The market for gaming laptops is getting quite crowded in India. We’ve seen a recent glut of devices from the likes of Dell, MSI and Asus and all of them are aimed squarely in the Rs 1,00,000 segment.
Interestingly, almost all the devices we tested boasted of the exact same configuration. Even more interestingly, there’s quite a wide variation in performance, despite the identical specifications.
From our tests, it’s quite apparent that the determining factor for performance is thermal management. Asus’ latest entrant, the ROG G551VW, is a relatively large and bulky laptop and given its size, we’re hoping for some excellent thermal management and by extension, excellent performance.
Did it really meet our expectations or is it just another also-ran? Let’s find out.
Build and design: 7.5/10
At 2.70 kg, the Asus G551V is not light. It’s also quite large as it hosts a 15.6-inch screen. The top of the lid is aluminium, but the underside seems to be plastic. The rest of the body is also predominantly plastic, but it’s very sturdy plastic and I didn’t find any flex. I assume that there’s a sturdy metal frame underneath all that plastic.
The hinges are a mixed bag. While the display is quite stable, with much less wobble than I’m used to, the plastic hinge covers feel cheap and lend no confidence in their longevity. You can even hear them click when you press them.
As far as vents are concerned, there only seems to be one outlet along the left side of the device. The intakes are at the bottom. I was hoping for a larger vent on the device, but considering the performance, it wasn’t all that limiting.
Keyboard and trackpad: 8/10
The keyboard and trackpad were pleasant to use. The keys are backlit in red and the WASD keys are highlighted with a special, red accent. The trackpad is also large and comfortable to use, though click response was a bit off when using the buttons. Tracking was spot-on however and we don’t really have complaints with the keyboard and trackpad.
The specifications of the Asus G551V are quite nice. You get an Intel i7 6700HQ CPU, 16GB RAM, an Nvidia 960M GPU, a 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. It’s worth mentioning that the HDD is claimed to be a 7,200 rpm drive, which is great when you consider that most laptops ship with a 5,400 rpm drive.
The sides are lined with three USB 3.0 ports, one of which doubles as a charging port. “What‘s the difference?”, you ask? The regular USB ports output about 500mA of current, the charging port outputs about 1000mA of current (up to 1,500mA).
You also get a 15.6-inch 4K display and, surprisingly, a DVD-RW drive.
The rest of the connectivity comprises of a 3.5mm combo jack, a full-sized LAN port (you’ll need that if you want good pings), an HDMI port and a mini-display port. An SD card reader is placed towards the front of the device.
Asus has loaded up the device with a whole bunch of software, all of which I promptly uninstalled, and as you’ll see later on, with good reason.
As expected of a 4K display, it’s extremely sharp. As expected of Microsoft, Windows still doesn’t know what true resolution scaling is.
Ignoring Windows’ issues for now, I found the display to be comfortably bright and very nice in most usage scenarios. I wasn’t too happy with the black levels on the screen however. I found that some details in darker areas simply vanished and more critical testing showed that black levels on the devices are quite bad. White levels were fine though.
Banding was very much in control and gamma at full brightness was around 1.2. This is not the most accurate of displays, but only the more finicky users will complain.
Before we talk about the performance metrics, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the handful of Asus-branded apps that are installed on the laptop by default. There’s an app for managing audio, one for performance profiles, one for the USB charger and more.
They’re almost all unnecessary. The audio software does the same thing that an equaliser does, which might have some use in certain scenarios, but the program that manages performance profiles is worse than useless.
At the time I started testing, I was surprised to see performance figures that were about 50 percent of what I’d seen on the Asus G501V and Dell Inspiron 7559. All three laptops have identical specifications. A little further digging led to the discovery that the CPU was being severely throttled (despite a performance profile that should have prevented that) under load. Tweaking profiles and Power Management settings had no effect.
Finally, unable to figure out what the issue was, I uninstalled all of Asus’ bloatware and voila! Performance numbers shot back up to the expected range and the CPU wasn’t so severely throttled anymore. There was still some thermal throttling taking place, but it was well within acceptable limits.
As you can see from the results, the Asus G551V consistently outperforms the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 at higher settings and performs on par with the Asus G501V. The Dell’s excellent cooling mechanism ensured a very high Metro: Last Light score, but the Dell’s underclocked GPU cost it dearly elsewhere.
The Asus G501V had severe thermal issues and seemed intent on roasting my legs (base temperatures reached 49 degrees Celsius) whenever I placed it on my lap. It could also manage high performance only in bursts. Considering these issues, the Asus G551V is the winner in my book.
Read and write speeds on the SSD were 421MB/s and 122MB/s respectively. These are much lower than what you'd get on an NVMe SSD as on the Asus G501VW, but it's still way better than a hard disk. Too bad it's only 128GB though.
The designated USB charging port delivered exactly what was promised. The charge current varied from around 1000mA to 1200mA, which is just about the same charge you'd get from a normal wall charger.
Battery Life: 3.5/10
Of the three laptops being compared, the G551V has the worst battery life at 2 hours and 8 minutes. The G501VW somehow managed four and a half hours with the same configuration, and the Dell barely managed to squeeze an extra 20 minutes over the G551V.
This is a large, powerful, gaming laptop however and expecting whole-day battery life is asking for too much. I just wish it actually managed to hit the 4-hour mark under moderate use. With light-usage—Chrome and Office—I managed around four hours of continuous use, which was bearable.
Verdict and Price in India
We’ve tested three laptops with an i7 6700K, 16GB RAM, Nvidia 960M and 4K display combo. Of the three, one is a slim, mostly-aluminium device, one is large, bulky but with an excellent cooling system and the third is the G551V.
All things considered, I think the Asus G551V is the better deal here. If you really are looking for a laptop in the Rs 1,00,000 range, look no further than the Asus ROG G551VW. Just ensure that you've uninstalled all Asus bloat before using it though.
Find our entire collection of stories, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos & more on Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission on our dedicated #Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.