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Asus N53JG -SX081X/SX045V Notebook

Keeping the desktop-notbook differences and potential apart, notebooks needs to have good enough display, good keyboard and touchpad, decent built quality, battery life and easy way to upgrade memory and storage.

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Asus is not a new player in the notebook business but still has a long way to go to penetrate the Indian market dominance by HP, Dell, Acer, Sony and Toshiba. I’ve seen Gateway notebooks in certain stores and there’s also MSI. Asus has enjoyed the large share of the pie in the netbook business even in India(all credits to the rightly timed marketing and distribution+ pricing), Will we see the same for Asus Notebooks?

We’re seeing notebook processors being more powerful, as low as possible power consumption on idle load and which doesn’t give out much heat. Harddrive manufacturers like Western Digital and Seagate who sent me 750gig drives maintaining 9.5mm thickness have taken care of the storage barrier for notebooks. But unlike desktops if a notebook has a con which cannot be overlooked, you don’t buy it at all. Battery life and built quality is usually the first thought in the average notebook buyer’s mind. The demand and need for notebook has increased, some “broken the barrier” and at the same time met with a new one. Putting up a notebook from start to finish is not an easy job and something most do not overlook if there is something flawed.


Specifications, CPU/GPU-Z Screenshots:

ProcessorIntel® Core™ i5 M 460
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Basic
Main Memory4GB DDR3 1333 MHz (1x 2GB Elpida and 1x Hynix 8-8-8-22 @ 609 MHz in Dual Channel)
DisplaySamsung LTN156AT02P06 15.6″ Panel (1366×768)
Video Graphics  Nvidia GT415M 1G DDR3 VRAM
AudioRealtek ALC269 Audio Controller (High Definition Support)
Hard DriveSeagate ST9640320AS 500GB 5400rpm
Optical DriveSony Optiarc DVD RW AD-7585H
Video Camera0.3 Mega Pixel web camera
LanAtheros AR8131 NDIS 6.20 Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Bluetooth Broadcom BT 270
WiFiIntel Wifi Link 1000BGN
Battery Pack6 Cell Battery
ExpandabilityFresco Logic xHCI USB3 Controller (1x USB 3.0 port)
2x USB 2.0 Port
Esata/USB combo

Note: The Notebook I received for evaluation purposes comes with Windows 7 64 bit, whereas the specs on the Asus’ specs website indicates its with Windows 7 Home Basic but when I did a search if this is available in the retail market, a forum dealer indicated that its with Home Premium. N53JG is the series and SX081X is the model number. Confirm with your retailer before purchasing.

The panel is made by Samsung and its a Glare type. The original manufacturer is LG and this is a TN Panel. Another point to note that the speakers is made by Bang and Olufsen. The multitouch touch Pad (branded as Smart Pad) is from ELAN.

The Hard drive is a Momentus drive, but of 5400RPM.

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The mainboard of this notebook is with HM55 Intel Chipset.Also do keep in mind that Intel speedstep was enabled and as system was on idle, it 1.30 Ghz.

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If you require to connect to a bigger display, this notebook comes with a VGA port on the rear and HDMI port on the left. Do note that the processor itself comes with its own display adapter, meaning there are 2 graphic display adapyer- one is Intel and the second is Nvidia 415M discrete card. The Intel Graphics supports High Definition and its Dual Display capable. You will not require to do anything to switch them in between and most likely users probably will not realize whether they’re using Intel or Nvidia GPU as Nvidia’s Optimus technology takes care of it.By default, its using Nvidia GPU.


Notebook Layout:

(From Left: Fan vent, e-SATA/USB combo Port,HDMI Port , Card Reader,Gigabit Ethernet port USB 3.0 Port)
(From left: AC Power Adapter, VGA Port, Kensington lock slot)
(From Left: Speaker and MIC port, 2x USB 2.0, DVD Writer, Wireless switch)

As said earlier, the notebook uses a Seagate Momentus 5400RPM 640GB Notebook Drive for storage and Elpida/Hynix 1333mhz rams. To those who are unfamiliar, Elpida and Hynix (Made by Hyundai) 2 of the few well-known IC and Ram Manufacturers.


Initial Impressions

I had this notebook for sometime and so far this is what I can say: the numpad section is decently firm but the middle of the keyboard tends to flex, especially the area of your QWERTY board where you have “YUI”,”GHJK” and “nm<” keys. Now this is more of a preference, but I prefer having some space between the keys and a firm keyboard, especially for people with big hands who type a lot.

There are 2 power buttons on top of the keyboard, on the left is where it lets you boot to Express Gate cloud whereas the one on the right lets you boot directly to your OS. Express Gate is more of a mini-entertainment/Calendar-cum-planner/browser/Mini game section. If you need to access something pretty quick, that’s your key. You can boot to your OS through express Gate as well incase you want to. I’ve checked out inbuilt express gate on one of my previous Asus board that I’ve used (Asus P5Q-Deluxe) and it usually gets unused as far as desktops are concerned. In case of express gate cloud, it does have some usefulness, especially if you need to check out something quickly.

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The wireless button turns on both WIFI and Bluetooth. There is a function key (Fn to F2) to turn on the wireless feature but only if the switch is turned on. Somewhat redundant, atleast a dedication function just to turn on bluetooth would be appreciated.

