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Asus N53SV review: Asus N53SV

The N53SV is the laptop to get if you want power, but you're on a budget. We'd love a higher-quality keyboard, but this is only a small bugbear in an otherwise excellent laptop.

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Craig Simms
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Craig Simms

Special to CNET News

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

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It's surprising the sort of quality that you can get on a budget these days. Take Asus' AU$1299 N53SV — while the grey wrist rest with wood-grain pattern may be a matter of taste, the laptop is well constructed and of higher quality than you'd expect for the price bracket.

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8.0

Asus N53SV

The Good

Sound quality better than the usual fare. Quite a lot of power for the price. Two-year warranty.

The Bad

Keyboard flexes a bit while typing.

The Bottom Line

The N53SV is the laptop to get if you want power, but you're on a budget. We'd love a higher-quality keyboard, but this is only a small bugbear in an otherwise excellent laptop.

It still falls into the extremely common trap of providing a 1366x768 screen, though, something that with a screen size of 15.6 inches always seems a little too low. Still, the screen is reasonably bright, and the colour is just fine.

The typing experience is acceptable, although the keyboard base flexes a bit, which is a disconcerting behaviour. Asus has chosen to include Elantech's touch pad, which adds the brilliant ability to tap two or three fingers simultaneously to bring up the right-click menu. More than once, though, it got confused when using two-finger scrolling on web pages, engaging the zoom function instead — something that we recommend you turn off.

The N53SV offers a few things above the norm; a quad-core Core i7 2630QM and 6GB of RAM definitely boosts above the standard fare, while a Blu-ray reader gives the user more to work with. Asus also makes a point of difference in its warranty, offering two years rather than the more common one year.

The rest is reasonably standard for the category: a 640GB hard drive, 2.4GHz 802.11n, Bluetooth, four USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, HDMI and VGA out and an SD card reader.

Asus has bundled in its SonicMaster sound technology as well, which, along with some decent-quality speakers, brings better-than-usual sound. Just be prepared to dial back the "Vocal Clarity", "Surround" and "Bass" sliders in the SonicMaster app to regain high-end clarity.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

  • 230
    Asus N53SV (Core i7 2630QM, 6GB RAM, 640GB HDD, GeForce GT 540M)
  • 394
    Toshiba Satellite C665 (Core i5 2430M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, GeForce 315M)
  • 396
    Asus A53S (Core i5 2430M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, GeForce GT 520MX)
  • 405
    HP Pavilion dv6 (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Radeon HD 7690M XT)
  • 476
    Acer Aspire 5750 (Core i3 2350M, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Intel HD Graphics)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


It's not surprising that with a quad-core, highly clocked processor, the N53SV does well in our application benchmarks, taking pole position in each test.

Gaming performance

Choose a benchmark: Metro 2033 | Batman: Arkham Asylum

Metro 2033 (in FPS)

  • Max FPS
  • Average FPS
  • Min FPS
  • 39185
    HP Pavilion dv6 (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Radeon HD 7690M XT)
  • 48112
    Asus N53SV (Core i7 2630QM, 6GB RAM, 640GB HDD, GeForce GT 540M)
  • 3072
    Asus A53S (Core i5 2430M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, GeForce GT 520MX)
  • 1330
    Toshiba Satellite C665 (Core i5 2430M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, GeForce 315M)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


While the quite common GeForce GT 540M doesn't quite catch the Radeon HD 7690M XT on average frame rate in our gaming benchmarks, it still puts in an admirable showing in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The incredibly taxing Metro 2033 is too much for the notebook, though; this is a game geared for the very high end.

Battery life

Battery life (time)

  • Heavy battery test
  • Light battery test
  • 2h 57m4h 26m
  • Acer Aspire 5750 (Core i3 2350M, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Intel HD Graphics)
  • 3h 4m4h 20m
  • HP Pavilion dv6 (Core i5 2450M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Radeon HD 7690M XT)
  • 2h 5m3h 32m
  • Asus A53S (Core i5 2430M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, GeForce GT 520MX)
  • 2h 52m3h 31m
  • Toshiba Satellite C665 (Core i5 2430M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, GeForce 315M)
  • 1h 39m3h 30m
  • Asus N53SV (Core i7 2630QM, 6GB RAM, 640GB HDD, GeForce GT 540M)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


All of that power has to have consequence, and it's usually in battery life. Despite being at the bottom of the list, the Asus still performs well, especially when you take into account that it's running more powerful hardware than most of its competitors.

Conclusion

The N53SV is the laptop to get if you want power, but you're on a budget. We'd love a higher-quality keyboard, but this is only a small bugbear in an otherwise excellent laptop.

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