Asus N53JN review

27 Sep 2010

A laptop that sounds as good as it looks, but one that doesn’t quite deliver on the basics

Price when reviewed 
934
4

After the design-led extravagance of Asus’ flagship NX90 – the Bugatti Veyron of the desktop replacement world – its N53JN looks just a bit, well, normal. Look closer, however, and next to the Intel Core i5 and Nvidia Optimus stickers you’ll notice the presence of Danish uber-brand, Bang and Olufsen.

Bang & Olufsen ICEpower – an audio-only subsidiary of B&O proper - has given Asus a helping hand in designing the N53JN’s speaker array, and it certainly shows. Pop a Blu-ray in the drive and the combination of clarity and volume mark a welcome departure from the mediocrity of most laptop speakers. It’s also a rare treat to be able to play music without instantly reaching for the headphones. There's a hint of bass and mid-range response that's normally entirely lacking from laptop speakers, and its partnered with just enough refinement to cope with most audio without transforming it into a limp, aural mush.

Unlike B&O’s high-end CD players, it is a touch disappointing to find that a mere wave of the hand isn’t enough to magically open the Asus’ lid. Still, get up close and its sleek aluminium finish looks fantastic; the whole design seems just that bit more minimalist and refined than your average laptop.

Asus N53JN front

Build quality feels strong and sturdy, too, with no undue flex or give anywhere to be found. It's heavy, though: at 2.91kg without the PSU the Asus N53JN is heavy as 15.6in laptops get.

No one in their right mind would buy a laptop purely because it sounded good, though, and Asus backs up that B&O audio with a fine set of specifications. An Intel Core i5-520M sits alongside 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard disk. Meanwhile, Nvidia Optimus graphics-switching technology allows the power-efficient Intel HD graphics to join forces with the beefier Nvidia Geforce GT 325M graphics.

Performance is plenty enough for most tasks. Our application benchmarks returned with a spritely score of 1.53, while Crysis, run at the screen’s native 1,366 x 768 resolution and low detail, whizzed along at an average of 46fps. It wasn't until we upped the resolution to 1,600 x 900 and the detail to Medium that the Asus slowed down to a more modest average of 20fps.

Details

Price ex VAT £795
Price inc VAT £934
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 391 x 266 x 41mm (WDH)
Weight 2.910kg
Travelling weight 3.4kg
Weight with extended battery N/A
Travelling weight with extended battery N/A

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-520M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
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 Intel HD Graphics / Nvidia GeForce GT 325M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
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
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
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
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 55min
Battery life, heavy use 59min
Overall application benchmark score 1.53
Office application benchmark score 1.36
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.54
Encoding application benchmark score 1.48
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.75
3D performance (crysis) low settings 46fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc
Software supplied N/A