ASUS N53SV Notebook Review
By Shane McGlaun on April 25, 2011
Today we have the ASUS N53SV notebook on our test bench. This multimedia/moderate gaming notebook has a lot of style to accompany with some nice specifications under the hood. This machine looks really good with a brushed aluminum lid and wrist rest. This notebook has a 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 resolution screen, Intel Core i7 2630QM CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M graphics processor, 750 GB of storage, 4 GB of RAM, and a lot more. Come along as we see how this notebook is made.
Good looks aside, the notebook has the power under the hood to handle your media duties and moderate gaming. Don’t confuse this machine with a dedicated gaming notebook, but if you are the type who wants one machine that can play your favorite video games, handle multimedia and general computer work with ease, the ASUS N53SV is a great machine. This notebook makes some compromises that you may need to contend with.
As with most notebooks that make compromises in order to be an all around performer, it's not a clear stand out in any one area. The discrete graphics processor is nice, and the machine has integrated graphics as well and can change between the two graphics processors depending on if power or battery life is the goal. You can get more powerful graphics processors. The notebook does OK with multimedia, but you can get better performance on the market today there as well. What you can’t always get, though, is a good mix of capabilities, and this is where the ASUS N53SV shines.
This notebook has a 15.6-inch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768. The same notebook with an optional, full HD 1080p screen is also available. Other obtainable options include Bluetooth with WiFi which are standard on the notebook. The big feature about which shoppers want to know is the processor. The ASUS N53SV uses an Intel Core i7 2630QM running at 2 GHz. The processor is a quad core supporting Hyper-Threading technology, making the operating system to see eight cores (four real and four virtual). Since this CPU has the TurboBoost technology, its internal clock jumps to 2.9 GHz whenever more processing power is required. The price for the ASUS N53SV hovers around USD 1,050 online, making this a more expensive notebook. It comes with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium for the operating system.
The ASUS N53SV ships in a plain brown box with a sticker showing the model number and showing off the machine's hardware a bit. There is nothing particularly special on the packaging.
The ASUS N53SV includes a CD with software on it, a user manual, a cable tie, and the power adapter with the machine. These are the only accessories that come with the notebook.
As already mentioned, the ASUS N53SV has an aluminum lid with a brushed style. It's very attractive, and more importantly, for users that like their notebook to stay clean, the brushed doesn't show too many smudges.
On the back of the ASUS N53SV you can see the power port for the adapter, the battery, and a VGA output as well as the Kensington lock port.
The front edge of the notebook has nothing to see when closed, no indicator lights or memory card slots to be found here as you see on many notebooks.
The right side of the ASUS N53SV has the bulk of the ports with the headphone and mic ports, two USB ports, and the optical drive. The toggle switch you see directly behind the optical drive is used turn the wireless adapter on and off.
The left side of the notebook has the 3-in-1 memory card reader supporting SD, MS, and MMC formats, a big cooling grate, and a couple of USB ports along with an HDMI output.
The bottom of the notebook has trap doors for the battery, hard drive, and RAM, with lots of cooling slots.
The expansion bay door you see right under the battery is where the optional Bluetooth card would sit if so equipped. Under the gray metal plate on the bottom left corner is where the 750 GB hard drive sits, and to the right of the hard drive are the two RAM modules. Our review sample had two 2 GB modules for 4 GB total. The machine supports up to 16 GB of RAM.
The battery is a 4400 mAh, 48 Wh unit and is very small. The notebook lasted all day with mixed web surfing, casual gaming, and streaming video from Hulu in testing.
One of the areas where many notebooks fall flat is in the keyboard designs. The ASUS N53SV is a full-size notebook and has a full-size keyboard complete with number pad. The keys are large and have nice tactile feel and good typing feedback with audible clicks. Typists will like this keyboard because it has the right shift key where it is supposed to be. Some notebooks rearrange the typical QWERTY layout and place the right shift key in a strange place; thankfully, that isn't the case here. That right shift key is a bit smaller than the left shift key, but it is large enough to be easy to use. You can also see the trackpad that supports gestures.
