Published on April 27th, 2012 | by Mike29
Asus K55VM review – a powerful all-round 15.6 inch laptop
I got to play with the Asus K55VM for the last week or so and in this post I’m going to share with you guys a couple of details about this experience.
First of all, this is a freshly launched laptop that’s not yet available in stores, so I did test a pre-release unit, which means that benchmark results might get even better as drivers mature. Except for that though, this unit is identical to what you’ll be able to buy in store. The new Asus K55 series will house a bunch of different laptops built on different configs, but all have an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and an Nvidia 6XX graphics chip as a foundation.
The K55VM is going to be the most powerful config and it’s still going to be quite affordable. Our test unit comes with a quad-core Core i7 processor and good graphics, and these make the K55VM much faster than last year’s Asus K53SV, which we also reviewed here on this site.
Overall, this is a solid machine. Of course, it still has its drawbacks and most of you guys might not really appreciate the bulky body and the poor screen, but hey, you can’t have performances, silhouette and a good price together. Not yet at least.
If you’re interested in buying a good all-round laptop with a bit of extra power, the Asus K55VM is definitely a device you should at least consider. Read the review below to find more about it.
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1366 x 768 px resolution, glossy|
|Processor||Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor|
|Video||Intel 4000 HD and Nvidia GT 630M 2GB graphics|
|Memory||6 GB DDR3|
|Hard-disk||750 GB 5400 rpm|
|Connectivity||Wireless N, Fast Ethernet, Bluetooth 3.0|
|Ports||2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, LAN, card-reader, webcam, DVD-RW unit|
|Baterry||6 Cell 4700 mAh 50 Wh|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Size||251 x 378 x 25,5~31,9 mm|
Design and exterior
One thing is for sure, the K55VM is a solid laptop. On the other side, it is quite massive and bulky, plus a bit heavy, or at least that’s how i feel. But it may be because I haven’t touched a 15.6 incher in a while. Still, keep in mind that this is not really the kind of laptop to log around.
The case is made from textured plastic and it feels good. The bottom is also covered in plastic and you get an easy to access bay for upgrading memory and HDD.
Opening the lid, you’ll notice some silver aluminum on the palm rest (haven’t seen it in this price range in the past) and matte plastic around the keys and the screen. Overall, while the entire thing isn’t exactly stylish, it’s not bad either, and the entire case screams reliable, which in the end is actually more important than looks.
Keyboard and trackpad
Asus changed the keyboard on their new mainstream laptop. It wasn’t bad before but it is actually better now, as the keys are softer and the overall feedback is decent. Still, they are not stiff enough to ensure that perfect feedback and there’s no click that could tell you if the hit was indeed registered or not. However, I had no problem writing a couple of thousands of words using this keyboard and the experience was alright, once I got used to the overall feel.
The trackpad is new as well and it’s massive and slightly positioned towards the left part of the laptop, like it should be. You’ll notice from the picture that we have one of those clickbale trackpads in here and unlike many other I’ve tried, this actually works.
It’s not a MacBook like experience, but it’s close. Plus, you’ll hardly going to have to click the touchpad anyway, since multitouch gestures and taps are working just the way they should.
The screen is probably the only thing I resent on this laptop. It’s not awful, but we’re talking about a rather poor 15.6 inch 1366 x 768 px panel with average viewing angles. And I don’t know about you, but 720p resolution on a 15.6 incher, that’s not something I’d go for these days.
However, there isn’t any option for a higher res display on the K55 line. If you’ll want that, you’ll have to go for the next laptop in Asus’s line, the N56.
Hardware and performances
The Asus K55VM is going to be available in a bunch of different configs, I got to test the fastest one, with a Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor and Nvidia GT 630M graphics.
Overall, the new platform is 20-25% faster than the previous platform on the K53SV, as this post comparing the i7-3610QM and i7-2630QM benchmark results proves.
The scores are also available below and as you can see, those are some high numbers, especially since the 750 GB HDD inside this laptop is a bottleneck, as it’s a slow 5400 rpm unit.
The system is snappy in everyday use, can handle multitasking, can play all kinds of video content at ease and can also handle games. Of course, since it has hybrid graphics, there’s also Nvidia’s Optimus on board, switching seamlessly between the integrated and dedicated graphics chips when needed, thus preserving battery life.
As for the games, I couldn’t actually test many of them, but this laptop can handle titles like Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fifa 2012 or even Crysis 2, all on native 1366 x 768 px resolution, with details set around medium. Should handle high details in most cases as well, but I’d rather have some extra fps for a smoother gameplay. The video review will show you a bit of the gaming experience you can get with this machine.
Overall though, this is fast. Faster than most of you guys will actually need and if you’re after a powerful machine on a budget, you’re probably at the right door.
Noise, heat, speakers and others
There is a fan and a spinning hard-drive inside this unit, so this is not a noiseless machine. However, most of the time the fan is pretty quiet. Once you start to push the system (like playing some games), it will become active and a bit loud, but as long as you’re playing a game or watching some movies, the speakers should be able to cover the noise. If you’re using the laptop in a quiet room though, the fan blow will be a bit annoying.
As for the heat, the bottom-left side gets warm when playing games, but it doesn’t get hot. That massive cooling fan on the left edge probably helps and overall this is going to be cool enough to use on your lap or on your bed (you know, not the recommended flat surface) if you want to.
The speakers are loud enough, but I was actually expecting a bit more in terms of overall sound quality, knowing that Asus laptops tend to impress on this front. It’s not the case here, at least that’s what my ears are telling me, as the sound quality is just average.
With the new hardware from Intel and Nvidia, we should expect decent battery life out of the K55 line. The K55VM features a 50 Wh battery and that allows nearly 3 hours of daily use, with Wi-Fi, screen at 50% and Balanced mode selected.
If you’ll try to run games, you’ll only going to be able to do it for a little over an hour, but for watching a 720p clip the K55VM can stretch to about 4 hours of life on a single charge.
And all these numbers are actually quite good, considering the battery ain’t huge and inside there’s a quad-core Core i7 processor and dedicated graphics.
Pricing and availability
The K55 is a mainstream series and as a result these laptops need to be affordable, so everyone should could buy one. And that’s indeed the case.
This test config, with the Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB HDD and Nvidia GT 630M graphics should go for about 750 euros over here in Europe, so about 800-850 bucks in the States.
But less powerful configs part of the Asus K55VD series are going to start at about 550-600 dollars, which is actually very good, considering all the K55 laptops are built on the latest Intel Ivy Bridge and Nvidia 6XX hardware.
In these last years, I’ve tested many Asus devices and I got to see how they evolved year after year. The K55VM is as well a significant improvement over the K53SV line, bringing a solid and decent looking case, good keyboard and trackpad, plus excellent performances and battery life.
The speakers are a bit under what I was expecting and the screen is limited at HD Ready resolution, but I’m pretty sure the average laptop buyer can live with these slight issues. Especially since the Asus K55 series is aggressively priced.
Of course, the K55VM will face some proper competition, coming from Acer, HP, Dell and the other big brands, with some devices perhaps better priced than the K55 for the same config. We’ll know more in a couple of months, but judging by previous years experience, the Asus machines have a good chance of becoming popular, as they usually offer a good price/features ratio. And that’s actually what most buyers are looking for in this class.
That’s about it with our review of the Asus K55VM, the most powerful config in the new K55 Asus line. If you have any questions though, feel free to add them below, I’ll do my best to answer if I can.