on September 17, 2012
First of all, the build quality on this machine is EXCELLENT. Having never owned any asus product, I'm seriously impressed at the build quality on this thing. Even though I only paid $899, this feels like a $1500+ machine. The aluminum finish is fantastic and feels really good. I will say it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but that's nothing a quick wipe with a cloth won't fix. Also, since Amazon doesn't disclose this, the ASUS logo on the front lid is BACKLIT. Some reviewers have knocked on the weight a bit, but for everything you're getting, it's a non issue. Unless you weigh about 30lbs, I don't see how you could knock on the weight.
The keyboard is great. I very much enjoy the feel of the keys and the response is excellent. Even for someone with big hands like me, I have no trouble typing at full speed. Also, this keyboard is BACKLIT for those of you not sure, and it looks great in the dark. You can also adjust the level of brightness as you see fit.
Wasn't too happy with this at first but I've grown to like it. I'm a big fan of the pinch to zoom and all the other features it comes with. Yes, sometimes you might not get the exact response you want or you'll accidentally zoom in on something, but the touchpad is great. No regrets and no serious complaints.
Initial boot up takes a bit, but even with all of the bloatware ASUS puts on this thing, it's pretty fast. The i7 along with the 6GB of RAM really makes navigating through all programs a breeze and I've no freeze ups or noticeable lag. I plan on installing an SSD sometime in the near future and doing a clean install but for the average user, there shouldn't be any performance issues.
As some reviewers have previously mentioned, you are using dual cards for graphics. The laptop uses the Intel 4000 for non extensive actions and the NVIDIA for heavy graphic tasks such as gaming. I don't really plan on gaming at all so this is perfect for me. But from what I've read, gaming shouldn't be an issue.
Display & Sound:
The display is AMAZING. Videos, websites, programs......everything looks excellent. Hands down the best display I've used on a Windows machine. I would highly recommend pushing for 1080p if possible. The sound quality for a laptop is amazing. It's loud and clear. I've just started doing insanity workouts and using this and the sound and look of everything is amazing. No complaints at all. I haven't used the included speaker, but I'll get around to it. Webcam is also nice and clear and video chatting is no issue. Other party can hear me loud and clear with no echo.
Overall, I am completely satisfied with my purchase.
on August 10, 2012
I asked a few questions about this laptop from other reviewers but could not get an answer... to anyone who needs to know, it does indeed have a backlit keyboard. I got mine this morning and it's simply beautiful, the screen and sound are amazing, typing is a joy and I could not be happier.
I really wish Amazon would get proper specs up for this. I ordered in hope that it would have a backlit keyboard, and I got lucky.
I will update this review with more info if I find anything worth remarking on - the specs speak for themselves, and of course there is a ton of nonsense bloatware, but that's easily dealt with.
I highly recommend this machine to anyone who wants something that looks good and you can be proud to own.
on November 28, 2012
Received it yesterday, great turn around time by Amazon. That said, I have the following gripes with this laptop already.
1). I bought this laptop hopefully to build a Hardware Specification equivalent of a Macbook Pro without paying the Apple Hardware Tax and without having to use MACOS.
2). Window 8 Sucks. Hated it immediately. I would have bought the Windows 7 version of this Laptop, except it is slightly different and has less base memory. So I bought the Windows 8 version and just installed my own copy of Windows 7.
3). The UEFI is locked to Windows 8. I removed the hard drive and replaced it with a SSD. The Boot process would not hand-off to Windows 7 during the setup process when using UEFI and mounting Windows 7 install as a CD. If I toggled the "Launch CSM" setting in the BIOS to "Enabled" this worked fine, but without UEFI. Less exciting but still very usable. (CSM means Compatibility Support Module and it's a UEFI setting for backwards compatibility with older BIOS devices.)
4). The only 16gb memory I was able to get to work to upgrade this machine to 16gb was Kingston ValueRAM 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 (PC3-12800) Non-ECC CL11 SODIMM Notebook Memory (KVR16S11/8). I tried three other sets of 16gb DIMMs without any of them working before I found the Kingston. Thanks to the person in the comments who suggested it.
5). The upgrade plate is on the bottom toward the front and merely requires removing the one center front screw. This involves prying up the plastic foot thing in the center and unscrewing. Easy access to the HDD, the Memory and the NIC from there.
6). The laptop was both heavier and thicker than I expected. This is not a fault of what is reported, but a fault of my expectations. Temper your own expectations to match.
7). As others have noted here and elsewhere, the trackpad gets in the way of typing sometimes. It's very easy to click things with you wrist while typing. I personally think this is true of many laptops due to my own typing style, so YMMV.
