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Asus N552VW review

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Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Top-end processor performance
  • Excellent Full HD gaming ability
  • Quiet fans and reasonably cool running

Cons

  • Heavy and chunky
  • Poor battery life
  • Middling build quality

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Key Features

  • 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6600HQ
  • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M
  • 15.6in 3,840x2,160 screen
  • 2.53kg
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet
  • 128GB SSD + 2TB hard disk
  • Model reviewed: N552VW-FI043T
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £1,100.00

What is the Asus N552VW?

You don't need to spend £1,500 on a high-end gaming laptop to get solid gaming performance. The most desirable, most monsterous notebooks may make all the headlines, but it's the machines a couple of rungs down the ladder that provide the best bang-for-buck. As such, the Asus N55VW looks very competitive.

The unit tested here is one of the top-spec variants of this particular model, which has the catchy full name N552VW-FI043T. It has a high-end Intel Core i7 processor, gaming-capable Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 GPU, an Ultra HD screen and a 128GB SSD paired with a large, 2TB hard disk.

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Asus N552VW – Design, Build and Connectivity

The N552VW looks and feels just a little cheaper than it actually is. The lid is coated with a dark grey, metallic material with brushed concentric circles fanning out from the backlit Asus logo. The edges taper off slightly, but at nearly 3cm thick there's very little that Asus can do to hide the fact this is a chunky laptop.

Open it up and the slightly flabby design continues. The rounded corners and neat edges look fine, but the huge 18mm bezels hamper its overall visual allure.

The gradually radiating dots on the top corners of the keyboard – presumably to draw attention to this laptop’s audio credibility – spice up what is otherwise a sea of silver plastic.

It’s heavy, too, weighing in at 2.53kg without the power brick. It’s not back-breakingly bad and hardier buyers should be able to carry it around in a backpack without too much bother, but in a world filled with lighter, compact laptops with only a little less power, the N552VW feels a bit old-school – and not in a good way.

There’s a decent amount of wired connectivity around the edges of the N552VW. On the right, you get two USB 3.0 ports alongside a 3.5mm combination headset jack and a DVD drive. On the left, there’s a third USB 3.0 connector and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector capable of a theoretical maximum throughput of 10 Gbit/s, if you have any peripherals that support it.

Also on the left is the gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI port and a DisplayPort connector, meaning you can easily set up a pair of external displays while also keeping the laptop’s built-in display active. Finally, an SD card reader sits on the front edge.

Asus ships the N552VW with a 128GB SATA SSD and a 2TB hard disk. 2TB is more than enough for a decent-sized media collection, although the 128GB SSD won’t be large enough for big Steam game libraries, so you’ll have to manage where your games are stored fairly carefully.

Both sticks of RAM can be replaced, as can the 2TB hard disk. However I had a lot more trouble gaining access to the rest of the laptop's innards and wouldn't recommend doing so unless you're prepared to void your warranty and damage your laptop.

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Asus N552VW 1

Asus N552VW – Keyboard and Trackpad

The built-in keyboard is chunky and reasonably grippy, with a fair amount of travel. I didn’t find it leant itself to ultra-fast typing simply because the amount of travel and force required for a keypress is fairly high.

There’s a full numberpad (albeit slightly squashed) on the right side, while the top row of F-keys have alternative functions, activated by the Fn button. F3 and F4 have been left blank because they would normally control the backlit keyboard, which the UK model does not have. Media buttons such as Play and Skip are found on the arrow buttons as Fn-activated functions, which annoyingly require two hands to use.

The touchpad is a mixed bag. Its strongest suit is that it supports the majority of important Windows 10 gestures, including window selection and Cortana. It doesn’t feel as precise as laptops fitted with a Microsoft-certified Precision Touchpad, however.

It’s not bad, by any means, but you occasionally feel a very slight disconnect between what your fingers are doing and what’s happening on-screen. The physical click is fine, if a little rattly, and I rarely had any issues with its overall reliability.

Asus N552VW – Display

Asus’ choice of display is a curious one. It’s a 3,840 x 2,160-pixel panel, meaning everything is super-sharp and high-resolution content looks fantastic, but in most general usage situations you’ll rarely see the benefit.

In order for on-screen items to be remotely legible, Windows’ display settings need to be set to scale up by 250%. What’s more, while the graphics card is eminently capable, it only offers good gaming performance at Full HD resolutions and below, so such a high-resolution screen seems like overkill.

With that said, photographers will definitely appreciate it. You’ll be able to see more of each of the shots you take in higher detail, meaning you won’t have to zoom and pan around your snaps so often.

Actual screen performance is reasonable. It’s relatively bright at 260nits, although this is generally eclipsed by higher-end screens, and its 0.27nits black levels equate to nice, deep blacks when playing atmospheric games.

