November 12, 2012
- Attractive design
- DVD optical drive
- Very fast performance
- Keyboard is mushy
- Below average battery life
The Asus S56CA-DH51 is another new 15-inch Windows 8 Ultrabook that has an attractive aluminum design and a speedy Intel Core i5 CPU to back up its looks. Thanks to a 24GB SSD HD, it boots up quickly but the keyboard and battery life need some work.
The Asus S56CA-DH51 has a brushed aluminum black lid that actually showed a lot of fingerprints to our surprise. The inside keyboard deck is made of the same material but it is brushed silver in color and texture. It all looks very nice and definitely seems like a laptop of the near future instead of having a dated design.
It measures 15.0 x 10.5 x 0.8-inches (wdh) and weighs 5.0-pounds, so it's slightly slimmer and a tad less heavier than other similar Ultrabook laptops.
Asus chose a 15.6-inch glossy screen that has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels for this new laptop. While watching 1080p HD video content, we were pleased with what we saw in terms of color quality and overall image appearance. The screen could have been a little brighter according to our test viewers, but they did say viewing angles were very good. The display is glossy, so there is a decent amount of reflections from ambient lighting to wash out the display.
When it comes to the S56CA-DH51's keyboard, we were a little disappointed. The island-style keyboard is well-sized but the keys have an overall mushy feeling that lacked feedback. Luckily, the keyboard is backlit, which is a must in our eyes these days. The touchpad is rather large and seemed to provide good accuracy and room, especially for the new Windows 8 gestures. There is not a discrete mouse button because the touchpad is actually a clickpad at the bottom half.
The Asus S56CA-DH51 includes one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-out, VGA-out, a headphone/microphone combo jack and an SD card reader. There's also a DVD-RW optical disc drive, which is a rarity for an Ultrabook. Wireless connectivity includes both Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Our review unit had a low-voltage Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7-GHz) , 6GB of RAM, a 750GB 5400RPM hard drive, a 24GB SSD and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. A PCMark 7 benchmark resulted in a score of 3,150, which is about 750 points ahead of the category average. Boot times, thanks to the SSD drive, clocked in at around 20-seconds, which is blazingly fast. General performance was very good and we didn't experience any slow downs while multitasking or watching HD video.
Battery life is one area that could use some improving, however. We only squeaked 4.25-hours out, which is more than an hour less than other similar laptops.
For more Ultrabook and laptop reviews, visit our Laptops & Ultrabook Reviews page.