There is nothing about the K53E that is terrible, but there is nothing about the laptop (besides performance) that is great. The keyboard, touchpad, and display all feel like bare-minimum efforts. They’re fine, and functional, but not exceedingly pleasant to use. Like a luke-warm coffee, the K53E isn’t as pleasing as it could be, but still isn’t bad.
The Sandy Bridge dual-core is a different story. In our performance tests the Core i5-2520M proved to be blazing fast, beating the first-gen Core i5 in our the previously reviewed Lenovo T410s at every turn. Admittedly, the performance gap was often not as large as the gap between the previous Core i7 quad-core and the new Sandy Bridge quad in the ASUS N53, but faster is better, and the Core i5-2520M has plenty of get-up-and-go.
Intel’s HD 3000 IGP was the bigger surprise, as it proved itself to be extremely competitive with the low-end solutions from Nvidia and AMD. Although gamers will still want to look for a more powerful discrete GPU, an average user who wants to play a few less demanding games will find Intel’s HD 3000 graphics capable of providing an adequate experience.
But while the hardware in the K53E may be excellent, it can’t save this laptop, at least not in this configuration. The bargain-priced K53E-A1, with a Sandy Bridge Core i3 processor and a price tag of around $625, is worth consideration among users who want an inexpensive powerhouse. Our review model is akin to the K53E-B1, however, which has a much higher price of $750. The hardware is fast enough to justify spending the extra dough, but the so-so chassis doesn’t fit the higher price.