So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Good value, all-purpose laptop
- Graphics card is good for price, e-SATA port, HDMI output
- Unattractive design, keyboard layout will require getting used to, low battery life
The ASUS X55SV-AS081C has an excellent range of ports and networking connections and doesn't cost the world. If you can stand the drab design and can't spend more than $1800, this notebook should be seriously considered.
Price$ 1,799.00 (AUD)
The ASUS X55SV-AS081C may not be attractive, but it offers great value. Users with a slightly larger budget who want a superior processor and bigger hard drive may look to the HP Pavilion dv6800 (dv6837tx_02) Influx Special Edition Entertainment Notebook PC as an alternative, but if you are looking for something less than $1800 then you should definitely consider this notebook.
Stylistically speaking, this unit is at odds with itself. It has a plain exterior that exudes business sensibilities, but we opened the lid to find a set of garish, textured palm-rests that clash with an otherwise sensible design. Although this 'loud' approach may appeal to those who enjoy bright-coloured sports cars or the ASUS LAMBORGHINI VX3, the average user will smell the, 'mid-life crisis' scent from a mile away.
Cosmetics aside, this unit has many positives. If you're on the cutting edge of technology, then you'll be happy with the e-SATA port on the left-hand side of the laptop. While e-SATA capable devices aren't as common as USB devices, units such as the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II (WDH2Q20000) provide their best speeds through the relatively new port (the port also accepts USB 2.0 connections).
Another happy find for a unit in this price bracket is the NVIDIA GeForce 9500M GS. While not exactly burning up the 3DMark06 tests when compared to the Alienware Area-51 m15x-R1 or the HP Pavilion HDX9313TX , the X55SV acquits itself excellently for its price tag, scoring 3766 3DMarks. This means that older games such as F.E.A.R. will play well at mid or high settings, while modern games will struggle at anything above low settings.
The ASUS is equipped with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 CPU, 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 250GB hard drive. The T8300 has consistently proven itself to be an excellent performer, and the X55SV continues this legacy, scoring a 90 in our WorldBench 6 tests. This result means that even the more hardware-intensive tasks such as 3-D rendering can be done without a hitch.
The CPU's consistent performance is also shown through our iTunes testing, where we convert 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s. The X55SV performed the task in 1min 11sec, which was directly in line with what we expected.
Less impressive was the 15.4in screen's performance, which had an adequate viewing angle and displayed images and movies with clarity and no dithering, but suffered from reflectivity issues in brightly lit environments.
The unit's full-sized keyboard is a welcome addition, but we found that using the number pad on the right-hand side was difficult thanks to its unfamiliar key layout. However, users will become used to this after consistent use.
On the left of the laptop is a D-Sub port, FireWire port, a 5-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, MS, MS-Pro, MS-Duo) and an HDMI port, which is good news for buyers wishing to link the device to the newest plasma and LCD screens. Three USB 2.0 ports are on the right of the device, next to the dual-layer DVD-RW LightScribe drive, which allows to you burn labels directly onto LightScribe discs.
For network connectivity, the ASUS ticks all the boxes, offering 802.11b/g/n wireless and Gigabit Ethernet. Users wanting to wirelessly connect external peripherals such as headsets will appreciate the built-in Bluetooth 2.0.
Those hoping to use the notebook on the go will be disappointed by the weight of the unit. At 2.9kg without the power supply and 3.4kg with it, attempting to place it on your lap will result in discomfort. It also wasn't very good in our battery test, lasting only 1hr 15min while playing a DVD.
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