8). Once I got Win7 installed on the SSD, this laptop screams. Really loved how fast it boots. Haven't installed much yet though, so we will see.
9). If I could not have gotten Win7 working I would have RMA'd this faster than you can say... well, just about anything.
10). If you are looking for Windows 7 x64 Drivers, you will not find them on the Asus website under the N56VJ model. You need to look under the N56VZ model and use those drivers. The N56VJ and the N56VZ are basically the same computer with slightly different specs. All the drivers are common and seem to work just fine. Drivers can be found there.
on August 5, 2012
I received this laptop about four days ago and still in the process of removing and loading software. Started with the standard operating procedure, Windows updates and removing McAfee (this requires a special removal tool from the McAfee website to do a clean uninstall). Had trouble with the wireless connection crashing and had to call Asus customer support who directed my to their website to download a new driver for the Atheros AR9485-EG wireless adaptor. Seems to have taken care of the problem from what I can tell. 1920 x 1080 resolution is nice - most models with that resolution are $1,200 or more.... 750 GB and 6 GB ram - great specs. Having some problem with the spacebar. I type about 70 w/minute and it doesn't respond as well as I am used to unless I hit it dead center and pretty firm. Other people reported a similar problem after researching this issue in forums. I will wait for a few days and if needed have Asus install a new keyboard under warranty. Sound/speakers are OK - not great and for movies I would recommend external speakers. This model has the separate numeric keyboard off to the side (good for working on spreadsheets) which makes the model a bit larger and likely heavier.
Ran down the battery yesterday and got over 4 hours out of it - no games but lots of installing and downloading. Good buy for the price and is has everything once could ask for for a desktop laptop.
Update - I had to return the first laptop because I did not want to go through the hassle of getting the keyboard repaired - Amazon exchanged it with no problem (same model) and the keyboard on the replacement laptop works great. The first one didn't have the backlighting (or maybe it was a driver problem) this one works without any hitches.
on August 17, 2012
First of all, the price of this laptop:
As you can tell on the price cut for this product, it normally is priced at the level of apple products. The price for the item is very much a profitable deal considering the graphics card placement and the keyboard.
Second, the Graphics card:
Utilizing a dual card schema, the laptop uses an Intel 4000 for less difficult work in order to preserve battery power. When graphics extensive actions are done, such as gaming, the Nvidia GT takes over. On top of this, the graphics cards sync rather well. Graphically, gaming is no issue.
Third, the processor:
Nothing to be said here. Top of the line i7 quad-core.
Fourth, the keyboard:
Not included in the description is that it IS in fact backlit. Major plus.
Fifth, the touchpad:
I can offer no real feedback for it considering I always connect a wireless mouse on laptops.
Sixth, miscellaneous features:
Six pounds. Though seemingly heavy, with all of these specs inside the machine, nothing can be done to change that. The color and build of the laptop itself is what is expected of ASUS: sleek and easy on the eyes. Face recognition software comes with the laptop, though personal utilization of it is limited. Another point to note is that the laptop comes with speakers, though I personally have had little success with it. But, the built-in sound system is crisp and clear.
on March 17, 2013
more than you'll ever need CPU, enough ram and enough room for future upgrades up to 16GB, beautiful screen, nice keyboard, looks and feels like a expensive machine, worth the money, the only so-so component is the HDD, perform a clean install of windows 8
A more extensive review:
previous experience with other ASUS products:
I also own a ASUS UL20FT ultra portable core i3 machine that I love
Xonar DG for the deskop (love the sound it comes from it)
This model includes an iluminated keyboard, this is a sweet detail and makes the laptop feel luxury, I love how it looks, Tron-ish if you wanna call it that way.
The feel of the keyboard is also really great, for comparisson I also work with a Lenovo laptop, those laptops always get good reviews for their keyboards, but in my opinnion the keyboard on this machine has a little bit more of "clic" that I can't just but love.
Something I don't like that much is the included numeric keyboard as it keys are a bit smaller than the standard ones, also as a side effect of it the layout of keys is a bit different than other ones, not a showstopper but it will take me a little bit of time to get used to.
The screen is plain beautiful, beautiful colors, good view angles, really bright, I tilted the display as my machine sites under my main desktop and the colors are still good.
WARNING WARNING WARNING BUTTTTTTTTT..... my laptop came with a dead pixel just in te middle of everything, a red one ..... it kindda bothers me but I'll keep it as I have already configured and swapped the hard disk for an SSD plus I'm outside US right now so returning the machine is way to expensive; and you have to be an ultra pixel peper to notice it
If you buy it in a brick and mortar store you may want to go to display settings set the blank screen saver and check the screen not to have any.
