Friday, November 11, 2011

ASUS K43U: Review - Specifications, or sort of.

Hi,

Ok it's been a few weeks I'm using this ASUS K43U laptop. There's a few version of K43U laptop, with either AMD E350 (1.6Ghz x2) or E450 (1.65Ghz x2) processor. Mine is an E450 version. I know that link I gave you just state about E350 version, but ASUS is quite known for confusing website details/navigation. To make things worst, details for the laptop is insufficient and lacking. So I had to search for informations around that net. So far, this is what my K43U is made of:

Prosesor: AMD Brazos Dual Core E450 1.65ghz
Chipset: AMD A50M Chipset
Memory: DDR3 1333MHz SDRAM (8Gb Max), mine is 2Gb (urghh)
Display: 14.0" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED Backlight
Graphic: AMD Radeon® HD6310
Storage: 500GB 5400rpm
Optical Drive: Super-Multi DVD
Card Reader: 4-in-1 Card Reader ( SD/ MS/ MS Pro/ MMC)
Camera: 0.3 Mega Pixel Fixed web camera
Networking:
Atheros AR9002WB-1NG Wireless Network Adapter
Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
Realtek PCIe GBE Ethernet
Interface:
1 x Microphone-in jack
1 x Headphone-out jack
1 x VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external monitor
3 x USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
1 x HDMI
Audio:
Realtek High Definition Audio
Built-in Speakers And Microphone
Speaker Altec Lansing®
Battery: 6Cells 5200 mAh 56 Whrs

It's not a high spec notebook, but to me it's impressive. Before I bought this laptop, I was considering a few other brands/models, such as Lenovo G475, Fujitsu LH520 and Toshiba C640. Yes all the models is AMD powered and no I won't consider buying intel.

My highest priority would be Fujitsu LH520 (spill proof keyboard!). But I searched everywhere for easy-payment solution and was left with only 2 options, the ASUS and Lenovo. Toshiba in the other hand, was hard to find. They have intel machines up for sale but the C640 is a rare beast. So, I went to ASUS. The K43U came with 2 years global warranty instead of Lenovo's 1 year so the choices aren't hard to make.

What I like about K43U now that I owned 1? Well, it's quiet. Comparing it with my previous machine, the NC4200; the sound of the CPU Fan on NC4200 is like a rock concert. I can barely hear the CPU Fan on this K43U. I have to really put my ear close to the laptop heatsink area to hear the spinning sound. Nice. The machine doesn't feel hot even when I tested a recent 3D game. The LCD is bright, in fact I think it's too bright and it makes my eyes tired easily. But the picture is nice. Very nice. The 1366x768 widescreen resolution is nice too. Graphic wise, it's amazing for an entry level notebook. Games which was struggling on my AMD 939 dekstop is playable in this notebook. Great. The battery life is also good for a 14" machine.

Now for the things I hate about the K43U. First, plastic. Feels like cheap plastic. Hello! Aluminium case please! Why only the intel/mac machines have it? Then the keyboard. The keys lack individual feels to it. I mean, it's just flat. Touch typing is a pain. I'm growing on it but typos are everywhere. Maybe in a few more weeks I hope. Also the keyboard have no spill-proof thingy (Fujitsu! Where are you?). There's no MS XP device drivers so I'm stuck with Windows 7 for dual booting.

Then the USB port's placement. I always use Optical USB Mouse and on NC4200, there's a USB port on the rear end of the laptop which I can use for the mouse so the cable is out of the way. On K43U, there's 3 USB ports, 2 on the left, 1 on the right and all near the front of the laptop. I ended up using the left USB port for the mouse because the right side is obstrusive. Although the K43U have Altec Lansing speakers, but the sound is lacking in bass. Musics just sounds so thin. It might be the Realtek's driver for Windows 7 x64 but I don't have other OS yet to test out the sound. Even using my trusty headphone won't make a difference. Edit: Ok the sound is good using my trusty headphone now. But the Altec Lansing's speaker on this laptop is just.. shame. Even my NC4200's single speaker sounded better.

Ok enough with the criticism. All in all, most of the things I hate about this machine is because of design issue and software stuff. Overall, I'm satisfied with this laptop. Still, I hope there will be a nice 15" AMD laptop with aluminium body. Yeah!

I've been dying to run OpenBSD AMD64 for a long time so this is a great opportunity. And because this machine have 500Gb of space, I opted to dual boot with Windows 7 x64. Of course, Windows 7 is for gaming and the rest will be in OpenBSD. I've readied OpenBSD 4.9 AMD64 when I noticed that 5.0 was already out early November. Sheesh!.

Currently I'm still preparing the Windows 7 environment. It's taking quite some time with the driver's updates, system updates, additional software download bla bla. I would've gone back to XP x64 if the device driver for it exist! Hello ASUS! No XP drivers? Also I'm preparing the W7 for game programming environment because I want to try out game programming.

OpenBSD 5.0 will follow up as soon as possible. I'm missing scrotwm already. Later then.