Asus, a leading player in Netbooks who is famous for its Eee PC series is back with a bang. But this time, there’s a twist, by not offering Intel’s processor, but offering AMD’s. Intel’s Atom’s are getting a real tough competition from the newly launched AMD Brazos. Yes, you read it right. Thanks to AMD, now we definitely have something better for netbooks. And not just netbooks, but notebooks also. Asus X53U is a full sized laptop, with all standard features and with AMD Brazos Dual Core C50 processor. Without further ado, let’s get to the point. Check out the full review of Asus X53U-SX013D and see how it performs, and is it worth buying?
Those who are not familiar with AMD Brazos platform, this is the newest platform from AMD that uses a new design for the processor and graphics chip. The processor includes integrated graphics chip, which in addition to providing graphics power, it also can be used by several applications and helps in speeding up data processing. And thus the name APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). Asus X53U-SX013D is powered by Ontario C50 processor. AMD Brazos is the platform’s name, and it has two models – Ontario and Zacate. The difference between Ontario and Zacate is their specification and power consumption. Ontario is clocked at 1.0 GHz while Zacate is clocked at 1.6 GHz.
First things first. Let’s start the review with tech specs of this laptop.
Technical Specs of Asus X53U-SX013D
Processor: Brazos Dual Core C50 (Ontario)
Clock Speed: 1.0 GHz
Cache: 1 MB (L2 Cache)
Memory: 2GB DDR3 1066 MHz
Screen Size: 15.6 Inch
Resolution: 1366 x 768
Hard Drive: SATA 320 GB with 5400 RPM
Optical Drive: SuperMulti Dual Layer Drive
Graphic Processor: ATI Radeon HD 6250
Web Camera: 0.3 megapixel
Keyboard: Standard full sized keyboard
Wireless LAN: 802.11 b/g/n
Ethernet: 10/100/1000 Mbps
Battery: 6 Cell
USB Port: USB 3.0
Display ports: VGA, HDMI
Other features: Internal Mic, Speakers, RJ45 LAN
Design and exterior
If I would have to describe in one word about the looks of this laptop, then I would say – mind-blowing. Why? Because the looks really make this model a unique and one of its type. The Moca Brown color is really something that you would not have seen around. But one can notice this color only if he’s near the laptop, because from a distance it looks like the color is black. The lid also has a textured and glossy finish, which really looks good. One minus point is that its prone to finger prints very much. In fact, the trackpad, which is the most used (or touched) area changes its color to dark brown because of much use. But cleaning it with a dry cloth does the trick well.
On opening the lid you will notice that palm rest and trackpad area are of regular Moca Brown color and the area around display is of black color.
The glossy finish is certainly going to attract smudges and fingerprints. On the back, there’s the battery and a special bay for easy accessing RAM.
Take a look at the bottom part:
Now let’s take a look at various ports:
Left side ports:
Right side ports:
Notice that all standard features are included. This model includes USB 3.0 slot. Now that’s future proof thinking.
Keyboard and trackpad
Keyboard comes with a full sized layout. All the keys and the number pad are present with a clean layout. keyboard has proper sized enter, shift and other often used keys so overall the keyboard will be comfortable to use by pretty much all of you, even the ones with bigger hands/fingers. There are also some special keys, which when pressed with “fn” key helps in doing some special tasks. E.g. pressing fn and F10 mutes the system volume.
Coming to the trackpad part, it doesn’t comes in between while typing, it is accurate and fairly smooth during everyday use. And of course it comes with multi-touch and gestures support, and that really makes scrolling easy. If you are viewing an image in Windows photo viewer, then the orientation of the image can also be changed by multi-touch. Tapping the track-pad twice stimulates the click on a scroll wheel of a mouse, and thereby makes it easy to scroll through out the page. Tap three fingers and it will perform right click function of a mouse. There are many more useful purposes of this touch pad. And the touch pad can also be disabled while typing, by using the fn (function) key.
Screen size is 15.6″ with 1366 x 768 resolution. This makes a HD resolution, but not full HD. Playing HD movies on this baby is a child’s play. It can easily play HD movies without any lagging, thanks to Radeon HD 6250 which is integrated in it. Brightness and colors are fairly good on this screen, but viewing angles, could definitely be improved. But then this viewing angles is a problem in mostly every budget laptops, and not just this one. If you are using laptop in bed or on your couch then the viewing angle will need to be adjusted.
