ASUS N56VZ Review, not your ordinary multimedia laptop
The N-series laptop of ASUS is geared towards those looking for a superb entertainment experience on a mobile PC. The 15.6-inch ASUS N56VZ belongs to the latest line of notebooks having Intel’s 3rd generation Ivy Bridge processor to go with its premium multimedia features.
I’ve spent a few weeks with this laptop and it was a blast playing with it. Before, I walk you through its awesome features; let’s talk about the awesome design that went into this laptop. Yes, “awesome” seems to be the apt word.
The lid on the ASUS has a dull black semi-matte finish for a not-so-common look. It’s not really glossy but not matte either since it reflects light and attracts a few smudges but hides them with the hairline-textured finish. Dead center is the ASUS logo which lights up when in use, a copied-touch but looked nice nonetheless.
Opening the lid will reveal a Macbook-like design but with a twist. It has the
backlit chiclet keyboard on a spacious anodized aluminum body but what made this unique are the tiny holes in a concentric pattern overlapping the upper area of the keyboard. These are actually speaker holes which are cleverly integrated in the design of this laptop. Color me impressed.
The ASUS N56VZ has a full complement of connectivity ports. You’ll get 4 USB 3.0 ports (two on each side), a Blu-ray disc drive, VGA, HDMI and a LAN port. The multi-card reader is conspicuously situated on the front end of this notebook. Update: The one that will be available here will only have a DVDRW drive to bring down the cost which we don’t have a problem at all.
Keyboard layout seems standard for 15-inch notebooks these days with a number pad on the right with the arrow keys positioned in between letters and numbers. A layout I particularly dislike since it’s easy to mis-click the arrow keys. There are dedicated Page Up, Page Dn, Home, and End keys on the upper right which you’ll find useful. What’s missing are dedicated multimedia keys which I would want on my multimedia laptop. Not even dedicated volume controls are present.
Keys are rubbery with a soft tactile feedback and don’t make any noise. If you’re fond of those soft, rubbery and silent keys then you’ll enjoy typing here. Typing experience is just average, can’t say anything extraordinary about the experience as I type this review.
There’s also a generous-sized touchpad which is responsive to touch including multi-touch gestures like two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. The click buttons are embedded on the touchpad itself but doesn’t feel stiff to press; I just prefer raised click buttons which I can easily press with the side of my thumb.
A thing of note – since the size of the touchpad is large, it’s easy to activate it with your palm while typing so better use a mouse and just disable the touchpad whenever you can.
There’s this lonely button on the upper-left portion just above the keyboard which serves as a quick-launch button. You can completely customize its function from launching an app to changing a setting on your notebook.
Firing up the laptop, the Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution on its 15.6-inch screen blew me away. The matte screen also prevents glare to make viewing enjoyable even under bright conditions.
I quickly copied a 1080p video of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and was amazed by the clarity and sharpness of the scenes from this laptop. Details are crisp and 150ﾟviewing angle is wide for a bunch of friends to watch movies with you without crowding your space. It was also my first time to play Diablo III on a Full HD resolution (on a small 15.6-inch screen at that) and I appreciate the sharp details that the ASUS N56VZ gave me.
On top of the display is a high-def 2.0 megapixel webcam which can also use to capture 720p stills and 640 x 480 video using the bundled ASUS LifeFrame software.
Here’s the deal, the unit we received is their top of the line model having Intel Ivy Bridge 3rd Gen Core i7 processor with 6GB RAM. However, the ASUS N56VZ which will be available in the country will only get a 4GB RAM configuration running on Windows 8 so adjust the memory score on this Windows Experience Index accordingly:
This notebook is also powered by a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT650M graphics card with 2GB of RAM. The discrete graphics is slightly similar to the NVIDIA GTX660M of our previously reviewed gaming notebook, the Gigabyte P2542, but with a 100MHz slower clock speed. Nevertheless, it performs smoothly on Diablo III running on medium/high settings. Batman: Arkham City on the other hand is only playable in low settings when running on full HD.
Perhaps the most notable feature you will get out of this notebook is its sound thanks to the ASUS SonicMaster Premium technology which they co-developed with Bang & Olufsen. The ASUS N56VZ is simply made for those who are particular with the sound coming out from their devices.
First time I’ve heard of ASUS SonicMaster-quality sound output is from the ASUS Zenbook but you will truly appreciate its brilliance from bigger chambers such as in the N56VZ. Audio coming from this notebook has a wider range compared to your conventional speakers to go with the rich, crisp and clear quality. It’s like you’re listening from a premium set of speakers from your laptop and not just those mini-speakers.
The N56VZ also comes with a small SonicMaster subwoofer that you plug on to the 3.5mm port on the side of the notebook. The result is just a slight boost on the oomph of our music but is still a nice addition accessory nonetheless.
Using the ASUS N56VZ strictly for gaming lasted me for almost an hour before it started warning me to plug to a power source. For usual tasks like surfing, watching YouTube, writing this review while listening to MP3s, you can get a little over 4 hours out of its 6-cell 5200 mAh battery. Not impressive but notebooks at this size are generally not known for their battery performance
The ASUS N56VZ belongs to those types of notebook that can very well be your primary desktop. It’s not necessarily a gamer’s rig but should be serviceable for most high-end titles if you’re not gunning for max settings.
What we love about it is its design which admittedly reminds us of the MacBook when you open the lid but with a personal ASUS touch to give it some more style. We also love the crisp Full HD display and its wide viewing angle and most especially, the superb audio quality. What we particularly don’t care much about are the bundled junkwares ASUS puts into their notebook. Feel free to remove those you don’t need if you’re like me who’s OC about the things other people install on my machine.
Finally, what makes this laptop really attractive is its SRP which is pegged at just Php49,995 when it becomes available
this October after Windows 8 becomes available in mid-December. Yes, it will come preloaded with Windows 8 according to our local ASUS contact.
Attractive design, outstanding matte display, and excellent audio to go with really good specs, and a price that’s easy to look at, we’re giving the ASUS N56VZ our Editor’s Pick Award and should be a popular choice for notebook-hunters this coming holiday season.
|ASUS N56VZ Specs:|
|15.6″ Full HD (1920×1080) Wide View Angle LED Backlight|
|4GB DDR3 1600 MHz SDRAM|
|NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 650M with 2GB DDR3 VRAM|
|Windows 8 OS|
|HD Web Camera|
|Bang & Olufsen ICEpower® audio technology|
|Asus N series external sub-woofer|
|4x USB 3.0 ports, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet port, multi-card reader|
|6-cell 5200 mAh 56 Whrs|