Since the ASUS N53SV is a multimedia notebook, a glossy screen is expected. Glossy screens have great color reproduction in general, and the ASUS N53SV is no exception. The downside is that the glossy screen has a lot of glare.
After looking at all the ports and hardware the ASUS N53SV sports, it's time to start using the notebook. This is a large notebook, and the first thing you notice is that the machine is no lightweight. If you are a very mobile user or business pro that is always on the road, this notebook might be a bit bulky for you. Users that need a machine that is comfortable to use as their only computer will like the size. The machine offers decent battery life.
We charged the ASUS N53SV and used it for most of a day, after which the machine still had power left over. Battery life is one of the most subjective measurements of a notebook, so mileage will vary depending on what you are doing with the machine. If you are playing lots of video games, it will consume even more power.
The ASUS N53SV is equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M graphics processor that has very nice performance. The notebook also supports NVIDIA Optimus technology to allow it to change between that NVIDA graphics processor and the integrated Intel HD graphics processor when the power of that NVIDIA graphics processor isn't needed. This allows the machine to get the best of both worlds with respect to battery life and performance when needed.
The optical drive the ASUS N53SV uses is DVD writer. The notebook does well on playback with DVD movies and streaming. The graphics processor handles the streaming of HD video with no skipping or stuttering. The video we streamed from Hulu Plus was smooth and didn't stutter or skip. It looked just like we were watching it on a TV. We did notice that the video quality isn’t perfect. The video is pixilated and gets blocky looking in fast action scenes, and you will notice some blocky looking pixels in dark scenes where the ASUS N53SV is lacking somewhat in black levels and contrast. Overall, the video streaming quality is good for the notebook's category.
The sound system in most notebooks is an area that the makers just skip. I was excited to see that the ASUS N53SV has premium audio using ICEpower from Bang & Olufsen. Bang & Olufsen is a high-end audio brand that makes some very expensive headphones and speakers for audiophiles. The promise of high-quality audio didn’t live up to the real world performance though.
The audio system had a great deal of distortion at high volume settings, and the distortion was also present at moderate volumes. The speakers had a noticeable rattle that was most apparent when the commercial announcer on Hulu would come on or when anything with bass was played over the speakers. This was very disappointing. The good aspect of the audio system is that the ASUS N53SV has plenty of volume if you put the notebook on a desk and watch video from across the room and hear the audio. The machine has HDMI output that will let you shoot the streaming video out to your TV or home theater system.
The ASUS N53SV notebook comes with what we consider typical "bloatware" (jargon that describes programs that come pre-installed and are usually not required or useful) installed on it. A pop-up comes up with each boot for a Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security trial offer. ASUS also installs much of its own software for various things on the computer. A full suite of CyberLink software for DVD authoring and playback is installed by default. Other software installed includes a few game trials and a trial of Office 2010. The only software that really bothered us was the Trend Micro antivirus that launched a pop up at each boot.
The main specifications for the ASUS N53SV laptop as reviewed include (the manufacturer also offers this product with other configurations):
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
After all everything has been considered, the ASUS N53SV is a very well-rounded notebook with one glaring exception: the sound system. This is nothing you can't fix with a pair of external speakers or headphones though, so the poor sound quality shouldn't rule this notebook out, in our opinion. That said, if you listen to video or music a lot with the on-board sound system, the ASUS N53SV might not be the perfect machine for you.
It will plow through all but the most power-intensive applications with no issues at all thanks to its fast and powerful processor and nice hardware. The screen glare will be an issue in some environments, but that can be said of 90% of the notebooks on the market today.
In the end, the ASUS N53SV is a nice notebook for the right user. It’s not the lightest, best performing, or cheapest notebook you can get. The ASUS N53SV is a well-rounded performer that deserves a look if you are in the market for a notebook that can do it all pretty well.