Asus VivoBook Q301LA-BHI5T17 Review

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November 11, 2014
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A touchscreen laptop is something many are after, but not all of them are friendly for wallet. Fancy touch-enabled notebooks might cost too much, and probably reach performance levels you wouldn’t ever need. Luckily, also cheaper touchscreen laptops exist for the penny pincher crowd. A good example is Asus VivoBook Q301LA-BHI5T17, a 500 bucks notebook with 13.3″ touch screen, fast Intel processor and 6GB RAM. Sounds very, very good…

The main things

Indeed, the price-performance ratio seems almost too good to be true. There’s a reason for that: this Asus is labeled as “certified refurbished”, which essentially means it’s not brand new. Somebody has used it before you, although vendors promise there is no or very little sign of wear and tear. Reading user reports on this product, there were no complaints about the fact it’s indeed a refurbished item.

Well, how about the pure performance? I have good news for you: The Asus VivoBook Q301LA-BHI5T17 has Intel Core i5 processor, which is an upgrade from the famous Core i3. These i5s are meant for heavier use, this particular i5-4200U model featuring 1.6GHz clock speed, 2.6GHz turbo speed and two cores. There is no question such a powerhouse wouldn’t handle applications lightweight and heavy.

For a 500 dollars notebook more than 4GB RAM is an uncommon sight. Yet this Asus has 6GB system memory, and allows for expansion up to 8GB. That said, six gigabytes is plenty to play with, and even power users hardly need more.

The laptop features 500GB hard drive, which doesn’t stand out from the crowd in good or bad. These budget notebooks usually have similar drives which can probably house more vacation images you would ever take. The actual hard drive speed isn’t on par with solid-state drives, but if you’re not specifically used to SSDs, you won’t notice slow speed of a conventional hard drive anyway.

Screen and Graphics

Asus VivoBook Q301LA-BHI5T17 sports a touchscreen, a major selling point I have to say. Some people think it’s a must, especially for Windows 8.1 (64-bit) which happens to be the operating system here. The display measures at 13.3 inches and for the size has an acceptable resolution of 1366×768. If it was a bigger screen, that resolution would be uncomfortable in my opinion, but for a small 13.3 incher it goes alright.

Graphics are the biggest bottleneck of this Asus. Even though the processor is powerful Core i5, it still integrates a graphics chip. And integrated graphics are hardly enough if you like gaming. The chip in this laptop is called Intel HD Graphics 4400 which is a small upgrade from the regular HD 4000, although still not comparable to true gaming graphics. You can play most modern games such as Battlefield 4 with frame rates around 20, but you must strip off the eye candy. Conversely, if you enjoy older games like Minecraft, keeping high FPS and settings should be possible.

Connections

USB ports of Asus VivoBook Q301LA-BHI5T17 are in total three. One of those is faster USB 3.0 with SuperSpeed support, located on the left. The others are USB 2.0 and reside on right.

Using the laptop with High Definition TV is possible through the notebook’s HDMI output.

Internet access is attainable through Gigabit Ethernet or WiFi. Bluetooth isn’t available right away, but installing it with USB gadget shouldn’t break a sweat.

Microphone and webcam are also installed, the latter having a resolution of 1MP.

Any other things to keep in mind?

Because it’s a small laptop, this Asus doesn’t have an optical drive. If you want access to CDs and DVDs, you must use an external CD/DVD drive that connects to USB port. There is, however, a built-in media card reader for data transfer, but for understandable reasons it can not fully replace a good old DVD drive.

The laptop weighs 4 pounds, not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but for a 13.3″ device above average. The battery life is listed as 5 hours, which gives you plenty of time to work without a power outlet.

Microsoft Office Trial should come with this Asus. Being a trial, it indeed works free only for the first 30 days.

In conclusion

Getting a refurbished laptop might be risky, but I didn’t see any complaints about that aspect of Asus VivoBook Q301LA-BHI5T17 yet. So chances are high you’ll receive a good version, and if you do, you’ll get some excellent value for your money. Less than 500 bucks will get you i5 CPU, 6GB RAM and a 13.3″ touchscreen monitor. Such a configuration pleases even the power users and occasional gamers, but because it’s so cheap laptop, I can also recommend it for casual users looking for a stylish notebook that will performance-wise last a long time.


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