Asus N56VM

Asus' N56VM is quite a decent laptop, so it's a huge shame that it's been lumped with a lower-quality screen that significantly impacts the user experience.


6.5
CNET Rating
8.7
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


The N56VM is an uplifted mainstream laptop. At AU$1499, it only carries a one year warranty — an indication that Asus hasn't placed it in its premium range.

It's got great speakers though, that are made subtly — but appreciably — better when you plug in the optional passive subwoofer. The Bang and Olufsen supplied set actually deliver, rather than being nothing more than branding and software attached to poor hardware.

Connectivity

  • USB 3.0: 4
  • Optical: Blu-ray/DVD±RW
  • Video: VGA, HDMI
  • Ethernet: gigabit
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n
  • Audio: 2.1 Realtek HD audio

It's got a large, usable Elan touchpad, and a backlit soft-touch keyboard that, after some adjustment, you begin to prefer to the short-throw, clacky laptop keyboards of norm.

It even runs on a Core i7 3610QM, with 8GB RAM to back it up, a 750GB hard drive and a Blu-ray drive. The rebadged GeForce 540M makes an appearance as a GeForce 630M, and pairs with an Intel HD 4000 for battery saving.

The interior powdered-aluminium look is pleasant enough, and the brushed metal lid lends an air of sophistication; so it's a shame the screen isn't very good, spoiling the whole package.

It's matte, which is actually a great start. While 1366x768 is usual for the mainstream, here there's a distinct lack of sharpness in text, like the screen has been slightly stretched. No amount of ClearType tweaking would make it go away, and visible graininess and subtle vertical lines added to the problem. The viewing angles, despite the sticker on the monitor bezel, weren't amazing, with colour shifting rapidly on the horizontal. There's apparently a 1080p version floating around, however PCMarket is the only place we can find selling it.

Ports are generous, with four USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, VGA and HDMI out and an SD card reader. The flip-down gigabit Ethernet port is annoying and given the height of the machine, there's little reason for it to exist. There's no Bluetooth, but 2.4GHz 802.11n is supported.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia


Featuring the same processor as the G75VW and Qosmio X870, the N56VM nestles itself amongst gaming laptops in our application performance tests.

Gaming performance

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Playable on:
MEDIUM
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
126 84 33
1366x768, 4x AA, Detail level: Medium, PhysX off.
Metro 2033
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
88 33 9
1366x768, DirectX 9, 0x AA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.
The Witcher 2
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
30 23 14
1366x768, low spec.
Skyrim
Playable on:
MEDIUM
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
59 39 31
1366x768, medium detail

This is a huge step up on Dell's XPS 14, which contains a graphics card of the same name, but very different architecture. The N56VM is capable of light game-playing duties.

Battery life


For the hardware involved, the N56VM does reasonably well with battery life.

Conclusion

Asus' N56VM is quite a decent laptop, so it's a huge shame that it's been lumped with a lower-quality screen that significantly impacts the user experience. If you can find the full HD option, it may be better, but we'd bypass this one.



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SellsaLot posted a comment   

The lack of text sharpness under Windows 8.1 is a software feature, and hence can be turned off. Please see, http://superuser.com/questions/661655/applications-like-chrome-look-blurry-in-windows-8-1

nathalieMichel
9
Rating
 

"very good"

nathalieMichel posted a review   

The Good:Processor, Blu-ray player.Keyboard, Sleek design for a PC and does not feel 'plasticy' like so many notebooks

The Bad:Relatively heavy

The keyboard is spacious and, with the Scrabble-tile keys resting on the stiff, metal surround, there isn’t a hint of flex or wallow. Asus has also done a good job with the touchpad. Two-fingered right-clicks, pinching and zooming motions all feel natural, and the pad itself depresses with a taut, reassuring click.

