ASUS ViVoBook S500CA-DS51T 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) Review

ASUS ViVoBook S500CA-DS51T 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)

The ASUS ViVoBook S500CA-DS51T 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black) is a reasonably powerful, touch-screen Ultrabook with a hidden-hinge design, chiclet keyboard and brushed metallic case.

The case measures just 15.10″ x 10.20″ x 0.80″ (LxWxH) and weighs 4.6lbs – small and light enough to be easily portable, yet large enough to be user-friendly. It houses a third generation Intel Core i5-3317U Processor, 6GB of  DDR3 RAM, a hybrid 24 GB Solid-State Drive / 500 GB 5400 rpm conventional Hard Drive and a Lithium ion battery with a battery life of up to 5 hours.

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This is a powerful combination of components that should be easily able to cope with everyday computing tasks, and still have enough capacity to spare to handle more demanding work, too. The i5-3317U processor is a dual core, Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) component specifically designed for use in Ultrabooks and smaller laptops, where it is important to balance power consumption against computing performance. It makes use of Intel’s Turbo Boost technology to automatically adjust its own speed as needed, from a base speed 1.7GHz up to a maximum of 2.6GHz. Together with Hyperthreading, which enables each of the processor’s cores to handle up to two threads simultaneously, this ensures that the CPU is always performing as efficiently as possible.

The 6GB of DDR3 memory supplied with this machine ought to be more than adequate for day to day tasks, allowing the installed copy of Windows 8 to stretch its muscles and multi-task your favourite applications without difficulty. Of course, many machines ship with more RAM – 8GB is common, and even 16GB is not unknown, although this would be overkill for routine computing chores. On the other hand, there are still quite a few machines supplied with 4GB, and, occasionally, less. 6GB, therefore, represents a sensible balance between cost and functionality.

A similar, equally sensible balance applies to the machine’s 24GB SSD / 500GB HDD hybrid storage solution. SSDs, although many times faster and more resilient than conventional hard drives, are also substantially more expensive, particularly in reasonably large storage capacities. Hybrid drives avoid these difficulties by using the high speed SSD as a cache and leaving the high capacity, but much slower, conventional drive to store less frequently required files. The result is, essentially, the best of both worlds – high speed access to commonly used data and lots of space to store all of the files you need to take around with you.

Pros :

  • Powerful, Easily Portable Ultrabook
  • Large, Fast Hybrid 24GB SSD / 500GB HDD
  • 6GB RAM
  • 15.6 Inch Touch Screen
  • Windows 8

Cons :

  • Graphics Inadequate For Serious Gaming
  • No Built-in Optical Drive

In common with many Ultrabooks, the ViVoBook S500CA-DS51T doesn’t have an internal CD / DVD drive. In reality, this is unlikely to be a significant problem, and is an understandable omission in view of the focus on small, lightweight products in the Ultrabook market. However, if you think you might need an optical drive, you will need to purchase an external USB unit.

This machine sports a 15.6 inch, LED backlit, HD (1366×768), capacitive touch panel, making it easy and fun to take full advantage of the new touch-driven elements of Windows 8. The display is driven by integrated Intel GMA HD graphics hardware, which should cope well enough with routine tasks, casual gaming and HD video. However, it will struggle with today’s more sophisticated games, so if you’re looking for a gaming laptop, this may not be the machine for you.

Although the display is more than adequate for getting work done on the move, there may well be times – say, watching a movie after work! – when you’d rather connect the machine to a larger external monitor. Fortunately, the S500CA-DS51T makes that very easy to do by providing both an HDMI port for connecting a modern monitor or HDTV, and a VGA port for connecting an old-style monitor or projector.

The machine also provides two standard USB 2.0 ports and one high speed USB 3.0 port for connecting to wired peripherals such printers or memory sticks, while Bluetooth 4.0 makes it easy to connect wireless devices such as mice or headsets. Alternatively, if you prefer to use a wired headset, a combined mic and headphones audio jack allows for more private enjoyment of music, movies and video chat than would be possible with the machine’s built-in speakers.

As you would expect from a modern laptop – particularly one that aspires to the Ultrabo0ok concept of powerful yet easily portable computing – networking is provided by built in 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, making connection to home or office networks a breeze. Finally, an SD card reader makes the process of transferring images on to the laptop very simple indeed – no need to connect your camera or cellphone to the machine with a cable!

Overall, the ASUS ViVoBook S500CA-DS51T 15.6-Inch Laptop is a capable machine, and should be easily able to handle everyday computing tasks, together with some more demanding workloads, too. It isn’t – and doesn’t claim to be – a gaming laptop, and, although it shouldn’t struggle unduly with casual games, more challenging modern games are beyond it. However, as a mobile workhorse, able to do real work on the go, it has a lot to offer.

If you’re looking for a powerful, easily portable, Windows 8 driven laptop with a touch-screen, this could well be the machine for you!

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