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Asus N551 / N551JK review

Hello everyone, Mike here and this is the Asus N551, considered one of Asus’s lately launched 15 inch multimedia laptops.

The N551 carries on from last yr’s N550 collection (see my detailed review over here) and on a primary peek, not much has modified here. When you get to research the new iteration extra rigorously though, you’ll discover a new display, a redesigned inner format and cooling system, a modified underbelly and a new audio system system, amongst others.

But is the N551 an evolution? Properly, undoubtedly yes, an evolution, however at the similar time not a revolution. Persist with me until the top of this detailed review and you’ll find out precisely why. Or you’ll be able to take a look on the video, which provides a shorter abstract of the entire story.

The Asus N551JK – an updated 15 inch multimedia laptop computer

PS: We’ve the N551JK model here, with the Intel Core i7 processor, IPS show, 16 GB of RAM and Nvidia GTX 850M graphics. Nevertheless, a lot of the features talked about on this publish also cowl the opposite variations.

PS2: In case you’re interested within the “gaming” version of this laptop, take a look at my detailed review of the Asus G551JM as properly.

Asus N551JK Video Review

The specs – Asus N551JK

Earlier than we get in deep, let’s take a look at the specs, so you’ll know what we’re coping with right here.

Asus N551 collection – Asus N551JK
Display15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px decision, IPS, matte, non-touch
ProcessorIntel Haswell Core i7-4710HQ
ChipsetIntel HM86
Videointegrated Intel 4600 HD and devoted Nvidia 850M 2GB DDR3 graphics
Reminiscence16 GB DDR3
Exhausting-disk1 TB 5400 rpm HDD + 24 GB SSD
ConnectivityWi-fi N, Gigabit Lan, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports3 x USB 3.zero, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, LAN, card-reader, webcam
Baterry56 Wh, removable
Working systemWindows eight.1
Measurement383 x 259 x 33 mm
Weightabout 2.6 kg (5.73 kilos)

Identical to with the previous era, Asus will supply the N551 in a bunch of various configurations, so we’re going to focus first on the points the remain the identical on all of the relations.

Design and build quality

We’ll begin with the design. Brushed aluminum is used for the lid-cover, with a backlit ASUS emblem in the center and a matte silver aluminum unibody for the interior and the edges, which feels nice and gained’t present fingerprints. A educated eye will notice that the hood borrowed the concentric circles sample from the Asus Zenbooks, as opposed to the vertical pattern on final yr’s N. The backlit Emblem is a nice contact and I did discover that’s it’s not very brilliant. Unsure if that was meant or not, however I like it.

The underbelly is covered in some tough plastic although, and that’s truly a change from the N550, which featured an aluminum belly as properly. The plastic additionally stretches over elements of the aspect edges, integrating the cooling grid on the left and the optical drive on the best.

This new strategy allows for an easily detachable battery and for a door that provides fairly easy entry to the storage drive and memory, which is just hold in place by two Philips screws. Thus upgrading the laptop computer by your self is now a neater duties to perform, with one exception though, as you’ll discover a bit later.

While we’re still wanting on the backside, you’ll notice that the one air consumption cuts are placed on prime of the RAM module, in the direction of the front part of the laptop, and that may imply hassle down the street. In truth, Asus changed the cooling system on the new N, borrowing from the strategy used on their older N56 collection, with the air being pushed out in the direction of the left aspect, by way of that large exhaust grill.

I do recognize this answer over the behind the hinge exhausts on the N550, but that does have one disadvantage: all of the essential connectors placed on the left edge have been pushed in the direction of the front, which may result in a moderately cluttered aspect, in case you choose to use the Ethernet or the video-outputs over there. The laptop computer also gives a set of three USB ports, an optical drive on the fitting edge plus the jack for the exterior subwoofer, a card-reader on the entrance lip and some status LEDs just beneath the trackpad.

With these out of the best way, let’s have a number of steps again and take a look at the larger image here. The N551 continues to be a fairly large and hulking laptop computer (the truth is, it’s thicker than the older N based mostly on my measurements, and about 100 grams heavier as nicely), but on the similar time strong built.

