Short Review Asus K53SK-SX021V Notebook

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 03/06/2012

The price is hot. Asus proves with the K53SK-SX021V that you don't have to spend more than 600 Euros for good performance. Alongside the metal palm rest, the brand new Radeon HD 7610M catches your eye. Can the 15-inch all-rounder stand against the tough competition?

Asus K53SK-SX021V

With its inconsistent naming politics, Asus is currently confusing not only customers and internet retailers, but also us reviewers.  That's how we ended up ordering both the K53SK-SX021V and the X53SK-SX028V, which are almost exactly the same notebook.

Compared with the SX028V, which costs about 50 Euros more, the model at hand is a bit more thinly equipped.  Instead of six GB main memory, the SX021V has "only" four GB DDR3-RAM.  The processor differs in the same way.  While the first model puts forward a quick 2.4 to 3.0 GHz Core i5-2430M, the latter variant just has a 2.3 GHz Core i3-2350M.  The rest of the components are pretty much identical.  Since both devices perform similarly in the day to day, the cheaper model is actually good enough.

In case you are wondering why we aren't covering the case, input devices and connectivity in this review - it's simple:  apart from the new USB 3.0 port and the different case bottom, the notebook is basically corresponds to the X53E-SX082V, which we just examined a few months ago.

Display

Asus K53SK-SX021V vs. sRGB (grid)
Asus K53SK-SX021V vs. sRGB (grid)

Unsurprisingly, Asus uses the same panel as they did for the X53SK-SX028V (Chi Mei N156BGE-L21).  A brightness of about 190 cd/m², a black value of 1.0 cd/m² and a contrast of about 190:1 are in the normal range for multimedia notebooks.  The glossy surface ensures that the colors are acceptable, but outside the all-rounder doesn't cut a very good figure (there are strong reflections).  Tip: Those who are looking for a good display should go for the HP ProBook 6560b-LG658EA or the Schenker XMG A501.

191
cd/m²
175
cd/m²
174
cd/m²
197
cd/m²
193
cd/m²
193
cd/m²
196
cd/m²
205
cd/m²
193
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 205 cd/m²
Average: 190.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Center on Battery: 193 cd/m²
Black: 1.0 cd/m²
Contrast: 193:1

Performance

The K53SK-SX021V encompasses a well-balanced mix of attractively priced mid-class components.  A DVD burner, four GB DDR3-RAM and a 500 GB HDD will be enough for the average user, and so will a dual-core processor and a gaming-grade DirectX 11 graphics card.  Numerous competitors contain only an entrance-level GPU on the level of the GeForce 410M.

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo HDTune
Systeminfo CrystalDiskMark
Systeminfo CCC Software
Systeminfo CCC Hardware
Systeminfo GPUZ (Radeon HD 7610M)
Systeminfo GPUZ (HD Graphics 3000)
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM SPD
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo DPC Latenzen
System Information Asus K53SK-SX021V
HWiNFO
HWiNFO

Processor

With the Core i3-2350M we're talking about a dual-core from Intel's successful Sandy Bridge generation.  Because of the missing turbo boost technology, the CPU can't dynamically overclock (as opposed to the Core i5 and Core i7 models), under load it's constantly at 2.3 GHz.  The hyper threading technology, which provides every real core with a virtual pendant (four threads), hasn't been dropped by Intel.

In comparison with the Core i5-2430M built into the more expensive X53SK-SX028V, of course the CPU struggles a bit.  Because of the lower clock speed, in single-core rendering of the Cinebench R10 the i3-2350M lags about 21% behind (3743 vs. 4752 points).  In multi-core rendering, at 17% the lag isn't quite so bad (8220 vs. 9885 points).

