ASUS N55 Core i7 15.6-in Notebook Review: Can One Laptop Do It All?
Performance and Conclusion
Equipped with a Core i7-2630QM processor, the ASUS N55 clearly isn’t messing around when it comes to performance. Besides a few slightly up-clocked variants of this same part, this is as fast a processor as you’ll find in a laptop.
Before we dive into the performance results, let’s have a look at the laptops we’ll be comparing the N55 to in this review.
Now let’s see how the N55 performs in SiSoft Sandra.
As you can see, these performance figures are about on par with the MSI GT680R, which makes sense because both that laptop and this one use the same Intel Core i7 processor. In addition, we can clearly see that these quad-core parts are much quicker than a dual-core Intel Core i5.
It’s time to dive in to the more general performance benchmarks. Let’s see where the N55 ends up.
Again, these results are solid and unsurprising. The N55 returns a respectable score of 2381, which is slightly higher than the Lenovo X1. It should be noted that this score is about 200 points less than that of a pure gaming laptop like the G74. The MSI GT680R, ASUS K53E and ASUS G74 are missing from this graph only because we did not record specific PCMark 7 sub-scores during our time with them.
The Peacekeeper and 7-Zip results show the benefits of multi-threaded performance. Peacekeeper does not do a good job of taking advantage of additional threads, so the quad-core N55 has a rough time of it. In the heavily multi-threaded 7-Zip benchmark, however, the quad-cores easily dominate the dual-core parts, and the N55 receives excellent scores that are on par with the gaming laptops.
Packing a Nvidia Geforce GT555M graphics processors with two gigabytes of RAM, the N55 is clearly meant to have some gaming chops, though it’s not going to be able to run with a pure gaming laptop. Let’s see just how much you sacrifice by going with a multimedia laptop instead of one built specifically for gaming - and how much you gain over a laptop without dedicated graphics.
The results of these synthetic tests aren't bad, but they're a fair bit off the pace of the true gaming laptops. In 3DMark 11, for example, the N55 is over 30% slower than the MSI GT680R. Let's see how that translates into real-world gaming performance.
Overall, these results are somewhat better than you might expect based off the synthetic benchmark results. In some cases, the gap between the N55 and the more powerful gaming laptop was small. The MSI GT680R, for example, was only 15% quicker than the N55 in Dawn of War 2 Retribution at a resolution of 1366x768.
The N55 proved capable of playing games with our normal benchmark detail settings at 1080p. Even Just Cause 2, the most difficult game we normally use for testing, managed an average of over 30 frames per second at low detail settings. That is a good show for any laptop, nevermind one that's not a gaming purebreed.
Make no mistake - if gaming is your primary focus, a gaming laptop would be a better choice. But if you're looking for a more general system that can also handle gaming, the N55's performance is more than adequete.
Finally, let’s wrap things up by looking at the boot and resume times.
Here we see that the ASUS N55 is better than the pure gaming laptops, which actually tend to be very slow when it comes to boot time performance. The N55’s boot time is still a bit slower than dual-core mainstream laptops, while resume performance is the best by only the slightest of margins.
Most computer enthusiasts won’t want to buy this laptop. For those on the move, it’s too big and bulky. For those with a fetish for mobile performance, the ASUS G-series is a better choice thanks to the faster GPU.
It’s important to remember, however, that the vast majority of consumers still buy 15.6” desktop replacements - computers that are meant to be a person’s only machine. These laptops are expected to handle everything. In this role, the ASUS N55 excels. It’s attractive, can handle both heavy productivity and 3D gaming, offers a beautiful 1080p display, and even has leading sound quality. While the price of over $1200 is high, it’s competitive considering everything that is made available here.
There are some flaws worth mentioning. They keyboard is not up to par with some other laptops of similar price, and the cheap appearance of the silver-painted keys is disappointing. Portability is also well below average. That’s not a surprise given the hardware, but it’s a trade-off potential buyers must remember, and there are some very powerful and portable laptops available in this price bracket.
Yet these small issues hardly hold back the laptop’s many other strengths. Big, bulky 15.6” laptops are not what is considered cool these days, but they have many uses. This is a laptop that can basically do it all, with the exception of travel. If you need a single laptop that will serve as your only system, and portability is not a concern, the ASUS N55 deserves your consideration.