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ASUS N53S Core i7-2630QM Sandy Bridge 15-in Notebook Review

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Asus
Tagged:

Design and User Interface


Brushed aluminum has become synonymous with luxury electronics, and the ASUS N53’s exterior is clad in it like a suit of armor. The lid and palmrest are both coated the velvet-smooth metal, resulting in an instantly impressive finish. The usage of aluminum on the N53 has a dark gunmetal tint – like the ASUS U33JC Bamboo laptop we reviewed some time ago, the N53 goes for elegance rather than flash, and arguably has even better execution.

The palmrest shares the aluminum finish of the lid, and the touchpad also has the same look, though by texture it seems that it may be made of plastic. The only detraction is the keyboard and its surrounding material all the way up to the attractive silver metal speaker housing. These portions of the laptop are made of a dull charcoal plastic that, although not downright ugly, lack the luxurious appearance of the materials surrounding them.


This cheapening is unfortunate, but not significant. If anything, the charcoal plastic that sticks out as the least appealing part of the laptop feels only slightly low-rent, while the rest of the materials feel a bit better than you might expect for a laptop with this hardware at this price.

While the N53 is visually attractive, the feel of the chassis is just average. There is some quite noticeable material flex around the optical drive if you grip the laptop from that side. Pressure does little to depress the laptop’s lid, and there is thankfully no hint of shimmy while typing, but there is room for some flex if one corner of the lid is accidently hit or pressured. Access to the RAM isn’t difficult, but opening the hard drive panel required some thought and more effort than most people will feel safe exerting on their laptop. To be clear, I’m not saying the N53 feels cheap or poorly screwed together – but it doesn’t seem sturdier or more practical than the chassis found on some significantly cheaper laptops, such as the Toshiba C655.

User Interface


The keyboard on the ASUS N53 is a large, island-styled model complete with numpad. It’s entirely what you would expect from a 15.6” laptop, and offers few surprises – a generally negative comment. While the keyboard is extremely comfortable and has a reasonably good layout, the numpad keys are squeezed in and are about two-thirds the size of a normal key as a result. Although usable, the numpad certainly isn’t comfortable – and that’s a shame, because there is significant room on either side of the laptop.


My biggest beef with the keyboard, however, is the flex. When I press the K key, for example, the flex is significant enough to cause the entire keyboard to move from the G key all the way to the Enter key. That’s about six inches of flex, just from depressing one key. The effort required to cause this isn’t great, either. Someone who plays games will likely see this frequently while tapping away at WASD in a first-person shooter.

The touchpad inspires better comments. It is reasonably large, well defined from the surrounding material, and responsive. The multi-touch gestures work well. Better yet, the touchpad lives up to the laptop’s luxurious appearance in ways the keyboard does not. Although it seems to be made of plastic, the touchpad shares a brushed aluminum look. It also has a solid feel. Although I don’t often mention it, some laptops have a slightly hollow feel to the area beneath the touchpad and the palmrest. The ASUS N53 does not have this trait.


Yet there is one thing about the N53’s touchpad that bothers me – the buttons, or rather, button. Like several previous ASUS laptops, the N53’s touchpad has a single button that is placed on a rocker. The feel of this latest incarnation of the design seems to offer more tactical feedback than previous versions, I still don’t like the dead-zone in the center of the button, nor do I like the way feedback becomes progressively worse as you move further way from the edges. Also, for some reason, ASUS decided to make the rocker button out of chrome plastic. Fingerprints are the predictable result.

April 15, 2011 | 08:59 AM - Posted by Amaury (not verified)

This article is unreadable under firefox 4

April 15, 2011 | 09:46 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

What do you mean? I am reading it under FF4 right now...

April 19, 2011 | 03:40 PM - Posted by Dan (not verified)

Same here, the article is compressed to a one inch column.

Dan

April 15, 2011 | 03:31 PM - Posted by LauRoman

Just clean the cookies for pcper.com

April 15, 2011 | 04:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

what about full hd screen with gt550m graphics? I want to see benchmark scores with msi's new gen crazy models

June 27, 2011 | 04:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i own one of these laptops and i play games with it...
yeah it ain't exactly the best thing u can have but there is a good way to play games...

put everythig on high and very high and just lower the resoloution to 1280x720...
fps will go up wildly!

well,u always need to do sth about weakness of ur system... ;)

September 5, 2011 | 08:57 PM - Posted by Fappy McGee (not verified)

Not much a computer for the price

November 24, 2011 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Can you comment about the 1080p display available for this series of notebooks?

December 19, 2011 | 06:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My muse pad on the Laptop stopped working any idea how to fix it.?