There’s little to criticise elsewhere. The Blu-ray reader is welcome at this price, the four USB 3 ports are a boon, and the rare sight of an optical audio output will please those wanting to get bit-perfect sound to an external DAC or amplifier. Considering the power and screen, even battery life is decent, www.cbatterie.com/asus-n56vm-batterie.html at 5hrs 24mins in light use. 've had one of these for a couple of weeks. It is very good (as the review says). But my God, the bloat/crapware this thing ships with will blow your mind. Dozens of crappily designed little utilities and services which do pointless things (or things you can already do in Windows) slowly and with ugly interfaces. I spent a day cleaning it up, and am still struggling to overcome the Asus updater feature, which seems to want to put them all back again.

Plus, the Bing toolbar (that favourite of power users everywhere) is a compulsory install when you set-up windows, so uninstalling that is another 5 minutes of my life I'm never going to get back.

Even after clearing the decks, I still don't have what I'd call a really clean install... and of course if I ever have to use the recovery partition I'll have to do it all over again!

Otherwise, it's great - good ergonomics, great screen, solid build. Just wish I'd gone straight to a completely clean install from a separate Windows 7 disc as soon as I bought it...

ashbug212
9
Rating
 

"Excellent Performer"

ashbug212 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great value PC, Outstanding sound for a laptop, Blu-ray plyer, Backlit Keyboard, Sleek design for a PC and does not feel 'plasticy' like so many notebooks

The Bad:Relatively heavy

I purchased this laptop 4 days ago and am really pleased with the value for money - Great processor (I have the 8GB ram version), fantastic sound (the mini sub woofer is included with the laptop), nice design with similar keyboard to a macbook, backlit keyboard with all the keys and shortcuts you could want. I chose this laptop because the processing capability is essential to my work in the adobe suite.

However, if you are after portability I would probably have a good hard look at other laptops. This one is fairly heavy (although slightly lighter than my old 15.6' Dell with a 9 cell battery) and obviously has a decent screen - which is great for design and big spreadsheets but not so essential for word processing. I plan on carrying it in a bag to university, but I am sure it will be quite heavy. The other con that I discovered is the very large battery pack - which I think I read is faster at charging than ordinary - however it will be a challenge to lug around.

I have read on some review sites that this screen resolution is inferior. Whilst it is not the best money can buy, I think it is perfectly fine for everything I need - movies, design, photoshop, web design.

Long story short - great notebook with a fantastic processor (and great value compared to the equivalent macbook in terms of screen size and processing) which does not comprimise on design. 3.0 ports is fantastic. If you don't need really fantastic portability (weight

sureshbrady
8
Rating
 

"Good processing power."

sureshbrady posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Processor, Blu-ray player.

The Bad:Decent screen, though could be FHD.

I have used this laptop (HD screen).
Pros:
good audio,
lots of USB ports,
HDMI port,
great build & look,
generous screen size,
reasonably fast processing of tasks.

I haven't experienced the sub standard screen quality described in this review. I wouldn't call it lower quality at all. In fact, someone with a recently purchases FDH Asus N series though the screen on this one was better. Not quite the retina display of the new MacBook Pro, but still very usable & much more economical. If you are going to watch movies on this, just buy a Full HD monitor to view at a larger size & good quality. The FDH version of this one is probably worth hunting down though.




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User Reviews / Comments  Asus N56VM

  • SellsaLot

    SellsaLot

    "The lack of text sharpness under Windows 8.1 is a software feature, and hence can be turned off. Please see, http://superuser.com/questions/661655/applications-like-chrome-look-blurry-in-windows-8-1"

  • nathalieMichel

    nathalieMichel

    Rating9

    "The keyboard is spacious and, with the Scrabble-tile keys resting on the stiff, metal surround, there isn’t a hint of flex or wallow. Asus has also done a good job with the touchpad. Two-fingered r..."

  • ashbug212

    ashbug212

    Rating9

    "I purchased this laptop 4 days ago and am really pleased with the value for money - Great processor (I have the 8GB ram version), fantastic sound (the mini sub woofer is included with the laptop), ..."

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