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3037
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
6812
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5898
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
3743 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
8220 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6098 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
27.47 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.22 Points
Help
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage5908 points
PCMark 71766 points
Help
Switchable Graphics
Switchable Graphics

Graphics card

Like many other multimedia notebooks, the Asus K53SK-SX021V has two graphics cards slumbering under the hood.  Depending on the demand, either the  HD Graphics 3000 integrated in the processor or the dedicated Radeon HD 7610M takes on the task.

But don't be misled by the label - strictly speaking the HD 7610M is not at all a new development.  The chip is based on the old generation - even the manufacturing technique still comes to 40 nm.  The graphics card is most comparable to the Radeon HD 6630M, which clocks minimally higher (485/800 rather than 450/800 MHz) and possesses 20% more shaders (480 rather than 400).  Taking into consideration the thin storage interface (only 128 bit), the 2048 MB DDR3-VRAM seem a little over-dimensioned.  Definite positives are the moderate power usage and the built-in video decoder.

As expected, the Radeon HD 7610M can't quite reach the level of the HD 6630M.  For example 3DMark 11: With a GPU score of 749 points, the graphics card makes itself comfortable about 15% behind its older sister (877 points @ Sony Vaio VPC-CB2S1E/B).  Also furnished with a Radeon HD 7610M, the X53SK-SX028V received 744 points in the test.

3D Mark
3DMark 0318793 points
3DMark 0512361 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
6239 points
3DMark Vantage3537 points
3DMark 11846 points
Help
5.9
Windows 7 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.7
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
6.7
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.7
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9

Mass storage

For a hard drive (like in the X53SK-SX028V), the Western Digital WD5000BPVT-80HXZT3 is put to the task (5400 rpm).  With a data transfer rate of an average of 70 MB/s, the 500 GB HDD is in the mid-range.

WDC Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT-80HXZT3
Transfer Rate Minimum: 25.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 87.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 68.4 MB/s
Access Time: 22.2 ms
Burst Rate: 69.4 MB/s

Gaming performance

While lower priced notebooks were generally not good enough for gaming some years ago, with a 600 Euro device today you can even enjoy current titles.  With the exception of extremely demanding games (ex. Battlefield 3), in the native 1366 x 768 pixels most mid or even high graphics options are possible.

Those who can do without maximum details and active anti-aliasing should be pleased with the Radeon HD 7610M.  Entry-level models like the GeForce GT 520M often compute noticeably slower.  In short: With the Radeon HD 7610M Asus made a good choice; stronger graphics cards are seldom to be found in this price range.

low med.high ultra
Metro 2033 (2010) 52.628.8fps
StarCraft 2 (2010) 172.837.925.9fps
Mafia 2 (2010) 48.13933fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) 82.251.841.9fps
Crysis 2 (2011) 49.933.524.1fps
Dirt 3 (2011) 113.544.430.3fps
F1 2011 (2011) 865232fps
Fifa 12 (2011) 221.6104.267fps
Battlefield 3 (2011) 29.91914.6fps
CoD: Modern Warfare 3 (2011) 122.652.732fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 65.92616.8fps
Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011) 46.924fps
Alan Wake (2012) 24.915.6fps

Emissions

System noise

The level of noise generated here is completely fine.  In idle mode you only hear the hard drive, and even during periods of higher demand the fans don't get uncomfortably loud.

Noise Level

Idle 29.6 / 31.4 / 33.2 dB(A)
HDD 31.4 dB(A)
DVD 35.7 / dB(A)
Load 34.4 / 44.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft SL-300 (15 cm distance)
Stress test
Stress test (Furmark & Prime)

Temperature

The case surfaces are neither especially warm nor extremely cool.  About 30°C in idle mode and 33°C under load are respectable values.  The hardware reaches into no critical regions, either (see the screenshot).

