As a desktop replacement-style laptop, performance is of utmost importance with the Asus N53SV. Thankfully, with a dedicated graphics chip and the Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor running the show, it comes up with the goods.
In our PCMark productivity tests, it managed a respectable 6238 points. The 5400rpm hard drive isn't hugely quick, but the Asus N53SV will be able to cope with the vast majority of productivity and media tasks you could throw at it - including favourites like decoding 1080p video.
Something that has added a significantly chunk of change to its £699 price is the 1GB GeForce GT540M graphics card. This mid-range card performs well with older games, and will handle new games at middling or lower settings. In our most challenging Crysis test, it didn't produce enjoyable frame rates at a sub-native resolution of 1,280 x 720, supplying 21.8 frames per second (fps) on high detail settings. Slipping down to medium settings though rendered a perfectly playable 36.7fps average.
Predictably, it also performs extremely well in our less intensive S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Trackmania Nations benchmarks. In the former, it reached an average of 50.65fps and a rather ridiculous 141fps in the less-intensive Trackmania. The Asus N53SV isn't quite powerful enough to satisfy the most hardcore of gamers but for the rest of us, it'll do the job admirably.
For such a large laptop the Asus N53SV has decent battery life, lasting for four hours and 20 minutes in our productivity test. It won't manage that long when playing Crysis of course, but for typing documents and so on you'll be able to stay away from the power plug for the best part of a working day.
At 2.7kg, it's a little too heavy to comfortably carry around with you all day long, but this is otherwise a very versatile, feature-complete laptop. A higher-quality screen would have been a bonus, but with a built-in Blu-ray player, decent build quality, good speakers and strong overall performance, the Asus N53SV is an excellent all-rounder.
Can you get more for your money elsewhere though? The Dell XPS 15 doesn't quite have the gaming performance, a Blu-ray drive or as much RAM when configured to the same price, and it's a similar tale with the Samsung SF310 - which has a lesser graphics card and no Blu-ray player. Stacking up the Asus N53SV's features up against its asking price, it's hard not to be at least a little impressed.
A versatile machine that handles gaming, multimedia and productivity tasks equally well, the Asus N53SV offers excellent value and decent build quality. Its looks err on the serious side a bit more than is strictly necessary, but its design remains cohesive resulting in a good-looking laptop. The screen's nothing special, but the rest of what's on show makes this mid-range laptop a highly attractive buy.