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Asus N56VM review: Asus N56VM

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The N56VM is an uplifted mainstream laptop. At AU$1499, it only carries a one year warranty — an indication that Asus hasn't placed it in its premium range.

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6.5

Asus N56VM

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Great keyboard and touchpad. Good performance for mainstream. Great audio for a laptop. Matte screen. Backlit keyboard.

The Bad

Screen text isn't as sharp as it should be despite ClearType tweaking. Visible vertical lines and graininess indicate a lower quality panel. No Bluetooth.

The Bottom Line

Asus' N56VM is quite a decent laptop, and so it's a huge shame it's been lumped with a lower-quality screen that significantly impacts the user experience. If you can find the full HD option it may be better, but we'd bypass this one.

It's got great speakers though, that are made subtly — but appreciably — better when you plug in the optional passive subwoofer. The Bang and Olufsen supplied set actually deliver, rather than being nothing more than branding and software attached to poor hardware.

Connectivity

  • USB 3.0: 4
  • Optical: Blu-ray/DVD±RW
  • Video: VGA, HDMI
  • Ethernet: gigabit
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n
  • Audio: 2.1 Realtek HD audio

It's got a large, usable Elan touchpad, and a backlit soft-touch keyboard that, after some adjustment, you begin to prefer to the short-throw, clacky laptop keyboards of norm.

It even runs on a Core i7 3610QM, with 8GB RAM to back it up, a 750GB hard drive and a Blu-ray drive. The rebadged GeForce 540M makes an appearance as a GeForce 630M, and pairs with an Intel HD 4000 for battery saving.

The interior powdered-aluminium look is pleasant enough, and the brushed metal lid lends an air of sophistication; so it's a shame the screen isn't very good, spoiling the whole package.

It's matte, which is actually a great start. While 1366x768 is usual for the mainstream, here there's a distinct lack of sharpness in text, like the screen has been slightly stretched. No amount of ClearType tweaking would make it go away, and visible graininess and subtle vertical lines added to the problem. The viewing angles, despite the sticker on the monitor bezel, weren't amazing, with colour shifting rapidly on the horizontal. There's apparently a 1080p version floating around, however PCMarket is the only place we can find selling it.

Ports are generous, with four USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, VGA and HDMI out and an SD card reader. The flip-down gigabit Ethernet port is annoying and given the height of the machine, there's little reason for it to exist. There's no Bluetooth, but 2.4GHz 802.11n is supported.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia


Featuring the same processor as the G75VW and Qosmio X870, the N56VM nestles itself amongst gaming laptops in our application performance tests.

Gaming performance

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Playable on:
MEDIUM
settings
FPS
MaxAvgMin
1268433
1366x768, 4x AA, Detail level: Medium, PhysX off.
Metro 2033
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
MaxAvgMin
88339
1366x768, DirectX 9, 0x AA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.
"="">NOT
PLAYABLE
The Witcher 2
FPS
MaxAvgMin
302314
1366x768, low spec.
Skyrim
Playable on:
MEDIUM
settings
FPS
MaxAvgMin
593931
1366x768, medium detail

This is a huge step up on Dell's XPS 14, which contains a graphics card of the same name, but very different architecture. The N56VM is capable of light game-playing duties.

Battery life


For the hardware involved, the N56VM does reasonably well with battery life.

Conclusion

Asus' N56VM is quite a decent laptop, so it's a huge shame that it's been lumped with a lower-quality screen that significantly impacts the user experience. If you can find the full HD option, it may be better, but we'd bypass this one.