This is a review of the Asus laptop, not Windows 8. I'm a retired computer professional and I've had over a dozen different laptops over the years, from economy models to the top-of-the-line (so I have a large frame of reference). I'm really pleased with this laptop -- it's a great value and I really don't need any more power or features for what I do these days. I use it mostly for web browsing, Office apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint), Photoshop, iTunes management of a huge music library, and email. I'm "on my computer" over 8 hours a day. For those purposes, this laptop is serving me well at a great price. I looked at a lot of others in the same price range and decided on this one for these reasons: a good processor (I don't think I saw any faster ones in this price range), 500GB disk drive (I really don't need more space and I have larger external USB drives if I ever do), a decent integrated graphics adapter, 3 USB ports including USB 3.0, an HDMI port, VGA output for non-digital TVs and monitors (not found on many current laptops but it's still useful), DVD burner, a pretty long battery life, and a 1-year warranty on accidental drops and spills.
When I first started using the laptop, I was very impressed by the feel and the action of the keyboard and the brightness and clarity of the 15.6" screen. I was also pleased that it wasn't pre-loaded with a bunch of free-trial crap software (all I got rid of was the 30-day(?) free-trial McAfee anti-virus, which I replaced with AVG free edition). I added 4GB of Kingston memory for a total of 8GB RAM and so far I have no complaints about performance. (
Some buyers may want to know that the disk drive is formatted with C and D partitions, 186 GB and 258 GB in size, respectively. That's smart, but I wonder if non-technical users will ever even access and use the large D partition since all user files (My Documents, etc.), by default, are put on the C partition. On the D drive, I put all my music files, my thousands of digital photos, and other large data collections which I don't need to frequently access via the convenient user folders (My Documents, My Pictures, etc.). I think there's an additional recovery partition, but it doesn't appear in the file manager.
I have only a couple complaints. The left/right buttons at the bottom of the touchpad take a lot of pressure to make them click (probably intentional to avoid accidental clicking) and I don't like the feel of their action. I thought maybe I'd stop using a mouse and switch to using the touchpad only, but the feel of those buttons caused me to go back to my mouse within a few hours of use. The other complaint is that there's no LED indicator when Caps Lock or Numeric Lock is enabled on the keyboard, but that's a pretty minor issue. (UPDATE: I just discovered there *are* LEDs for Caps and Numeric lock -- they are small green LEDs on the front left edge, next to some other LEDs like the disk activity LED).
So, I'm very pleased with this laptop and I think it's a tremendous value in its price range. No regrets on this purchase! Windows 8 is a different story and I'm not crazy about it, but I'm learning to adjust. I would prefer to have Windows 7 which was the best Windows OS to date. Windows 8 is not nearly as bad as many reviewers would have you believe. By creating my user account as a 'local user', ignoring the Start Screen that looks like a smart phone and only using the Windows desktop, it's very much like using Windows 7. You just have to find where they hid some things like the Start Menu (use Windows key + X combination). And so far, all the software I have (some of which is pretty old, like Office 2003), has installed without compatibility problems. I almost paid much more to get a laptop with Windows 7 instead of 8, based on all the negative comments, but I'm glad I didn't do that. The negative comments are overblown.
on April 1, 2013
I did a lot of research before finally purchasing this laptop by ASUS. The biggest selling points for me were as follows:
ASUS 1 year "360 Notebook Warranty" including 1 year of Accidental Damage/Handling and a Limited 1 year manufacturer warranty.
The AMD A8 4500M APU is super speedy. If you're purchasing a laptop beware that the A6 4400 has a 1MB L2 cache while the A8 has a BIG 4MB L2 cache. While the dual core is rated at a higher frequency the quad core is capable of handling multiple data loads simultaneously much more efficiently.
The Radeon 7640G has 512mb dedicated memory and is capable to pull from the system resources. While this machine CANNOT run games at the highest settings it does an excellent job of being able to run MOST games at low-med settings with high FPS.
4gb ram upgradeable to 16gb.
Pros: Low Price point, 1 year ADH warranty, fast quad core cpu, 4mb L2 cache, fast HDD, fast boot option, instant on resume function- 2 second wake-up from sleep mode.
