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ASUS N55 Core i7 15.6-in Notebook Review: Can One Laptop Do It All?

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

User Interface, Display and Audio Quality

User Interface

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Once you move beyond the ghastly silver paint, the keyboard on the N55 is perfectly serviceable, though nothing special. Key feel is crisp, and there’s little keyboard flex to be found, but the robust feel found in a Sony or Lenovo keyboard is also missing. Most users will find this laptop simply adequate for long typing sessions, and that’s fine. This is a multimedia laptop, not a workstation. 

This being a large, 15.6” system, there’s plenty of room available, and it’s used to cram in a numpad as well as various function keys. That, however, is also a weakness. While the main alphanumeric keys are perfectly comfortable to use, the numpad is extremely cramped, which can make using it a bit annoying. Worse, some additional buttons are placed in odd areas. 

The power button, for example, is located directly above the numpad. Fortunately, a momentary press of it doesn’t produce any result, but a button placed on its own would clearly be preferable. Meanwhile, the volume buttons are located at the far left of the keyboard, taking up valuable space that could have been free if they were placed elsewhere. 

Large seems to be the theme of this laptop, and the touchpad doesn’t spoil that. It’s huge, and though it lacks texture, it remains easy to use. My main gripe is (as usual) the rocker button. Instead of providing two separate touchpad buttons, ASUS uses a rocker that is swivels on the center, creating a left or right mouse click depending on where you press. This remains an nasty solution that provides poor button feel due to the dead-zone in the center of the rocker.

Display and Audio Quality

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Usually a premium consumer laptop is going to come with a nice, big glossy display. Not this time. The ASUS N55 instead comes with a matte display, an extremely unusual move given the target audience of this laptop. Using this laptop in a variety of lighting conditions is easy as a result, but the downside is a notable reduction in the “pop” of images on this display than there would have been if gloss was used instead. While matte displays are often preferable in portable products, the inclusion of this type of panel in a large multimedia laptop is odd. Movies and games would look better under gloss.

Even so, the display is fundamentally strong. In test images black level performance proved well above average, gradient banding was smooth, and contrast appeared well above the norm. Throw in a standard resolution of 1080p and what you have is one of the better laptop displays on the market today. For some users, this may be a defining feature, as quality displays are difficult to find even at luxurious price points.

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Without the external subwoofer plugged in, the sound from this laptop is decent. It’s loud and reasonably clear compared to most other laptops, although as is often the case, a pair of $30 speakers would easily be better. 

With the external mini-sub plugged in, however, the sound quality is easily among the best I’ve ever heard from a laptop. The lows off-loaded to the sub, the laptop speakers became crystal-clear, and even turning the volume to maximum resulted in no distortion. Music sounds great on this laptop, but movies also benefit, as this is one of the few laptop sound systems that can give you a kick (albeit a very small one) when an explosion occurs in your favorite action film.

October 18, 2011 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ewh shinny I'd always be polishing it! wow 5lbs i wont be able to fly with that in my pack.

October 18, 2011 | 02:13 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

No you won't, at least not comfortably (I did fly with a 15 inch laptop, once) but that's not really the point.

October 19, 2011 | 10:53 AM - Posted by temps (not verified)

how much of a limp wristed girly man do you have to be to not be able to haul around a 5 pound laptop, when its in a bag?

October 21, 2011 | 10:10 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

It really depends on the bag. In my backpack, the bulk of a 5 pound laptop is slightly noticeable, but not tiring.

My messenger bag with a single strap is a different story. It's not well padded, and I can feel every pound of any laptop I stick in there. It also generally won't fit large laptops like this.

When it comes to flying, though, a laptop like this is really too large. You won't have room to use it on a plane unless you're flying first class, and its just a pain to use it on your lap when waiting to board.

December 11, 2011 | 12:19 PM - Posted by Sean Palliser (not verified)

Ive just bought this notebook and its amazing and it weighs just a little bit more than my old laptop.
Go out and buy it
Any faults mm carrying the baby sub around

December 22, 2011 | 11:41 AM - Posted by dave (not verified)

lol. hells bells. are you of the ipad generation? i travelled around the planet twice over with a samsung 17inch laptop in my backpack and it was no major strain.

each time i watched a movie, played a game or listened to music i was massively glad to have a laptop of that size and performance with me. and never ever once did I sit in the middle of a movie on a cold, wet night in a foreign country thinking, "my, that laptop sure is heavy"!

for record, most hand baggage allowance is 12 kilos. this laptop weights only 2.5. are you sure you could fly with that in your bag?

i also have to say, in my experience 'messenger' bags are like 1980s school satchels; they are rectangular, clunky, inconvenient, sit awkwardly on the body and are poorly designed for carrying anything flat which could take up the space inside of them! they also seem to be sported by fashion victims, rather than practical people who wish to use powerful computing on-the-move.

each to their own, i am not knocking other - but i seriously think you have to decide which camp you are in!

