Designed for both work and play, the Asus K52Jr uses a latest gen Intel Core i3 processor – a real all rounder of a CPU. Ease of use and quietness are highlighted by Asus, which should make this laptop the perfect multi-usage companion.
Handling, design and build: sober and comfortable to use
Partly designed to be a work computer, the K52Jr is soberly coloured. In black and dark brown, it is very discreet and obviously isn’t out to please merely by its aspect. The results are nevertheless good, excepting the screen which is surrounded in glossy black, reflective plastic – finger marks and dust here we come! It’s a well-assembled machine and the hinges of the screen seem robust. We also like the matte feel of the plastic around the keyboard and touchpad.
The keyboard has well-spaced keys. They’re large enough (15 x 15 mm) and keying is firm and quiet. It’s great to see the numeric pad (smaller 12 mm keys), which is pretty rare on models this size. All this will be appreciated during long work sessions.
The multi-touch touchpad is a good size. It's very nicely built-in into the rest of the chasis. The glide is precise, which means you won’t need to use the mouse most of the time (a good mouse would nevertheless facilitate precision and rapidity).
The webcam is fine in spite of the pale colours. It’s fluid and bright enough. Over-exposed areas are slightly burnt and we would have liked it slightly sharper with higher resolution.
The fan is efficient and the K52Jr is very quiet during office doc use. In more intensive use (gaming, video editing, photo work), the fan accelerates but never makes the machine too unpleasant to use. The fan’s audible but not unbearable.
Connectivity is shared along the sides of the laptop with 1 USB 2.0 port, a DVD burner, a 3-in-1 card reader and an RJ45 on the right. On the left, there are two USB 2.0 ports, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 headphones out and a mic.
Underneath, there’s one very large panel that takes up almost the whole of the bottom. It gives access to all the components: RAM, hard drive, CPU, graphics card, extension cards.
|Antitheft, fan, VGA, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0s, mic, headphones
||Glossy top and Asus logo
|Touchpad and click bar
||DVD burner, USB 2.0, card reader, RJ45, power supply
Processing: an allrounder mid-range CPU
Windows 7 index: 4,8. Details: CPU 6.3 - Memory 5.9 - Graphics 5.1 – Gaming graphics 4.8 – Main hard drive 5.8.
Intel’s new processors represent a jump forward in terms of performance. They are more efficient and adapt very well to different software, whether it is written for single or multi-core. The Asus K52Jr scores 95 on our index, almost on a par with our reference machine (100 on the index), the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400). This laptop, then, can handle video and photo tasks no problem. To give you a benchmark, a high end quad core like the Intel Core i7 720QM (more expensive and with higher power consumption) scores 145 on our index.
The machine starts up in 38 seconds (end of loading Windows desktop), and the main applications are loaded within 20 more seconds (without antivirus). It switches off in 13 seconds.
Playback of HD 1080p video (Blu-Ray equivalent) can be handled by the processor alone, or with the discreet ATI graphics card. It’s preferable to use the graphics solution as it frees up the processor for other tasks. CPU occupation then falls from 50% to 5%.
3D gaming: recent titles at native resolution, as long as you limit graphics settings
The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics card is a latest generation at the bottom of the mid-range. In fact however, this is misleading as the GPU is equivalent to the HD 4570, also from ATI. You can therefore get most recent titles to run at native resolution as long as you don’t set your graphics settings too high. Games which use the Source engine such as Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead won’t be any problem at high settings, as will Far Cry 2 at mid settings. You’ll have to forget about the most recent demanding titles such as Crysis, unless you don’t mind compromised display quality with the graphics settings at a minimum.
Audio: decent speakers but a lack of bass
Without being exceptional, the sound from the speakers is really ok. This time Altec Lansing have give us a satisfying result, which isn’t always the case with computers sporting Altec speakers. Obviously there’s not much bass but the sound isn’t too aggressive. The headphones out is in the same vein. Clean, no hiss, the sound does however lack depth.
Mobility, battery life: small battery = limited life
As expected the Asus K52Jr and its 6 cell 4400 mAh battery don’t last long. It will extend to 2 hours (2h06) film playback (brightness at 100 Cd/m², Wi-Fi disactivated and headphones plugged in).
This laptop is of average size, less than 35 mm thick and weighing 2.62 Kg with the battery. The power adaptor takes up quite a bit of space; we’ve seen smaller. This isn’t really the type of computer you’ll want to be carrying round with you all day, but it is reasonable for occasional travelling. Those who want a laptop they can take everywhere should go for a 13 inch.