Introduction and Design
The last three years have been great for ultraportables and netbooks. Laptops with displays below fourteen inches in size have exploded in popularity thanks not only to Intel's Atom, but also a wide selection of Intel ultra-low voltage products. Many of the laptops that we've reviewed over the past year, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 and the Alienware M11x, would have been impossible prior to the release of those processors.
Mainstream laptops have enjoyed less progress, however. The 15.6" laptop remains the most popular category with consumers, but while it has enjoyed a boost in performance with the release of the original Core i series processors, issues like battery life and graphics performance remained largely unaddressed. These mainstream laptops have continued to represent a major compromise, as they've been unable to provide great battery life but also (unless supplimented with a discrete GPU) lack the chops to play any but the most basic 3D games.
According to Intel, these flaws could soon be addressed. Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile processors are nothing short of the savior of mainstream laptops. These processors not only offer the typical improvements in speed but also drastically improved integrated graphics and provide much better battery life.
Or, at least, that's what Intel says. They've said such things in the past, however - Intel's IGPs have often promised more than they can deliver. But every piece of hardware deserves a fair shake, and now it's time for Intel's Sandy Bridge to step up to the plate, appearing today in the form of the ASUS K53E. Let's see what is under the hood.