Performance: Synthetic 3D, Game Benchmarks – Conclusion
Performance – Synthetic 3D
Just to be clear, we will be using the results of the ASUS N56VM with the GT 630M enabled. Intel HD 4000 is surprisingly competitive, but overall, the 630M is an improvement.
Let’s jump right in to 3DMark 06 and 11.
Synthetic performance is robust for the GT 630M, placing it above older Nvidia discrete solutions and, of course, Intel HD 3000 (found in the HP dm4t). This is not really even a mid-range part for the 600 series, yet it is capable of playing even recent 3D games. Speaking of which…
Performance – Real-World Gaming
So, how does the ASUS N56VM with its GT 630M work in real gaming? Let’s have a look, starting with Dawn of War 2: Retribution.
The results here are fairly tight because the game is a bit CPU-bound, particularly at these settings. Every laptop here provides a playable experience, but the ASUS N56VM is the quickest and smoothest, beating even the Alienware M14X with its GT 555M and Sandy Bridge quad-core.
Now let’s consider Just Cause 2.
Here we see the Alienware M14x regain its footing as the dominant gaming laptop thanks to Just Cause 2’s GPU-bound gameplay. Still, the N56VM is more than capable of providing a playable experience, particularly when you consider that the benchmark we use is about the most demanding you’ll find in the game.
Finally, we take a look at Battlefield 3, which is among the most demanding games on the market today. Can the ASUS N56VM hang? Let’s find out.
Yes, the ASUS N56VM can hang in this game, providing a playable experience at medium detail. The M14x is faster (as you’d expect) but playable is…playable. I think this may be quite surprising to some users – Battlefield 3 is considered a difficult title, but it’s workable at medium presets and still looks better than 98% of new games sold over the last year.
Performance – 1080p Gaming
Let’s wrap things up by looking at 1080p gaming. This is the native resolution of the ASUS N56VM and, obviously, it’s much more demanding. Since only the Dell 15z has been tested at this resolution, we’re going to throw in the recently reviewed ASUS G75 gaming laptop for additional context.
As you can see, increasing the resolution to 1080p changes the performance picture dramatically. Suddenly the N56VM’s hardware is rather inadequate for the task at hand, with only Dawn of War 2: Retribution remaining enjoyable. Just Cause 2 is nearly there, but Battlefield 3 isn’t even close.
It’s a shame that gamers can’t take full advantage of the 1080p resolution, but that’s the reality of modern graphics hardware. Let’s hope that GPUs can, eventually, solve this problem.
The ASUS N56, despite its much different exterior, is a spot-on modernization of the ASUS N55. It has the same positive traits of that outgoing model. The display is matte and of good quality, performance is well-rounded and the design is robust. ASUS has even improved on the formula by adding a better keyboard and touchpad and increasing the use of high-quality materials, resulting in a better overall user experience.
Such changes are not just a nice bonus. The N56, like the laptop it replaces, is priced in a market filled with competitors like the HP Envy, Dell XPS 15z and Sony Vaio S 15.5", products that offer solid hardware and plenty of refinement. This new laptop is a viable competitor for top honors among this crowd. There still could be some improvements in general refinement, but the overall package is hard to ignore.
Part of that package is the 2-year warranty provided by ASUS. We don’t normally comment on warranties because they’re usually similar, but this one is different. It’s a free 2-year warranty against defects as well as a 1-year accidental damage warranty and a 30-day “zero dot” display warranty. ASUS has a reputation as one of the more reliable brands in the business and it’s using the reputation as leverage to sell its laptops as the trustworthy choice.
If you want a powerful multimedia laptop the N56 should be on your short list. It’s admittedly expensive, but no more so that similar competition. Also, if ASUS acts as it has in the past, there will be a base-trim model available within a few months offering an entry-level Ivy Bridge quad or an Ivy Bridge dual-core. This hypothetical PC would be a great value.