ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge laptop review

ASUS N56VM review: Use this third generation Intel Core i7-based laptop for office work, gaming and other tough tasks

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now 4
ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge laptop review
  • ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge laptop review
  • ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge laptop review
  • ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge laptop review

Pros

  • Performance
  • Good user comfort
  • Matte screen

Cons

  • Touchpad could be a little better
  • SD card slot hard to access
  • Budget Wi-Fi module

Bottom Line

The ASUS N56V offers good performance, lots of useful features and a great level of user comfort. We enjoyed using it very much and think it's a good unit to consider if you want fast application performance, as well as the ability to run modern games.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 4 stores)

  • HS-101 Deep Impact Bass Crystal Clear Voice Not... 25.99
  • HS-101 PC Headset With Deep Impact Bass 25.99
  • N56vm 15.6 Hd Led I7-3610q 8gb 750gb Gt630m/2g ... 899.00
See all prices

It's almost impossible to dislike the ASUS N56VM, which is a third generation Intel-based laptop with plenty of speed for office tasks and even for gaming. Best of all though, it's a comfortable laptop to use, with a soft, responsive keyboard and a surprisingly enjoyable Elan touchpad. The screen isn't glossy, the palm rest is large and feels good, and the laptop's audio quality is above-average compared to a typical notebook.

Design and user comfort

The N56VM is a 15.6in laptop with a weight of 2.6kg and a full chassis. It has a built-in DVD-RW/Blu-ray drive, four USB 3.0 ports, separate microphone and headphone ports, optical audio output, VGA, HDMI, and Gigabit Ethernet (based on an Atheros AR8161/8165 chip). It's a well balanced laptop that feels well made and it looks stylish. The area above the keyboard has a dot pattern that fades as it moves towards the palm rest, while the ASUS logo on the lid glows white while the laptop is powered on.

We like the keyboard on this model a lot, mainly because its keys are soft and possess good travel and response, but also because it's a backlit keyboard. It provides a wonderful night time typing experience and the intensity of the backlight can be adjusted to one of three levels. What would make it better is if it had a timer that switched off the light during idle times, but it wasn't too much effort to switch it off manually when we knew we wouldn't be using it for a while.

The Elan touchpad occupies an area of 114x71mm on the roomy palm rest, its buttons are concealed beneath the pad (and they worked well), and its surface has a spiral pattern that we thought would be a little annoying to rub against while using it. However, it turned out to be a very smooth pad with decent accuracy and we experienced few problems with it during our test period. The only thing that was frustrating at times was the two-finger scrolling performance; when scrolling a long page, the scroll came to a slow stop rather than an immediate stop when we lifted our fingers. At first it was annoying, but then we got used to it and actually enjoyed the way this worked. Depending on how your hands are placed when you type, the touchpad could get in the way, so you might need to adjust the ASUS Smart Detector settings in the touchpad's driver.

The backlit keyboard in action.

The dot pattern around the power button and speaker area.

The touchpad is large and has a spiral pattern. It felt good to use.

With a matte screen, the overall image quality does look a little dull, but the major upside is that reflections from room lights won't be much of a problem. The screen itself is easy on the eyes and offers decent viewing angles on the horizontal and vertical axes. We didn't have to adjust the screen much at all when watching videos or viewing Web pages. We're disappointed that it doesn't have a slightly higher resolution; like most 15.6in laptops, this one is also stuck with a 1366x768-resolution panel.

The audio performance on this laptop is enhanced by the addition of a little external sub-woofer, which can be plugged in to the left side of the notebook when you want to experience the best possible sound. We found it enjoyable to listen to music using the laptop's speakers. As long as they weren't at full blast, there was virtually no distortion and the frequency range was acceptable, even for low frequencies. That said, even when it wasn't at full blast, it still filled a decent-sized room with sound quite comfortably. There are equaliser settings to play with if you want to tweak the sound, and ASUS even includes a music making program with some built-in samples so that you can attempt your best DJ Shadow impersonation (we saved our creation as an MP3; it was that good).

The external sub-woofer.

Specifications and performance

On the inside, the ASUS N56VM features a third-generation Intel Core i7-3610QM CPU, 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics adapter and a 5400rpm, 750GB hard drive. It's a good overall configuration, and it put up decent results in our benchmarks. It recorded only 20sec in the Blender 3D rendering test, 45sec in the iTunes MP3 encoding test, and 39min in the AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid conversion test. All of these results are faster than the other Ivy Bridge-based laptop we've seen so far, Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge E530.

In 3DMark06, the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics adapter posted a mark of 10756, while in 3DMark11, it posted P1321. Again, both of these marks are faster than what the Lenovo did in these benchmarks using the same graphics adapter and a similar overall configuration. In games such as Battlefield 3, the ASUS recorded between 27 and 30 frames per second and the game was comfortably playable. You could definitely use this notebook for gaming, as long as you aren't too serious about detail levels.

Like many laptops these days, the N56VM also features switching technology so that the Integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics are used when the laptop is running on battery power, or when running applications that don't need the extra 3D processing grunt. The Intel graphics recorded 6793 in 3DMark, so you can see that the NVIDIA part offers a good deal more performance when you want to play games. The fan will kick in when the laptop is under a heavy load, such as when you're gaming, and it's not overly loud. The exhaust is on the left side of the chassis and lots of heat can be felt passing through it; some heat comes up through the keyboard, but we didn't find it to be uncomfortable.