The lid cowl does flex considerably when pressed, however the interior hardly bulges in any respect. The palm-rest is spacious and the keyboard sits in the midst of the physique, with loads of room bellow and on prime.

Audio system

The dimpled round patterns spreading over the laptop’s prime left and right corners are nonetheless current, as an emblem of the N Collection, they usually disguise the front-facing stereo audio system beneath, whose cuts occupy only a tiny portion of the entire design although.

There’s still an external subwoofer included with this laptop, as with the other Ns earlier than, which takes care of the basses and helps the laptop computer push punchy and fairly loud sound when having it related, with not distortions and vibrations, even at excessive volumes (~85 dB with the subwoofer hooked up, ~ 80 dB with out).

Nevertheless, my unit got here with a faulty subwoofer that was constantly emitting some kind of parasitic low intensity noise when related to the laptop. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case with the ultimate retail variations.

Display

As expected, Asus put a 15.6 inch display on the N551, with an IPS panel, 1920 x 1080 px resolution and a matte finishing, a minimum of on this model, as others could be provided in slightly totally different configurations. It lacks touch, but the matte coating interprets in low glare and thus, improved visibility in strong-light environments.

The panel is made by Samsung and is crisp, sharp and brilliant. It shows punchy colours, covers a large gamut and exhibits completely no indicators of sunshine bleeding, not even on black backgrounds and most brightness. The numbers under also converse of the panel’s top quality:

  • Panel HardwareID: Samsung SDC324C;
  • Protection: 100% SRGB, 73% NTSC,  79% AdobeRGB;
  • measured gamma: 2.3;
  • max brightness in the midst of the display: 311 cd/m2 on energy;
  • distinction at max brightness: 650:1;
  • white level: 7800 Okay;
  • black on max brightness: zero.48 cd/m2;
  • common DeltaE: four.78 uncalibrated, 2.08 calibrated .

brightness

The hinges are one last exterior change on this new collection when in comparison with the older one. There are two of them now, and never a single lengthy one like on the N550, but they are nonetheless very firm and will hold the display in place exactly how you set it and allow the show to lean back to about 130 levels, which is sufficient on a 15 incher that’s meant to stay most of its days on a desk.

I will add two things right here. Out of the field, the laptop computer comes with the Vivid Mode chosen within the Asus Splendid app, which causes oversaturated colors. You’ll need to change that to Regular. And in addition out of the box, the Font-Measurement is about to 125% in Home windows, which causes most third get together desktop apps to look fuzzy. Change to 100% and also you’ll eliminate this difficulty.

Keyboard and trackpad

Shifting alongside, I’ve to say that I discovered the typing experience greater than satisfying on this laptop computer.

The keys are stiff, travel deep enough inside the frame and supply wonderful feedback. In reality, typing this review was a shear pleasure and required no time to get used to the stroke or the format. With one exception: the END key. Very similar to they do with lots of their different laptops, Asus put the Energy button as the top-right key on this N551, where’ you’d anticipate the Finish to be, and whereas it’s firmer than the others, you may nonetheless press it by mistake and trigger the laptop computer to go to sleep, with absolutely no warning.

In addition to these, it’s value noting that the NumPad Area and particularly the arrow keys are considerably cramped on this format, as they are are narrower than the others, which is something I resented on the N550 and Asus didn’t change on the new model both.

Final however not least, they are nonetheless using Silver keys on a silver background with a white back-lightning system, and that makes the writing on each key barely visible with the illumination system turned ON. It’s not a serious situation, but I simply want the blokes in charge with the keyboards would just study the benefits of distinction and go back to utilizing black keys on these Ns (like they did a number of years in the past). The Zenbook NX500 suffers from the same quirk.

Anyway, a fairly spacious glass-made trackpad sits simply beneath the keyboard, with tapered edges that separate it from the palm-rest. It performed smoothly and accurately in the course of the checks, correctly responding to my swipes, taps and gestures. Physical clicks are considerably clunky and stiff though.

Hardware and on a regular basis use expertise

OK, up to now the N551 is wanting great. However a multimedia laptop isn’t just concerning the aesthetics, the display, the keyboard or the speakers: it’s also concerning the performance.