Max. Load
 36.6 °C34.2 °C31.3 °C 
 34.4 °C34.9 °C32.1 °C 
 30.4 °C32.2 °C29.8 °C 
Maximum: 36.6 °C
Average: 32.9 °C
27.3 °C34.4 °C39.2 °C
28.7 °C33.8 °C42.0 °C
29.8 °C32.3 °C36.7 °C
Maximum: 42.0 °C
Average: 33.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  58.1 °C | Room Temperature 23 °C | Raytek Raynger ST

Battery life

Reader's Test
Maximum battery life (Reader's Test)
Classic Test
Minimum battery life  (Classic Test)

Since most of the components are identical, the battery life is similar to the X53SK-SX028V.  The 6-cell lithium-ion model (56 Wh) holds out between one and 4.5 hours, depending on usage, the energy saving profile and display brightness.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 35min
DVD
2h 54min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 9min

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.2 Watt
Idle 7.7 / 11.0 / 12.9 Watt
Load 35.4 / 65.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC-940

Verdict

Asus K53SK-SX021V
Asus K53SK-SX021V (Herstellerfoto)

Summa summarum we'd call the K53SK-SX021V a routine and relatively unspectacular multimedia notebook.  Although the 15-incher targets customers with a nice pattern and a metal keyboard border, the case doesn't knock our socks off.  Input devices, connectivity options and manufacturing are just as average as the speakers and battery life.

Asus does deserve praise for the low power usage and the moderate emissions.  A high temperature and noise level isn't to be feared, even under load.  Thanks to the modern dual-core CPU and halfway potent mid-range GPU, the all-rounder offers very good performance.  Normal every day tasks like Office, internet or film are mastered by the notebook with bravura, and even occasional gamers will be able to do what they enjoy.

Meanwhile, it is unfortunate that the manufacturer integrates a low-grade display.  Black value, viewing angle and contrast are all exceptionally weak, which is most noticeable with darker images at night (the competition is hardly any better).  Since the notebook passes over the counter for just 600 Euros, you should still be able to close an eye here.  An alternative with stronger performance would be the Lenovo IdeaPad Y570, which contains a faster GeForce GT 555M and is also sold for 600 Euros.

By courtesy of...
In Review: Asus K53SK-SX021V, by courtesy of:
In Review: Asus K53SK-SX021V (manufacturer's photo)

Specifications

Asus K53SK-SX021V

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM65
:: Memory
4096 MB, SO-DIMM DDR3-SDRAM (1333 MHz), 2 card slots, max. 8 GB
:: Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon HD 7610M - 2048 MB, Core: 450 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, DDR3-VRAM, 8.901.0.0
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Chi Mei N156BGE-L21, LED backlight, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
WDC Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT-80HXZT3, 500 GB 5400 rpm
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphones, microphone, Card Reader: SD, MS, MS Pro, MMC,
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (b g n )
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW SN-208BB
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 41 x 378 x 253
:: Weight
2.63 kg Power Supply: 0.38 kg
:: Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion, 5200 mAh, 6 cells
:: Price
599 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 0.3 Megapixel, power supply: 90 watts, handbook, warranty card, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, 24 Months Warranty

 

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Links

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Pro

+Relatively low power usage
+Metal keyboard environment
+Moderate emissions
+Good performance
+Graphics switching
 

Cons

-Somewhat unclean manufacturing
-Reflective and cheap display
-Meager connectivity options

Shortcut

What we like

Asus offers the notebook for a very fair price.

What we'd like to see

An adequate display and more ports.

What surprises us

How much power you can get for 600 Euros nowadays.

The competition

Other price-performance sensations in the 15-inch format.  There we have for example the Lenovo IdeaPad Y570 or the Packard Bell EasyNote TS13HR.

Ratings

Asus K53SK-SX021V
02/27/2012 v2
Florian Glaser

Chassis
80%
Keyboard
80%
Pointing Device
76%
Connectivity
66%
Weight
79%
Battery
77%
Display
68%
Games Performance
78%
Application Performance
89%
Temperature
86%
Noise
85%
Add Points
80%
Average
79%
79%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Short Review Asus K53SK-SX021V Notebook
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-03- 6 (Update: 2013-06- 6)