Asus K50 review
A mediocre machine with an overly glossy display and questionable ergonomics
To use a trackpad, you have to slide your finger across it. That may seem an obvious point, but it's apparently escaped Asus, as the K50's trackpad is covered in little indentations that add friction. You have to get used to moving the cursor with an extremely light touch.
The insubstantial keyboard, meanwhile, bends inward every time you press a key, and the numeric keypad and cursor keys are weirdly undersized.
The most glaring problem, though, is the glossy 15.6in widescreen display. To be sure, it's large and bright, but it suffers from a pinkish colour cast. Tweaking the graphics driver reduced the effect, but a truly neutral tone proved impossible to achieve.
If you can get past these issues, what's left is still pretty unexciting. The high point of the specification is probably the Nvidia G102M GPU, which helped the K50 achieve 24fps in our low-quality Crysis test. It's partnered with a 2GHz T6400 CPU, which yielded only a middling benchmark score of 1.02.
Battery life was slightly on the low side: its smallish 4,400mAh battery delivered 4hrs 9mins of light use, but only 1hr 12mins of heavy use.
Of course, the K50 is powerful enough for everyday use, and its 4GB of DDR2 RAM certainly doesn't hurt (even though 32-bit Windows wastes around half a gigabyte of that). Performance-wise, you can certainly do worse for £522.
And in a few ways the K50 does better than most at this price. Its 320GB hard disk is comparatively generous; and the Altec Lansing speakers aren't bad. They're not very loud, and predictably lacking in bass, but they do have a pleasing clarity.
You could even - if you were feeling charitable - call the K50 stylish. The shiny chassis sports a tasteful dotted pattern that changes subtly depending on your viewing angle. The interior is pleasingly uncluttered by superfluous stickers and buttons.
For all this, though, we can't recommend the Asus K50. It has too many foibles, without any real technical distinctions that might excuse them.
|Price ex VAT||£522|
|Price inc VAT||£600|
|Features & Design||3|
|Value for Money||4|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||382 x 259 x 41mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo T6400|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce G102M|
|Graphics card RAM||512MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||298GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Hitachi Travelstar 5K320|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||LG GT10N|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Front edge|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||4hr 9min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 12min|
|Overall application benchmark score||62.00|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||24fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows Vista Premium 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Recovery method||Recovery disc|
|Software supplied||CyberLink Power2Go 6|