"This Best Selling ASUS S56CA-DH51 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
Black, 15.6-Inch HD (1366 x 768), Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz), 6GB DDR3, Intel GMA HD, 750GB 5400RPM + 24G SSD/DL, DVD±RW/CDRW, W8 Home Premium (64bit), 802.11BGN, HD Camera, 1YR Global/1YR Accidental Damage/30-Day Zero Bright Dot/2-way FREE shipping/24-7 tech support
The overall construction is very good except for one issue – the DVD tray extends out from the side of the laptop by about 1 mm. One on-line reviewer noticed that the fit of the DVD tray was off in his review model also, but I am surprised that this got through into the production models. It is not a big issue, but it definitely detracts from the look of the aluminum body.
The screen is bright and clear and has good viewing angles. The keyboard is nice and big and works well with my hunt and peck. The large scroll pad is nice, and I am liking the imbedded buttons more than I thought I would.
The operating system is Windows 8 core (not pro). There is an ASUS-branded software DVD player, so I didn’t have to upgrade to pro to get the windows media pack for DVD play as I feared I might have to. There is no utility to create recovery DVD’s even though the paper manual refers to one called AI recovery. There is a Bluetooth module, so the “reviewer” who says that there isn’t one is wrong.
The 500 GB hard drive is partitioned into a number of system and recovery partitions and a C: system partition of about 186 GB along with a D: data “drive” of about 258 GB. I used the Windows 8 disk manager to first remove the D: partition, expand the system “drive” to around 400 GB, and then used the rest of the space for a 39 GB D: drive just in case the recovery software expects to find the D: drive there.
I installed Start8 from Stardock to get a start menu back on the desktop, and have ordered a 4GB SODIMM to expand the memory up to 8 GB ($25) – I figured more memory would be useful especially with the imbedded HD-4000 graphics.
I don’t know what the reviewer who was complaining that this was a “slow” computer was talking about. It has a windows experience score of 4.8, which is not bad for an I-3 without turbo-boost and with imbedded graphics. It won’t play highly graphics intensive games, but that’s not what I bought it for, not should you expect it from the online specs.
Hope this is good enough for an initial review.
Upgrading the internal HDD to a 240GB SSD has fixed all of the problems I mentioned in my previous update. The computer now runs incredibly fast.
I will add, however, that trying to reinstall Windows 8 with the same product key was impossible except by using an unmodified x64 iso of Windows 8. For some reason, I could not download the iso from Microsoft and had to find it elsewhere. After finally getting the proper iso, the reinstall was a breeze, and the OEM product key was entered in automatically (make sure you have secure boot enabled). I also formatted the internal 24GB SSD and now use it to store my internet browser’s cache to extend the life of my 2.5″ SSD. Not having the Intel Rapid Start or Asus Instant On features has not created any noticeable affect on performance or resume speeds.
*UPDATE AFTER 2 WEEKS OF USE*
Do NOT buy this laptop if you don’t intend to upgrade the internal Hard Drive to an SSD. The performance of the internal HDD bottlenecks the entire computer. I cannot listen to a 320kbps mp3 while browsing the internet without it skipping/stuttering, and I cannot listen to a FLAC file doing nothing else without it skipping. I also cannot watch an SD .avi file without it skipping/stuttering at least 10 times during a 40 minute TV show, and I cannot play Worms: Reloaded (a very simple game that this computer should be able to handle) without it locking up for a second or two EVERY 3 SECONDS. Either the internal HDD is EXTREMELY slow (my guess because my RAM and CPU usage are always well below 100%, and it’s not just video but also audio that skips) or my unit is defective in some other way. The HDD indicator light is pretty much constantly on when I try to do any of the previously mentioned tasks as well. I will be ordering a 240GB SSD within the next month to see if that fixes the problem. Otherwise I will be sending the unit in to Asus. If you need a working laptop for under $500, don’t get this. I’m going to be spending at least $200 on this laptop within the next few months (SSD and 8GB more RAM).
If the SSD upgrade fixes the problems, I would rate this at 4 stars again, but these issues bring it down to 2 for now.
This is a review for the Core i3 with 4GB of RAM.
-Great keyboard w/ numpad, touchpad, and overall build quality with ample ports.
-Large, glossy screen and great audio quality on built in speakers.
-Snappy performance with Windows 8 on the internal SSD
-Laptop stays cool under load.
-Instant On resumes the OS very quickly.
-Latest 22nm version of the Intel CPU/GPU chipset (a lot of Ultrabooks in this price range are using the older 32nm architecture)
-ASUS Gesture makes Windows 8 a breeze on a non-touchscreen device.
