Asus RoG GL552VW

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

The Asus RoG GL552 is a mid-range gam­ing lap­top. Priced £899, it of­fers solid per­for­mance with­out mak­ing graph­ics sac­ri­fices so ma­jor they make it seem you’re play­ing a Sony PlayS­ta­tion 2. There are sev­eral com­pro­mises to note else­where, though.

De­sign

The lap­top looks, feels like, and is, a younger brother to the top-ofthe-range Asus G752. The GL552 is smaller and cheaper, but still has some of the same RoG-se­ries style.

It re­sults in a brushed metal-style panel of plas­tic on the lid, used on many an Asus gam­ing lap­tops. On the in­side there’s a high-tech pat­tern painted around the key­board. The key­board back­light is also red.

It’s all sur­face-level pos­tur­ing, of course, but then there’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing your gam­ing lap­top to have some flair. It weighs 2.5kg, so is far too heavy to take around with you in a ruck­sack ev­ery day, but easy enough to carry around the house.

The G752 feels a bit more sturdy, a bit more ex­pen­sive (which it is), but it’s only some­thing you’d no­tice if you’d used both. Pre­vi­ous RoG lap­tops we’ve re­viewed have been very solid ma­chines that feel ex­pen­sive even though they’re made of plas­tic. The plas­tic feels cheaper here, par­tic­u­larly around the slightly flex-prone lid. The in­side, where build matters most in a home-bound lap­top, feels very solid, though. There’s vir­tu­ally no flex, and the feel is more ex­pen­sive than the ex­te­rior.

In line with most of 2016’s new lap­tops, the GL552 has a USB-C port as well as the sorts of con­nec­tions you’d have seen last year. That in­cludes three full-size USBs (2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0), a Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net port and a full-size HDMI socket.

There’s even a DVD writer on the side for those who still like to buy re­tail games or have a shelf of classics at home, and an SD card reader on the un­der­side of the front. It’s all you should need.

Key­board and track­pad

The RoG GL552’s key­board and track­pad are a mixed bag. Start­ing with the good parts, the key­board is per­fectly good.

It doesn’t have the ul­tra-deep action of the RoG G752, but feels def­i­nite and solid enough for a good ex­pe­ri­ence whether you’re gam­ing or typ­ing. The key feel has a soft edge to its click, but isn’t re­motely spongy. The red back­light is good too, mak­ing the keys clear while be­ing less dis­tract­ing than a stan­dard white back­light.

The track­pad is more prob­lem­atic. It’s a good size, but the feed­back and but­ton lay­out are ques­tion­able. Rather than just click­ing on touch, there’s a ‘pre-click’ zone, a soft part to the pad travel be­fore you hit the ac­tual but­ton. While taps in this zone reg­is­ter just as you can ‘click’ just by tap­ping lightly on most track­pads, it’s not how most of us use our pads.

This soft zone makes press­ing the but­ton feel stiffer, like more of an ef­fort. Asus has also split the pad down the mid­dle, mak­ing it easy to ac­ci­den­tally press the right but­ton when you mean to press the left. It’s an­noy­ing and may take a while to get used to. Higher-end RoG lap­tops use sep­a­rate mouse keys below the pad to avoid this ex­act prob­lem.

Dis­play

The GL552 has a 15.6in screen and, like Asus’s other gam­ing lap­tops, it has a matt fin­ish rather than the more trendy glossy style. This makes re­flec­tions less ob­vi­ous, with a slight trade off in how much im­age ‘pop’ colours have.

In short, it isn’t as good as we’d want for this price. But that has lit­tle to do with the screen fin­ish. While some of the GL552 ver­sions use an IPS panel, this one has a TN model. This is the screen tech­nol­ogy used

in most lap­tops and mon­i­tors five years old or more. TN’s main is­sue is poor an­gles view­ing, and even with the lat­est ‘mod­ern’ of­fer­ings that lim­i­ta­tion hasn’t been over­come: it’s in­her­ent with the tech­nol­ogy.

You can move to the left or right of the RoG GL552 and its screen will look fine. How­ever, look at it from higher or lower than square-on and it’ll ap­pear ei­ther very washed out or dark, as if a shadow has been cast on the screen from the in­side. You may find this dis­con­cert­ing if you’re used to the wide view­ing an­gles of most tablets, where screen qual­ity is gen­er­ally very high th­ese days.

The TN panel also af­fects colour. It cov­ers just 57 per­cent of the sRGB colour gamut, 39.4 per­cent of Adobe RGB and 40 per­cent of DCI P3. Colours don’t look all that punchy as a re­sult. Asus has made the most of an unin­spir­ing panel, though, with good cal­i­bra­tion re­sult­ing in a Delta E of 0.23.

Con­trast and max­i­mum bright­ness are poor too, though. The dis­play ramps up to a just-okay 230cd/m2, mean­ing this isn’t a lap­top you’ll be able to take out to use in the park on a sunny day. But let’s be hon­est: were you think­ing about do­ing so be­fore this point? Its lim­ited con­trast also makes the G552 less than ideal for watch­ing or gam­ing in dimmed light­ing. The raised blacks are quite ob­vi­ous.

