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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and quiet, looks great, great sound, but very large, October 1, 2012
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This review is from: ASUS N56VZ-DS71 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) (Personal Computers)
I, as most of us and likely you, spent many weeks researching for dozens of hours about the perfect laptop for me. If I'm going to spend over a grand on something, its worth looking into and reading reviews like this right? So I'll get right into it.

Note: I've been using this laptop for about 2 months, extensively every day

-Overall Build Quality-

This is an Asus, so it has amazing build quality. The keyboard feels 95% perfect (more on that later), very sturdy with little to no sound when typing which I love. I'm typing this during a lecture actually, and no one can really tell...haha. The hinges for the screen are two big clearly metal pieces so very durable. The screen never feels loose at all. The backing of the screen and the screen itself has little flex and does not feel like a cheap plastic thing - it feels like a $1000+ computer screen, as it should.

The touchpad and handrest area are aluminum and very sturdy. Despite the little holes for the speakers I don't see how you could get dirt in there unless you eat cheetos while typing. So don't do that. Eat cheetos with your feet like a real man.

I must say, however, that the USB ports are stiff as hell. I have to pull pretty damn hard to get various USB cables to come out - iPod, hard drives, whatever. I guess that it being stable and such is good as you'll NEVER have a USB device accidentally fall out, but I feel like after several years I might damage the port by pulling. Devices never just slide out - they jerk out, which is never good.

It comes with a Blu-Ray disc drive and it works perfectly. I, as most people, rarely use the disc drive, so it hasn't been tested a bunch, but burns just swell. However, the drive itself pokes out about 3mm from the right side of the laptop so it looks a bit unperfect. Too bad.

-Touchpad/Keyboard-

As said above the keyboard is very quiet and easy to use. I never see the point of number pads and wish that companies didn't see them as a good thing for 15.6" laptops, as it shrinks the arrow keys and right shift of this keyboard. It also shifts all the keys and touchpad to the left (check the pics above) which is a bit awkward, but even with my huge hands it doesn't affect typing. I do something (or did rather, kinda stopped now) sometimes type like this when capitalizing. The WOrld TRade ORganization, in other words I would hold the left shift down a bit more than usual. I seem to not do it anymore though, so I guess you stop after a while. The backlight of the keyboard is perfect as far as I can tell.

The touchpad, as ALL touchpads, doesn't beat Apple Macbook touchpads, but it has multi-touch features and is easy enough to use. The right/left clicking borders are a bit ambiguous as there are no physical clicking buttons, but I use a mouse whenever at home, and the few times I use my laptop out of my pad it isn't a big deal to get used to.

There is also a programmable button on the top left of the laptop under the left hinge that I programmed to turn the touchpad off/on, which works perfect for when you're using a mouse or typing a lot.

-Ports-

As I mentioned above, the USB ports are stiff. Probably the WORST THING ABOUT THIS LAPTOP is the port placement. By far the dumbest placement ever, without putting ports under the spacebar. All of the ports save power and the mini-sub are on the front 1/3 of the device, which makes using a mouse slightly annoying. When you plug in stuff on the right side cables can get in the way. Using a USB stick and a right-handed mouse seems like it should involve your arm being 6 inches away from the right side of the laptop while using it. I'm a tall, large guy with big hands so it's easy to get around, but for short-armed folks, be warned! Look at the port pics before buying!

There is no eSata too, which sucks, but there is an HDMI. Yet again, the HDMI is near the front (on the left) which is dumb...should be on back like the Clevo/Sagers!

-Screen-

The screen on this baby is huge and absolutely gorgeous. The matte is a better decision over glossy if you use it outdoors, and even indoors, looks brilliant. Playing HD movies and HD games looks much better than any screen I've ever used. 1920 x 1080 is such a great resolution, even 24 year old me will increase the size of text on many webpages for easier viewing.

