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Asus X550C review

Kat Orphanides
21 Oct 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
367
inc VAT

A combination of aging hardware and clunky input devices make this 15.6in laptop less desirable than others of a similar price

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The Asus X550C is getting on a bit in technological terms, equipped with only a two-generations-old Intel "Sandy Bridge" 1.4GHz Core i3-2365M processor and its on-chip Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics chipset. Despite this, it's still powerful enough to serve as a low-cost general purpose laptop and has performance comparable to other laptops in the same price range.

Asus X550C

The laptop's chassis is particularly attractive, with complementary textured finishes on the lid and interior. Closed, it measures 31mm at its thickest point, and weighs 2.3kg. It's not exactly an ultraportable, but is still light enough to take around in a backpack without any significant discomfort.

 The 15.6in widescreen display has a matt finish, so there's less chance of any unwanted glare or reflections, even if you're working in bright daylight. It looks a little dull, though, with a greyish-blue tint visible in pale areas. It doesn't compare well to even an average desktop monitor, but in our subjective tests we thought it was reasonable for a budget laptop display. Our tests with a colour calibrator bore out our subjective view, rating the display as showing 55.1% of the sRGB colour gamut, with a slightly better-than-expected contrast ratio of 407:1. The screen has a standard laptop resolution of 1,366x768, which works well enough on a display of this size.

Asus X550C

If you require a larger or higher-resolution display, you can connect the laptop to a TV, monitor or projector using either its HDMI or VGA outputs. The integrated HD Graphics 3000 GPU is fine for watching movies and playing simple 2D games, but you won't be able to get a playable frame rate out of most current 3D games no matter how far you reduce their quality settings. The system failed our Dirt Showdown test at 1,280x720 and High quality. The most we were able to squeeze out of the game at that resolution was 28.6fps, by reducing the quality to Ultra Low and disabling anti-aliasing. You might just about be able to get older games such as Portal to run, but you’re best off sticking with less demanding 2D games such as Plants vs. Zombies.

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The laptop isn’t built for raw processor power, either. The low-power mobile processor produced an overall score of 24 in our benchmark tests. While that is a fairly low score, you don't need a vast amount of power to browse the internet, write documents, watch movies or even rip CDs, and this is far from the slowest laptop we've seen. Despite the underpowered processor, the Windows 8 desktop felt reasonably fast and responsive in general use. The X550C has acceptable rather than good battery life, lasting 4h 50m in our light-use battery test.

Asus X550C

A 500GB hard disk gives you a reasonable amount of space for all your data, films and music. There's a DVD-RW drive, too, as well as an SDXC slot. For network connectivity, the X550C has a Gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi. It also has one USB port and one USB3 port, and a 3.5mm headset port which you can also use to connect standard stereo headphones or speakers. The integrated speakers produce a harsh, tinny sound and don't go very loud, so you'll want to connect something better if you plan on listening to music.

Asus X550C

The wide wrist-rest helps to make the laptop comfortable to type on for even extended periods, even though the flat, widely spaced keys feel shallow and rather unresponsive. We're also not too keen on the cramped cursor keys that are pushed up against the numeric keypad, but, unlike with some laptop keyboard layouts, this doesn't force the touchpad uncomfortably far to the right. The smooth touchpad feels responsive, and gestures such as two-finger scrolling work well. The integrated buttons feel a little stiff, though.

At just under £370, the 550C is simply too expensive when compared to competing laptops at the same price, particularly given its mediocre screen and the age of its underpowered processor. For around £20 less you can buy the Toshiba Satellite C50-A-156, which is both more powerful and has a great display.

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