"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.
And they’re not wrong. It truly is horrendous. Windows 8 was a massive misstep by Microsoft and Asus’ bundleware doesn’t exactly enhance the experience.
SCREW WINDOWS 8:
Fortunately this was destined to be a Linux laptop, specifically Fedora 19 (https://fedoraproject.org/). I’ll be using it as a software engineering student starting in the fall and this is looking to shape up to be a wonderful Linux laptop. It is fairly standard hardware and appears to be well supported (ethernet, WLAN, bluetooth, power management, webcam, etc.). I have also heard reports that it works well with the Debian based distros as well as the more “server-esque” distros such as CentOS and Arch Linux. The diagnostics done on this laptop were through Hiren’s Boot CD which recognized all of the hardware just fine.
The first thing done was to update the laptop’s BIOS to the latest version (208 as of writing this. Was 206). This, and morbid curiosity, was the only reason I booted into Windows 8 in the first place as using Asus’ Windows based flash utility is the easiest way to get this done. Doing this did flip SecureBoot to enabled (it was actually disabled by default in 206). Just go back into the BIOS and disable it again. If you can’t boot from CD be sure that “Launch CSM” is enabled under boot options in the BIOS and that the DVD drive is set to have boot priority over the Windows boot loader. If you intend to do a PXE installation you can enable that as well. Otherwise you can ignore it.
Both the 500GB hard drive and the 24GB SSD survived an extended test in GSmartControl with zero errors. The SSD benchmarked a read/write of 4.2GB/s and 344MB/s, very respectable.
The drives were immediately zeroed and given the following partitioning scheme:
/dev/sda1 swap (encrypt) 4GB
/dev/sda2 /boot ext4 500MB
/dev/sda3 / ext4 (encrypt) 19.5GB
/dev/sdb1 /home ext4 (encrypt) 500GB
This gives the OS, swap and applications the entire SSD and reserves the slow hard drive for data (office and Eclipse workspaces, mostly). Disk encryption works fine and as expected. Boot and application load times are snappy and responsive.
I purchased an extra 4GB of RAM to go with this unit (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006EWUP4Y/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 ) which was an easy install. Simply take out two screws, slide off a back panel and snap the module in. Numerous YouTube videos can be found demonstrating this. Both the laptop memory and the purchased memory survived six runs (10+ hours) of Memtest86 without issue (http://www.memtest86.com/). I only
The Intel HD4000 graphics is more than enough for HD video and some basic gaming (hey, Steam is on Linux these days!). If you install more RAM into the laptop you can feel free to up the available memory for the graphics to 512MB via the BIOS (the default is a miserly 64MB so you may want to up it regardless). Games such as Portal and Bastion boot up and play fine. In fact, they load surprisingly fast considering that I have my Steam games installed to the HDD.
~41C-45C while idle or internet browsing. Prime95 brought the temps up to approx. 61C. Not too bad.
Yes, the webcam is as grainy as others have reported. If this is an issue for you, avoid this unit. If not, then…feh? The ethernet, wireless and bluetooth work at the advertised speeds. The inclusion of a DVD drive is nice for those of us who cannot let go. The screen is large and bright.
The summary is – the hardware will do its job quite well. The issue is with Windows 8 and Asus’ bundleware. If you can I would suggest downgrading to Windows 7 or dropping an alternative OS under the hood. With the right configuration this is an absolutely wonderful piece of hardware at an unbelievable price.
I bought the -dh51 model that has an i5 mobile processor and 6gb of RAM as opposed to an i3 and 4gb of RAM. This upgrade is essential on this model! There is NO dedicated video card onboard. This system uses Intel integrated graphics HD 4000. Asus should not even make the -wh31.
These 1 and 2 star reviews really cheese me off.
