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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.
We installed Windows 7 Ultimate and the machine sailed very smoothly. We also used the CyberLink MediaShow 5 (multimedia management tool) which was a cakewalk for this machine. So, audio and video encoding, and other mainstream tasks will be a breeze. For testing we used some standard benchmarks such as SiSoft Sandra 2010, PCMark, audio and video encoding and so on.
|SiSoft Sandra 2009|
|Memory bandwidth (GB/s)|
|Hard disk drive|
|Drive index (MB/s)||53.67 |
|Random access time (ms)||9.62|
|Seq Read (MB/s)||64.48|
|Ran Read (MB/s)||39.79|
|Seq Write (MB/s)||60|
|Ran Write (MB/s)||34.69|
|Real World Tests|
|Audio encoding||87 sec|
|Video encoding||43 sec|
|File compression||70 sec|
|Cinebench R10||5820 CB-CPU|
|File copy test|
|Single write (2 GB)||67.52 sec|
|Single read (2 GB)||58.07 sec|
|Multiple write (MP3)||37.48 sec|
|Multiple read (MP3)||47.38 sec|
|Battery Eater Pro|
|Reader's Test||254 min|
Performance-wise, this laptop beats the mainstream Core 2 Duos. For instance, a multimedia laptop powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 took 69 seconds for encoding a one minute video. This laptop completed the same task in 43. If you want to take your work around, this laptop is good for 4 hours 23 minutes under medium load, which is quite decent.
Design and build quality
There isn’t anything fancy about this laptop in terms of looks, and perhaps that is what makes it look good, especially considering its target audience. The design, finish and overall build quality is very good. The laptop follows a dark-brown and black theme, where the lid, the wrist rest and the area around it are of deep brown color (darker than coffee beans) and the base and screen frame are black. The wrist rest has a peculiar diamond-shaped pattern, which gives it a matte finish. This pattern can be seen on the lid too, except that the lid is glossy and the print underneath is faint.
Ergonomically, the machine is comfortable to use. There no ports at the back of the unit, the touchpad is sensitive, mouse buttons are large and not tacky and even the screen is stable. The chiclet keyboard is good too, except that a larger size of keys would have been better.
With a 320 GB hard drive, users might fall short of space for their multimedia content, not that this laptop is meant for entertainment in the first place. Also, the integrated graphics design might deter gaming fans. So if you’re a multimedia or gaming fan, there’s little for you in this package. But at Rs. 36,745, its price-performance ratio will surely compel a business person, professional and even a home user to buy this laptop.
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 381 x 38 x 256 mm
- Weight: 2.61 kg
- Processor: Intel Core i3 350M, 2.27 GHz
- Memory: 3 GB DDR3
- Hard disk: 320 GB
- Screen size: 15.6-inch
- Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth