Asus N55SF review
Previous Asus N-series laptops have tried to raise the bar for sound quality, but this latest version comes closer than ever before – as well as a set of Bang & Olufsen speakers, the N55 has its own external subwoofer for improved bass.
We could certainly hear the difference in our test tracks with the sub plugged in – bass was far more powerful with the subwoofer connected, to the point where we would happily listen to music or watch films using the Blu-ray optical drive without reaching for a pair of headphones first. Bass sounded best at over half volume, as it became difficult to pick out any rumble at anything lower.
If you prefer games to films, the N55 is equally well equipped to play the latest titles, thanks to a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card. It has 2GB of video memory and can even handle our Dirt 3 test at 1,280x720, High detail and 4x anti-aliasing. A silky-smooth 59fps frame rate shows that almost any game available today should be playable at high detail levels.
Desktop performance is equally outstanding, thanks to a quad-core Intel Core i7-2670QM running at 2.2GHz. It can Turbo Boost to 3.1GHz for faster single-threaded performance and the 6GB of RAM helps with running several intensive applications at the same time. Our multimedia benchmarks use both single- and multi-threaded applications, but they proved no match for the N55 – its overall score of 79 is only 20 points less than our reference desktop PC, and very quick for a laptop.
Nvidia’s Optimus graphics-switching technology turns the dedicated graphics off when you're not playing games, which helps battery life. In our light-use test the laptop produced a score of four and a half hours, which is reasonable for a powerful laptop, if not up there with the latest ultraportables' all-day battery life.
We had no trouble using the N55 in bright sunlight, or under our harsh office lighting, thanks to its semi-gloss screen finish. Most multimedia laptops use gloss displays for more vibrant colours, but the coating used here strikes a good balance between image quality and resistance to distracting reflections. Colours were only slightly muted, and everything looked crisp at the native 1,600x900 resolution. This isn’t high enough to watch a high definition movie at its full 1080p resolution using the Blu-ray optical drive, but still big enough to work on two documents at once. Viewing angles aren’t the best, but there’s a huge amount of screen tilt to help you find an angle to work with your typing position.
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