-Processor/RAM/Video Card Performance-

The only new game I've played is Guild Wars 2, which I have played a lot of! It is one of the most graphic intensive games out right now (especially graphics card), but I turn all of the extras on and all settings on high except draw distance. There are ultra settings for a few things, but everything at my settings gets me 15-35 fps, 15 for 100~ people in huge online battles or boss battles, but everyone's computer will chug during these events. Sometimes it will go as low as 8 fps but I expect that when things go crazy flashy. I am using the newest beta drivers made for GW2 and they helped a lot.

I haven't had a single crash on this unit yet, period, nor blue screen. So that's good.

The single large fan port on the left WILL shoot out steaming hot air, so if you're left handed and a gamer, gooooood luck. I've left glasses on water and my phone on the left while playing GW2 and when I touch them I almost get burned. I REALLY wish every laptop maker put the ports in the back like Sager, but as a right-handed person, this doesn't affect me so much. Just be careful.

When doing normal stuff, it just shoots out room temp to slightly warm air.

-Storage-

I replaced the HDD with a 120GB SSD before I even turned it on for the first time. It was very easy to do so, but the bottom plate covering the RAM and HDD kit was a tiny bit difficult to snap out, but once I got the hang of it, it was simple. The 750GB 5200RPM 2.5in drive is sitting in an enclosure kit and works swell, and my SSD ensures my laptop is DEAD silent. I play Guild Wars 2 on it and even with such a powerful game (running at 85% max settings, mind you), all you hear is a tiny hum of the fan. I'm guessing having the original HDD would make it louder, however it sitting in an enclosure kit still makes no noise. It does get a tiny bit warm, while my SSD does not! I recommend making the upgrade I did.

As expected, files on my SSD open like lightning and my computer boots quite fast, less than 15 seconds.

However, when I wake my computer up from hibernation it takes as long to do this as it does to boot up, maybe LONGER, which sucks. Also, when I boot up sometimes my computer auto-boots into my CD and sometimes my SSD, regardless of going into my BIOS and changing/saving boot priority. I'm sure I can change this with a bio update or something, but I just don't care enough at the moment.

-Battery Life/Portability-

This thing's battery life surprised the hell out of me. At about half brightness doing web stuff and no gaming, I get a bit less than 5 hours of battery life. When gaming and max brightness, between 2 and 3. If I lower brightness to the lowest setting I can squeeze out close to 6 hours I think, which for this size of computer and its power, is amazing! I had a MBP before this and purchased a brand new battery only to squeeze out less than 3 hours on a 15" model. Pathetic!

It is a very large laptop but isn't as heavy as you'd expect. Since the build quality is good you don't have to worry much about it breaking. Also the battery doesn't jut out at all which is good.

-Sound/Speakers-

As I'm sure you know, this laptop comes with surround sound speakers and a mini-sub to plug in and when using this, it sounds a LOT less tinny, but the sound is coming still from the center of the laptop, so it doesn't sound as good as almost any pair of speakers over $40. If you're a person who travels a lot and wants to watch movies/music for a group of people, this will be super awesome for you!

-Warranty/Support-

I haven't used the support system, but Asus laptops come with a 2 year warranty with 1 year of accidental damage/spilling protection. This is unheard of in the laptop market and one of the several reasons I love Asus!

I guess that's all the points. Here's my pros/cons

+++PROS+++

+ Very powerful, especially fast with an SSD upgrade
+ Incredible Battery Life!
+ Great speakers
+ Great 2 year defect/1 year accidental warranty included
+ Fantastic build quality all around
+ Gorgeous screen
+ Relatively light
+ Great keyboard

---CONS---
- Keyboard has a pointless (for almost everyone, except accountants?) number pad which shifts the whole keyboard and shrinks it
- Touchpad isn't the best, but compared to most laptops is good
- Port placement is by FAR the WORST part of this laptop - all but the VGA are at the front 1/3 of the left/right side of the laptop! Beware left-handed users!
- The fan is on the left and shoots out melting heat

Despite these cons, they are minor, and this is my favorite laptop I've ever gotten. The port placement is quite a pain, however.
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