Asus X200MA review
Processor: Dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830, RAM: 2GB, Size: 302x200x25.6mm, Weight: 1.2kg, Screen size: 11.1in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics, Total storage: 500GB Hard disk
Available for under £200, the X200MA seems like something of a bargain, particularly as it's both small (11.1in screen) and light (1.2kg). While cheap laptops can also look a bit bland, the X200MA is available in a vibrant blue or red case, although more standard black or white models are also available. In reality, your choice of colour might not have that big an impact, as the bold colours don’t extend beyond the laptop’s exterior.
The laptop's chassis is reassuringly well made, especially for such an inexpensive laptop, but there is a copious use of plastic as you might expect. Our review model came in blue and the exterior was made from glossy plastic that helps make it seem more premium than its price suggests. Despite the coating we were pleased to see that the case didn't pick up fingerprints. On the inside you’ll find Asus has used textured, carbon fibre-like plastic around the keyboard that is smart looking. There’s a thick matt black bezel surrounding the 11.1in screen.
The laptop only weighs 1.2kg so it’s easy enough to throw it in a bag if you want to take it on the road and is reasonably thin, too, at 25.6mm. Disappointingly, there is some flex to the external and internal chassis and this unfortunately extends to the keyboard as well. Thankfully, the flex to the keyboard is minimal and certainly not as much as we have seen on other inexpensive Asus laptops.
The small amount of flex doesn’t detract from the usability of a keyboard that is comfortable overall. The Chiclet-style keys have very little travel to them but there is just enough to have sufficient feedback to build up to a decent typing speed. The keyboard layout is a little cramped due to the overall size of the laptop and we found the cursor keys on the right particularly difficult to use due to their reduced size, but otherwise we liked the keyboard.
Asus has provided a decently sized touchpad for a laptop this size and it supports gesture inputs configurable in the Asus Smart Gesture utility. This allows you to configure one, two and three-finger inputs that include taps, swipes, pinches and rotations, for operations including scrolling and zooming. It worked well and made Windows 8.1 that little bit easier to navigate.
The X200MA is powered by a dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron M2830 processor that can Turbo Boost to 2.4GHz. Despite that, performance wasn't very good, with the X200MA only managing a score of 14 in our benchmarks. The overall benchmark score is an average of three tests and it was multitasking in particular that brought the score down substantially. The X200MA only scored 9 for multitasking and this poor score was in part due to the processor only having two cores as well as the paltry 2GB of RAM installed. The RAM is soldered on to the motherboard as well and, disappointingly, there’s no additional slot to add more. If you’re only looking for a laptop for basic web browsing and document editing, the Asus X200MA will suffice but anything more intensive will likely prove too much.
The integrated graphics mean the X200MA isn’t really going to be a viable option for anything but the most basic 2D games, such as Faster Than Light. In our Dirt Showdown benchmark at 1,280x720 resolution, 4x anti-aliasing and High graphics, the X200MA managed only 13.8fps, which almost equated to watching a slideshow unfold. Even Trine 2, which is less graphically intense, only saw 20fps when playing at 1,280x720, no anti-aliasing and Very Low graphics. The N2830 processor is simply too underpowered, which is unsurprising given its price.
The X200MA has decent connectivity for a laptop of its size. On the left are a VGA and HDMI output for external displays and a single USB3 port. On the right of the system you’ll find a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB2 ports, a headset jack and an SDXC card reader. There's plenty of storage, too, with a 500GB hard disk.
Two Asus SonicMaster stereo speakers are found on the base of the laptop, fire downwards. Some downward firing laptop speakers suffer from sounding muffled but were glad to hear the X200MA sounded punchy and loud enough to watch movies and listen to music comfortably. The actual quality of the audio produced was middling, however. At loud volumes the speakers are particularly harsh and tinny, and there’s very little detail in the lower bass frequencies.
We measured the 11in glossy display as showing 62 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which is above average for a laptop of this price. Contrast fared slightly better at 509:1, which again isn’t terrible for the price. Black levels were measured at 0.43cd/m2 and that is actually better than we’ve seen from substantially more expensive laptops.
In our subjective tests, the display was actually a decent performer with pleasing saturation and colour vibrancy. With a resolution of 1,366x768, this is reasonable for an 11in screen. The screen is serviceable provided you aren’t intending to use the laptop for any colour-accurate work.
In our battery tests, the system lasted 5h 6m. It's not a bad score for such a small and cheap laptop, and means that you’ll get a good amount of entertainment or working time before you’re searching for a power outlet. The charger is nice and compact, without a large power brick, so carrying it around is convenient as well.
The Asus X200MA is very cheap and its build quality is respectable for the cost. If you’re only looking for a laptop for the most basic of tasks, it’s a good choice for not much money, but the HP Chromebook 14 could be better suited if you don't need a Windows-based laptop.
|Processor||Dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830|
|Memory slots (free)||0 (0)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Graphics adaptor||Intel HD Graphics|
|Graphics outputs||VGA, HDMI|
|Total storage||500GB Hard disk|
|Optical drive type||None|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||1x USB3, 2x USB|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n (dual band) Wi-Fi|
|Memory card reader||SD, MMC, SDHC|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Restore partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||One-year RTB|
|Price inc VAT||£199|