The Asus K52F is the first Core i3-powered laptop to come to our test labs and is by far a much better performer than mainstream laptops, which run on Core 2 Duo processors. It impresses us as to how this much processing power can be availed in a sub-40K price bracket. Let’s see what makes this laptop special and whether the price point can compel somebody to buy it.
The Core i3 processor belongs to Intel’s new lineup of Core processors. Code named Arrandale, the Core i3 is the entry-level processor—Core i5 and Core i7 are the mainstream and high-end ones respectively. The Core i3 variants are intended to replace the old mainstream Pentium Dual Cores and the Core 2 Duos. Based on a 32nm manufacturing process, one of the most striking features of the Core i3 is the use of Hyper-Threading technology (HT).
On a single die, there are two independent cores running at the same frequency and, due to HT, each core runs two threads. So, two cores running two threads each, gives the throughput of four simultaneous threads at the same frequency. Therefore each core can work on two tasks at the same time, enabling the user to work in an intensive multi-tasking environment. So, it is the price-performance ratio that makes this processor, and hence this laptop, special.
Apart from the HT-capability, this processor incorporates the graphics and memory controller which enables it to handle graphics in a more efficient manner and does away with the need for a discrete graphics chip in the machine. The processor variant used in this laptop is the Core i3 350M, which has a higher clock speed, 2.27 GHz, than other i3 variants. But the 3 MB L3 cache remains common.
Considering the size, weight and performance of this laptop, we’d say that it easily passes off as a desktop replacement. Also, keeping in mind its Rs 36,745 price tag, students and young professionals who need more processing power, will appreciate what this laptop has to offer. While there are other variants of this laptop, the one we tested is called Asus K52F-SX060D.
Except for the core components such as the chipset and processor, other hardware is more or less common. The K52F is built around an HM55 chipset, which belongs to Intel’s 5 series of mobile chipsets. It has 3 GB DDR3 RAM which suffices for mainstream and even for some demanding applications. There’s a 320 GB hard drive and no discrete graphics, not that an office laptop would need it. Speaking of which, powerful processing is what this laptop does best, so don’t expect to play games and experience high-end multimedia on it. We played HD movies on it and the playback was stutter-free on the native 1366 x 768 display. If you want to connect the laptop to an HDTV, you can do so using the HDMI port. However, do not expect seamless playback, because it might not handle the higher resolutions of your TV or HD monitor. Nonetheless, movie watching and gaming at low resolution will be an enjoyable experience on this laptop, thanks to the 15.6-inch (glossy) LED-backlit display and to the crisp surround sound output.
There are 3 USB and a VGA port, memory card reader, DVD-writer, 1.3 megapixel webcam and a Kensington lock slot. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi N, Blutooth and Gigabit Ethernet. But there are no hardware switches for activating/deactivating wireless connections or for disabling the touch pad. Also, Asus could have replaced one of the 3 USB ports with a USB-eSATA combo port to add another good feature. A feature worth mentioning is the presence of a numeric keypad, which further explains the purpose of this machine.
Finally, the machine bundles with it a mouse, laptop bag, user guide, drivers disc, and an applications disc which has Power2Go, LabelPrint, PowerProducer, PowerDirector and MediaShow on it. A downside is that, this particular model has Free DOS installed on it, so you’ll have to install Windows separately.