First, This is a laptop that Asus has put in their Ultrabook category. There is no standard definition for such word. Look at the dimensions before you buy if you’re going to complain about the size…
Secondly, I got 4 hours and 10 minutes off a single charge of active use (typing, games, movies) with dimmed screen and airplane mode on. This is one of the BEST value of i5 laptop computers out there right now. You get quite a bit of hardware for <5lb machine. I will stipulate that this is a 720p definition screen and not 1080p. I would assume this is another balancing act for price and performance. Having a 1080p screen would dump more on the integrated graphics, CPU, RAM, and battery life. Those higher definition movies would take up more Hard drive space too...
Asus has done some great things here. They have a full keyboard with one of the smoothest working function keys I’ve ever used. There is 24gb mSATA dedicated to fast boot (works great) that can be very useful if you want to install something like backtrack 5 or whatever OS utility you want. The 5400 performs as expected, but they did not gip on the space. Asus could have given a 320 or 500gb drive and 4gb RAM but they tucked value into every corner of this laptop. They also include one year of accidental damage protection (even more value)
After I burn through the first battery, I’ll replace the hard drive with a solid state drive and buy a new battery. I’d expect better performance and longer battery life and recommend doing this or having it done for people who do heavier mobile computing (multiple screens, GIANT spreadsheets, Adobe Suite Users)
FYI I’ve only owned one Asus computer before this one and don’t consider myself an Asus fanboy…yet
The cost. I payed $400 for an ultrabook, with a CD drive, that has a 15.6 inch screen. The fact that I was able to get such a piece of equipment for such a small price is amazing.
Screen size. I cannot tell you how un-nerved I’ve become as the laptops have become smaller and smaller. For someone with fingers like mine and eye sight that can at best be described as mediocore, the size of the screen is a real plus.
The keyboard. The letters are raised and set off from below by an aluminum colored base. Then there is a number pad which is incredibly handy when inputting numbers quickly into a spread sheet.
The Speaker. I cannot tell you how many Ultrabooks I have looked at that have placed the speakers at the bottom of the laptop. The idea of placing speakers on the part that is sitting on your lap or desk makes no sense. The speaker is front and center which makes listening easy and enjoyable.
Windows 8. At first, it was a bit annoying, as is trying to understand any new piece of software. But after messing with it for a few hours, and getting everything as I wanted, it is incredibly simple. Everything you need is on the window screen.
Compatibility. I love using Google Chrome. It was very simple to synch everything that I do on google with the Windows 8 operating screen. My calender, my bookmarks, and my contacts were brought over for me.
The charge. I fully charged it when I received it and then used it until the battery was at 1%. The time, 4 hours and 43 minutes. That’s not just sitting there, that’s actual work time which is amazing.
Quick Start. I probably shut my computer down and restarted it 4 times just to show everyone how quick it actually was.
THE CONS- (which are just a few minor things)
The disk drive. I read that it does stick out a little and it does which to me just dosent make that much sense but doesnt change my view on the laptop.
The case. It is highly susceptible to fingerprints. I mean highly, but are easily taken away with a computer cloth.
The mouse pad. It can be jumpy sometimes and overly sensitive which can be taken care within the system but sometimes it gets a mind of its own.
The pre-loads. As with any laptop you are going to have a bunch of crap that you dont need. It’s a pain to uninstall them.
I am incredibly happy with my purchase. The computer is amazing. Should something change, I will be amending my review.
I upgraded to Win 8.1 after reloading Win 8 and it works fine. The system is quick to start. Battery life is good enough for my purposes. And, it is light weight for it’s size and configuration (HDD and Optical Drive). The only thing I would have liked it to have is a backlit keyboard. Speaking of keyboards, there are many complaints on the net about this keyboard. I don’t know what they are complaining about it works just fine. Performance wise it is as fast as most anyone would need. Keeping open numerous tabs is not an issue. One thing I did to ensure as much resource availability as possible is to deactivate the active tiles. The as delivered configuration loads numerous App tiles and many of them are active in the background. You can simply right click on them and deactivate active updating.
Would I purchase this system again? Absolutely. Without question.