We’re testing the Asus N551JK model here, with an Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM (2 slots), hybrid storage (one 2.5 inch 1 TB Seagate ST1000 HDD and one mSATA 24 GB Sandisk U100 SSD) and Nvidia GTX 850M graphics.

Nevertheless, there are a few things to remember. To begin with, that is the DDR3 version of the Nvidia chip, and never the DDR5 model (which is reserved for the G551, the extra compact version of the G771 tested right here).

Then, the 2.5 inch bay and the two memory slots are simply accessible on this laptop computer if you want to carry out upgrades. There’s no M.2 slot from what I can inform (like on the G551), however there is a half-sized mSATA connector used for the caching SSD present on our configuration. Nevertheless, in an effort to get to it, you’ll should take aside all the plastic stomach, which isn’t a simple activity.

And third, our laptop computer solely includes a hybrid storage answer, thus booting (~25 sec) and loading occasions usually are not as fast as you’d get with an SSD, plus the spinning drive is a noise source you’ll truly hear when the computer is idle or used for mild actions.

Those apart, this N551 coped properly with every little thing I threw at it: everyday tasks, Photoshop, Premiere, all types of multimedia content and even games. I’ve tested a number of titles like Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Metro: Last Mild and others and all of them are operating smoothly on the default 1080p decision, even with details set to very excessive or ultimate. The outcomes are under, as well as some benchmark scores.

  • 3DMark 11: P4815;
  • 3DMark 13: Ice Storm – 102465, Cloud Gate –1482, Sky Driver – 9925, Hearth Strike – 2773;
  • PCMark 08: House Typical – 2996;
  • CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 58.13 fps, CPU 6.82 pts;
  • CineBench R15: OpenGL 86.29 fps, CPU 633 cb.

All these have been performed with Nvidia’s 333.11 driver installed.

It’s also attainable to run games on battery, but most titles gained’t run in addition to when the laptop computer is plugged in, apart from Tomb Raider. You also needs to be sure to disable the 30 fps limitation which is checked by default in the Nvidia GeForce Expertise app and don’t anticipate greater than about one hour of gaming on a charge from this machine.

19 x 10 Medium19 x 10 Medium on battery19 x 10 Ultra / Very High
Filth 374 fps36 fps
Grid 295 fps42 fps
Tomb Raider71 fps71 fps20 fps
NFS Most Needed44 fps29 fps
Bioshock Infinite58 fps28 fps43 fps
Metro Last Mild44 fps24 fps26 fps

Temperatures, Noise, Wi-Fi and others

I’m completely happy to report that throttling while performing day by day tasks, together with gaming, shouldn’t be a problem with this laptop.

Nor the CPU or the GPU drop under their nominal frequencies. Nevertheless, in contrast to with the Zenbook NX500 or the G771, the N551 will get extra permissive software, which allows the internals to succeed in larger temperatures underneath load. Yow will discover the small print within the footage under, however lengthy story brief, after operating the Prime95+Furmark stress check for about 30 minutes, the CPUs cores recover from 90 C, they usually reach comparable numbers whereas operating demanding games on Ultra as nicely, however they once again don’t drop under their default frequencies.

idle-temperatures load-temperatures

Fortunately, that does not translate in high case temperatures, as you possibly can see from the numbers under, regardless of the limited air-intake (there are just a few cuts on the belly, positioned on prime of the RAM).

In day by day use, the N551 stays pretty quiet, though there’s a continuing roar coming from the exhaust grill and infrequently some cranking from the HDD, which you’ll hear in a totally quiet room. On the similar time, the case gets merely, merely warm.

Beneath load, the fan spins a lot quicker and the laptop computer gets noisier (about 48-49 dB at head peak, with a couple of telephone apps, so take this with a grain of salt), whereas the middle of the laptop computer hits greater temperatures, enough to cause unpleasant sweaty arms, but not more discomfort than that.

In summary, the N551 receives good grades in terms of performance, noise and temperatures as properly. There’s one facet where it fails to cross although: Wi-Fi.

Asus used a Mediatek wireless board on this unit, which doesn’t help AC speeds, however that’s not the drawback right here. What’s annoying is how briskly the Wi-FI velocity drops if you get even a bit farther away from the router. As an example, on this image I’m only 20 ft away with two partitions in between and the velocity is half of what I get with my desktop.

