ASUS S400CA-DB51T 14-Inch Laptop Review

ASUS S400CA-DB51T 14-Inch Laptop

The ASUS S400CA-DB51T 14-Inch Laptop is a sleek, stylish and powerful Ultrabook-class laptop designed to offer a combination of good looks and computing performance for those who need to get real work done on the move. The machine’s elegant brushed metallic case measures 13.30 x 9.40 x 0.80 (L x W x H) inches, and weighs just 4.4 pounds, making it both elegant and easily portable, and, with a battery life of up to 5 hours, you won’t need to stay too close to an outlet.

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Featuring Windows 8, the latest, touch-friendly incarnation of Microsoft’s world famous operating system, and a 14-inch, 1366 x 768, LED backlit touch screen to take full advantage of its new features, this machine is as easy to use as a tablet, yet retains the full benefits of a keyboard and mouse / touchpad for creative work.

The machine is driven by an Intel Core i5-3337U processor running at up to 2.7GHz. This is an Ultra Low Voltage (ULV), dual core CPU engineered to provide a good balance between power consumption and performance. Intel’s Turbo Boost technology allows the processor to automatically adjust its speed as needed, from its base speed of 1.8GHz up to a maximum of 2.7GHz for more demanding tasks. It also supports Intel’s Hyperthreading technology, enabling each core to handle up to two threads simultaneously to make best use of the processor’s available resources.

The processor is supported by 6GB of DDR3 memory. This amount of RAM should be more than adequate for Windows 8 to run well, multitasking your favorite applications without difficulty, but more memory is always a good idea – it would have been nice to see this machine shipping with at least 8GB of RAM installed. In reality, however, this is unlikely to pose a significant problem for most users, and, should more RAM become necessary, it is a relatively simple upgrade to carry out when the time comes.

Pros :

  • 14-Inch Touchscreen
  • Intel Core i5-3337U Processor (2.7GHz)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500 GB Hard Disk / 24GB SSD
  • Windows 8
  • Small, Lightweight, Up To 5 Hours Battery Life

Cons :

  • Underpowered for serious gaming

Permanent storage for your documents, music, pictures, movies, software and other files is provided by a hybrid 500GB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and 24GB Soldid State Drive (SSD). SSDs are much, much faster than their conventional HDD counterparts, but are considerably more expensive, particularly in larger capacities. HDDs, on the other hand, offer large amounts of storage space at a reasonable price, but are slow in comparison to an SSD. In an attempt to attain the best of both worlds, hybrid devices use the SSD as a cache for frequently used files, relegated less commonly accessed data to the HDD. The pairing usually works reasonably well, and is an acceptable compromise that enables the machine to start up, launch applications and resume from sleep mode with great speed while retaining the ability to store a usefully large amount of data.

The 14-inch touch screen is driven by integrated in GMA HD graphics. Although this should be easily adequate for day-to-day tasks such as running productivity / office applications, surfing the web, checking email, updating social status and even playing HD video or casual gaming, it will struggle with the demands of more sophisticated games. Again, this shouldn’t pose any significant problems, as the machine is not – and does not pretend to be – a high specification gaming laptop. It is, instead, an easily portable device with sufficient computing power to carry out real work on the go – a design goal that it should easily be able to meet and exceed.

As you would expect with a modern laptop, the S400CA-DB51T supports both conventional, wired networking via a built-in Ethernet port and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi for wireless network connections. Staying with wireless connectivity, the machine also supports Bluetooth 4.0, making it easy to connect mice, headsets and other wireless peripherals.

Of course, most peripherals connect to a USB port, and this machine is equipped with no less than three of them – one high speed USB 3.0 port and two standard USB 2.0 ports. The USB 3.0 port is ideal for connecting external disk drives, and other devices that need to transfer large amounts of data quickly, while the USB 2.0 ports work well with printers and other less demanding devices.

Although the 14-inch screen is easily good enough for working on the move, there may be times when you want or need to connect the machine to an external display – perhaps to watch movies on a large screen, for example. The S400CA-DB51T provides both an HDMI port for connecting to modern monitors and HDTVs, and a legacy VGA port for connecting to older monitors, projectors etc.

As with the built-in display, the machine provides excellent speakers, powered by ASUS SonicMaster Lite technology for rich, deep bass, a wide audio range and impressive clarity. However, there may be times – perhaps when video-chatting via the machine’s built-in HD webcam, or listening to music on the move – when you would prefer to keep the laptop’s sound output to yourself. A combined headphones / mic jack ensures that private sounds are for your ears only.

Like many other Ultrabooks, this machine doesn’t have an optical CD / DVD drive. This is an understandable omission in a design that focuses primarily on size and portability – there is only so much room in the machine’s case, and some compromises are inevitable. And, in these days of huge capacity memory sticks and cloud storage (of which ASUS provides 32GB free), it isn’t likely to pose too much of a problem for most users. But it is something to keep in mind, as, if you think you might need an optical drive, you will need to purchase an external USB unit.

Overall, the ASUS S400CA-DB51T 14-Inch Laptop is an excellent choice for anyone who needs a small, lightweight laptop with enough computing power to get real work done on the go. It isn’t, and doesn’t claim to be, a gaming powerhouse of a machine, so if you plan to play demanding games this may not be the machine for you. But if you’re in the market for a touchscreen Ultrabook at a reasonable price, this machine should definitely be on your list.

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