Audio is pretty okay unless you’re playing anything with bass. I’ve played some trance music and for most part its pleasant, but it just doesn’t have much kick when it comes to bass. I’ve played Left 4 Dead and at times it just becomes bit difficult to identify from left to right. Using the headphones solves the problem. I wouldn’t really like to watch movies in it unless I connect a decent enough speakers.

In both the cases, they turn out to be dust magnet eventually- something you wouldn’t like to see.

The screen is glossy alongwith the panel frame, whereas the top comes with an brushed aluminium finish with the palm rest having a wood type design and base is matt finish with 4 rubber feets. The screen is a fingerprint magnet and the built quality is average. The rest of the notebook feels almost well-built. I wasn’t able to find out if this is a TN panel, but judging by the colour reproduction and the viewing angles, it does seem to be one. The panel uses LED backlit instead of the usual CCFL backlit but anything with white looks a bit “dull” compared to TN panels with CCFL backlit I saw till now. Glossy screen with Backlit LED TN Panel? High time notebook manufacturers start

Now if you’re really interested to upgrade, you end up taking out the 2 rubber feets which are glued on the notebook. Take these out couple of times and the adhesives wears off. Once you take them out, on the left there’s where the notebook is docked and towards the right is where notebook rams are installed. Inorder to change the hard drive, you need to remove the 2.5inch bracket and then remove the hard drive. Removing the rams require some amount of care. You can use notebook drives that measures upto 9.5mm thickness, but since you get 750 gig drives with 9.5mm thickness, there’s nothing much to worry about.

The Palmrest doesn’t stays well within comfortable temperatures even during the stress test. The “Smart pad” is bit smooth but the touchpad doesn’t have a scroll section, nor anything else that can do the same job. The black- chrome finish trackpad button (also a finger print magnet) is a single strip and its not really flat.

So far, its simply making an impression that this is more of a Desktop Replacement Computer that would mostly be used indoors rather than a notebook that you would carry everyday on-the-go purposes (which happen to have that entertainment factor).

There’s an option on the notebook’s Bios called “Easy over-clock mode” that uses Intel’s turbo feature. According to Intel’s specifications, the maximum Turbo frequency pushes the processor clock speed from default 2.53GHZ to 2.8GHz for you. This notebook comes with “Standard”, “Turbo” and “Extreme Turbo” mode and these are the following clock speeds it gave:

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Turbo mode pushes the i5 460M processor pushes 2.94ghz. The processor was put on 100% and as you can see the max CPU temperatures is 87degrees max. On idle mode, the processor consumes very low power.
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Extreme Turbo gives a minor bump compared to turbo. The temps and voltage consumption stays pretty much the same. To those who would buy this notebook, most likely will use extreme Turbo anyways.


Benchmarks
Battery Life
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This notebook comes with a 48Wh (Watt in Hours) battery. The notebook comes with a powersaving feature called “Super Hybrid Engine” which basically underclocks the clock speed of the processor to save power. However, the purpose of this evaluation is to know the actual battery life in such condition and here the Hybrid Engine is turned off throughout the test.

Boot Load time
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3D Mark 06
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3D Mark Vantage
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Cinebench 11.5
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Dirt 2 Benchmark
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Residential Evil 5 Benchmark
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x264 720p Benchmark
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Conclusion
First: The screen. For an entertainment notebook, TN Panel is a turn-off for few.
Second: The overall finish. Except the keyboard flexing a bit, its pretty good. The glossy areas are a fingerprint magnet.
Third: The notebook stays cool. The palm rest and the touch pad stays cool even on load.

The difference between SX0181X and SX045V is the hard drive space (640GB/500GB) and the OS (Ultimate and Home Premium). I don’t have the price for SX018X yet, but SX0145V costs 58,799 on MRP.

If you assume the street price is for 54-56k, Dell XPS 15 is the closest competitior on paper, with the exception of the 420m nVIDIA graphics on the XPS. But if you’re looking for a better processing unit and maybe bit better graphics, sandybridge might be your saviour, assuming you can wait for 2-3 months (at the time of writiing this review). This notebook is a good alternate for the price if you want to buy it ASAP but you would be tempted to grab a 9 cell battery. Asus is bundling this notebook with a mouse and a bagpack (which didn’t come with this evaluation sample) with a 1 year warranty period.

Asus notebooks are distributed by Rashi Peripherals and Netplace in India.

4 comments

  1. I’d definitely go for extra battery. Keypad – more of a preference issue so not that big a deal-breaker or anything.

  2. Asus priced their laptops in India usually around rs 10,000-18,000 more than it should. U45JC with i3 i340m costs rs 54000 in delhi. xps n 1 particular model in lonovo actually costs that much. but i agree asus has a lot to learn from companies like HP who gives an extension warranty as well on their notebooks even in india. this is a very expensive laptop and I feel that they should have made macbook type keyboards. There’s no backlit functionality as well so thats something i feel that it should be a standard in notebooks irrespective of the budget.

  3. Asus priced their laptops in India usually around rs 10,000-18,000 more than it should. U45JC with i3 i340m costs rs 54000 in delhi. xps n 1 particular model in lonovo actually costs that much. but i agree asus has a lot to learn from companies like HP who gives an extension warranty as well on their notebooks even in india. this is a very expensive laptop and I feel that they should have made macbook type keyboards. There's no backlit functionality as well so thats something i feel that it should be a standard in notebooks irrespective of the budget.

  4. I'd definitely go for extra battery. Keypad – more of a preference issue so not that big a deal-breaker or anything.

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