The ASUS K53E is the third Sandy Bridge laptop that we’ve had on our bench, and the second we’ve been able to fully review. It’s different from the previously benched laptops, however, in two ways. First, it’s a dual core, while we’ve previously reviewed quads. Second, this is the first Sandy Bridge laptop we’ve reviewed that relies on Intel HD Graphics rather than a discrete GPU.
SiSoft’s Sandra benchmarks are up first, as usual, and they should offer a great look at how the Core i5 dual-core in the K53E holds up. The Sandy Bridge quads completely dominated this benchmark; can a pair of cores offer the same lightening performance?
As you can see, the ASUS K53E’s two cores can’t compete with the quad-core processors. That’s not an unexpected result, however, because SiSoft does a great job of using all threads available on a processor. A fairer point of comparison is the Lenovo ThinkPad T410s, which was equipped with a first-generation Core i5 dual-core.
I was a bit surprised to see that the Sandy Bridge dual-core shows only a modest performance improvement when compared to the older model. Some blame can likely be placed on the new Core i5-2520M’s lower base clock speed; the Core i5-560M in the Lenovo had a base clock speed of 2.66 GHz. Both processors have the same Turbo Boost maximum of 3.2 GHz, however.
Perhaps the K53E will scream ahead in our general application benchmarks.
These results are much better, although they further illustrate the line between benchmarks that make great use of multiple threads and those that do not.
In Peacekeeper, for example, the ASUS K53E trounces even the ASUS N53 with its quad-core Sandy Bridge. That’s not surprising, as web browsers usually do not make great use of multiple threads, which means processors with high clock speeds and one or two cores often do relatively well.
On the other side of the line we have the 7-Zip benchmark, which makes outstanding use of multiple threads. In this, the quadd kill the dual-cored. With that said, however, the scores received by the K53E in these benchmarks are generally outstanding. The K53E is the quickest dual-core laptop we’ve ever tested in every benchmark so far except PCMark Vantage – and the Lenovo T410s received an unusually high score in that benchmark only because of its solid state drive.
I doubt anyone is surprised by this news. Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors have been praised across the board, and the Core i5 in the ASUS does not buck that trend. Now, however, the competition could become a bit stiff. It’s time for the gaming benchmarks.
Intel is putting its best foot forward here, as the Intel HD 3000 graphics integrated into the architecture of the K53E’s Core i5 processor is the quickest Intel currently as available. The IGP gets off to a strong start in 3DMark 06, achieving a higher score than the Lenovo ThinkPad T410s, which had an Nvidia NVS3100M discrete GPU.
These results were backed up in Far Cry 2, where the Intel HD 3000 graphics powered the K53E to a completely playable average framerate of 32 FPS. However, Just Cause 2 proved a much harsher game, resulting in a far lower relative score of just 8 FPS. That’s on par with what you’ll receive from a netbook with an AMD E-350 Fusion APU.
I also tested Dawn of War 2: Retribution. Since this is the first laptop I’ve officially benched with Dawn of War 2 I can’t definitively make a performance conclusion. I can say, however, that the game was playable at the K53E’s native resolution of 1366×768 with most settings turned to low.
Overall, these results indicate that the K53E is generally not capable of playing the most impressive 3D games at reasonable framerates, but can play less demanding titles well enough. These results also indicate that Intel is making great strides when it comes to providing usable integrated graphics. This new rendition is approximately twice as fast as Intel’s previous effort, and is on par with low-end discrete graphics from Nvidia and AMD.
Let’s wrap this section up by looking at the boot and resume benchmarks.
Wow! After receiving a number of ASUS laptops with poor boot and resume performance I was extremely pleased to find that the ASUS K53E reached the desktop less than 30 seconds after pressing the power button and resumed from hibernation in a blazing 14.6 seconds, the best score ever received by a laptop on our bench.
These improvements are great to see, and quite surprising considering that the K53E is equipped with a simple 5400RPM Seagate Momentus hard drive. If you hate waiting while your PC boots, the K53 should please you.