Cons: Poor viewing angles on screen, plastic shell/case,
on April 2, 2013
I doubted this laptop would perform that well given its $399 price tag. Incredibly I continue to be blown away by its superb performance, it has quickly become my favorite (of six) computers to use! Even though it's comprised of plastic, it's light weight and superior performance leave me wanting little. Even with 3D games, the performance continues to astound me given the low price I paid.
I bought a 16GB memory upgrade for $85 a week later and it has solidly placed this laptop at the top of my techy toys list. I am dumbfounded by the sheer performance of this low cost laptop.
Pros: low price, above average performance, memory up-gradable to 16GB and out performs my MacBook that cost $1300.
Cons: Made of plastic and does not have superman powers..
on April 27, 2013
I'm re-writing this review to include a tutorial on how to fix up the laptop without voiding the warrantee. I'm upping it to 4 stars now that I've fixed it. The hardware is great, the software can be fixed.
Big Video specs
Built in tutorial for windows 8
Comes with 50 GB cloud storage for 3 years
The trackpad is awful (tutorial below reduces annoyance)
The wireless will drop out (tutorial below fixes)
Packed with bloatware (you can uninstall it)
Webcam sucks (mic is great though)
Small HD space
You will be able to play most games at max settings if the game was released prior to 2010. You will be able to play most new releases up to current day at reduced graphics settings. Applications will run at a reasonably high speed.
The laptop comes with two small 5400 RPM hard drives (C and D). The OS is installed to C, and D is empty. If you install your programs to drive D, you will get significant performance gains because your motherboard can process twin data streams at 100% capacity. YOU MUST DO THIS TO MAKE GAMES AND APPLICATIONS RUN SMOOTHLY.
The built in drivers for the trackpad add "smoothing" effects and whatnot that make the trackpad even harder to use. They do not provide basic functions like turning off the trackpad.
1. Plug in a USB mouse
2. Download the Synaptics driver platform for mouse, windows 8 option.
3. Using the USB mouse, uninstall the trackpad drivers.
a. right click on the bottom left corner of desktop
b. in the context menu, select "device manager"
c. in the device manager, right click on the trackpad's controller, it is under "Mice and other pointing devices"
d. select "properties" from the drop down menu
e. select the "driver" tab
f. select "uninstall" and follow the on-screen instructions
4. Install the new synaptics drivers
5. You now have better mouse handling, and you can right-click the trackpad icon in the desktop tray, go to the "Device Settings" tab, and disable the trackpad.
6. Install touch-freeze
This will "stun" the mouse while you are typing, which will prevent accidental clicks from messing up your typing.
The built in drivers disable the wireless card on a regular basis in order to conserve power. You will need to replace the aetheros drivers with the most up-to-date drivers, and disable some features in the Realtek PCIe driver context menu.
1. Download the Aetheros drivers
2. This package will install just fine. Follow the on-screen instructions.
4. Go to the device manager, select "network adapters," and right click "Qualcomm Atheros AR9485WB-EG Wireless Network Adapter"
5. Select "properties"
6. Select the "Power Management" tab
7. uncheck the box "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power"
8. Click "OK"
9. Go back to the device manager
10. Right click and slect properties on "Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller"
11. Go to the "advanced" tab
12. Modify the following Properties
Energy Efficient Ethernet> Disabled
Green Ethernet> Disabled
13. Go to the "Power Management" tab
14. unchcheck "allow the computer to turn off this device to save power
15. click "OK"
16. Enjoy stable internet.
Windows 8 Fix:
If you miss the traditional Windows layout, you can install a third party start button. I recommend this one:
on April 28, 2013
I recently bought a high-end HP laptop and also purchased this ASUS laptop (both from a sources other than Amazon). If I compare the two the HP was about 3 times the price but had a very fast i7 processor with high end graphics and a large disk and and RAM. The ASUS has a low end quad core processor, mid range graphics, less ram and smaller disk. But otherwise the machines have similar specs: same screen size, number and type of USB ports, HDMI & VGA, DVD burner, and card reader.
Why compare them you ask? What I am really comparing is the experience of buying an HP (a market leader) vs ASUS (a less known brand).
That is all background, now the interesting part:
* ASUS is rated highest reliability after 3 years while HP is rated worst. See Ton's Hardware for a nice chart.