Storage is handled by a single, 5400rpm, 750GB Hitachi hard drive (model HTS547575A9E384). It recorded a read rate of 93.17 megabytes per second (MBps) and a write rate of 89.28MBps in CrystalDiskMark. In our own file transfer tests, it averaged 58.88MBps, which is a fine result for a single drive, and once again that is faster than what the Lenovo posted in the same test. We had no problems with the responsiveness of the ASUS N56VM when launching applications and multitasking. The laptop came out of sleep in just under 3sec, while a cold boot took about 52sec, which is a little longer than we hoped.

Battery life

A removable, 6-cell, 56 Watt-hour battery is installed in the spine of the laptop and it lasted 3hr 35min in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. This is only one minute less than the time recorded by the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530, which uses a slightly more powerful battery.

All up, it's a good result for a 15.6in laptop with a Core i7 CPU. You can get more life out of it if you use a sensible power management profile, and ASUS knows this so it changes profiles for you automatically most of the time. Even when we manually selected high performance, the laptop would revert back to a balanced or power saving ASUS Power4Gear profile when the laptop was restarted.

Other notable features

For connecting to local area networks and the Internet, you can use either the Gigabit Ethernet port, or the 802.11n Atheros AR9485 Wi-Fi module. It's only a single-band, one-stream module, which is disappointing, but we didn't have any problems with it. It'll be fine for basic file transfers and online video streaming from 2-10m distances.

There is an SD card slot located at the front of the laptop, but it's placed slightly under the front lip of the panel, which means you might have to lift up the laptop in order to easily access it.

On the left side of the chassis, just above the escape key, you'll find a shortcut button that can be programmed to launch one of your most-used applications. It's a nice touch, and it balances the look of the laptop, too, with the power button being on the opposite side.

Conclusion

All up, the N56VM is a very good laptop. It was most enjoyable to use thanks to its good keyboard, touchpad and matte screen and we found the sound quality to be exceptional, too. It can supply swift performance for office applications, but it can also be used capably as a gaming machine, as long as you aren't used to playing with super-high detail settings. For an asking price of $1399, we think it's well worth it.

Related review: Intel 3rd generation Core i7-3770K CPU

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Han

1

Who does a review w/o a full body shot?

Elias Plastiras

2

Hi Han,

Full body shots can be found in the images tab at the top of the page.

Hope this helps.

Elias

noss

3

It might help to add that a lot of computer stores are selling this as the Asus R501V - I have had plenty of trouble trying to find drivers for this machine even from the Asus website until I realised it was actually an N56VM

Dom

4

WHEN WILL THIS BE AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE IN AMERICA!!! PLEASE HELP!

Mitch

5

Will this be able t output to 2 displays?

Kaleb

6

Hi,

I'm not quite sure how the whole wireless thing works with this notebook. If I'm in my room about 15-20m away from the router, will I receive a good reception??

Thanks, Kaleb

Arielle

7

I have been exploring for a little for any high quality articles
or weblog posts on this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site.
Studying this info So i am happy to express that I've a very just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I such a lot indisputably will make sure to do not fail to remember this site and give it a look regularly.

Prescription Swimming Goggles

tom

8

I have had this laptop for 6 months now. its a good machine and the review above
is accurate except for the wireless. It is absolutely useless, I have tried everything to get
it working without infrequent drop outs with no luck. nothing is more annoying. althou i cant afford it the laptop will need to be replaced.

Malcolm

9

:I purchased one of these a few weeks ago, and I agree with the review, it is well worth it. Tom, I am using it with a Telstra Docsys3 cable modem with wi-fi and I have had no wireless issues anywhere in the house. I am currently sitting in the next room about 10m from the modem and I have full strength signal bars. I suggest you take yours back to the dealer and ask them to replace the wi-fi module. Mitch, I currently have it running as a dual-display setup with my 55" Samsung LCD TV plugged in via a 4m HDMI cable, playing WoW on the TV with browser open on the laptop display, both running 1920x1080. It's great.

Jack

10

The keyboard stops styping in some windows. Has anyone had that prolem with this computer, N56V Asus?

CHris

11

You forgot to mention how horrible the Keypad ACTUALLY Is. It is awful and no one should ever buy this laptop. Worst of all, you can't disable it like normal mice or even my laptops onboard trackpad. It is awful.

Bj

12

I agree with that trackpad is malfunction for user. and another thing is when i play song from my hard-drive the Blue-Ray automatically turn on n checks for something.Is that happening to others also?
i love the sound n backlit keyboard overall its fantastic.

Steve

13

I've also found the wifi to be very poor. Only works ok if within 1 metre of the router.

T

14

I bought this computer 4 months ago and the DVD drive is not working and seems to be missing. ASUS is asking that I return it to them. I can't be without my computer for that long because I am taking online classes. Anyone else have this issue?

Vicente

15

You actually make it seem really easy together with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be actually one thing which I believe I might by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking ahead for your subsequent submit, I'll try to get the dangle of it!

richard

16

When this computer is stressed the slightest bit by movies or games it will freeze due to the failure in the driver that has been previously installed. It is not worth it.

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?