Per­for­mance

One of the great things about buy­ing a mid-range gam­ing lap­top rather than a penny-pinch­ing one is that you get the com­po­nents re­quired to make an all-round great PC. An SSD is a cru­cial ad­di­tion, mak­ing the whole sys­tem feel a lot faster day-to-day even though it will usu­ally only sig­nif­i­cantly af­fect load speeds and (on oc­ca­sion) tex­ture pop-in in games.

The GL552VW on test here has a 256GB SSD, as well as an old­school 1TB hard drive. This is a great combo. You get enough space on the SSD for the op­er­at­ing sys­tem and the games you’re cur­rently play­ing, plus masses of room for your mu­sic and video collection, which would be a waste of fast SSD space.

This lap­top also has the same CPU you might find on a gam­ing lap­top twice the price, an In­tel Core i7-6700HQ. It’s a quad-core pro­ces­sor clocked at 2.6GHz, de­signed for power rather than bat­tery longevity.

It scores a solid 3102 in the PC Mark 8 Home bench­mark and 12432 in Geek­bench 3 (3164 sin­gle-core), which isn’t even that far be­hind the 13823 of the Asus RoG G752. In pure power terms, you could ab­so­lutely use this as your sole PC and be happy with the re­sults, un­less you need the ex­tra power you get with desktop-grade chipsets. Most peo­ple don’t.

The GL552VW’s graph­ics card is where we head back to per­for­mance more com­men­su­rate with the price. You get a GeForce GTX 960M, which is a mid­dler­ank­ing card and prob­a­bly the best fit right now for gamers who just can’t af­ford top-end hard­ware.

Its re­sults are, thank­fully, pretty good. This is not a lap­top that will let you play all the lat­est games

with set­tings maxed-out, but you should be able to play most at 1080p and still have them look good. In Thief, for ex­am­ple, the GL552 hits an av­er­age of 62fps at low set­tings, 720p. It’s ideal speed, but less-thanideal vis­ual qual­ity.

At 1080p with ev­ery­thing maxed, the av­er­age is 28.2fps. It’s playable, but when the frame rate dips to 21fps on oc­ca­sion, you might want to just nudge back a few of the vis­ual set­tings to ‘mid’ rather than ‘high’. It can do jus­tice to the game, though, mak­ing it look sim­i­lar to what you’d see from a PS3 or Xbox One.

Our Alien: Iso­la­tion test flew by even at max set­tings, though, manag­ing an av­er­age 53fps at 1080p, and 130fps with the set­tings pruned right back and the res­o­lu­tion set at 720p. This is good level of per­for­mance for some­one who likes gam­ing but doesn’t want to have to re­mort­gage their house just to af­ford a suit­able lap­top.

For an up­grade to the next level of speed, you’d likely have to pay well over £1,000. It’s not pow­er­ful enough to form the base of a VR setup, though, and isn’t go­ing to look too hot two years down the line.

Un­der strain GL552VW doesn’t end up sound­ing like it’s work­ing too hard. The fans run con­stantly but are very quiet un­der light loads, and only kick into se­ri­ous spin­ning when you’ve been gam­ing for 20 min­utes or so. Their tone never be­comes too an­noy­ing: no is­sues there.

A sig­nif­i­cant amount of heat is pumped through the vent on the left side of the GL552, but at least this is not the side you’d use a mouse.

It’s a good job this lap­top isn’t in­or­di­nately noisy be­cause the speak­ers aren’t too im­pres­sive. They’re not par­tic­u­larly loud and their sound is quite thin. Th­ese are bog-stan­dard lap­top speak­ers, not ones with a bit of ex­tra gam­ing/ en­ter­tain­ment piz­zazz.

One thing you should never ex­pect in a gam­ing lap­top is good bat­tery life. Th­ese ma­chines aren’t meant for whole days away from the power socket.

Play­ing video back at 120cd/ m2 screen bright­ness, the Asus GL552 lasts four hours 50 min­utes. This is a stan­dard per­for­mance for a gam­ing lap­top, and is also no in­di­ca­tion of how long it’ll last when ac­tu­ally play­ing ei­ther. Make the GPU work hard and it’ll likely be dead within 90 min­utes.

The mes­sage is clear: don’t buy the Asus GL552 or any­thing like if it you want a lap­top that’ll last for a full day’s work as you sip cof­fees in Star­bucks.

Verdict

The Asus RoG GL552 is a more af­ford­able, lower-spec take on the RoG G752, which is one of the best gam­ing lap­tops money can buy right now. Any re­sem­blance is mostly vis­ual, though. Su­per­fi­cial parts of the build are worse, the screen is nowhere near as good and the track­pad is typ­i­cal slightly an­noy­ing Win­dows lap­top fod­der. It’s def­i­nitely not the per­fect lap­top. How­ever, in terms of pro­vid­ing a solid gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for your cash, it’s a de­cent buy. The GTX 960M GPU hits the sweet spot, where it can han­dle de­mand­ing games at rea­son­able set­tings with­out cost­ing as much as a sec­ond-hand car. One you’d ac­tu­ally want to drive, any­way. Screen qual­ity is a stick­ing point at this price. It seems that £900 isn’t enough to have an IPS screen, even though pre­vi­ous GL552 mod­els (and cur­rent ones in other coun­tries) use such a panel. So if you see a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the GL552 with an IPS screen, it’s likely to be a bet­ter buy than this ex­act one.

An­drew Wil­liams

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