* The ASUS does have a weird touch pad - as others have mentioned. This is the 2nd ASUS laptop that I have purchased and the both had unusual and/or confusing touch pads or mouse buttons. This new machine's touch pad suffers from sensitivity issues and also from the strange design of only having a single physical switch under the pad which means to click easily, you need to be near the center of the pad. But to determine if it is a right or left click, ASUS uses the location of your finger on the touch pad at the time of the click. Clever design idea but irritating to use. I normally use a wireless mouse so this is not a deal killer for me. ASUS, if you are reading this, just go with a normal touch pad with normal top mounted buttons that are not too stiff. Then you won't stand out in a bad way.
* The ASUS is usable right out of the box (assuming you can stomach Win 8). It has not bloatware like an HP and also comes with Win 8 straight, not the handicapped Win 8 Home version that HP uses. This is a huge plus for me.
* Finally, the display is better on the ASUS. Both displays are the same resolution and size. But HP uses a really cheap LCD panel that has poor contrast. The ASUS is better for contrast which makes text more readable. This is also a huge plus.
So whats the net-net? From now on when I shop for to new laptop, I will look to ASUS first and won't even consider HP (given their poor reliability ratings, bloatware, and poor readability displays). But I will also pay attention to the touch pad and the mouse buttons when looking at ASUS in the future given their proclivity of wandering of the tried and true path in this area.
on April 10, 2013
The computer itself feels very sturdy and well-built. However, I noticed it does not lock when you close it. I personally don't mind, but some people might. Also, the mousepad could have been better. Instead of being one pad above two separate buttons, it's a left/right button and touchpad integrated into one large surface that you must click from the bottom or middle left. It feels uncomfortable and cheap, and misclicks quite often. I highly recommend getting a wireless mouse and disabling the touchpad.
Windows 8 is also another headache. Microsoft seems to always do this with their operating systems: they release an outstanding operating system one year, and then a flop of an OS the next year. Since Windows 7 was such a great operating system, perhaps they decided it was time for another failure OS. Windows 8 tries to turn a laptop into a tablet or phone, but the concept doesn't work if you want to get real work done (ie - typing reports and writing e-mails, as opposed to browsing facebooks and playing with apps). Essentially, think of a laptop with Windows 8 as a giant keyboard phone (that can't make calls) with a desktop "app" that you must click to open every time. In order to make Windows 8 more useable, you must install (and in some cases buy) several third-party programs such as the start button and metroUI deactivator, among other things. I would prefer a laptop to be useable right out of the box, without having to buy something as basic as the start menu.
That's not to say that Windows 8 prevents you from doing work; you can still do work, but it almost seems like the desktop setup was added in later as an afterthought, with the phone-like metroUI being at the forefront. It gets annoying having to always slide a page up just to login, then click a tile on the metroUI to access the desktop, every single time you open the computer. Windows 8 focuses too much on facebook and useless apps, and not enough on productivity. It is too easy to access apps I will never use, and too slow to resume work programs. Worst of all, you cannot disable these annoying "features" without installing/buying third party programs on your brand new computer. As a full-time college student juggling school and a demanding job, I want to be able to write lecture notes, close the screen when lecture ends, open it to write an e-mail quickly between classes, then go to the next class and resume writing lecture notes, with minimal time and effort. Windows 8 make it so that I must pull an unnecessary login screen up as if it were a tablet/phone, go to the metroUI, and click the desktop tile every single time I want to resume my work. It gets old fast.
Combine the cheap trackpad and Windows 8 (which relies so heavily on trackpad gestures from a laptop for some ungodly reason) and you get a rather frustrating experience for the average user. I would not recommend Win8 for anyone who expects to write more reports/essays/e-mails than facebook posts. For the price point, the laptop is a good deal, but it could have been so much better with windows 7 and a proper touchpad. If you plan on getting this laptop add in the cost of a portable mouse and make sure you have a copy of Linux/Win7 on hand. If you do not know how to install a new OS, or can't get someone to do it for you, consider a laptop with Win7. There are still a few out there.
on May 11, 2013
I have owned this computer for a couple days and so far it's been excellent. Out of the box it takes about 15-20 minutes to get it up and running, with absolutely no problems. I use it for light computing, watching videos on youtube/netflix and will be using it for some gaming pretty soon. Having read some reviews of the hardware components and benchmark reviews, it appears to handle older games fairly well, and even some of the new ones which are non-graphics intensive quite decently (think Starcraft II).