January 2, 2012 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

install the drivers found at your manufacturers website.
To ryan shrout....This week in computer hardware is a great podcast. thanks for providing it to the community of hardware nerds like myself, and for someone to finally review my asus n53s laptop properly. Before I bought this laptop no one reviewed it besides a couple of mentions in forums. I think Matt Smith the author spoke graciously and precisely about the asus laptop. this is my first laptop and i enjoy the power and versatility. Also pcper.com is refreshing in a world of websites with articles that read like ad space with lame marketing terminology copied straight from the manufactures website. Not sure if anyone notices the abundance of these misleading, non informal sites but i do. thanks ryan and matt

Also to anyone who buys this laptop it can be upgraded to 16GB of ram...which i did for a mere 60 bucks from amazon....Virtual Machines, Hello. A word of warning my right hands thumb always bumps the mouse pad and takes the focus off of what im typing this is a real nuisance and i have had to consciously keep my hand titled to the right..this is more annoying than a problem to me i am very forgiving and this is a reason this is my first and probably my last laptop ever. I am a desktop junky with the need for gaming horsepower and really dont travel or need a laptop i do however utilize this as a roaming(friends and families homes) gaming machine which it works very well for and you must bring the large power brick with you...(i hit the mouse pad two times while typing that last sentence)and i have medium sized hands ..I played skyrim on this machine and it plays very well(smooth framerates) with everything maxed out with default resolution of 1366x768 side by side with my desktop(q9450@3.2GHz, 6GB DDR2ram, gtx570, 2.5" velociraptor drive) I think my asus laptop played it a bit more smooth...I am beginning to think my q9450 is showing its age but not sure because i had to reinstall due to strange popping with my audio and extreme stuttering with video playback ...Im not sure what the problem was but after a clean reinstall and more scrutiny to my tinkering habits my desktop is running fine but i havent retested skyrim due to a lack of interest of that game...I cant stop playing team fortress 2 lol I love valve. sorry for the crazy rant im a computer junky.

February 4, 2012 | 12:58 PM - Posted by jcnorheim@yahoo.com (not verified)

What RAM did you buy? Having 4 GB of RAM sucks, I'm thinking 8 GB?

February 6, 2012 | 05:29 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

the link is below....

Corsair 8GB (2x 4GB) 1333mhz PC3-10666 204-pin DDR3 SODIMM Laptop Memory Kit CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9

http://amzn.to/xPT1Ll

January 13, 2012 | 01:01 AM - Posted by whirlwind (not verified)

This asus is suppose to have more everything, than the sony fz480e I've had since 2008. The Asus isn't near the computer to me , one of the main things is the wireless connection is not near as good as the sony,normally the sony has 2 more bars than the asus,so if the connection is marginal,which it is where I'm at the sony has much better reception

March 8, 2012 | 01:25 PM - Posted by ASUS sucks (not verified)

This computer is not worth the price at all. It is very slow, and crashes a lot. Do not buy this.

April 9, 2012 | 05:29 PM - Posted by Australia (not verified)

Have been using Asus N53S for about 6 months now and I can honestly say it is the WORST laptop I have ever owned, and I have owned a LOT. Even worse than HP!
1. Dark keys, light lettering on keys. In half light you can't see what you are doing. This is one of the most annoying things about it.
2. Keyboard is like a trampoline. Horrible to use.
3. Battery dying at a fast rate - from normal, careful use.
4. BLUE SCREENED REGULARLY until I re installed it and now it blue screens only occasionally - despite running Win 7 64 bit.
5. Blu-Ray looks terrible for a Blu-Ray.
6. NVIDIA Graphics driver frequently comes in "Solve PC Issues"
7. Kept update with required Windows patches IT IS SLOW to boot slow to shut down.
8. Freezes for up to 45 seconds FOR NO REASON often. Yes, OFTEN. Then it comes out of it.
9. Has an overall CHEAP feel about it. Cheap and nasty.

ASUS N53S is truly an annoying, aggrivating P.O.S.

June 21, 2012 | 09:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i have had none of the problems you mention what so ever. added 16GM 1600MHz RAM. I LOVE this machine

February 2, 2013 | 12:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This laptop is totally great! Works soooo well. I used it for more than a year now. I'm working on Adobe softwares a lot (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) and works like a charm. This is the best laptop I ever had!

June 4, 2012 | 10:09 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

http://www.pcper.com/news/Graphics-Cards/Video-Perspective-AMD-A10-4600M...

Take anything Matt says with a grain of salt. He is a known Intel fanboy.

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/amds-trinity-laptop-apu-makeuseof-explains/

Proof of his fanboyism.

June 4, 2012 | 10:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

New AMD A-Series APUs Win 2012 Best Choice of COMPUTEX
Straight from http://www.techpowerup.com/166813/New-AMD-A-Series-APUs-Win-2012-Best-Ch... And Matt says they are bad. But then again he said "Noone cares about battery life" in that same article.
Sad but true.

February 11, 2013 | 05:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

J'ai un ASUS N53S
Je voudrais savoir si mon portable possède un tuner TV...
Si ce n'est le cas quelle serait la (ou les) marque(s) que vous me conseilleriez d'acquérir pour pouvoir recevoir la TV sur mon ordinateur portable.
Je possède l'option VOO passionément (TV, Internet, Téléphone)
et je ne sais comment m'organiser...

Merci d'avance pour votre réponse.

Yves Loriau (0495 54 96 30)

June 4, 2013 | 10:22 AM - Posted by OcBewa (not verified)

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September 14, 2013 | 06:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i have the 8gb one, i7 2630qm and gt550m model for 2 years now. Its really excellent machine, no problems whatsoever, played the games i wanted really nicely, like skyrim etc, its fast, i really recommend it. Battery is enough for almost 2 movies time which is more than i need.

November 7, 2013 | 02:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have one that was given to me by employer. It is crap. too large and heavy to call it laptop. It is better to name it portable desktop.

December 27, 2013 | 06:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I found this model to be very disappointing. The power supply blew TWICE. First time was under warranty and they fixed it but it lasted less than a year. Didn't have the speed I would expect from a 7200 rpm hard drive. All in all, not a good experience. My second and last try with ASUS.

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