Asus K50 review

12 Oct 2009

A mediocre machine with an overly glossy display and questionable ergonomics

Price when reviewed 
600
3

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £522
Price inc VAT £600
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 382 x 259 x 41mm (WDH)
Weight 2.610kg
Travelling weight 3.2kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6400
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
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
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi Travelstar 5K320
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive LG GT10N
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

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