-Pretty speedy processor
-Pretty good video card
-Numpad included, something a lot of laptops don't have
-Stays cool, stays quiet
-According to a study of laptop reliability ratings, Asus had the lowest 3-year failure rate, so that's promising
-Can't really be beat at the price point for the performance you get
-The touchpad is a little sensitive, be sure to go into settings and adjust it accordingly
-~450 GB of hard drive space, the OS and factory settings alone take ~30 GB, so you are left with 420 GB
-I do wish the warranty was 2-years, if Asus is that reliable they should be confident in the robustness of their products
-Screen brightness is a little inconsistent
-If the charger is flush with the side of the laptop, it blocks the cd/dvd drive from opening, which is a bit of design fail on the
part of Asus.
Before purchasing this laptop I saw that quite a lot of the reviews lamented that it comes with Windows 8, but for $3-5, you can easily avoid the 'smartphone' layout of Windows 8 by getting a start menu program (startisback or start8). I have startisback on my computer and now it looks like windows 7.
I have only owned this computer for a few days, so it's probable that I have not discovered every nook/cranny/caveat/pitfall that comes with this laptop, but hopefully I was thorough enough in helping you guys out to make a decision. In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons, because the cons are very easy to fix. I don't think Windows 8 is a 'con', despite the fact that I personally don't like it. Try it out for yourself, you may find it anywhere from convenient/amazing to awful.
4.5/5 --- A lot of hits, a few misses, overall a very reasonably priced, efficient computer
on May 12, 2013
I'm using this laptop mostly for internet browsing, work, and gaming. It does it all, more than I expected after a few weeks of owning it.
This laptop is fast. It's fast booting up, shutting down, loading programs, buffering videos, downloading, etc. Never had a problem. All the features: IceCool palm rests, SuperBatt Tech, InstantOn, and 5% AutoBackup work great. The InstantOn is my favorite, my other laptops and desktops are nowhere near as fast booting up and shutting off. The laptop will boot up to the start screen as long as it takes for you to sip a cup of coffee.
Win8 gets getting used to, many people like to complain about changes, but I have no major complaints. The only complaint I have is I was disappointed that there's no Microsoft Office installed. When I had to do work I was prompted to buy a CD key, not what I expected.
What I love the most is the gaming power of this laptop. You wouldn't expect much from an entry level priced laptop, but I'm playing Shogun 2 Total War on medium smoothly. With that being said, I'm already starting to fill up my hard drive downloading Steam games!
UPDATE: 2 years after owning this laptop and it works like how it did day one. It boots on very quickly and plays most recent games on medium with little to no lag.
on April 18, 2013
First let me say I did a LOT of research on the market before buying this laptop. If you're on a budget I HIGHLY recommend this laptop.
Looks: Very nice, simple low profile, black, efficient design, very professional. They keys are a little small but I have become accustomed to it. It's sleek and light enough that you could take it to class/work if you wanted to.
Performance: Can play games (Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Diablo 3, League of Legends) anywhere from low to medium-high settings with great performance. I upgrade my ram to 8 gigs and this thing boots up in about 8-10 seconds. Standard HD, loads software (visual studio, open office, sql 2012, dreamweaver, notepad++) almost instantly, impressive.
Cons: I'm not crazy about the wireless card, could be better. The max resolution could be higher. Windows 8 (I recommend startmenu8 and modifying your regedit if you don't like the features of windows 8, google for more.)
Summary: Awesome rig if you need something for work AND play. It's not a top-end gaming rig but it can easily play most modern games on moderate settings. Fast enough for work projects and programs. Light/sleek enough to travel with.
on July 8, 2013
I bought this laptop for $379 and it is definitely a great deal. My only dislikes are that there's a number pad squeezed in which makes it harder to type, the battery saving mode negatively affects the wireless (this can be turned off under the advanced power options), you need two fingers to scroll, and the speakers are really tinny. I use it for internet and mild gaming. It can run the Sims 3 at 50FPS, Minecraft, Skyrim, and Cube World beautifully. The Max RAM is 16GBs not 8 like the details say. I loved that it did not come with bloatware. Norton and a few pointless Windows 8 games were the only things I had to remove.