Wi-Fi speed drops fast as you get away from the router

Wi-Fi velocity drops fast as you get away from the router

Getting previous 30 ft drops the speeds to underneath 10 Mbps. So as long a you have got the router close by, that shouldn’t worry you, however in the event you want long-distance reception, the N551 with this Mediatek Wi-Fi chip is going to disappoint.

Battery Life

Before we wrap this up we also needs to speak concerning the battery. There’s a 56 Wh one on this laptop and, extra importantly, it’s detachable. I do know that’s essential to you and it ought to be easier, at the least in principle, to seek out and use replacements when the time comes.

56Wh is just an average-sized capability on such a strong configuration though, so anticipate about 4 hours of every day use from the N551JK, on Balanced Mode with the display’s brightness at about 50% and the keyboard’s back-lightning  deactivated. Gaming will deplete the battery in just a little over one hour, while looping the 1080p .mkv file is possible for four hours and 30 minutes, on Energy Saving, with the display dimmed to 50% and Wi-Fi OFF.

These aren’t impressive numbers, however the N551 isn’t a transportable laptop computer both, so I wasn’t expecting much more. A much bigger battery would have been nice, but that may have in all probability meant turning to an encased one, and Asus chose this path as an alternative.

That's what the 56Wh battery inside this laptop will give you

That’s what the 56Wh battery inside this laptop computer offers you

Pricing and availability

Asus will supply the N551JK in a couple of totally different versions. From what I’ve been advised up to now, right here’s what you must anticipate:

  • Intel Core i5-4200H, Nvidia GTX 850M DDR3, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB 7200 rpm HDD – ~ $900 – $950 (950E);
  • Intel Core i7-4710HQ, Nvidia GTX 850M DDR3, eight GB RAM, 1 TB 7200 rpm HDD + 24 GB SSD – ~ $1050 – $1100 (1050E);
  • Intel Core i7-4710HQ, Nvidia GTX 850M DDR3, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD – ~ $1250 – $1300 (1250E).

These are estimates based mostly on the how much these configurations are going to value over here.

Wrap up

OK, time to draw the road here. There are some things that I like on the N551 when in comparison with last yr’s N550: the matte display, the new cooling answer that pushes scorching air in the direction of the left aspect of the chassis, away from us and the display, the fact that they brought the speakers again on prime of the keyboard, the fact that they made RAM and the storage-drive straightforward to access and upgrade and maybe the removable battery. These are literally traits of the older N56 collection, which is humorous, however I do respect that Asus had the power to convey the whole lot again to the drafting board and admit their errors with the N550.

The pocket book’s design, sturdy physique, snug keyboard and accurate trackpad are additionally points to appreciate.

Not a lot has changed hardware sensible although (the N550JK presents an analogous configuration) and I positive wish Asus will enhance their keyboard format. Thus, should you’ve already bought a N550, upgrading to the N551 is certainly not well worth the investment.

The Asus N551JK is a multimedia 15 incher worth considering

The Asus N551JK is a multimedia 15 incher value contemplating

In case you are nevertheless in search of a very good multimedia 15 inch laptop right now, the Asus N551 should imh be in the direction of the highest of your listing. The pricing is going to make or break it, but understanding Asus’s policy up to now, I consider this can be aggressive. The Wi-Fi efficiency although is usually a main deal-breaker from some of you, so hopefully Asus will truly get it fastened on the final launch variations.

On prime of that, I anticipate the N551 to get updated to Nvidia 9xx collection graphics in the next months and people might supply a bump in efficiency. In other words, in case you’re in a hurry, the N551 gained’t disappoint, however you also needs to contemplate similarly priced options just like the Asus G551 (here’s my detailed review of the G551JM mannequin), the Lenovo Y50 or the Acer Aspire V Nitro. Should you can wait a number of months although, it is best to: Broadwell processors and people Nvidia chips are the primary reasons for that.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. These have been my impressions on the Asus N551JK. Let me know what you consider it within the comments part under and in case you have any questions, I’m round to answer. Thanks for sticking by and stay tuned for my future critiques.