-Battery life is a bit lacking with the 4-cell battery (around 5 hours) BUT it also charges insanely fast (faster than my cell phone)
-LCD quality could be better; although it is perfectly adequate for a student or casual user. The viewing angles are limited and the color range is not the greatest. Tweaking the graphics settings helps quite a bit, but if the screen quality is the most important thing in a laptop to you, you probably won’t be happy.
-The back is a fingerprint magnet, but that’s nothing a little Windex can’t help.
-DVD drive sticks out a NEGLIGENT amount on the backside. It’s less than 1mm for me, and the front is flush. I’ve seen people complaining about it, but don’t see it as being a huge deal.
-The speakers are on the bottom, so when the laptop is sitting on a bed, sound is a bit muffled but still loud enough.
As a student, this laptop suits me very well. It’s got enough battery life to make it through a day of classes without charging, and it’s extremely light due to the stylish and thin aluminum design. Sound quality is great, and the display is adequate for mobile use (I’ll do my Photoshopping at home on my desktop though). The processor is very fast as well. I’ve always been an AMD user except for an eeePC that had an Intel Atom. I’m very happy with the speeds of the i3; in comparison to my desktop’s Phenom II X3 2.8Ghz the i3 transcoded an album from FLAC to V0 in 160% of the time it took the Phenom. Not bad at all. I’ve yet to do any gaming yet on this laptop, but I have a feeling with a total 6-8GB of RAM the Ultrabook would have no problem playing many recent games on low-medium settings. As far as video, the HD 4000 graphics provide a perfect HD media streaming experience. The webcam, however, is mediocre at best with a grainy, but decently high resolution image.
As far as future modifications, I intend to purchase a 128GB SSD to replace the internal HDD as well as pick up another 4GB of RAM. A freshly booted system configured to my liking (Rocketdock & Rainmeter) uses 66% of the internal 4GB due to the onboard GPU. I also would consider buying a larger battery if offered and if it’s the same dimensions as the stock one. These are all things that are unnecessary due to the incredible price of this Ultrabook ($439.99 after rebate for me), but they will unlock this device’s full potential.
In the end, I am very happy with my purchase; although I could have gotten a more expensive Ultrabook with more power, this packs a great punch for the price. It will be more than adequate for my internet browsing, mobile music production, word processing, media streaming, and casual gaming. Plus it makes a great fashion statement because it looks even sexier than a Mac
As soon as I got my credit for the Dell return, this laptop goes on gold box deal. Talk about good fortune. This laptop that qualifies as an ultrabook (barely) is easily 5 stars for the price I paid. Not many people can say that they paid just over $400 for an ultrabook.
Performance is commendable. Even though I’m a casual user and don’t do much that is graphics or processor intensive, I have yet to see any slowness of my applications and, with the hybrid HD setup, is the fastest booting computer I ever owned.
Reliability is top notch. Not a single hiccup detected at nearly a month’s use. You also get the Asus warranty including accidental drop/spill damage protection.
Full of features including Bluetooth, HDMI out, USB 3.0 and an optical drive that not all ultrabooks have. Drive tray does stick out by a sliver when closed and isn’t completely flush as some other reviewers noted but I wouldn’t even have noticed if I hadn’t read that on others’ posts.
Sounds great. Best sounding laptop I ever owned. The speakers are down firing so having this on a flat surface is best for listening.
Excellent design. At .83″ and 4.6 lbs, it is thin and light and I am a big fan of the brushed metal look of the aluminum body. Yes, it does leave finger prints but what laptop doesn’t?
Decent battery life. Was able to squeeze 5hrs. Not the best but good for having 4 cell battery.
The keyboard, while not backlit, is nice and feels well built. Touchpad is responsive but is big, bigger than other laptops I owned so it took a little getting use to.
The screen is average. Like most mid level laptop screens it has good color and contrast with a little backlight bleed at the corners and short viewing angles. It definitely is not an Apple Retina Display.
Win8. Some hate, some like and some get use to. I got use to it. Works fine for my needs. Just glad that it came with minimal bloatware.
The 500gb HDD is 5400 rpm not 7200 as stated in some places but it fits my needs. Swapping it out for a SSD would improve performance no doubt but I really don’t have the need to invest in that. I did put a $25 4gb RAM in the open slot and that will be the extent of my hardware upgrades.
Some states that the cooling fan is very loud. I have yet to notice after 3+ weeks of use and is quiet as a whisper. Will update post if it starts doing so.
This computer looks, feels and sounds great. While not the ultra of the ultrabooks, its performance is excellent for a casual user.