It has been a long while since we have reviewed a gaming laptop. As we close the year, we got the Asus G551JK in our labs. The G551JK belongs to the Asus’s famed Republic of Gamers’ series which has multiple gaming laptop SKUs across screen sizes depending on its internal configurations. So let us see how this one fares.
Build and Design: 7/10
Thanks to the ROG branding, the black and red colour tone of the gaming notebook is a given. Asus has kept the colour tone on all of its ROG series’ products consistent, which ensures that one is able to quickly recall the brand. The G551JK comes in an aluminum body with the top flap having a brush metal finish and Asus ROG branding in the centre. The red portion of the logo glows when the laptop is in use. I was surprised to see the top flap flexing on mild pressure though. Definitely something I did not expect.
On opening the flap, you are greeted with a chiclet keyboard. The base of the keyboard appears to be flush with the palm rest. Only the trackpad is placed at a slightly lower level. The edge of the laptop is bevelled with the same red colouring. There is sufficient space for the palm rest on either side of the track pad, which does not have separate left and right click buttons. The keys are quite responsive and the red-coloured backlighting adds a nice touch to the overall appearance. It can be dimmed or turned off if you do not want it. The trackpad is functional and even a mild tap can register a response and you do not need to press onto it all the time. The single key for left and right click buttons may not be to everyone’s liking.
The G551JK comes with a 15.6-inch full HD screen which has a matte finish - a good change from those reflective glossy displays. Barring the webcam on the top and the silver coloured Asus logo below there isn’t much happening on the bezels. The bezel is quite thick on the G551JK.
The hinge mechanism is very good and at no point is the screen held loosely. As a result there isn’t much wobbling either when you tap on the display. Also thanks to the heavy base, the laptop does not topple over when the screen is stretched out at its maximum angle. If seen from the sides, the laptop has a slight wavy design which manages to house a blu-ray drive on the right hand side and the air vent and battery of ports on the left hand side.
Expectedly, the G551JK is on the heavier side of the scale, weighing in at 2.7kg. Asus has provided a backpack to carry around this laptop in.
Considering this is a gaming laptop, the G551JK comes with a lot of interesting features. The laptop is powered by an Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor which is a quad-core hyper-threaded processor clocked at 2.5GHz with the maximum Turbo frequency going upto 3.5GHz. This is paired with 8GB of RAM. On the storage front, you get a 1TB HDD. You can replace this with a 750GB HDD or a 1.5TB HDD or 256GB SSD or even a 1TB hybrid HDD.
The heart of the G551JK is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M graphics processor. In terms of specifications, it is still ranked no. 4, with the GTX 880M being the top dog. But that does not take away from the fact that it is still a capable graphics solution. Housing 640 CUDA cores, the GTX 850M is clocked at 936MHz. It makes use of 2GB DDR3 RAM instead of the faster GDDR5 RAM for the video memory.
It supports Trinity display technology which allows one to send 4K UHD content to a 4K display via its mini-DisplayPort and HDMI port on the left hand edge. Apart from this there are three USB 3.0 ports, a LAN port and a 3.5mm audio jack. Just under the trackpad, you have indicators for power, battery, hard drive and so on.
Asus G551JK comes with a matte finish display which prevents background reflections from affecting your screen viewing experience. It is a 15.6-inch full HD LED backlit LCD display and despite the use of an IPS panel, we did notice a bit of colour shifting happening when viewed from the sides of the screen. But considering this is a gaming laptop where the gamer will only be viewing or playing games at one particular angle, the viewing angles at the sides do not matter much.
The black levels are not that great. In movies for instance, the contrast isn’t that great in dark scenes. If you try to bring down the brightness level, the overall output appears quite dull. While gaming also, the details in the shadow region were not clearly visible and I had no option but to keep the brightness levels over 70 per cent, in a room with ambient lighting.
