Asus X751L budget laptop review

Asus X751L

With its 17.3-inch widescreen display, not to mention its quite substantial 2.6 kg weight, the Asus X715L falls into the laptop category we'd call 'desktop replacement PC'. The large glossy screen with its slightly improved image quality make it more useful as a entertainment computer, even if graphics performance may limit some gameplay. (For more, see: Best budget laptops 2014.)

There's a fair selection of ports around the black plastic casework. Three USB ports, all USB 3.0, is a useful number to have ranged on the left side, when many budget designs are limited to a mixture of older USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. Alongside these an olde VGA video port plus HDMI port for modern TVs and monitors. Also here you'll find a gigabit ethernet port and headphone jack; further up is a large exhaust vent from which you can feel a steady draught of warm air flowing.

Over on the right side of this budget laptop is a flimsy tray-load DVD±RW drive, and DC power connector for charging. To read from camera SD cards, there's a slot under the front lip of the case. We borrowed our test laptop from eBuyer.

The lid back has a fine textile-like pattern to add some texture, with half the top deck similarly finished, and the back half in imitation brushed-aluminium plastic. Build quality overall feels rather plasticky, with plenty of flexing from the wide expanse of top deck. As another indication of the low-cost construction, we found on our sample that part of the case had become detached below the screen hinge.

There's no user access to the innards from the laptop's underside, nor is the 37 Wh battery easily replaceable without disassembly.

The buttonless trackpad is more precise in use than on some budget laptops, and has a smooth finish that makes cursor steering easy, even if the click action is rather stiff. The keyboard follows the current trend for low-travel Scrabble tiles, and here has a fast and fluid action that allows typing at speed. Key tops also have deliberately rough texture that blends with the overall matt finish.

Powering the Asus X751L is a fourth-generation (Haswell) dual-core Intel Core i3 designed for ultrabooks, clocked at 1.7 GHz. As an entry-level Core-series chip it doesn't have any Turbo Boost, but does include Hyper Threading Technology to aid performance.

Despite the huge size and large screen, this desktop PC replacement does not carry any dedicated graphics processor, instead relying on just the Intel HD Graphics 4400 within the main processor. There is 6 GB of 1600 MHz memory, shared between the CPU and GPU parts of this processor.

For storage Asus has taken the capacious but slower choice of a 1 TB SATA disk, a conventional 5400 rpm drive. Meanwhile wireless connectivity consists of the now-standard Bluetooth 4.0, and the most basic of single-stream and single-band 11n Wi-Fi. Also see: How to choose a budget laptop.

Asus X751L review: Lab report

In terms of performance, this Asus was the second-fastest out of the six on test, if some way behind the Acer Aspire V 13 that lead the pack in most respects.

Geekbench 3 scored the X715L with 1843 and 3796 points for single- and multi-core modes. This ranks it around 35 percent slower than the benchmark's reference model 2011 PC.

With Futuremark's PCMark 7, and PCMark 8 (Home and Office) tests, the Asus was ranked with point scores around the mid-2000s. These are reasonable scores for a midrange laptop, dragged back more by the slightly slower storage than the quite capable processor and memory combinations.

Graphics performance results from our Windows game tests show some potential, with the usual caveat of keeping quality on or near lowest settings.

Setting Tomb Raider 2013 to Low detail and 1280 x 720 pixels, for instance, the X715L could average 43 fps with minima of 31 fps, indicating that fluid gaming is possible. Batman Arkham City proved more challenging for this laptop though, with just 32 fps average and 11 fps minima with the same low-res settings.

The large 17.3-inch display just falls short of native high-definition resolution, at 1600 by 900 pixels, and has highly reflective gloss finish best viewed in a dark room. While quite poor when compared to decent modern smartphones, its colours were conspicuously less washed out than many budget models though. The lab measurements backed this up, recording 73 percent sRGB coverage where the worst example barely exceed 50 percent. Contrast ratio of this budget TN panel was just 90:1, but it at least improves on the 80:1 we've also seen in this category.

With the help of the recent processor and absence of discrete graphics, the Asus proved able to run for more than just a couple of hours away from the mains. In our standard looped-video over Wi-Fi test it survived 4 hours 2 mins before expiring. Also see: Best laptops 2014 and Best gaming laptops 2014.

Asus X751L review: Test results

Runtime: 4 hr 02 min
Contrast ratio: 90:1
Colour gamut sRGB: 73 %
Geekbench single: 1843
Geekbench multi: 3796
PC Mark 7: 2495
PCMark 8 Home: 2061
PCMark 8 Work: 2831
Batman: Arkham City 1280 x 720, Low: 32
Batman: Arkham City 1366 x 768, Med: 26
Tomb Raider 2013 1280 x 720, Low: 43

Asus X751L: Specs

  • Windows 8.1
  • 17.3-inch (1600 x 900, 111 ppi) gloss TN LCD
  • 1.7 GHz Intel Core i3-4010U (2C/4T)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 6 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L
  • 1 TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD
  • DVD±RW
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • single-band 802.11b/g/n 1x1 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • HDMI, VGA
  • SD
  • non-removable 37 Wh lithium-ion
  • 414 x 272 x 28.0–34.3 mm
  • 2598 g
  • Windows 8.1
  • 17.3-inch (1600 x 900, 111 ppi) gloss TN LCD
  • 1.7 GHz Intel Core i3-4010U (2C/4T)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 6 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L
  • 1 TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD
  • DVD±RW
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • single-band 802.11b/g/n 1x1 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • HDMI, VGA
  • SD
  • non-removable 37 Wh lithium-ion
  • 414 x 272 x 28.0–34.3 mm
  • 2598 g

OUR VERDICT

Larger-laptop seekers may find something to like in this 17.3-inch model. In its favour is a decent CPU, storage capacity and memory, and the screen is not the worst we've seen.

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