Asus S56CA review

Ultrabook size, with an optical drive

Asus S56CA review
The Asus S56CA has an optical drive but only an i3 processor

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The Asus S56CA-XX024H comes equipped fairly lightly in the processor department, as you might expect for its low price.

It features an Intel Core i3-3217U, which is a dual-core chip running at 1.8GHz. It features Hyper-Threading too, meaning that it has four virtual cores, but doesn't have Intel's Turbo Boost technology to run any faster than its normal clock speed.

It's very much an Ultrabook choice of chip, but when you combine the reasonably slim size and low cost of this model of the Asus S56CA, it's not surprising - there are smaller and lighter Ultrabooks with more powerful options, but they cost a lot more. Similarly, there are more powerful chips in thicker, heaver laptops.

Asus S56CA review

Being an Ivy Bridge chip, the processor is designed to be fairly light on power consumption. It also offers built-in graphics capability, with Intel's newest HD 4000 graphics chip.

Intel's 4000 graphics series isn't exactly a gamer's dream, but it's more than adequate for most people. Dedicated graphics cards can produce much higher performance, but they take up a lot of space and use power, so it's no surprise not to see one here. Intel's graphics have proven more than satisfactory for this kind of machine in the past.

There's 4GB of RAM for Windows 8 to play with, which is a perfectly reasonable amount for the price.

Asus S56CA review

As part of Asus's tight meeting of the criteria to be an Ultrabook, the Asus S56CA features a solid-state drive, but it's only a small one. There's 24GB of fast flash storage, paired with a standard 500GB laptop hard drive.

Setups like this are designed to balance size of storage, speed and cost - 500GB of all-SSD storage would likely nearly double the cost of this machine.

As we said, one of the most unusual features here for an Ultrabook is the optical drive - it's a DVD drive only, though, so you won't get Blu-ray playback out of it.

Asus S56CA review

There's plenty more here in terms of connectivity, with Wi-Fi, VGA and HDMI video ports, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 connections, an Ethernet port and a headphone/microphone jack. There's also an SD card reader on the front.

The screen is 15.6 inches, with a resolution of 1366 x 768. This is fairly standard for the price, and while it matches many other lower-end Ultrabooks in terms of pixel count, this screen is a fair bit larger than the 13- or 14-inch affairs you usually get on those.

This means you get more screen to look at, but the image quality won't be as sharp.

Asus S56CA review