Asus N55S - Playing to win

4/12/2012 8:52:41 AM

The Asus N55S is a powerful entertainment laptop with some smart styling, but how well does it compete?

Description: Asus N55S

A Asus NS5S:A solid chassis to match its robust performance


When you first set eyes on the N55S, it’s difficult to get a handle on exactly what type of machine it is. The powerful Core 17 processor, huge keyboard with numeric keypad and slab of a speaker suggest that it may be intended as a desktop replacement, but the weight and general lack of bulk suggest otherwise. When all’s said and done, this is a powerhouse of an entertainment laptop. There’s Bang and Olufsen ICEPower audio, 6GB of memory and a Blu-ray drive hidden inside that hefty case.

This is a high performance laptop with a gaming bent — the Nvidia GeForce GT55M has a whopping 2GB of memory just for graphics, providing some of the best 3D performance you’ll find in a laptop.

While the chassis is big, it’s not too bulky and is easy to move around. Sadly the power brick isn’t so portable and is a bit of a lump. The chassis is a little plasticky, but is topped off by a curved, glossy piano black lid with a smart looking chrome finish around the edge. The lid picks up fingerprints quickly, but that’s an issue with all such glossy laptop lids - particularly when they’re being used by kids. As a whole, the laptop looks very classy and we wouldn’t be ashamed to leave it on the coffee table.

The chassis has been put together well and is strong — you can’t push down on the palm rest, although there is a little flex in the base of the keyboard and the main body itself. There’s more flex in the screen, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Key concern

We’re unsure about the keyboard though. It looks horrid compared to those of many comparable laptops. The keys seem a little compressed, and although they have a lovely spring to them when you’re typing, it’s easy to accidentally hit the wrong one. This problem is exacerbated by the location of the volume control keys on the left-hand side. It’s very easy to hit one of them when going for [Tab] or holding down [Shift] — largely because we’re so used to these keys being at the edge of the keyboard.

Sound, which has traditionally been a weakness for laptops, certainly isn’t neglected here. The B&O audio is nothing short of astounding. It was too loud for our living room, so we really gave it a challenge by bringing it into the office. Even on the other side of our large open plan room, we could clearly make out the music.

It’s great for watching Blu-ray movies, anti H DM1 means YOU can output your display to a larger screen. If you prefer to use the built-in display, images are clear and crisp, and there’s an anti-glare coating to reduce reflections when you’re watching video or working. The screen has great contrast and colours are also reproduced well.


Photo, video and music addicts will be pleased with the 640GB of storage, and USB 3.0 connectivity means that, even if you decide to add external storage, transfer speeds would be extremely snappy with a USB 3.0 drive. Ports are plentiful, while there’s a SD card slot underneath the front lip.

The trackpad is responsive, but the mouse buttons tended to click too easily and precise tasks like highlighting text can be difficult.

The N55S put iii a really strong performance in our benchmarks - the gaming graphics put it right tip alongside entertainment-orientated notebooks like the Toshiha Qosmio X770, as well as high-end gaming laptops like the Alienware M14X and M18X. With the quad-core processor, advanced graphics and 6GB of memory, you’ll have no trouble running most games or performing tasks like video editing. The laptop uses Nvidia’s Optinius graphics switching technology, so you get great graphics performance when it’s plugged into the mains and decent batters’ life when it’s not. This is reflected in our battery benchmark score, which is great compared to many of its peers — the Toshiba’s Qosmio X770 only lasted 44 minutes by contrast.

As with some other recent Asus laptops like the UX31 Zenbook, we found some of the software annoying. A reminder to register our details and an update wizard kept appearing. Such add-on software seems to be a way of life now, but it detracts from the out- of-box experience. That said, the N55S is better than most, with only the Bing toolbar really grating, and the fast processor means such additions don’t slow the OS down.

The N55S is a superb home entertainment laptop with only a couple of weak points. Performance is excellent and the spec sheet as a whole is impressive. Of course, all this doesn’t come cheap, but this machine compares favourably to more stylised and costly laptops from the likes of Toshiba and Alienware. We’d definitely recommend it - if you can put up with the strange keyboard.



Price £700


Key features

Intel Core i7-26700M 2.20GHz processor, 6GB RAM, 640GB storage. 4 x B lu-ray! DVD-RW, 15.6-inch screen, 1600x 900 screen resolution, Nvidla GT555M 2GB, 379 x 261 x 38mm, 2.8kg. 802.11 b/g/n 4 x USB (including 2 x USB 3.0), Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

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