Asus revamped their laptop portfolio months ago and that included the refreshing of their N series. The successor to the N56 takes on the form of the N550 – the laptop that caught my eye because of its top of the line multimedia capabilities — from the internals powering it to the speakers and the full HD display.
The N550 is a 15-incher, while the N750 is its bigger 17-inch brother. The only device that is available in the PH is the N550JV-DB71, which is configured to have a 4th Gen Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, 8GB RAM, an NVidia GeForce 750M GPU, a 1080p IPS-LCD non-touch display and a DVD drive. The specific local model is running on 4GB vRAM instead of the usual 2GB. The unit that we have on the other hand is the touch version, running on 2GB vRAM only. Other than that, everything is the same.
It took a very long time for me to decide on which laptop I was going to get since it was my first. Months of searching and voila! I bought the Asus N550JV-DB72T off Amazon and I had it shipped here. Did I make the right choice? Will anyone go wrong with the company’s latest multimedia laptop? That you have to find out in our full review so read on.
Design and Construction
Starting off with the design, I can say that the Asus N550JV is quite a looker. It’s made out of aluminum and glass all around giving it a premium feel while the bottom is made out of plastic. The brushed metal lid is colored dark gray compared to the all silver design which we really like as it adds contrast. That’s the only thing that adds deep contrast to the laptop too since the keys here are made out of the body’s same color – silver. Nevertheless, we like the futuristic color scheme employed by the laptop.
A few minor details can be found on the laptop and they add a lot of character – the Asus logo on the back is backlit, there is a circular pattern of holes on both sides of the laptop trying to emulate speaker grilles, and the edges of the aluminum chassis is shaved off to feature a classy and chamfered look just like the one on the HTC One & the iPhone 5S. However, the bottom metal edges on the other hand are disturbingly sharp. It scratched my finger that I almost bled due to it. Disturbing.
As for the overall feel and construction, this one feels solid and heavy. It’s a tank as it’s extremely hard to carry but it packs all the punches that you need. I won’t bring it everywhere, but I definitely can with a bit of muscle.
For laptops of this price, I would have expected them to pack resolutions higher than 1080p since even smartphones pack 1080p nowadays. Nevertheless, the Asus N550JV’s display doesn’t disappoint. Colors are punchy and vibrant, well saturated while texts and HD video looked sharp and are easy to make up with, especially with the size of 15.6-inches.
My laptop packs a touchscreen, making mine very glossy and hard to use in daylight. Being a multimedia laptop, it stays indoors most of the time anyway, so that’s fine with me. The unit that will make it locally will be the non-touch model so outdoor visibility won’t be much of a problem for most; it’s going to be matte.
Another thing to add is that the lid pushes back to quite an extreme angle, somewhere at 135 degrees. That’s nice to have anytime of the day.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Like we’ve tackled above, the chiclet keyboard features an unusual design where it has the same color as the laptop itself. It has a numeric keypad far to the right and it’s also backlit. I had no problems with the experience overall, and I see not that much room for improvement either.
The power button is on the top right side of the laptop while on the left is a button that launches the Asus Console, to configure Asus’ custom settings for the laptop.
The trackpad is what impressed me here to be honest. Usually, laptops have cramped, flaky and jumpy trackpads regardless of class (except the MacBooks maybe), but this one just takes out the branding of imperfect Windows trackpads. It’s complete with Windows 8 gesture support along with Asus’ very own; it’s smooth, it’s responsive and it gets the job done really well.
Speakers and Multimedia
Having an IPS panel, a good webcam, a DVD drive, an HDMI port and the like, the Asus N550JV already is a powerful notebook.
The display is already amazing enough to watch movies on, but gladly Asus didn’t stop there. The laptop also employs Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio which creates a really pleasant music experience through the speakers up front. It’s really loud, crisp and clear – one of the best we’ve seen lately. If that’s not enough, Asus also bundled in an external subwoofer with the package — and it almost perfects this multimedia machine.
OS, Apps and UI
The laptop runs on Microsoft’s Windows 8 by default. We updated it to Windows 8.1 immediately and it made the laptop function much better in our opinion. For non-touch screen devices, the ‘.1’ update can make all the difference as it makes Windows 8 friendlier to the mouse/trackpad.
Asus bundled in additional software too. One that will pop throughout your whole experience is LiveUpdate. It also has a lot of controls for sound output and display color temperature, which we find cool but not really game-changing. Gestures and performance modes are also blended in with the system along with Asus’ cloud storage service, and all of which are nice to have access to just with a press of the Console button. Asus was nice enough to compile all of that for us.
Heat, Performance and Battery Life
I usually have my laptop on power saving mode most of the time and the device doesn’t get hot. However, I can’t stay on power saving mode forever as it starts to stutter with heavier tasks so I flick it over to either balanced mode or high performance. The laptop does get warm on the upper part of the keyboard right below the display, but I’d really prefer that than anywhere else as your hands won’t make frequent contact with it. The ventilation system really works great – behind the laptopand below.
Running on heavy internals, a high voltage Core i7-4700HQ CPU, 8GB RAM, an NVidia GeForce 750M GPU and more, the performance lives up to expectations. I was able to breeze through intensive photo and video editing / rendering more than what I can do with our desktop and I was able to game without much annoyances; I finished Bioshock Infinite on 1080p resolution with low details and it didn’t lag one bit. The same can be said about Battlefield 4, Resident Evil: Revelations and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I just had to turn off motion blur though as it did start to show the GPU’s limits.
So far, so good if you’ve read everything up to here, as I’m about to show my laptop’s Achilles’ heel – battery life. Being a heavy user, I need to charge my laptop at least twice a day as I use it for hours of web browsing, making documents and etcetera. I really expected juice more from a 4th generation Intel Haswell CPU, but I guess that doesn’t apply much to high voltage CPUs. Unless I really need to, I don’t edit media on the go and I don’t game at high performance knowing that there’s no electrical socket nearby. It just won’t last. Maybe this one is just really made for indoor use.
Running on a video loop with 50% display brightness and 50% audio volume, the Asus N550JV managed to last 4 hours flat.
Asus N550JV specs:
15.6-inch IPS LCD touchscreen display @ 1080×1920 pixels
2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU
8GB DDR3 RAM
Intel HD Graphics 4600
NVidia GeForce 750M graphics, 2GB VRAM
1TB SATA HDD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
3 x USB 3.0 ports
1 x HDMI port
1 x COMBO audio jack
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
1 x mini Display Port
SD card reader
Bang & Olufsen ICEpower Audio + Subwoofer
Windows 8.1 upgradable
383 x 255 x 27.7mm (dimensions)
2.6 kg (weight)
So did I make a good choice by getting the Asus N550JV? Probably. Should you get one? That depends. The Asus N550JV spoils you with a lot of high-end elements – from the beautiful 1080p display and the metal construction to the audio experience and the fast internals. It’s everything a person would want except for one thing – it’s not for the outgoing. The laptop is quite heavy and most may find the battery life to be disappointing, making it not ideal for those who are always on the move and like to travel. However, for those who need all the power and flexibility that they can get for a price of Php59,888, this is it.
What we liked about it:
- Amazing 1080p display
- Solid and premium aluminum feel
- Cool looking design
- Smooth trackpad
- Great quality audio + external subwoofer
- Complete with connectivity ports and DVD drive
- Fast performance and graphics
What we didn’t like about it:
- Battery life could be better
- Thick and heavy