It's amazing how much efficiency we are getting from modern machines, I've see the machine running around 30watts for "everyday tasks" and top around 68 during the windows performance assesment, if should never go beyond 75 watts.
For a extreme horsepower cpu, good video card, really nice sound system and kickass screen this is really good, for reference my desktop Q6600 with an ATI6870 can top 450watts while gamming.
Windows index score
with the Swapped SSD
7.8 for memory, cpu and hard disk, 5.9 for desktop graphics and 6.5 for gamming graphics.
Noise and heat
Have not notice noise from the fan not even under installation or windows performance index running, never felt any part of it hot, maybe just warm under stress, core temp applications states 51c at 21c weather for "Everyday task" and around 65 under stress, for reference my ultra low voltage i3 at 1.3 keeps in that range most of the time.
This is a silent machine, period.
-Asus lit logo in the back
-Whole keyboard surface is aluminum (or metal not sure)
-The lasser etching like waves around the power and instant on buttons camuflage the speakers, it took me a while to notice were the sound were comming from.
-really nice sound: love it
-Metal covered Lid
I read somewhere in the included material that the webcam on the machine was a good low light performer and I can't but assure that's the case, it's not only able to couple with low light but also harsh light situtions, the other day I did a skype conference and I were able to notice this (room with poor light and harsh ligh in the background in another room), this is just sweet and something I did not expected.
The included 5400rpm HDD will top on my experience around 60mb/s transferences through network while felling slughlish for other tasks.
One of the first tasks you will have to perform in this machine if you decide not to do a clean install is remove McAfee antivirus as it's a showstopper, you will need to uninstall it and after that download an utility from McAfee website to complete uninstall.
I've had experience with McAfee with several machines and it's the best not to have it, you can use instead Microsoft Security essentials.
My most powerful machine prior to this one was my desktop with a Q6600 overclocked to 3ghz cpu; I always tough it was a waste of power for the standard day to day tasks but it started to show it's age on tasks like virtualization (for example hyperv will not work because a processor extension missing).
This new cpu it's a total new experience, benchmark wise it's twice fast my overclocked Q6600 but under some tasks it's even faster, for example in running virtual machines, this probably to other extensions and refinement on the existing ones.
Speakers and sound:
The laptop includes an external speaker for bass that I find useless.
The included speakers in the laptop are just great, loud, clear, you'll start enjoying running some music in the background.
I have not go to the details about the specific chipset being used on this laptop for sound but I loved the sound it produced on both the speakers and my Sony V6 headphones.
For reference I think is as good (minus a bit of volume) than my ipod externally amplified though an Fio e7 on my Sony V6.
The only thing you'll find lacking is powerfull bass from the laptop speakers but if you keep it real you can't have that without a good subwoffer.
Just tried windows 8, but in the asus website you can get the drivers for the laptop to work with windows 7
Windows 8 Clean installations notes:
-3 mins took the clean installation from a usb3 ADATA memory SWEEEEET
-windows update will install the drivers for everything with the exception of the following drivers you should install from asus website (google: Asus N56V download)
-ATK this is the keyboard utilities
-Trackpad gestures (or something like that), you'll need to install this to be able to disable the trackpad if you prefer to work with a mouse as the trackpad is really sensitive
-if you decide to go this way you will later need to go to the windows device manager and click on update driver for the ps2 mouse this will make windows 8 recognize the trackpad as such, if not you will not be able to disable the trackpad in case you need it
-Bluetooth utility: windows can set it but the driver from asus makes it more stable, so far not a single problem with my bluetooth logitech mouse
Must do upgrades:
-swapping the included HDD for a SSD is a must, this is a really powerful machine and the included HDD is a botttleneck, I did install twice windows 8 on the machine, one on the included hard disk and one on a Intel X25m 120gb SSD, the install on the standard HDD were fast (around 10 min) but on the SSD it took close to 3 min, not a direct indicator of the system speed but you can get an idea.
I'll update it later with:
-Some photos of the ports and layout
Feel free to make any question.
on August 24, 2012
-The best screen on any Windows machine released so far!
-The sound quality is amazing!
-Premium quality overall!
-It is really fast!
-Very nice soft back-lid keyboard!
-This machine is relatively bulky for 15.6 inch laptop.
-Quality control issues. My first machine was defective (crack under monitor). I had to replace it.
Perfect home multimedia center. At this price level there is no competitors at all! There are no other 15.6 inch laptops with the same specification and the same screen and sound quality under 1000$.
I expected it to be a good machine but it is much better than I expected!!!!!!!
