Published on June 1st, 2012 | by Mike1
Asus G55 VW review – a powerful gaming laptop, in a slightly more compact body
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, than you’ll have performances at the top of your list of requirements. And with notebooks, you’ll need enough space to squeeze powerful hardware inside the body in order to get them, that’s why the best rigs usually come with a 17.3 inch or bigger display.
The Asus G55VW however is one of those laptops that bring plenty of muscles, but in a slightly more compact body, so you can actually carry around the laptop if you have to.
Thus, if you’re one of those gamers traveling a lot to all kind of events and lan parties, or the one that just enjoys gathering with his friends for some good old computer fun, the G55, Asus’s 2012 iteration of their 15.6 inch gaming laptop, is going to be an option you must consider. Otherwise, if you’re just after the speed, the bigger Asus G75 is probably a more suitable bet, but there are other rigs you should look at, like the ones from MSI, Alienware or Clevo.
In this review we’re going to talk about the Asus G55, the one I’ve been testing in these last days. Overall, the G55 is a capable machine, with just a few outside changes from the previous G53/G54 lines, but a completely new hardware platform inside, that promises to be a lot faster and more efficient. Reading the rows below, you’ll find out how does this perform during daily use, where it excels and where it fails to meet the marks.
The Asus G55VW specs
But first, let’s have a quick look at the specs.
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 px resolution, glossy, 3D 120Hz|
|Processor||Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor, clocked at 2.6 GHz|
|Video||Nvidia GTX 660M 2GB graphics|
|Memory||16 GB DDR3|
|Hard-disk||1 TB 5400 rpm HDD and 128 GB SSD|
|Connectivity||Wireless N, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth|
|Ports||4 x USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, Thunderbolt, LAN, card-reader, HD webcam, Blu-ray combo unit|
|Baterry||8 Cell 5200 mAh 74 Wh|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional|
|Size||384 x 299 x 20 ~51 mm|
|Extras||3D goggles included|
So, my test unit seems to be close to what in Europe is called the Asus G55VW-IX060V and brings the 1366 x 768 px glare display, one that I’m not at all fond of, especially knowing how good those FHD 15.6 inch screens can be, after seeing one in action on the Asus N56 the other day.
Of course, in store configurations will be a bit different than the one I’ve tested here, merely because this is a pre-production model, and you’ll have a bunch of them to choose from, based on needs and budget.
The Asus G55 VW video review
The clip below will tell you a couple of things about this laptop, but for the detailed info you should also continue with the rest of this review, in the lines below.
Design and exterior
Compared to the Asus G53 line, the G55 is a bit changed in terms of design. Overall, like all the ROG members, the G55 is still dressed in smooth black plastic, with a soft matte finish, and brings sharp edges and cuts.
The G55 offers a different layout for the cooling grids on the back and two separated screen hinges, which also help reduce the overall thickness of the laptop, now getting to up to 5 cms. But while a tad slimmer, the G55 hasn’t lost weight, still going for about 8.5 pounds. So we don’t have a portable machine here, that’s for sure.
The G55 in fact looks a lot like its bigger sibling, the G75, on the inside. Raising the lid, you’ll notice the rough plastic arm-rest area and the aluminum covered zone around the keys, with some grilled plastic on top, that hides beneath the two speakers.
All the ports are laid around the sides and the front, with the status LEDs also on the front edge, beneath the trackpad. You might also notice that the sides are now dressed in this dark silver plastic, that matches the metal around the keys for an overall pleasant aesthetic feeling.
As for the bottom, it’s made from durable plastic and allows access to the battery and to the storage drive and memory. And you’ll notice that the entire bottom layout is a lot like what it used to be on the G53 series.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on the Asus G55 is a lot like the one on the G75, but I do feel that the keys on this test unit I got to play with are a bit firmer than the ones on the bigger Asus option I tested a while ago, thus my overall typing experience was slightly better. The keyboard is also backlit.
The arrow keys and the Numeric Pad are still slightly separated from the rest of the keys, but I did not like the fact that they are narrower, as they are not square like the letter keys, but rectangular, as the picture shows. Full-Size arrow keys would have been way better on a gaming machine, but I guess Asus had to made this compromise in order to squeeze this keyboard on the more compact body of the G55.
The trackpad was appreciated, with enough space to move around and perform gestures and with the accuracy you’d ask from one these days. One thing though: performing two-fingers scrolling was a bit slow, thus quickly going through a long web page wasn’t the most pleasant experience. But I did got to play with a test unit and perhaps that’s the cause of this issue.
Well, having a good display is a must on a proper laptop these days, especially on a gaming unit, an the screen on the Asus G55 I tested is far from good. With a 1366 x 768 px resolution and a glossy finish, it spells trouble, translated in poor viewing angles and contrast.
The screen is however 3D capable and Asus bundles the G55 with a pair of those new Nvidia goggles we also saw on the G75, their newer generation, with slightly larger lenses and improved brightness.
All in all, the screen on this G55 I tested is just not good enough for such a computer. Luckily though, there won’t be a bunch of Asus G55 configs with this display, as most of them will sport a Full HD matte screen, probably close to the one I’ve seen and enjoyed on the N56. And there should be a 3D FHD option as well, also matte, with larger viewing angles and increased color gamut. So, as long as you’ll get one of these options on your G55, you’ll be alright. Just stay away from the Glossy HD-Ready pick, even if it’s a lot cheaper.
Hardware and performances
With an Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor, hybrid storage (SSD + HDD), 16 GB of RAM and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics, the Asus G55 is for sure a power horse.
It will cope with everything you might throw at it, from you daily apps, to more intesive programs like a video editor or a 3D rendering piece of software. This is not a workstation though, so don’t expect it to behave like one, but for a portable machine, I’d say it is very fast.
Below you’ll also find a bunch of synthetic tests I ran on the Asus G55 and the results are looking good.
Running some games
It would have been great if I could have compared the gaming abilities of the G55 with the ones of the G75 I tested a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately I cannot do this, since the smaller laptop only came with a 1366 x 768 px screen.
I did run a couple of games though and most of them were able to run smoothly on this resolution, with details set at maximum, even on 3D mode. Titles like Crysis 2, COD: Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Diablo 3, Dirt 3, all were running smoothly on the tested Asus G55. I’ll get back with some fps numbers in the near future if you guys are interested in more details (leave me a comment if you do).
However, since in stores you’ll find the G55 with a FHD screen, if you’re planning to run those games on native 1920 x 1080 px resolution, you’ll probably going to have to trim down the details a bit, in some cases.
All in all, the GTX 660M graphics chip should be a bit slower than the GTX670M we saw on the Asus G75, but since it’s based on the Kepler architecture and not on Fermi (the 670M is in fact the older 570M, rebranded), it will run cooler and more efficient.
Compared to the older Asus G53 lines, the G55 does offer a roughly 20% boost in performances, which is actually quite and improvement.
Unlike the Asus G75 the features a 2.1 sound system, the G55 only has two speakers, placed behind the grill on top of the keyboard.
They are pretty loud and I’d say that the sound ain’t bad. However, my test unit had an issue: loud sounds tended to interfere with the chassis, resulting in disturbing vibration, cracks and squeeks, and those were more obvious during games (for instance when something exploded). I do hope this was just an issue with my pre-release sample model, otherwise the Asus G55 has a serious problem here.
So be careful, read some other reviews as well before deciding for the G55 to see if other testers encountered the same problem or not.
Heat and noise
Like all powerful laptops, the Asus G55 has a potent cooling system which will get noisy under load, but nothing that the speakers can’t cover. Still, this is not a quiet machine and you’ll hear the fans roaring when playing some games in a completely silent room.
All that is not in vain though, as the G55 manages to stay cool even when running the latest games for hours, with the internals going to about 70-75 degrees and the exterior getting only a little bit warm on the area above the keyboard, near the exhaust grills.
The palm rest and the keyboard areas remain cool though and that’s what matters.
There’s an 8 Cell 74 wh battery inside this laptop, but there’s also powerful hardware and no Nvidia Optimus, thus in the end the Asus G55 will offer about two and a half hours of life on a charge, for daily average use. That can be squeezed to about 3 hours for light use, but if you plan to run games on battery mode, you shouldn’t expect to do that for longer than one hour.
Prices and comparison
The Asus G55 is available in a bunch of configuration, although their core is the same: an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics.
You can choose between different types of storage options, optical units and screens, plus different amounts of memory, and the prices are starting at about 1300 USD and can get to 1500 or more.
The tested unit, the G55VW-IX060V, is listed in Europe for about 1600 euros and I for one wouldn’t advise going for it, especially not for this kind of money.
While not the most powerful gaming laptop out there, the Asus G55VW does pack a solid punch for the money, in a compact body.
Built on the new Intel Ivy Bridge and Nvidia Kepler architectures, it provides enough power to run even the latest games at ease, although in some cases you’ll have to trim down a bit the details. But like I said in the beginning, if you want the more portable option, there are compromises you’ll have to live with.
Otherwise, you have the faster, bulkier and more expensive options.
The Asus G55VW will have a strong competitor in the MSI GT60, and while the latter will be faster (it packs the GTX 670M graphics), the Asus is cheaper and I’d say overall better suited for transport, with its rougher matte plastic exterior. It’s up to you to decide which one fits your needs best though, as both are solid and capable machines.