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This review is from: ASUS N56VZ-DS71 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) (Personal Computers)
I previously owned an Asus G73Jw Republic of Gamers laptop, which was phenomenal. But I needed something a bit more professional-looking for client meetings. I mean, who takes a web developer seriously when he shows up with a gaming laptop that looks like a B-1 bomber? Anyway, the new laptop needed to live up to its predecessor in terms of performance, engineering design and appearance (albeit in a more professional way). I also wanted something maybe a tad smaller, but not much. The old G73Jw was a beast, a 17.3" laptop in what seemed like a double-width 20" frame.
Anyway, let's get on with this review.
As always, I go nuts searching the web for reviews when making a new purchase, especially when it is substantial. I was surprised to see what you can get for almost half the price of what I paid for my G73Jw originally. When sorting the products here at Amazon based on user reviews, the N56VZ was right near the top. How great is that? Still not satisfied, however, I continued my search on other sites and read about various laptop models at forums all over the place. Everything kept coming back to the N56VZ. My previous experience with the G73Jw was so awesome, that the name Asus was always atop my list anyway.
I did it. I ordered the N56VZ. I'm an Amazon Prime member, so I got the 2-day free shipping. However, I wanted it NOW, not in 2 days. While waiting anxiously for it's arrival, I performed a full backup on my G73Jw and commenced with the mourning process.
When the N56VZ arrived, I immediately plugged it in, turned it on and listened to the Hallelujah chorus in my head. I knew that the first boot-up would take longer than a normal boot. But I was not prepared for massive amount of time the 5400rpm hard drive would take. Subsequent boots were quite lengthy and a bit appalling. But hey, I knew going in that it shipped with a slow HDD. Fortunately for me, I was planning on removing the 256GB solid state drive from my G73Jw and placing it in the N56VZ, but I wanted to see how the N56VZ performed right out of the gate. And it was painfully obvious that the HDD just had to go. The HDD that is shipped with this machine is ridiculously out of place in the specs, so save yourself some trouble and add an SSD to your cart when you order this lappy. After installing the SSD -- WOW -- the N56VZ comes to life and in a seriously HUGE way. I removed one star from my rating simply because the 5400rpm HDD is a total joke in this system.
Now that we have the ONE negative aspect eliminated, on with the drooling!
The screen: FANTASTIC. The one thing I hate the most about new laptops are the stupid shiny screens. If you have lots of windows in your home or you use your laptop at cafes and restaurants, you know that glare is a big deal. You may also remember the older laptops that had matte screens but the colors were washed out and dull. But worry no more! Asus has made the awesome of both worlds come together. The viewing angle, color and clarity of this monitor are all top-notch. The G73Jw's screen is quite awesome as well, so I had that for comparison and the N56VZ's matte screen means that it wins this race.
The case: EXCELLENT. Sure, the bottom is plastic but who cares? Aren't most laptop cases entirely made of plastic? In the case of the N56VZ (pun intended), we have upped the ante with aluminum on the backside of the screen and the top side of the main unit. It's beautiful to look at and Asus deserves to be proud of this one. The combination of aluminum and plastic works.
The cooling: AMAZING. Much like the G73Jw, the cooling of this laptop is based on funneling. The N56VZ may only have one "afterburner" as opposed to the G73Jw, but it does a great job of keeping things cool. And just when I thought the G73Jw had the quietest exhaust fan ever, the N56VZ comes along and defies that. I can't even hear it running. At all. The heat is all pushed to the left side, meaning that you can have the laptop on your lap without feeling like you are sitting in a convection oven. Imagine that. Plus it's not really that hot anyway and the keyboard/pad surface always has that nice cool, aluminum feel to it.
The graphics card: INCREDIBLE. I'm not a big gamer, but I do appreciate quick response times from Photoshop and other graphics-intense design software. At the advice of someone on a forum somewhere who posted a crazy-long review about the N56VZ, I installed the driver directly from nVidia to replace the one supplied by Asus. Probably not necessary as I didn't notice anything different, but I do now have the latest driver. Also, I use the HDMI and VGA connectors simultaneously to fuel two LG Flatron E2360 23" monitors without issue.
The sound: WOW. Ok, so it's not like listening to your $5,000 home theater system, but it does give all other laptops a run for their money. With or without the included external subwoofer, the sound is great for a laptop. Also, the subwoofer does improve the sound far more than I expected it to. My daughter and I were laughing as I unwrapped it from the box. "HAHAHA yeah right, it's just gimmick!" But then you could hear "THUMP" in stereo as our chins hit the floor when I plugged it in during Boston's More Than A Feeling.
