My only complaint here is that the Waves MaxxAudio 3 software provided with the N56VM isn’t particularly intuitive for less technical users. It provides a multi-band equalizer with detailed options for creating your own custom EQ settings, but there are no presets that beginners can use to quickly adjust the sound for pop, rock or other types of music.
Music technology plug-in developer Waves applies its expertise to laptop listening with MaxxAudio
You could argue that MaxxAudio 3 encourages experimentation and while the equalisation controls are easy to get to grips with, some may find becoming acquainted with its dynamics functions less familiar territory. Still, there’s no doubt that the N56VM’s audio and video features make it an excellent option for entertainment at home or business presentations at work. It’s powerful enough for a variety of business and entertainment applications too.
The review unit costs £800 from Comet, and features a quad-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM Ivy Bridge processor, along with 8GB of 1600MHz memory, and 750GB hard disk. There’s also an i5 version available from Dixons for about £100 less.
The N56VM didn’t produce an outstanding score in our benchmark tests – coming in at a relatively modest 2547 with PC Mark 7 – but that was primarily due to the use of an unremarkable 5400rpm hard disk, which is left standing by the SSD drives found in many current laptops. Nonetheless, the N56VM feels nice and snappy most of the time and – despite the sluggish hard drive – wakes from sleep in less than five seconds.
It’s more than adequate for running business software, as well as multimedia work such as audio recording or video editing. The humungous vent on the left-hand edge of the unit did have me a bit worried about overheating from the i7 processor, but the base of the N56VM never became more than mildly warm during several hours of benchmark testing.
Quad core CPU but could really benefit from an SSD but as a multimedia machine, you'll want that space on the HDD
It even passes muster for some light gaming too. In addition to the integrated Intel HD 4000, the N56VM also includes a separate GeForce GT630M graphics card. Admittedly, this is a pretty low-end chip, but it managed a respectable 60fps when running Far Cry 2, compared to just 25fps for the Intel HD 4000. That’s not exactly hard-core, but it’ll do for a spot of casual fragging every now and then.
Battery life is more modest, though. The N56VM only lasted for 105mins when using the GeForce graphics chip with the PowerMark 1.1 benchtest. That was extended to 150mins with the less power-hungry integrated graphics, but is still considerably less than the 4-5hrs offered by many current laptops. However, I was able to get 3.5hrs when using Wi-Fi to stream video off the BBC iPlayer, so you could probably stretch that to around four hours for basic web browsing and running MS Office.
You are paying a bit of a premium for the 2.1 speakers, HD screen and Blu-ray drive, so if you simply need a fast 15.6in laptop then there are obviously cheaper options available. However, the N56VM is a very capable multimedia laptop that will earn its keep as part of your home entertainment system, or delivering slick multimedia presentations in the boardroom. ®
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A matte finish screen!
I'd buy it if it wasn't for the price. I'm fed up with gloss finish screens, which seems to be all there is nowadays.
I got this the other week for £699 from Comet (which it still is, according to their website).
I wanted an screen with a half-decent resolution, as doing dev on the usual rubbish 768 vertical is not a pleasurable experience. With it's full HD resolution, this laptop is a rarity in the PC market.
Apart from that, it seems pretty nippy to me, but it's early days yet.
Keep it up Reg, this is a laptop that some of us might find useful.
This is actually a very good development computer, certainly in the 16G RAM version. 1920 by 1080 screen, supports second monitor, numeric keypad, put databases on an external USB3 hard drive and the performance with SQL Server 2012 is rather good. I bought it to do .NET, J2EE and SQL Server development, and it replaces a substantial tower that wan't really luggable. You will need to throw away Home Premium and put on a more suitable OS, but it still comes in cheaper than an HP portable workstation, and is cooler and faster.
As for battery life, during meetings it runs for over 4 hours just collecting email, checking facts etc., which is adequate. Longer when it's connected to the projector. It also has one of those handy USB sockets that still charges your phone when the computer is off.
I'm nearly tempted, though I still think that at least x1200 is needed on something big enough to have a numeric keypad.
What happened to the battery, lads? seems a very odd result.