I did find the screen erred towards rather crushed blacks and greys at times, which reduced detail in some scenes. Colour coverage is reasonable, too, with the screen managing to cover 97.5% of the sRGB colour gamut, and accuracy is rated at a delta E of 6.7, which isn’t particularly great, but perfectly fine for non-professional use.

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GiantKiwi

March 18, 2016, 1:32 pm

Sorry, but that's £100 more expensive than the top end Dell Inspiron 7559 with worse specs and build quality, why exactly would you bother?

GuevaraS

March 18, 2016, 2:05 pm

I've just bought an N552vw, and in a way I wish I'd seen more (or any!) reviews before I'd bought it. Yours is the first I've seen. I don't mind the look of the thing, as I use it mostly for work. My biggest problem is the resolution - I found it weirdly variable - when showing some websites it is very sharp, but the display of my desktop email programme, the background picture, or many of the info/error pop up messages are poorer, fuzzier or pixelated. I couldn't see where to improve this, very disappointed. Additionally now that I have started looking at online ASUS help/support, the language on the English support pages is terrible - like if it has been translated using software rather than written by a native speaker. Not acceptable in this day and age. It's my first asus machine (previously Samsung and Mac) and I'm really put off. But thanks for your review!

Michael Passingham

March 18, 2016, 9:24 pm

Hi GiantKiwi,

Indeed, I'll be requesting the new Inspiron as soon as possible; that thing looks - on paper at least - like a seriously good value machine.

Michael Passingham

March 18, 2016, 9:26 pm

Hi GuevaraS, The problem you're speaking of is not unique to your laptop, but a result of the high-resolution screen combined with Windows 10. Because some applications have not (and may never) be updated to support high-resolution displays and because Windows 10 isn't brilliant at handling these older programs on hi-res displays. What email client do you use?

GuevaraS

March 18, 2016, 11:37 pm

Thanks for this insight Michael, surprised that this clash isn't something they've considered - makes the machine look 15 years old. I use Groupwise email desktop version. I may look into rolling back to windows 8 (if that is a thing). Did the n552 you tested in this article not have the same issue with varying resolution?

Michael Passingham

March 23, 2016, 11:15 am

All Windows devices with high-res screens will struggle with non-optimised applications. I'm not familiar with Groupwise but if the developers haven't made it play ball with high-res screens rolling back to W8 won't help sadly.

GuevaraS

March 25, 2016, 12:06 pm

Thanks - this seems to be the case. I have now managed to change the res on my most used apps including groupwise via some sort of 'don't scale' setting in their properties tab. Becoming happier with the laptop....

Paul Bailey

March 28, 2016, 1:47 pm

Hi... I'm looking at the N552vw-FY094T... it has a FHD display as opposed to UHD, and is thinner by a few mm. Would battery life be better on this model? Do you know anything else about it, positive or negative, that differs from this review? Thanks.

Andrea

April 8, 2016, 2:01 pm

Asus is better in everything except on the screen that results in some of the fullhd version no ips type. For the rest I highly recommend the Asus (16 gb rom DDR4 - hdd 1TB 7200 rpm - ssd optional M2 x4 PCI - USB 3.1 port on gen 2 - cover metal body ecc...)

GiantKiwi

April 8, 2016, 3:12 pm

You must be dense. At that price bracket, 6700HQ on the Dell vs 6600HQ Asus - also, Dell support is still industry leading, whereas outside of US/Taiwan Asus is virtually non-existent.

Andrea

April 8, 2016, 6:38 pm

Asus n552vw also have 6700HQ, in Italy the Asus support is quite good, better than the Dell suport

Peeti

April 23, 2016, 9:22 pm

This keyboard is a pain. No feedback led to show when the Num lock or the Caps lock is activated. '\' button has moved to a non-standard location that is very disturbing when touch typing. No 'insert' button (it is FN+delete). The 'end' button is gone to give space for the on/off switch. Ridiculous.

Moonchild

June 17, 2016, 2:14 pm

This is a half-assed review. You didn't even speak about temperatures and throttling. That's what I care about not whether the laptop is 3 cm or 2.5 cm thick.

SK

July 2, 2016, 8:23 am

I'd stick scaling at exactly 200%. Is there a touch screen option?

Pe Baret

August 4, 2016, 4:37 pm

European and US models have backlit keyboards, only the UK ones don't have it...For a £1,000 laptop, it's a bit strange decision

Ari

August 24, 2016, 7:53 pm

I personally like it a lot!!!
I know there are a few differences between the U.S and the U.K models, however it does the job perfectly, considering I've installed the adobe suit CS5 as well as Visual studio.
Battery life isn't that good but hey, I believe now days people aren't living in a cave with no electricity.
I also never had any problem when touch typing, got used to the keyboard almost immediately. The U.K version hasn't backlit keyboard but why would anyone need it when touch typing anyway.
It's weight isn't that dramatic as stated IMO and I'm not a gym kind of guy.
Overall I believe it's a very great value for money.

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