ASUS was one of the first companies to present notebooks based on the long-awaited Sandy Bridge platform at this year’s CES. N-series models are already available worldwide and are an excellent representative of what this platform brings and what can be expected from it. ASUS K53SV is the heir to last year’s well-known model K52. Changes are clearly visible from the moment you’ve unwrapped the notebook, and there are more than just a few around. Suffice to say that we liked K52 and loved K53SV.
The design is fantastic, with a high-quality finish, so that everything seems neat and nicely fit. In order to prevent the lid from looking dirty, it has a relief surface, which has an aesthetic impact as well besides the practical one. The lid, although plastic, looks sturdy, with image deformations barely noticeable under strong pressure. The one thing that K53SV will be remembered for, however, is the coloured aluminium casing. Our test model was coloured brown, looking phenomenal, and other retail versions include a somewhat more mundane metallic grey. Furthermore, there’s the IceCool technology, making sure that the sections around the touchpad remain cold, regardless of how long the PC’s been working.
Speaking of the touchpad, we have to stress that it’s one of the best we’ve had the chance to encounter lately. It’s highly precise, has multi-touch capabilities, it’s reasonably fast and provides a comfortable experience overall. Its surface is smooth, but without the feeling of losing precision and control, which is often the case. Below it, there are two large silver buttons, with a very loud click, but also excellent response across the entire surface. In order to keep part of the notebook empty and aesthetically “cleaner”, notifications sensors (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, battery) are just below the touchpad as well.
The keyboard is of Chiclet type, as it’s become customary, it seems, with high-quality keys and a large spacing. There’s a full numerical section, with an irritating right arrow key invading it. Although this is primarily a multimedia/budget/gaming notebook, the keyboard is perfectly fit for long typing sessions stretching for several hours. Above the keyboard, there’s only the power button, with strong LED backlight, as well as excellent Altec Lansing speakers, proving that ASUS still cares about the audio capabilities of their PCs.
As you can deduce from the notebook’s name, K53SV has a 15” display and a somewhat disappointing resolution of 1366x768 pixels. Yet the image quality and perfect viewing angles were quick to dispel our dissatisfaction, as we enjoyed watching films and playing the latest games.
|Street Fighter IV (1366x768 High)||59.8 fps|
|Resident Evil 5 (1360x768 DX10 High / AA 8x)||49.2 / 39.2 fps|
|Batman Arkham Asylum (1366x768 Very high)||56 fps|
|Crysis Warhead (1366x768 Mainstream / Gamer)||37.7 / 21.5 fps|
|HD Tune 4.60, average||63.8 MB/s|
|Battery Eater, min/max||48 min / 5 hrs|
This is the most interesting part of this notebook - the performance. We were expecting a lot from the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. This particular model has a quad-core Intel i7-2630 CPU, while retail versions will be seeing this notebook with an i3-2310M working at 2.1 GHz, so you can expect a decrease in CPU performance of 20-25% compared to our charts, which isn’t too bad. The graphics will remain the same, however - NVIDIA GeForce GT540M, which belongs to the mid-range as far as notebooks are concerned, but provides excellent performance in modern games as well as DirectX 11 support. One shouldn’t forget the inclusion of Optimus technology, which does much good for the battery. All other advantages of Intel’s new platform are shining here as well, one consequence of which is increased battery autonomy. With what can be deemed typical usage, i.e. surfing the Internet with Wi-Fi on, listening to music and high levels of display brightness, the 6-cell battery will hold for 3-3.5 hours.
ASUS K53SV is a beautiful portable computer that gives a lot to its owner: a unique design, firm casing, top-notch keyboard and touchpad, brilliant graphics and high-quality display, to name a few. A potential hindrance might be the low display resolution, which is in turn justified by the low retail price, but also the surprising lack of a USB 3.0 port. However, if you’re after a reliable multimedia notebook in the 600€ range, you can’t make a mistake with K53SV.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-2630QM 2.0 GHz / Core i3-2310M 2.1 GHz|
|RAM memory||4 GB DDR3 1,333 MHz|
|Hard drive||500 GB SATA 5,400 rpm / 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||DVD SuperMulti|
|Graphics adapter||NVIDIA GeForce GT540M 1GB GDDR3 + Intel HD 3000|
|Display||15.6" LED-backlit LCD, 1366x768 pix|
|Connectivity||3 x USB 2.0, eSATA, HDMI, BlueTooth 3.0, VGA, LAN, audio, mic, card reader|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Price||sample / around € 600|
The model that we’ve received is a test sample that won’t be available as the default retail option. The basic difference is the choice of CPU, namely Intel’s i7-2630QM working at 2 GHz with 6 MB of L3 cache in our test sample. The difference in performance between our model and the retail one will be visible in games and programs that use multiple cores. The other difference is in favour of the retail model, which will come equipped with a faster HDD, spinning its platters at 7200 RPM. The rest of the system and the design itself will remain identical.