Not everyone needs the most high-powered beast of a laptop for their work. Sometimes it's better to opt for the affordable option, something with just enough 'oomph' to get you through the day.
The Asus K53E comes in a number of flavours but the one we reviewed -- the SX123V -- packs an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. It comes with an affordable price tag of £440.
Design and build quality
The K53E isn't beautiful enough to earn it a place in an art gallery, but it's not the most hideous laptop we've ever seen. The lid is a plain black affair but it has an unusual lined texture that just about manages to keep it the right side of boring.
The plastic has a fair amount of flex to it, which is never a good sign. At least it feels like a thicker, more durable plastic than can be found on other machines. It could probably take a few knocks without cracking like the Grand Canyon. If you scratch your nails over it you'll hear a very plasticky sound. It's not going to win the build quality category if you're playing 'most luxurious laptop Top Trumps'.
Things seem more premium under the lid as the wrist rest and keyboard edging is made from aluminium. It's coloured either a purpley-brown or a browny-purple; we can't decide which way around it is -- or even if we like it. Even so, it's a change from black or grey.
Asus has used some kind of trickery to ensure that the metal stays cool during intensive use, which is handy. That is, unless you intend using it on a cold London day (like us) and want a portable hand-warmer.
It's also apparently a scratch-resistant metal. We immediately tested this by throwing our keys and other shrapnel at it. After several lengthy bouts, we had to conclude that it is indeed very scratch-proof. You'll appreciate this if you make a habit of wearing heavy metal watches as you type.
Keyboard and trackpad
The isolated keys on the keyboard are a fair size and are spread wide across the body. They're set a little too high for our liking and take more pressing than we'd prefer. If you're a light-fingered touch-typist then you may not have a comfortable experience. There's a separate numeric keypad on the right-hand side for all the number fun you could want.
The trackpad is lovely, offering a responsive input from the large, smooth surface. The coating on it allows for an easy finger slide, even if your hands are particularly oily. The two buttons are large and easy to click so fast web browsing is made as comfortable as possible. Of course, you can always whack in a USB mouse if you prefer.