Asus N55SF review

6 Dec 2011

Quad-core power, fast Nvidia graphics and Bang & Olufsen speakers, and all for a very good price

Price when reviewed 
736
5

The industry may be looking to Intel’s Ultrabook concept as the way forward, but Asus’s newest offering shows it’s still possible to inject some novelty into larger laptops. The N55SF takes a 15.6in display and some seriously beefy components, and adds Bang & Olufsen speakers and an external subwoofer.

Visually, the N55SF is a classy affair. It breezes into view with a glossy black lid encompassed by a thick strip of chrome, and the chassis tapers to a delicate curve around its edges. The two-tone black and silver interior looks great, too.

There’s no mistaking the all-plastic construction, though. Next to HP’s Envy laptops or Apple’s MacBooks, all hewn from slabs of metal, the N55SF feels a bit ordinary. It’s only once you spend some time prodding and poking at it that the quality of the build shines through. The thick lid gives the display plenty of protection, and there’s only the slightest whimper from the base when you twist it viciously from side to side. The flipside to such solidity is weight: at 2.79kg it isn’t ideal for the daily commute.

Asus N55S

But this isn’t a laptop with travel on its mind; it’s an entertainment laptop through and through. The Bang & Olufsen ICEpower speakers deliver far more clarity than most laptops, and the Asus SonicMaster software makes it quick and easy to tweak playback for music, movies and games. The real novelty is the separate subwoofer, a little accessory that plugs into the Asus’ side. The results are impressive. There’s still no semblance of real, ground-shaking sub-bass, but the extra speaker makes its presence heard, adding more depth and fullness to the sound.

That sonic performance is matched by a fine display. The 1,600 x 900 resolution is a welcome surprise – we’re used to 1,366 x 768 displays on today’s 15.6in laptops – and the matte finish does its bit to keep reflections and glare at bay. A measured contrast ratio of 550:1 and maximum brightness of 281cd/m[sup]2[/sup] see the Asus deliver bright whites and inky blacks, and while the low gamma of 1.9 leaves images looking a tad pale, it’s nothing we couldn’t learn to live with.

Details

Price ex VAT £613
Price inc VAT £736
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 379 x 261 x 38mm (WDH)
Weight 2.790kg
Travelling weight 3.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-2670QM
Motherboard chipset Intel HM65
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 555M
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 640GB
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Battery capacity 5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Audio chipset Bang & Olufsen ICEpower
Speaker location Above keyboard and external
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 55min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 21min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 111fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.83
Responsiveness score 0.82
Media score 0.85
Multitasking score 0.81

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7