ASUS ROG GX850 Mouse: 7.5/10
The GX850 gaming laser mouse bundled with the laptop is an ROG branded mouse as well and has great ergonomics. The rubberised top paired with the dimpled curved rubber mat around the thumb rest give it a great grip. The buttons around the thumb rest are placed above and below it and have a great feedback. The left and right click buttons have a good response as well. The overall grip of the mouse is great for those long gaming sessions, specially for those who palms get sweaty after a while. There is a dedicated DPI button which lets you go from 1250dpi all the way to 5000dpi. The Asus ROG Gaming Mouse utility can be used to customise the mouse according to your preference and assign different profiles for different tasks or games.
ASUS ROG Cerberus Headset: 7.5/10
Asus has bundled in an ROG gaming headset as well along with the mouse and the backpack. This certainly is helpful if you want to carry your complete gaming gear along with you. The headset is an over the ear type with faux-leather cushions around the ear-cans which are quite comfortable. The headband is two-layered. The outer layer or the one connected to the the stems of the headset is a fixed one and provides the necessary support to the headset. On the inner side you have an adjustable leather band which is connected to the two stems via plastic bands which can be adjusted, making it easy to fit any head size. The outer headband is not adjustable. The cans are powered by 60mm neodymium magnet speaker drivers and are covered by sturdy plastic. The build quality of the headset is quite good and paired with good ergonomics, it lends itself well to long gaming sessions.
On the audio quality front, the gaming headset delivers. It is most responsive in the mid-frequency region. It works great while playing back movies, listening to audio files and while gaming. The headset comes with an adjustable microphone. In the frequency response test on Audiocheck.net, it is responsive between 20Hz to 18kHz. In the Dynamic Range test, you can hear the test voice 48dB below full scale. The Binaural test is also quite realistic. On the whole you are getting a good gaming headset bundled in the package which saves up on lot of moolah.
The Asus G551JK does not have the top end graphics solution, but it is still a capable card for gaming. The GeForce GTX 850M is able to handle heavy games such as Thief as well as Metro: Last Light. The benchmark runs gave a comfortable score of over 30 fps at 1280x720 at very high settings. Metro: Last Light gave 24fps and 41fps respectively for full HD and HD resolutions with the Very High preset, 16x AF, high tessellation and advanced PhysX. With Thief, I got around 20fps and 34fps for full HD and HD resolutions respectively on the Very high preset, whereas 35fps and 47fps for full HD and HD respectively on the Normal preset. Older games will run smoothly on full HD settings as well.
Battery Life: 6/10
Considering this comes under the gaming laptop category, the battery life is not long-lasting. The PC Mark 8 battery test gave around 119 mins whereas the Battery Eater Pro exhausts the battery in 110 mins. On regular use such as surfing the web, working on office documents, video streaming and so on, the laptop ran for around 4 hours.If you are gaming then ensure that you do that with the power adapter plugged in, else you really won’t be able to game much.
Verdict and Price in India
When it comes to gaming laptops, Asus has a wide range of them and the G551JK is a good one, but certainly not the best. While it excels in computing tasks, there are laptops with powerful gaming processors. Having said that, we did not have any issues playing games on the G551JK. The display could have been better I felt. Overall ergonomics of the laptop are great and although it does attract smudges, the trackpad operation was better than what we have seen with competing laptops above. I was a bit alarmed to see the top flap of the laptop flexing on mild pressure. Asus could have certainly used a thicker and stronger top cover. Other than that the keyboard was a joy to use and lends itself well if you are a fast typist. The bundle including the headset with microphone, a gaming mouse and a backpack add a lot of value.
The entire package is priced at Rs 82,999. While there are better graphics solutions available, the price point goes up accordingly. But in the price you are also getting accessories which you would have had to spend money on, so it is not such a bad deal. Considering the Alienware 17 and ASUS G750JX cost over a lakh - considering their flagship specifications, the Asus G551JK looks like it is reasonably priced for someone who wants a full HD gaming laptop but not the extreme top-of-the-line features. If you want to save even more money, then you can check out the Dell 7000 series laptop or the Lenovo Y50.
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