After listening to music on this laptop for a month I realized that with this laptop you probably dont need any external speakers. The sound quality is just that good.
I have been taking this laptop to my work to use it with DELL 2408WFP UltraSharp 24-Inch Monitor. Usually most external monitors beat any laptop monitor. And this Dell is relatively expensive and accurate monitor. Monitor on ASUS laptop represents colors much more accurately than external Dell monitor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Update: After 6 month of using this beautful machine I think that it has the best screen on any electronic device I saw. Colors on this machine are bette then on iPad 3, my panasonic 42 inch plasma, my HTC sensation and any other electronic monitor I have look at in my life. Defenitely there are some professional monitors for 1000 dollars that might have better colors, but for a notebook I colors on this screen are probably unbeatable. When Apple presented iPad 3 they wanted to make a big deal with its screen. In real life iPad 3 has very high resolution but just good colors, nothing exeptional. Screen on this laptop is trully exaptional.
on November 18, 2012
I spent a lot of time searching for this machine. Well, okay, I spent 5 hours one night waiting for my paycheck to clear. I investigated a lot of different machines, including the higher-end Asus gamer rigs, and I settled on this one. Including tax I spent about $450 less than I would have on one of those boxes, and I'm happy with my purchase so far. So let's get into the review.
The screen is really good, but it's not as good as my Vaio from several years ago. Basically the viewing angle is great left-to-right, but the vertical viewing angle leaves a bit to be desired. It's still better than my last laptop, a Toshiba Satellite. This one has about 20 degrees of vertical tolerance, and the matte finish helps a lot with sunlight, so it's at least a step-up from my last machine. Cautious thumb-up on the screen, it's within my tolerance zone, and when you view it at the correct angle it looks fantastic.
Performance is very respectable. Diablo 3 runs full detail with everything on high in 1280x768. LA Noire runs about 50 frames in the same resolution on performance detail (though you have to hack it to overcome the hardcoded 30fps limit), about 30 frames with detail on max.
The build quality is impressive. The unit feels very solid, and I'm impressed that it comes with 1 year of accidental damage protection. Amazon tried to upsell me a year, and I almost bought it because I didn't realize that it already came with the unit. My friend tells me the Amazon policy kicks in after the manufacturer policy, so it still might be worth it if you want to play it safe, but I'm confident I won't drop my laptop, so I'm going to gamble for a year. I don't mind the island keyboard at all, and I haven't had any problems with the spacebar like other reviewers reported.
The audio is great. I don't expect much from onboard speakers, so to say I'm impressed is an understatement. Clean, crisp separation of the left and right channels, you'd almost think it was magic, provided you are right on top of the machine. In my experience laptop speakers fade out over time, though, so I wouldn't make my purchase based on that. It's just an added bonus.
The home, pgup, pgdn, and end keys are in a crappy spot. That will take a lot of getting used to.
The unit isn't raised on the bottom, so you have to keep it on a flat surface at all times. I'm using my old broken laptop for the time being as a surface.
6GB ram? Really? I think Asus did that just to make you buy a more expensive machine. The 8GB models cost a lot more. I'll be popping my own ram in before too long.
Occasionally the swap-monster eats my mouse movements. So far this hasn't happened in games, but it's concerning. I'm planning to upgrade to an SSD (or maybe 2 SSDs) before too long. I'll update the review when I do that.
The air runs pretty damn hot when I play games. For now it's not a problem. The bottom of the unit feels only slightly warm. Over time this will mean I will need to dust out the unit to prevent it from overheating, and the problem with that plan is that the intake for the fan is far, far away from the vent. So I'm thinking I'm probably going to have to take it apart from time to time to get the dust out, instead of using my standard strategy of just blowing out the fan. In fact if past experience is any indication, I might just replace the fan. Laptop manufacturers tend to cheap out on them.
The trackpad is not quite as bad as people say it is, but give up on pressing the corners. But hell, I knew it sucked going in, and I usually plug in a mouse anyway. I'd recommend getting yourself a bluetooth mouse and disabling the thing. Still, given all the terrible reviews on it, it's surprisingly usable. I haven't had a problem with multi-touch.
I will update this review as the machine ages.
Update, ~1.5 weeks:
1. The trackpad really is as bad as everyone says. I take back anything good I had to say about it. Get a bluetooth mouse for sure.
2. There is definitely a problem with video playback and audio glitches with the software that ships with the unit. I would recommend this computer, so far, to an intermediate to advanced user. The problem seems to be related to McCafee. I couldn't swear on it, but after I got rid of it the glitches seemed to go away. Bottom line is that I recommend reinstalling the entire operating system, and wiping the disk.
3. My computer crashed over Thanksgiving. I think it was my fault but I'll never have proof. The machine comes with a C: and a D: partition. I married the partitions, and the next time I booted the machine, I couldn't boot windows. Long story short I had to reinstall. So far the machine is a lot better than the factory installation, so I would recommend wiping the machine for advanced users and the adventurous.
This is a nice little machine if you (are, or) have a really good friend who is a nerd. After having to reinstall I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I will update again as new information is available :).
Update 2 weeks:
I'm downing my rating to 4 for a few reasons.
1. It's a damn good screen, and has a nice finish, but the leds are too bright at the top and bottom edges.
2. As someone pointed out in the comments, the battery life is pretty standard for Windows machines -- bad. About 3 hours with a brand new battery. I have access to power most of the time so it's not a big deal for me. For some others it probably will be.
3. Having run for a few days after my own clean install, it shows how crappy the factory software install was. Definitely reformat if you can lay hands on a Windows 7 home premium 64bit disk (your license key that ships with the unit works with any Win7 HP64 disk).
4. The trackpad is even worse than a lot of people say... it's above the bezel a little in spots on my unit.
But after a reinstall it runs super-smooth with very decent graphics performance as well, which was my main objective. I'm not sorry I didn't get the ROG laptup instead, so overall I'm still pretty positive about the purchase.
Hard drive hasn't gone bad on me or anything, but seeing as that's a common problem I may get an SSD sooner rather than later. I kinda knew that going in as well. To some others in the comments: I considered Samsung but IIRC the units I saw had ATI cards. After my linux experiences I insist on NVidia for now. The card in this one is pretty decent, but I'm sure it will be out of date in about 2 years or so. It's not top of the line or anything, but it will play XCom and Skyrim in high detail, especially after the reinstall.
on October 8, 2012
Decided to update after I accidentily stepped on my old vaio FW and cracked the (beautiful 16.4" 1080p) screen. So far, I'm very glad I went with this machine. It's solidly built, looks great (even my mac-obsessed friends had to conceded it looked beautiful), and runs very well. The laptop is very solidly built throughout and feels like it could take some damage.
A few things that set this computer above the rest is the full 1080p display (a must for me, I can't handle how big and terrible things look on the usual 720 rigs), and the excellent Asus warranty (free accidental damage protection for a year is a huge plus). The island style keyboard is backlit and very easy to type on, and the trackpad is incredibly responsive. The best trackpad I've used that wasn't on a mac. Though they did place it a little too close to the keyboard so it's sometimes easy to accidently bump/click when typing.
Another thing not mentioned in the specs, but the battery life is great. Turn off the backlighting on the keyboard, turn the screen brightness all the way down, and make sure you're using the integrated graphics rather than the discrete and you can easily pull over 4 hours of web surfing/document creation out of this before needing to plug in. Video playback will push you closer to the 3 hour mark, which is still very respectable for this powerful of a machine.
The chasis itself is slightly thicker than what it looks like online (the black part under the silver is part of the chasis, don't be fooled by strategic lighting/design. That being said, it is by no means uncomfortably thick or heavy. Just don't be expecting an ultrabook.
Overall, this is a great product at an amazing price. Very worth the money.
on October 23, 2012
I purchased this laptop 3 weeks ago. Upon arrival I noticed that it was making vey unusual sounds while playing videos, listening to music, etc.... I contacted ASUS Customer Support and they asked that I reinstall the audio and video drivers. I did this and again it was still having problems. They then provided me with an RMA number and it was sent in to the ASUS Repair Center. I received the laptop back yesterday and it was noted in the return service form that they replaced the motherboard and the audio board as they were defective. (This is a brand new laptop) Well I again started up the computer and started having all of the same sound issues as mentioned above. I did a restore to try and remedy the problems and it kept doing this so I decided that this laptop was indeed a lemon and needed to be returned. I have now packaged it up and sent it back to Amazon for a full refund as my 30 day window to return it is quickly approaching. From reading other reviews it sounds like I'm not the first person to receive this particular laptop defective. I would warn others about buying this one. I don't know if they came with defective parts or what. I'm hoping that Amazon will live up to there return policy and honor a full refund for a defective product. I will provide an update on that when I hear back from Amazon. I plan to find another brand name for my next laptop. I was hoping to stay away from Apple, but that may be my next avenue.
UPDATE 10/29/12: Well I'm very happy to say that Amazon refunded my money for this laptop. I may not be happy with the product I received, but I will give Amazon 5 stars for honoring their return policy and issuing me a refund.