The Asus V550C handles itself pretty well for a laptop in its price-range, and barring occasions when it gets overloaded and stutters a little, it works perfectly smoothly. In PCMark 07, it manages a score of 1,839, which is low compared to high-end Ultrabooks, but it comfortably holds its own in the light sub-£500 market with the likes of the Samsung Activ Book 9 Lite (2,120) and the HP Touchsmart Sleekbook (1,512). The £500 Toshiba C55-A-U12 managed a score of 3,025, but is a lot less stylish to look at.
In Geekbench 3, the V550C gets 2,430 to the Toshiba C55’s 6,038, so if raw power is what you’re after, you may want to look elsewhere. With a 5,400 rpm hard disk, its boot up times aren’t great: 30 seconds from cold and 60 from a restart.
The Asus V550C has onboard graphics, opting for the Intel HD 3000 rather than the 4000 that most Ultrabooks seem to go for of late. This was reflected in the 3DMark scores, where it coped fine with the low-end Ice Storm test (19,980) and Ice Storm Extreme benchmark (14,849) fine, but struggled with the more intensive Cloudgate test, managing just 1,840. These are similar scores to the Activ Book 9 Lite (18,809 and 13,331) but some way behind the Toshiba C55 (45,485 and 29,177).
We installed a couple of recent 3D games to see how it coped. The opening icy section of Dead Space 3 was a little choppy when in 1,366 x 768 with high detail, but dropping it down to low detail made it smooth and playable. In Burnout Paradise we also had to drop things down to low detail, and even then menus were a bit unresponsive. In short, it can handle some 3D gaming, but don’t expect much from the very latest releases.
In day-to-day use, the Asus V550C is nearly silent, and only slightly warm to the touch around the fans on the left hand side. You have to put your ear quite close to hear much noise, and even then it’s just a low hum.
During the gaming stress we found that didn’t change much at all - admittedly, we were running games in low detail as mentioned above, but the laptop remained very quiet indeed with little noticeable heat change. Impressive.
Considering its 15.6-inch frame, the Asus V550C’s battery life is a little disappointing, though should be fine for light portable use. Our standard test found that at 40% brightness, the laptop gave up the ghost after three hours and 32 minutes. By turning off wi-fi, and reducing the brightness further, we imagine you could break the four-hour mark.
A half hour burst of charging returned exactly a quarter of the battery’s life to it, which is at the slow end, but of course that figure is relative to battery capacity. In this case, 25% charge will equate to 53 minutes of real world usage.