Top positive review
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Good budget laptop that's a bit of a bargain
on 12 May 2014
This is the newer updated version of the Asus X551MA-SX018H model, it features the same screen, keyboard and unit as the prior model, with the exception that the CPU is now a somewhat faster Intel Celeron N2815 1.86GHz (the older one had a 1.5GHz CPU) It's not a huge step up but the addition of bluetooth 4.0 might just appeal to some..
There is a significant difference in CPU performance from the Intel Core i3 3217U 1.8GHz and the Celeron N2815 1.86GHz. The i3 being over twice as fast as the Celeron. Bear that in mind depending on your needs and the price point.
The core specification is fairly straightforward with enough memory and hard drive space for most users and more than enough for day to day use
A quick fire list of pros and cons
+ Great value one of the lowest prices on a laptop
+ 15.6" 1366x768 screen is quite good and contrasty easy to read and sharp (better than you expect for the price)
+ 4GB ram and 500GB hard drive is more than sufficient for most users needs even if you have quite a lot of media files around
+ One USB port is the faster USB 3.0
+ Built in SD Card Reader, as well as Wired Lan port and HDMI out
+ Webcam with Microphone built in (not the best webcam in low light but it's fine for this price with decent resolution)
+ Keyboard and touchpad are satisfactory, good response on the trackpad and the keys are of the enclosed type (harder for small children to rip them off!)
+ DVD/CD Burner 8x and 24x should satisfy any media playback/burning needs
+ Bluetooth 4.0 (the latest version)
- Build is a bit cheap, clearly it has had some cost cutting in terms of quality of plastics (not unexpected) the low price does compensate for this though, it won't fall apart or anything like that, texturing looks ok, I've used worse.
- Could use a few more USB ports (only 2 but that might be enough)
- VGA port is mostly redundant these days (HDMI is used more often) Might be ok if you connect to a pc monitor
- Basic sound quality from the on-board speakers, ok for the intended market (use the headphones much better)
- No easy access to battery (it's inside the case)
Expect around 3.5 hours of battery life which is par for the course on budget laptops, you can extend things a bit by lowering the screen brightness (power management settings are easy to change for this)
Windows is updated to 8.1 which has a number of improvements including boot straight to the desktop (and at least a partial return of the start menu), I won't go in depth on this as it's down to taste. But it's a better experience than the 8.0 version.
Compared to the older version (Asus X551MA-SX018H) this is how the processors stack up performance wise
Celeron N2815 1.86GHz scored 1024 in passmark
Celeron N2815 1.5GHz scored 958 in passmark
Core i3 3217U 1.8GHz scored 2320 in passmark
The newer celeron has a slight improvement, but in day to day use you won't really notice any significant difference on the newer CPU which is a little faster (but not hugely so)
The i3 is quite a fast processor for a budget laptop (relative to the Celeron)
Passmark is a general CPU benchmark that tries to measure real world performance in a variety of tasks (3d/2d graphics, compression, encryption, text, memory and disk speed) it gives a "general" idea of the CPU and how it deals with tasks, higher scores = better performance
Compared to a desktop budget processor (Intel Celeron G1620 2.70GHz) this would score around 2600 in passmark. That means the i3 CPU is almost on a par with a budget desktop CPU, so if you need the extra processing power that's the one to go for.
Wifi locked on well with good coverage no concerns or issues to report
On-board graphics do take some memory (no matter 4GB is generous with plenty to spare) you can play some lighter less demanding games, or older titles, this isn't aimed at game players though. HD playback will work great with even HD videos playing smoothly with no judder or dropped frames (which is what matters most)
For the money, this has a number of advantages over slightly cheaper Chromebooks. Much larger capacity on the hard drive will suit people who have a good collection of media audio and video files; and you are not reliant on an internet connection for day to day tasks (Chromebooks are fine somewhat limited)
For the asking price the Asus is a bit of a bargain really, you get a straight forward, but quite decent laptop at a very good price. It will be just fine for most people's day to day use. Take care with the CPU choice the Celeron is quite good enough for normal use. If you are a more demanding user the i3 option is quite a lot faster and better suited for users doing some video or photo work or other more intensive tasks.
Recommended purchase for those looking to replace an older/broken laptop with a cost effective newer one. A solid buy