March 14, 2012 | 09:20 AM - Posted by Exiled Londoner (not verified)

Oh you big girls blouses, when I flew there were no laptops.
We had to carry The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

5lbs pftt.

October 18, 2011 | 12:18 PM - Posted by Anoyingmouse (not verified)

Nice to see a matte screen from Asus. To me, the matte lid is unfortunate but not a deal breaker.

October 19, 2011 | 01:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Anybody know how they can make this more than £100 cheaper than the N53

October 19, 2011 | 10:45 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

I can't help you there. But here in the states it is about $200 more, compared to one of the better N53 models.

October 19, 2011 | 10:59 PM - Posted by RJ (not verified)

Is the laptop displaying pictures that are not max res? I sure hope the bezel is not that huge. Can We see a picture of the desktop on this machine?

Thanks

October 21, 2011 | 10:07 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

It is not displaying the picture at max resolution. I had it in slideshow mode, which framed the photo automatically, and I didn't even realize that you could not see the bezel in that photo until you mentioned it.

The bezel on this laptop is actually rather slim, so no worries there.

November 1, 2011 | 02:14 PM - Posted by Imperfectlink

Can we get a Cinebench 11.5 run? CPU and OpenGL if you can.

This notebook seems to be in an odd area between gamers and prosumers, but it could find a home doing 3d graphics.

November 13, 2011 | 09:21 AM - Posted by Finleigh (not verified)

Could you please tell me two things

- Could you provide me a link to the website where you bought this? :)

- How much R.A.M will this hold? I heard it can take 16gb?

Thank you, please reply soon!

November 25, 2011 | 07:50 PM - Posted by thegraciousone (not verified)

To all multi-media person,
Just get it, it's super awesome!!!!!!!!!! :D

December 2, 2011 | 08:59 PM - Posted by Intelman Bill (not verified)

Wow!!! ASUS is the greatest and best "Powerhouse" 15.6" 5lb. computer being made today. There is nothing, now, or in the future that this computer will not do! You GO, ASUS!!!

December 11, 2011 | 12:19 PM - Posted by Sean Palliser (not verified)

Ive just bought this notebook and its amazing and it weighs just a little bit more than my old laptop.
Go out and buy it
Any faults mm carrying the baby sub around

December 27, 2011 | 07:29 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

the keyboard on this laptop is a massive letdown. I spent nearly £700 on this laptop and I'm struggling to type because the keys are mashed so closely together with poor feedback that on average I mistype one out of every 3 keys. these type of major flaws are easy to gloss over for a reviewer but if you have to work with it on a daily basis then its a show stopper.

January 24, 2012 | 01:02 PM - Posted by Arron Renwick (not verified)

i have one of these on order its the n55sl-s2019v. when i was looking i also considered the acer aspire but every model on display had keys missing, and as i do a bit of typing (on and off) was put off by this and went with the asus simply because the keyboard had bigger easier to make out keys(well that and the spec of course)and lets face it the odd button in a different place is no biggie at least is not a cramped keyboard making way for a bloody annoying touch sensitive volume hub effort that you cant even look at without it going into spasms

February 2, 2012 | 03:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Could you tell me where you bought it from and what resolution the screen is?

February 5, 2012 | 01:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

what's the price in India............???

February 11, 2012 | 06:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Price Rs.64800 at rightgadgets.in

February 19, 2012 | 10:41 PM - Posted by Jim Truscott (not verified)

I'm heading away for 12 mths and mothballing my workstation.. Want to do video edit with edius6 while away. Sounds like it might be capable. Anything similar specs,price with better keyboard? Can lug usb board if pressed.

February 20, 2012 | 11:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

can someone tell me whats the price of the asus n55sl ? It seems they've stop the production of asus n55sf

March 9, 2012 | 02:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I've done a fair bit of research and I think this is definitely your best option. The N55sl that is. Out of a shortlist of 5 I chose this laptop and I've been in I.T. repairs and sales for the past 10 years. You really can't go wrong.

February 29, 2012 | 12:42 AM - Posted by arman (not verified)

nice to see...how much price??

March 5, 2012 | 08:24 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just purchased this machine for $950.00. At this price it just may be the best bang for your buck gaming system available!

May 28, 2012 | 08:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how much it cost?

July 6, 2012 | 10:18 PM - Posted by www.atoymartinez.com (not verified)

not user friendly and nothig special. Worst Card Reader location and waste of time when u pull out ur card

September 23, 2012 | 12:17 PM - Posted by john lee wilson (not verified)

Does it have a back lit key board . I have a dell XPS studio 1640 and I love the back lit keyboard . but I've had it for several years and it is starting to show some wear . thinking about getting the (ASUS N55 Core i7 15.6-in Notebook.
Does anyone know ????

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