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

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

Display, Audio, Heat and Connectivity


Whenever I sit down in front of a laptop with a pricetag around $1000 or above, I cross my fingers and hope that I’ll be treated to a decent LCD display. Often, however, I’m disappointed – and the N53 is no exception. In fact, the display is one of the laptop’s weakest points.

The problem isn’t image quality, because overall it is average. Black levels are far from the worst or the best I’ve ever seen, and contrast is quite decent. Given the price of this laptop, I’d like to see more, but the image quality is acceptable.

My biggest complaint about the display on the N53 is instead the super-gloss coat slapped on it. While you might imagine that one gloss display is the same as any other, there is in fact a lot of variation between them. The sheen on the N53 is among the most reflective I’ve seen. Worse, there is a cheap plastic quality to the display. It’s as if ASUS, having finished the display, found some laminate at Officemax and used it as a finishing touch.


Right below the unappealing display you’ll find an expanse of silver dotted with tiny holes. At first, you might think this to be a built-in cheese greater, but it is in fact ASUS’s premium sound system known as Bang & Olusfen ICEpower.

As a laptop reviewer, I’ve learned long ago that laptop manufactures are often happy to slap a label on a completely average audio solution. I was a bit caught off-guard when I found that the audio pouring from the ASUS N53 is quite good. Music has a clear, crisp and balanced sound, and distortion only becomes evident at high volume on bass-heavy tracks.

This does require some perspective; the audio is on par with what you’d expect from a $50 pair of desktop speakers. But that’s much better than what laptops normally provide, and it means the N53 can actually fill a room with music that isn’t distorted beyond identification. This is one of the only laptops with audio quality that would be sufficient for my needs if I wasn’t allowed to buy a desktop PC.

Heat and Connectivity

Although not a gaming or workstation laptop, the hardware in the N53 is nothing to laugh at, as you’ll see in the performance section of this review. While a 15.6” chassis is large, the quad-core processor and Nvidia GPU in the N53 are a challenge to keep cool at high levels of load.

Even so, the N53 was a cool customer. My every effort to generate significant warmth from the laptop failed  - even extended stress testing of the CPU and GPU resulted in only moderate warmth along the laptop’s bottom and the palmrest. Internally, the N53 idled as low as 38 degrees Celsius and never shot above 54 degrees Celsius at load.

These low temperatures are no feat of magic, however. The N53 manages to keep cool through the use of a big, beefy fan vent on the left side of the chassis which exhausts hot air with enthusiasm. As you might expect, this results in noticeable fan noise. But while the N53 is not a quite laptop, I don’t think it’s fair to call it loud, either. The fan is audible in a quiet room, but the noise has a smooth and even temperament.


The N53’s big fan vent is accompanied by an array of ports including HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.0, an SD card reader and Ethernet jack. On the right side of the laptop, just before the optical drive, you’ll find additional USB ports and independent headphone and microphone connections. The power plug is in the rear of the laptop, a simple but important design decision that ASUS should be applauded for, as it’s rare on consumer laptops.


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

December 27, 2014 | 01:29 AM - Posted by Broderick (not verified)

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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

July 25, 2014 | 01:24 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, this laptop is one of the fastest and best I have had next to a top line mac. blows other pc away.

fast, no delay, 11 second start up to surfing online, 5 seconds from standby. I have the newer version vz2. Anyone who doesn't like it is probably never run a defrag or know anything about computers.

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!

January 9, 2016 | 12:32 PM - Posted by Ezequiel (not verified)

My Asus N53S has the same issues. Its lags make me crazy.

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)

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.

August 13, 2015 | 06:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Can the gpu be upgraded or is it permanently on board?

February 14, 2017 | 07:59 AM - Posted by Nemanja (not verified)

hey guy sorry for my bad english I'am Serbien and live in Australia I have got an Asus N53 SV seconde hand that I want to sell I can't find how much could i seel it for it works well the only thing is missing is the hard driver. thank you very much, have a good one
Cheers

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