If you are into market for a new affordable laptop, the Asus X551CA-SI30403X might be the right choice. For $370, it offers admirable everyday performance, Windows 8 operating system, and elegant design. It also has all necessities the average users might need.
First of all, the screen on the X551CA-SI30403X has a 15.6-inch long diagonal. It has 1366×768 resolution, meaning you will be able to watch movies in 720p resolution on it, but not 1080p. For 1080p, you will have to attach the laptop to an external 1080p monitor or HDTV. You can do it via provided HDMI and VGA video ports. Or buy a more expensive notebook with Full HD screen. The screen and computing are driven by the Intel Core i3-3217U dual-core processor with Intel HD 4000 series integrated graphics. This means managing routine tasks flawlessly such as checking email and Facebook, editing Word and Excel documents, or watching YouTube videos. On the other hand, the HD 4000 isn’t meant to be used for serious gaming, so that activity is pretty much out of question on this laptop. Unless you play some old titles like Quake 4 or light games, such as Angry Birds. Sound is provided via stereo speakers, enhanced by Asus SonicMaster and AudioWizard technologies. Anyway, audio quality will be similar to the majority of other laptops, since no subwoofer is present inside.
For storing music, videos and your other files, the Asus X551CA-SI30403X provides a 500GB hard drive. It’s an averagely sized HDD, but quite enough for normal operation of computer plus storing decent amounts of music and movies. The main memory of the computer is 4GB large. That size is important for running multiple programs at the same time. 4GB is quite enough for the most of usage scenarios, even the complex ones. You can read and burn DVDs on this machine, too. For interaction with Windows and apps, the notebook uses a full-size keyboard with numeric pad and a fairly large trackpad. Unfortunately, keyboard backlight is missing on this model. That’s, however, expected at its price point.
Video chats such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and other services are supported thanks to a built-in web camera on the top of the LCD bezel of the X551CA-SI30403X. For all Internet activities, responsible are built-in Wi-Fi wireless and Ethernet LAN wired connections. A little bit disappointing is presence of only two USB ports, instead of usual three or four. You won’t be able to connect as many USB peripherals and other devices such as smartphones and tablets to the system as with other notebooks. But, you can always grab a cheap USB hub and have many USBs at your disposal. Thankfully, one of two built-in USBs runs on speedy 3.0 standard. It delivers much faster data transfers than 2.0. If you connect a compatible USB 3.0 device to it, that is.
The battery inside is the 4-cell Lithium Ion 2600 mAh. Unfortunately, we don’t know how long it exactly lasts on a single charge. But, judging from the specifications, it should be longer than 3.5 or 4 hours while running light programs.
All the components are packed into a sleek and stylish chassis. It has no unnecessary curves. The finish is matte black, with textured feel to it. The body is 1.2 inches thick and weighs 4.7 pounds. That’s quite thin and light for a laptop with a 15.6″ display and a built-in DVD.
All factors combined, the Asus X551CA-SI30403X is a very good laptop for its price. But, its alternatives on the market also offer good value. One of the excellent examples is the 15-d038dx by Hewlett-Packard. For about the same price, it offers a faster version of the Intel Core i3 processor, a larger 750GB hard drive and three USBs.