Asus X501A review
15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.1kg, 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-2350M, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
The X501A is a slim and very sharp-looking laptop. At 2.1kg, it’s just enough to qualify as an ultra-portable, due in part to Asus having removed the disc drive. We love the contrast of the white lid and wrist rest with the black bezel around the display and the silver dots. The X501A feels well built and sturdy, too.
Sadly, a lot of connection ports have been lost, too. There are only two USB ports, for example. Admittedly, one of them is a USB3 port, but that's really not enough for a laptop that lacks an optical drive. At least there’s an SDXC card reader, the usual 3.5mm MIC and headphone ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Plus, its 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor lets you get online.
The laptop isn't particularly powerful, either, although the 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-2350M processor produced a decent score of 46 overall in our benchmark tests. The laptop wasn't quite as swift or responsive as an i5-powered notebook, particularly when we had many programs and browser tabs open, but it was by no means sluggish, despite occasional response lag. The processor provides an on-chip GPU, the Intel HD Graphics 3000, which is just about good enough to run 3D games at their minimum settings, but it wasn't up to our Dirt 3 test. Happily, the laptop did fairly well in our battery tests, lasting just under six and a half hours.
We must say that we like the X501A’s keyboard. Although its flat and widely spaced keys resemble a number of layouts that we haven’t found particularly conducive to swift touch-typing, this one is actually rather good. There's a decent sense of feedback and movement as you strike the keys, which is particularly helpful. There's a full numeric keypad on the right, too, but its skinny keys mean it doesn’t take up much space, which in turn means that the touchpad (situated beneath the space bar) isn't off-set too far from the centre of the wrist rest. The touchpad's large size makes it more precise and the buttons concealed below it are fairly responsive.