The ports: COOLNESS. All of the USB ports are version 3.0, which is backward-compatible with USB 2.0. Don't pay attention to Amazon's specs for this laptop, it does indeed have 4 USB 3.0 ports. Also, after watching a few video reviews of the N56VZ, I was pretty convinced that it did not have a card reader installed. Not one of the reviews even mentioned it, as if they didn't know it existed. Well, I'm here to tell you that it does indeed exist but is cleverly disguised in the front of the main unit on the left side. The sloping underside of the case makes it hard to see and it looks like it's just a grip for the access cover on the bottom.
The wireless: GREAT. Both the wifi and Bluetooth are very capable and strong. I use a Bluetooth mouse and it connects without any trouble. One tiny irritation: every time I boot up, I get a notification that says the Bluetooth is not discoverable. Duh! It's set that way by default and is an appropriate default setting, but the driver (I'm assuming) finds it necessary to nag me about it.
The performance: UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE. I don't use the stock Asus Instant-On feature because -- well -- why? With the SSD installed, there's no time for silly animated logos. It zooms right by the Windows 7 boot animation, barely allowing me to see the little colored balls swirl around for a split second. I'm literally taken to the login screen in about 8 seconds. As for overall performance, this thing gets the job done. As wonderful as my G73Jw is/was, the N56VZ makes it look like child's play. The amazing combination of processor, graphics card and 8GB of RAM makes the N56VZ a joy to use. Just remember, there is a bottleneck unless you swap the stupid stock HDD with an SSD (I suppose a 7200rpm HDD or hybrid SSD/HDD might help significantly as well).
The summary: WORDS ESCAPE ME. Either I'm easily satisfied or this lappy really is awesome (once again, except for the stupid stock HDD).
Planned modifications/purchases: I have already ordered a Seagate Momentus XT 500 GB 2.5 Inch Solid State Hybrid Drive (Seagate Momentus XT 500 GB 2.5 Inch Solid State Hybrid Drive ST95005620AS) and a SATA 2nd HDD caddy for 12.7mm Universal CD/DVD-ROM (NEW SATA 2nd HDD caddy for 12.7mm Universal CD/DVD-ROM) so I can have a data drive for my project files and other data. I'm going to make use of the removed optical drive in the USB 2.0 Slim DVD/CD-RW Burner External Enclosure Caddy Case with SATA Connector (USB2.0 Slim DVD / CD RW Burner External Enclosure Caddy Case with SATA Connetor For all Laptop Notebook dvd cd burner[ Case only!! Drive is not included !!]) and I purchased a Case Logic VNA-216 16-Inch Laptop Attache (Case Logic VNA-216 16-Inch Laptop Attache (Black)).
Also, I plan to add some photos to the product listing at ASUS N56VZ-DS71 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) in the near future.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 28, 2012 6:39:03 AM PST
DAVID Bruce says:
Great review and good work on your upgrades. How did the SATA HDD caddy work out on it? Does it fit and work well?
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 9:28:00 AM PST
Thank you! The caddy is working perfectly, no issues at all. I am somewhat wishing I had just gotten another SSD instead of a hybrid drive though, because the primary SSD has me spoiled on awesome speed.
Posted on Nov 28, 2012 9:55:49 AM PST
DAVID Bruce says:
That's great - I'm going to upgrade my six year old Dell Inspiron 6400 with this Asus. I'll probably follow your lead, but I'll just stick a 7200 rpm regular drive in the caddy, because I'll need the space for photos. The SSD will be great for the OS and primary work space though. I appreciate your speedy reply.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 10:02:19 AM PST
I think you will be very satisfied with the outcome. My biggest gripe with the hybrid drive has to do with the times when it sleeps after a period of non-use, then I have to wait for it to wake up when I need it. It's not really a big deal, it's still pretty fast, but you get spoiled with the instantaneous responses from the SSD.
One thing to note, is that I tried an upgrade to Windows 8 -- it all went great except the USB 3.0 drivers won't work for me. I eventually gave up and went back to Windows 7. But I can tell you that boot times in Win8 were in the single-digit seconds!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2013 12:57:39 PM PST
Hans A. Tan says:
I read your review on this laptop and it sounded really interesting. I just want to ask you a few questions on your modification so that I can make a decision on my upgrade.
First, was it hard to replace the 5400 drive with the SSD? I don't usually mess with hardware on a notebook because i'm too scared that i might mess it up.
And this might sound stupid but I'm guessing that you had to install a new copy of windows 7 to the SSD right? If so, it just seems like a waste of an OS to me. I don't know if you can transfer that license to the SSD.
Thank you for your time.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2013 10:07:14 PM PST
It was easy and no warranty stickers to cut. I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 using the key that came with the laptop.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2013 8:31:06 PM PST
Hans A. Tan says:
Thank you for the prompt reply.
Does the laptop come with a Windows 7 boot disk for you to have installed it on the SSD?
Or do you have to go to the website to download the software?
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