Asus X502C review
The vividly purple Asus X502C looks brilliant, doesn't cost much and, measuring 20m thick with a weight of 1.9kg, is reasonably light and slim. Note, however, that there's no disc drive, which helps to keep costs and weight down. Closed, it measures 20x382x255mm, making it bigger than your average ultraportable but not too bulky to carry around with you. It has reasonable battery life for a cheap laptop, too, managing 5h 36m in our light-use battery test.
The laptop's glossy 14in screen produces pleasing images, although its viewing angles are rather poor, which meant that we had to make sure that the screen was at the right angle to keep it from looking murky. Its colours look vivid, but when we tested the screen with a calibration device they didn’t come across as very accurate; the device showed the screen as only showing 55.8% of the sRGB colour gamut. That's poor by the standard of desktop monitors, but typical for a low-cost laptop. The screen's measured contrast ratio as a rather mediocre 360:1. The glossy finish makes every colour tone look richer, but also means that the laptop is prone to picking up glare or reflecting your face back at you if you're using it in a brightly-lit room or outside.
The screen has a standard laptop resolution of 1,366x768. Although the laptop's chassis colour screams fun, don’t mistake the X502C for a gaming laptop, even though you can just about run most recent titles at their lowest settings. You won't have trouble with 2D titles or older 3D games, but the on-chip Intel HD Graphics GPU failed our Dirt Showdown test at High quality and a resolution of 1,280x720. Dropping the quality to Ultra Low and disabling anti-aliasing, however, produced a playable average frame rate of 35fps at the same resolution.
The processor itself is an Intel Celeron 1007U running at 1.5GHz. It only has two cores, which makes it rather underpowered, producing an overall score of just 18 in our benchmark tests. It's powerful enough to handle Windows 8 desktop applications, but feels slow logging into your user account or loading Windows’ default media players. It only feels a touch sluggish when browsing the web, watching movies and creating documents, but if you spend a lot of time carrying out processor intensive tasks such as media encoding, then this definitely isn't the laptop for you. Its terrible score of 12 in our multitasking test starkly shows the limitations of the underpowered processor.
In terms of form and feel, the X502 is excellent. There's not too much flex in the lid and the interior's smooth finish is comfortable to rest your wrists on. The laptop is broad enough to ensure that nothing feels too cramped, even though the full numeric keypad is somewhat squashed over to the right. This in turn means that the touchpad, positioned beneath the space bar, is offset from the laptop's centre line. Fortunately, there's still plenty of room on both sides of it and we didn't find ourselves accidentally brushing it while typing. The flat, widely-spaced keys have a reasonable amount of travel, which makes them feel more responsive than many similarly designed laptop keyboards. The touchpad itself is large, responsive and supports gestures such as two-fingered scrolling. The buttons built into it feel somewhat stiff, something we've encountered on other Asus laptops.
Although it lacks a disc drive, the laptop has an SDXC card reader, two USB ports and a USB3 port, as well a reasonably sized 500GB hard disk. In terms of network connectivity, it has a Gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi. If you want to connect the laptop to a larger display device, such as a TV or projector for film viewing, there are both VGA and HDMI outputs available. There's also a 3.5mm headset port which can also be used to connect standard stereo speakers or headphones. The integrated speakers are fine for watching YouTube videos and playing back system sounds, but you'll want to connect a set of external speakers if you want to listen to music as it should be heard.
The laptop costs just under £300, which is a very good price for its screen size, but the underpowered processor means that you'd be far better off paying £10 more for the far more powerful HP Pavilion Ultrabook 14-b003SA.
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