17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Everything I need, at a reasonable price.
, April 21, 2012
Review: Asus N53SM-ES72
Purchase Date: 4/13/12
After upgrading to 16GB of RAM, and uninstalling some preloaded software, the laptop was good to go. I plan on upgrading to an Intel 520 series Solid State Drive very soon (see review by 'none' for more info on upgrades). If you are not married to the idea of having a large 750GB onboard HDD, a 240GB or 500GB SDD might be a good alternative. ASUS makes it very easy to reach the RAM (memory) and Hard Disk Drive slots for upgrading purposes. The SSD upside in speed makes the downside of less onboard space negligible. Faster boot times, Windows efficiency, faster read/write times, and quick program loading, are just some of the benefits of a SSD. Even with a 7200 rpm HDD (most laptops ship with a 5400rpm drive) preloaded on this unit, the SSD blows it away in terms of quickness and response.
The speed of the i7 2670 processor is respectable, and normally ships with more expensive units. Having this processor will ensure the laptop will be capable of handling processor intensive programs as they become available. This model also supports Execute Disable Bit, which uses built in hardware to stop malicious code from running on your system. This must be set up for personal programs, but will run with all Microsoft applications out of the box. Buy the best you can, within your budget. I was aware of the 3rd generation Intel processors shipping soon, before I ordered this unit. However, I came to the conclusion that a 3rd generation i7 might be out of reach for me, pricewise. The 3rd generation Intel processors will feature a better version of Intel onboard graphics, as well as similar processing hardware running much more efficiently. I will be plugged in much of the time, so power is not a huge issue. Also, the NVidia GT 630m card should still outperform future 3rd generation models with newer integrated graphics from Intel...hopefully.
The expand-ability option of the RAM (memory) is commendable. Unless you pay an exorbitant amount of money, most consumer laptops can only expand to 8GB. Having 16GB RAM with a decent i7 processor will definitely help to keep this unit on top of things...at least for a few years. I used low voltage RAM when upgrading memory. This motherboard can handle 1.35V or 1.5V RAM. Make certain all the RAM is matched and running at the same voltage, or it will simply default to 1.5V. I do not necessarily need to save power now, but you never know when you will. Here is what I upgraded to: 16GB (4GBx4) DDR3L 1333MHz PC3-10600 SODIMM 204pin from Crucial. I am in no way endorsing Crucial, but they have always been good to me, and are consistently ranked in the top of reliability and performance reports...kind of like Asus. As 'none' stated in his review, you can use 1600MHz memory. It will only read at 1333MHz, but the response time will be faster than the standard 1333MHz installed in my unit. With memory so cheap, I'll be able to mess with that at a later date if performance becomes an issue.
The screen is beautiful. Not as bright as an AMOLED panel, or as sharp as an IPS panel, but picture quality is pretty good from most angles. The 1080p screen is nice for crisp imaging software and watching HD content, but definitely has room for improvement. There are aftermarket screen adjustment programs available. The speakers aren't extremely loud, but they carry good quality up to their max output levels. If you need more volume, you should probably just use an external speaker option or headset. Both of which can be connected to the computer via Bluetooth...another excellent feature of this model.
USB 3.0 is pretty cool, provided you have a device that can take advantage of the technology. It becomes extra handy if you decide to put a Solid State Drive in your system. Running an external Hard Drive via USB 3.0 produces blistering transfer rates. As 'none' stated, you can put the 750GB 7200rpm HDD that shipped with the system, into a USB 3.0 external case. After you install a Solid State Drive, the original drive makes a good Windows backup drive, as well as an overflow for data and large programs. The speed is honestly 10 times faster than USB 2.0, and running through a 7200 rpm HDD will be pretty fast. The whole computer is pretty solid. The keys themselves have a little give to them, and there is a little flex in the board itself, but it is quite usable. I rarely miss keys when typing, so it works for my needs. Track pad takes some getting accustomed to. Took me a half hour to realize I needed to use two fingers to scroll vertically and horizontally. Not something I'd usually admit, but it's kind of funny, and I have no problem laughing at myself from time to time.
Took me a second to acclimate myself with a non-Win XP system. Just for laughs, you guys can Google the computer I upgraded from: Toshiba Satellite A105-S361-Pentium M 760 @ 2.0GHz, 2GBDDR2, Win XP. Still a great Win XP computer! I remember being so proud when I added that extra 1GB of DDR2 RAM. I wouldn't trade that thing for much. I know every nook and cranny on that old computer, and it outperforms most laptops in its age class.
There are a few issues with the N53SM-ES72 that must be noted:
The Nvidia GT 630M graphics card is a solid, mid-level, discrete graphics solution that coexists with Intel's on-board Graphics (3000 chip). The problem is the driver that runs the Nvidia card. As 'none' stated in the comment section of his review, the GT 630M is nothing more than a modified version of the GT 540M. Apparently, because the GT 630M hasn't been around for long, companies like Asus are providing generic drivers for the hardware until Nvidia ships them a newer version...at least this is what I'm led to believe, and I don't believe much. NVidia directed me to Asus for support with this unit's GPU...so I guess it's on Asus. The driver for my specific model is: 220.127.116.1148 with a signing date of 9/28/11. This means there should be a new driver available soon. My 3dMark11 scores were not good. Even with a new driver, I cannot imagine this machine would be a choice solution for high end 3d editing or gaming. Some of the Asus ROG models have better GPU's, and thus, higher benchmark scores. I do not game on my computer, as I have an XBOX 360 for that, so I cannot say how well games run. I would imagine that anything DirectX 10 and below would run flawlessly at high to ultra settings. Direct X 11 might stress the system a bit...only in the area of the GPU. Most cutting edge Direct X 11 games would run on this system at medium detail at 1080p, and for normal Direct X 11 games, possibly high detail at 1080p.
This is a large 15.6 inch laptop. The screen bezel is ½ inch on either side, and the top is about ¾ inch. While the screen is well protected, it would nearly be 17 inches in most models. It works fine for me, but it might be something you want to consider if tight on space, or looking for something under 6 lbs. Make certain you check the dimensions on the product specifications page. This model is 1 inch wider than my 15.6 inch Toshiba, and will not fit...let me rephrase that. It is recommended that you do not try to stuff this unit into a 15.6 inch carrying case. Find one that is rated for 16.5 inches or above.
Overall, the N53SM-ES72 laptop receives 8/10 for raw performance, compared to models with similar specifications. Having a handle on the graphics driver would probably increase that score for me to 8.5/10. It receives 9.5/10 for a performance laptop priced under $1000, and that is precisely why I purchased it. I could not find another laptop to match the specifications of this unit for the price. I am pleased with my purchase, and hope my review helps people out a bit.
Update as of 4/30/12
I am satisfied with this product, however I feel it necessary to mention a few things. These might be specific to my unit, as others do not seem to be experiencing any issues.
After using this product for two weeks, I have definitely noticed some minor flex in the middle of the unit, where the touch pad fits into. At first, I assumed this was simply the rubber supports on the bottom, depressing. After closer inspection, there is a small amount of flex in the board. This is under extremely light pressure (resting hands on keyboard). While it is not a huge issue, some have mentioned this in their reviews, while others have not experienced similar problems.
The keyboard itself is not stellar on my unit. The keys are responsive however, and I rarely miss keys when typing. There seems to be some give in my upper numeric keys. Specifically, when I lightly press the upper "7" key, most of the "f#" keys in that area bow inward. I reiterate, this is under light pressure.
Overall, this is still a very impressive unit. Also, I did not buy this unit for a fancy keyboard, or state of the art casing. This model's internal hardware and screen were the selling points for me. With that said, I will leave my 5 star rating. My cosmetic/structural issues may very well be isolated, as most reviewers' ratings do not report these defects.