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ASUS N56VB 15.6 inch Laptop (Black) - (Intel Core i7 3630QM, 8GB RAM, 750GB HDD, DVDSM DL, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Nvidia Graphics, Windows 8)
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The Asus N series dazzles with incredible audio and advanced power. Featuring co-development with Bang & Olufsen ICEpower and Waves MaxxAudio, upgraded SonicMaster Premium utilises professional sound processing tools to boost audio fidelity and enjoyment. In addition to a wider range and improved clarity, N series notebooks include a bundled subwoofer for extra-impactful bass, culminating in the finest audio on any portable PC.
The new N series has secured global acclaim for its artistry, including a prestigious 2012 Red Dot Design Award. Its ripple-effect speaker mesh imbues an elegant look to complement the deluxe audio offered, while the precision-etched hairline metallic cover offers added accentuation via an illuminated Asus logo.
Tap into the smoothness and spontaneity of true 2-second 'instant on' resume with Asus Super Hybrid Engine II (SHEII) technology, giving the N series true smartphone-like immediacy. Coupled with the might of 3rd generation Intel Core processors and the convenience of exclusive USB Charger+ quick device charging, the N series is the embodiment of portable power.
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However right from the get go my experience with it has been littered with frustrating issues:
1) the external subwoofer doesn't work. I contacted customer service, it's taken them three days to get back to me and they offered me no advice on the issue, just trying to contact the seller (Amazon) or sending it in for inspection.
2) The disk that comes with it containing all the driver updates doesn't work
3) The 'maxxaudio' system that's supposed to be a great feature of this laptop has stopped working. The sound still works (and is good quality) but I like to be able to fine tune things on my computer and I no longer can.
4) Supposedly the laptop only starts using the NVIDIA graphics card when it needs it but so far this hasn't happened for me. The performance is poor and choppy when I watch HD videos, and when I ran a dxdiag the graphics card didn't even show up, just the integrated Intel Graphics HD4000 or whatever it's called.
The laptop itself is of great quality and it's far the best powerful 'beast machine' (IMHO) I've ever had in my entire life. The build and design is very good too and the metal outer parts make laptop worth over thousand quid even if it costs 700 quid. The specs will be enough for a person who runs virtual machines, edit videos and photos or play simple as well as 3D games (to certain extent) with high settings and maximum resolution (1920x1080). Furthermore, if you install ubuntu (or other linux), fn keys (function keys) work perfectly and with no problems compared to my previous laptop.
My suggestions to make life better when using this laptop:
1. Asus was selfish enough to put the slowest hard drive in the world (Toshiba 5200RPM) and I have no idea, but I believe that it would decrease laptop's true power and performance dramatically. Therefore, I HIGHLY recommend to invest into SSD (mine one is Samsung 840 Evo 500GB with included 3 years warranty and cost me 200 quid. It comes with transfer software to transfer your OS and data, whatever they might be) and now Windows loads under 18 seconds, whereas linux 9 seconds or less!!!!!!! The apps and data load very quickly!!!!
2. To experience true power of the laptop when playing games, you HAVE to choose an option where graphics card will be used at all times. This is because I realised Optimus technology does not see the difference between 2d and 3d games when they demand so much. My experience was improved when I turned that option.
3. When using SSD as Hard drive, turn off automatic defragmentation in defragmenter in windows 7, since it is not needed. Windows 7 and 8 use Trim commands automatically when you delete files. For linux, you should research on internet on how to make scripts for executing fstrim commands.
The issue I mentioned earlier was with the hard drive. When I received this laptop, I could not load windows 8 due to disk errors on a certain sector, which I think affected booting sector. I wasted time since that day and decided to give up on customer service since I had my SSD that does the same job. You can repair the hard drive by fully formatting it and use Windows error-checking tool to try to fix the sectors. Then buy enclosure and you can use the hard drive as an external one.
Advice for people who use live cds to perform repair tasks:
The toshiba hard drive has GUID EFI partition table instead of good old MBR one. So linux may not recognise or use hard drive's partitions. Therefore, my solution was to use Window's disk management to convert it through terminal and the job was done.
On the downside, it is heavy, especially for carrying around as the charging cable is heavy, making it over 3kg in total. I simply solved that problem by getting a good backpack and it doesn't bother me anymore.
Overall, it's a great all-rounder, it works well for movies, games (although don't expect the newest games to run smoothly on a high setting) or work, as the keyboard is quite comfortable and fast to type on.
I feel I got all of my moneys worth so far. Get it if you like to dable in a little bit of everything.
It has a full-fat quad core processor (QM) rather than the more power efficient but far less performant U series chips which seem prevalent in the Ultrabook era.
The only real gripe is the OS, Windows 8 is a real step backwards for me. Lets hope Windows 9 will be much better and MS offer a free upgrade for us Win8 users.
The chiclet keyboard might not be to everyone's taste and I do wish it was backlit.
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