Asus X52F-EX894V £350
30th Jul 2011 | 09:00
Well-built and offering decent Core i3 performance
The Asus X52F-EX894V is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor, which provides strong performance for those on a tight budget. It's not just performance that impresses though, with plenty of other surprising highlights and few flaws.
Despite using the same processor range as the Acer, the Asus has only half the available memory, with 2GB installed instead of 4GB. This laptop therefore produced weaker results in our benchmark tests.
However, you still get incredible performance given the cut-down price. And retailer saveonlaptops.co.uk is offering a free upgrade to 4GB at the time of writing.
You can edit your photos and have a quick play around with your home movies, but you won't be able to play the latest games, as the integrated graphics can't cope. Still, film fans will be pleased as you can watch DVDs via the built-in drive or stream your favourite movies or TV shows over the internet in high definition (HD) from sites such as BBC iPlayer. The Asus coped admirably and catching up with last night's telly was a smooth experience.
Battery Eater '05: 111 minutes
3DMark 2006: 4450
This is also a great way to enjoy your media, thanks to the excellent screen. The 15.6-inch display isn't as sharp as the compact screens of the HP Pavilion DM1-3100sa and MSI U270, but but it's bright and pleasingly vibrant.
The 320GB hard drive gives you enough storage for thousands of photos and full-length music albums, like the other laptops here. You also have a 4-in-1 memory card reader, which can be used to back up your data or expand the available storage. Three USB ports are available for connecting peripherals.
If you need a home entertainment machine, this is definitely a good choice.
However, if you need something to take on the road, you should look elsewhere. The 2.7kg chassis is fairly heavy, while the battery died after less than two hours of use. The HP and MSI are much more portable and suitable for regular travellers.
Still, as a desktop replacement machine, this is a sturdy and attractive option. The lid is reassuringly solid to protect the screen, while the plastic frame is tough enough to withstand some serious punishment. An understated dark grey design might lack the colour of the Acer, but it's smart and immune to fingerprints.
The isolation-style keyboard is similarly well built with firmly mounted keys. 'Isolation-style' means the keys protrude through individual holes cut in the laptop's chassis, which separates them out – making it perfect for touch typing. There are also no open gaps in the board that could let crumbs and other debris into the laptop's interior.
We were also impressed by the Altec Lansing speakers which, while lacking power at top volume, produced a crisp and clear sound. You'll still want a decent pair of USB speakers if you want to enjoy a movie with friends, however, unless your heads are about a foot from the screen.
Alternatively, you can use VGA and HDMI connections to hook up a television.
We were highly impressed by the X52F-EX894V, which offers a great deal at a surprisingly low cost. Top performance and a colourful screen mean you can fully enjoy HD films, while the excellent keyboard makes it as good for work as it is for play. Only portability lets it down.
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