Asus X53U-SX013D comes with DOS. You will need to install Windows on this laptop. It took some 35 minutes to install Windows 7 Ultimate. A software DVD is provided so that you can install drivers and softwares. Going to “Device Manager” and just right clicking on drivers and updating drivers did the trick. But you can also use the “autorun” application to install all recommended drivers and applications. Just pop in the DVD, and the application will run. Check mark all the drivers and softwares that you want to install and you’re good to go.
Heat, noise and speakers
On regular use like surfing or browsing some files on Windows Explorer, you won’t be able to hear even the fan noise. But on doing some tasks like playing graphic intensive game like Need for Speed: Carbon, the fan does makes some noise, but it doesn’t create any distraction. Both the top and bottom of the device only get worm during playing games or HD content, but not hot. Power4Gear automatically adjusts fan speeds for quiet computing and prolonged battery life. This application will need to be installed from the DVD.
Talking about speakers, they are not much loud. Some times it feels like it would be great if I can increase the volume some more. But then comes the threshold of volume, and that’s max. Quality of sound is not bad, and I enjoyed listening to some songs at full volume. The speakers are placed at near the display panel and Altec has manufactured those speakers.
Now coming to the most important factor for a laptop. Its performance. The processor C-50 dual core APU is clocked at 1.0 GHz and power packed with powerful integrated graphics from AMD. The Radeon HD 6250 GPU found in this APU is clocked at 280MHz. The Processor consumes 9W. This model comes packed with 2GB DDR3 1066 MHz. Add 2 GB more RAM and your device will run more faster. On seeing system properties, it clearly states that total installed memory (RAM) is 2 GB of which 1.60 GB is usable. It seems that shared graphic chip will need the rest of memory to do its tasks.
Storage drive is a standard 5400 rpm HDD with 320 GB capacity, but you can replace that one with a fast 7200rpm one or an SSD if you want to make the X53U even faster.
This device from AMD manages to run Windows 7 fine and your daily apps should be snappy as well. However, the real benefit is visible in graphic applications, like playing HD content and games. HD content runs fine, without any problem. Of course you can always output this content on a bigger display via HDMI port.
Coming to the gaming part, Radeon HD 6250 is not that much powerful to run latest games. I tried to run NFS: Carbon, and it ran pretty well, without any lag, but yes I can clearly observe the low graphics quality. Also the game ran in just the center of the screen, and thereby black bars can be seen on both sides – left and right.
Windows experience index scored 2.8. This is the lowest score obtained by processor. In “3D business and gaming graphics performance”, this device scored impressive 5.5.
Thanks to the power efficient processor, this laptop scores good in battery life also. As per the tests, it can run for approx. 4.5 Hours on a single charge. This test is done with some with some everyday tasks like surfing, chatting, listening music, and watching movies. If the brightness is decreased, then battery can last much longer.
As soon as the laptop switches on to battery mode, the brightness automatically decreases to save more power. Smart step taken by Asus.
Availability and prices
Price of Asus X53U-SX013D in India is Rs. 19,000. This equals to $420 USD. It seems that this model is only available in India for now. I am not able to find this same model on newegg and also on Amazon. Perhaps this model is still not launched in other countries.
If you are not amazed by seeing this price, then you should. A configuration at this price point is really good for budget consumers.
If you’re really looking for something powerful, at affordable price, then this is the one which you’ve been searching for. If we compare this Asus X53U with HP DM1z, then you will find that DM1z costs more, doesn’t have any optical drive and also is just 11.6″. Price of HP DM1z in India is Rs 23,000, and its available for $454 on newegg. Where as X53U has optical drive, bigger and better screen size and at lesser price. The plus point in DM1 is its AMD Dual-Core E-350 1.6GHz processor, 7200 rpm hard drive and small form factor. Those who are searching for ultra portable can go for DM1. But those who want bigger screen and optical drive can opt for this X53U.
- Bigger screen
- Optical drive
- AMD Radeon 6250
- No OS (Windows 7 will need to be installed)
- C50 is not that fast, compared to E350
As always, your opinions and feedback are much appreciated, so please leave a comment below if you have anything to say or to ask. Also check out ASUS Eee PC 1215B Review which is having AMD Zacate 1.6 GHz processor.