Asus X550LDV-XO552H review
Processor: Dual-core Intel Core i7-4510U, RAM: 8GB, Dimensions(HxWxD): 31.7x380x251mm, Weight: 2.3kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Total storage: 1TB hard disk, Operating system: Windows 8.1
The Asus X550LDV-XO552H is a stylish general-purpose laptop which, at least from a distance, appears stylish. The lid has a circular texture to it that’s similar to the material used by more expensive Asus devices, but it feels a little strange on the fingertips. The palm rest is also fashioned from textured plastic that feels strong and doesn't have any flex to it, but sadly that material doesn’t extend to the keyboard section. As a result, there’s much flex from the keyboard, with each keystroke visibly deforming the laptop's chassis. We’re pleased with the keys themselves, though, as they have plenty of travel when pressed.
The touchpad has integrated mouse buttons, and although we tend to find such touchpads awkward to use, we had no issues with clicks, or performing Windows 8 gestures. One area which is helped by the plastic is weight, as the laptop only weighs 2.3kg. It isn’t hugely thick for this type of laptop either, so it'll easily slide into a school bag or briefcase.
There are two USB3 ports and a single USB port on the X550LDV-XO552H, enough for an external mouse and a couple of storage devices to be connected simultaneously. There are also HDMI and VGA display outputs, so you’ll be able to connect the laptop to an external monitor, and a gigabit Ethernet port and a built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor will let you connect to your network. The X550LDV-XO552H also benefits from the increasingly uncommon optical drive, although it’s a DVD rather than Blu-ray drive.
The dual-core Intel Core i7-4510U processor powering the X550LDV-XO552H is clocked to 2GHz, but will boost to 3.1GHz under certain thermal conditions. The X550LDV-XO552H scored 56 overall in our benchmarks, which is a good score for a sub-£700 laptop. You'll have few problems undertaking more strenuous tasks such as photo editing or video rendering, but doing multiple activities at once may prove to be more of a challenge due to the processor having two cores rather than four.
We found the X550LDV-XO552H’s 1TB hard disk to be a little too sluggish. Searching for files and applications in Windows 8 and Windows Explorer was a long-winded process, as was installing our graphics benchmarks. This means that although your applications should be fairly swift once loaded, the process of installing them is slow.
Happily, though, the X550LDV-XO552H has a dedicated graphics processor (GPU) in the form of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 820M. It’s a lower-end GPU, but the GTX 820M is, nevertheless, good enough for fairly light gaming on the laptop's 1,366x768-resolution screen. The X550LDV-XO552H achieved an average frame rate of 29.7fps in our Dirt Showdown benchmark at a resolution of 1,280x720 with 4x anti-aliasing and graphics quality set to High. At a resolution of 1,366x768 with graphics quality set to Medium, the X550LDV-XO552H achieved a much smoother 43.2fps. While the X550LDV-XO552H is far from being a gaming laptop, it will be possible to enjoy older games, as long you’re willing to play them at low- to mid-range graphics quality.
Sadly, the X550LDV-XO552H’s 15.6-inch screen falls a fair way short of what we typically expect of a low- to mid-range laptop. Even without referring to our scientific colour calibration tests, the colours on the screen not only look washed out but are also badly affected by adverse viewing angles. Without moving, you can see a full range of colours from pale red to orange when looking at what should be solid block of deep red. The same applied to solid blues and greens, too, with blacks also appearing dark grey at times. This isn't helped by the very high amount of backlight leaking through the screen when showing blacks; we measured 0.68cd/m2 of light on pure blacks, which is a lot higher than we’d have liked. We’d also prefer a Full-HD screen. A 1,366x768 resolution is okay, but we did miss the extra space afforded by a 1,920x1,080 display.
We measured an sRGB colour gamut coverage of 61 per cent, which is very much at the bottom end of what we'd expect a laptop to show. It means that rich photographs with vibrant colours lose much of their character, while the 352:1 contrast ratio means details are harder to pick out in the brightest and darkest spots of a movie or game. The screen is also very difficult to read in direct sunlight, so we wouldn't recommend this laptop for garden use.
The built-in speakers are surprisingly loud and clear, with dialogue in TV shows sounding crisp, although music does suffer, as you'd expect with standard laptop speakers.
In our new, tougher battery benchmarking test the X550LDV-XO552H lasted four hours and 41 minutes, which is long enough to spend a few hours unplugged when in a cafe or on a plane.
The Asus X550LDV-XO552H is a good performer that's let down by cheap build quality and a poor screen. If you're willing to put up with these problems, it's one of the better-value general-purpose laptops on the market at the moment, with the added boon of a dedicated graphics processor. A good alternative, though, is the Best Buy-winning Chillblast Prestige i5 4200SH. The Prestige i5 4200SH doesn't have a dedicated graphics chip, but it does have an excellent processor, a Full-HD screen and it costs less.
|Processor||Dual-core Intel Core i7-4510U|
|Memory slots (free)||2(0)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Graphics adaptor||Nvidia GeForce GTX 820M|
|Graphics outputs||HDMI, VGA|
|Total storage||1TB hard disk|
|Optical drive type||DVD writer|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||2xUSB3, 1xUSB2|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi|
|Memory card reader||SD, MMC, SDHC|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Restore partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||One-year collect and return|
|Price inc VAT||£666|