The Asus X501A-SI30403X is currently the cheapest laptop on the market with the Intel Core i3 processor. Packing the full voltage i3-3120M from the 3rd Generation Core “Ivy Bridge” family, the 15.6-inch X501A-SI30403X is also certainly the fastest notebook for $350.
For that price, besides the decent dual-core 2.5GHz CPU, the notebook delivers ordinary RAM and hard drive capacities: 4GB and 500GB respectively. The display is also an average one, with 1366×768 resolution. It is managed by the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, rounding off its basic-class specifications. Clearly, the i3-3120M is the star of the show, with speed outranking full-voltage Intel Pentiums and Celerons, as well as ultra-low voltage i3 and select i5 chips (with “U” suffix).
The processor is pretty much future-proof and is capable to effortlessly run all the apps the average customer uses. What can’t be done on it is playing the latest 3D games and video editing and media file conversion will be noticeably speedier if you step up to the Core i5. In other less intensive scenarios, the difference is minor.
This full-size laptop has a weight of 4.6 pounds and is one of the lightest 15.6-inch laptops on the market. The trade-off for the light weight is a lack of an optical disk drive. On the other hand, the X501A-SI30403X has stereo speakers, a 1MP web camera, a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port, VGA and HDMI video connectors, a multi-in-one card reader, and Wi-Fi and Gigabit LAN. As you’ve maybe noticed, there are only two USB ports, whereas other 15.6″ notebooks usually have three or four. If you have a lot of peripherals, like mouse, USB flash, or USB hard drive, and want to connect them the laptop at the same time, you can buy a USB hub as the only solution. Fortunately, the HDMI port isn’t missing like on some other budget laptops, so you don’t have to bother with separate VGA and audio cables when connecting the notebook to an HDTV.
Our opinion is that the Asus X501A has a more stylish and elegant look than all other budget laptops on the market today, thanks to the seamless top of the base and high-quality matte plastics. One exception is the Asus X502CA-series, which is update of the X501A. It’s slimmer with a 1-inch profile, down from 1.3″, and is lighter at 4.4 pounds. The X501A has a larger 48WH battery as an advantage, while the 502 has a 38Wh unit. We have no info on the battery life, but keep in mind that the included i3 chips is power-hungry, consuming 35 Watts. On the other side, some laptops like the Asus X502CA-BCL0901D, have 17W or lower CPUs.
You can get the Asus X501A-SI30403X exclusively at Best Buy.
Asus X501A-SI30403X Specifications
- Display: 15.6-inch 1,366 x 768 pixels
- Processor: Intel Core i3-3120M, 3MB L3 cache, 2.5GHz clock speed
- Graphics: Intel HD integrated
- Memory: 4GB DDR3 1,600MHz RAM
- Storage: 500GB hard drive at 5,400rpm
- Optical drive: none
- Webcam: 1MP
- Audio: stereo speakers, SonicMaster Lite audio technology
- Network: Wireless-N, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, no Bluetooth
- Input: Chiclet-style keyboard, number pad, wide touchpad without physical buttons
- Ports and Slots: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, multi-formatcard reader
- Battery: 6-cell 47Whr lithium-ion
- Dimensions: 1.3″ x 15″ x 10″
- Weight: 4.6 pounds
- OS: Windows 8
- Warranty: 1-year