard deck, Chiclet-type keys popularized by the Apple MacBook, and a multitouch touch pad. It also offers double the hard-drive capacity of the Dell, Wireless-N Wi-Fi to the Dell's 802.11b/g wireless connectivity, and has better battery life. Also, it boasts a feature set superior to its competition from Dell; however, along with those features, Asus installs a sea of bloatware on the laptop.
|Processor||2.2GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T4400|
|Memory||4GB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz|
|Hard drive||500GB at 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14.6x10.1x1.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||16 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.9 / 6.7 pounds|
Opposed to the piano black, faux-brushed-aluminum surfaces, and chrome edges common to most laptops these days, Asus opts for a deep brown and black color scheme for the K60I. The glossy lid features a subtle houndstooth pattern, which repeats on the textured plastic keyboard deck. Asus kept its branding to a minimum on the K60I, it only has a small logo centered on the lid and another in the top-left corner of the screen bezel. Overall, the chassis has a solid feel to it. The wrist rest below the keyboard is wider than usual, but the large plastic expanses to either side of the touch pad feel rigid, with little to no flex. The hinges, too, are sturdy and hold the display firmly in place.
The K60I's display measures 16 inches diagonally, making it a smidge larger than the more common 15.6-inch panels found on mainstream laptops. However, it has the same 1,366x768-pixel resolution as your typical 15.6-inch screen has. The screen uses LED backlighting, which is more energy efficient than traditional fluorescent tubes and creates a brighter image. The display is glossy, but it has an antiglare coating that seems to help minimize distracting glare and reflections. The laptop has a low-end 0.3-megapixel Webcam above the display.
At 5.9 pounds, the Asus K60I weighs a few ounces more than an average 15.6-inch laptop does, but it still feels more like a mainstream laptop than a hulking desktop replacement. We'd happily make a regular commute with it in tow.
One reason we like the Asus K60I as a productivity machine is its spacious keyboard. The Chiclet-style keys are wide-spaced and provide a comfortable typing experience. Those who spend hours each day entering data into Excel or another database will appreciate the K60I's dedicated number pad. The rest of us will rue the fact that Asus' narrowed the arrow keys to accommodate the number pad. Another side effect of the included number pad is that the keyboard is off center from the display, which will take some getting used to for touch typists.
The touch pad is on the small side, which isn't necessarily a bad thing since it cuts down on the number of accidental cursor movements from a finger or a palm. The touch pad supports multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scrolling, which any MacBook user will tell you is an easy and natural way to scroll through long documents and Web pages. The two mouse buttons have a chrome finish and are very stiff.
The Asus K60I features a pair of Altec Lansing speakers, which emit average sound. They don't sound as full as the Dell Inspiron i1545's speakers do, nor are they as loud at max volume. They'll suffice for movies and YouTube videos, but music playback is best done with a set of headphones.
|Asus K60I-RBBBR05||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA||VGA and HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/ microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, multiformat media card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Asus K60I is sparse for connectivity options. There are two USB 2.0 ports on either side of the laptop, but no eSATA. There is a media card reader, but no ExpressCard slot. A VGA port is your only video-out option. We would have liked to have seen HDMI, which can be found on only slightly more expensive laptops such as the Gateway NV7915u and the HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx. Wireless-N Wi-Fi makes the cut, which Dell left off the Inspiron i1545.
What's not sparse on the K60I is the amount of preinstalled trial offers and apps. The supposedly pristine desktop is littered with icons for trial offers and shortcuts to apps you likely don't want, including a number of second-rate Asus utilities that duplicate many of those that Windows itself provides. However, Asus' FastBook utility does speed the boot process; Windows 7 Home Premium booted in 52 seconds on average, or about 15 seconds faster than the Dell Inspiron i1545 did.
The Asus K60I features the Intel Pentium T4400 processor, a 2.2GHz dual-core chip. The T4400 is found in many systems since it's an affordable, excellent performing, entry-level dual-core processor; it's just a rung below Intel's venerable Core 2 Duo processor line. Budget buyers will find that the processor delivers more than enough muscle for general use, including heavy multitasking scenarios. It finished within a percentage point or two of the Dell Inspiron i1545-4266iBU and the Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018 on CNET Labs' application benchmarks, which is not surprising since all three have the same Pentium T4400 processor. The Asus has 4GB of memory compared with the 3GB in the Dell and Toshiba; however, the Asus uses the 667MHz variety of memory while the Dell and Toshiba use the faster 800MHz DDR2 memory. The difference in speed offset the Asus' extra GB memory in labs testing, lowering the Asus laptop's score.
While we have no trouble recommending a Pentium T4400-based budget laptop for general use, we would also point out that laptops with the Core i3 processor, one of the successors to the Core 2 Duo, cost less than $100 more. For example, the Gateway NV7915u costs $599 and uses the Core i3 330M CPU. The Gateway finished our multitasking benchmark with a 31 percent faster score than the Asus K60I did. That score is significant when you consider the laptops are only $70 apart in price. The performance difference on single applications is less drastic; the Gateway finished the Photoshop and iTunes benchmarks 9 percent and 5 percent faster than the Asus K60I, respectively.