Asus N53JN review
A laptop that sounds as good as it looks, but one that doesn’t quite deliver on the basics
Review Date: 27 Sep 2010
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £795 (£934 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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