Asus’s latest notebook that combines high end performance in a sleek and compact form factor is the GL552VW. Inspired by an F22 Stealth Fighter, the new laptop brings about a big improvement not just in terms of performance but also in terms of the look and feel. Let’s see how well it fared.
Design, Materials and Build Quality
The Asus GL552 VW belongs to the ROG (Republic of Gamers) series of laptops and gaming peripherals from Asus that recently completed its 10 year run since its introduction in 2006. The 15.6″ gaming laptop is an update over the GL552 JX and brings around several improvements, many of which are visual and physically distinguishable to the touch.
For starters, the lid is now made out of metal all the way through rather than just a metal strip running down the center of the lid. This Grey Metal brushed metal finish looks and feels much more premium than the tough plastic of the JX model. Additionally, it also makes the display unit more rigid and less prone to flexing especially when you are using it on the go. With the JX, the lid flexing was quite apparent and users could feel safe only by lifting it from the center and not the corners. On the VW, users do feel safe lifting it from the corner or center all the same. The hinge too is made out of really good quality materials as it doesn’t really wobble about even if you try shaking the laptop. It has the right about of resistance when opening so that it doesn’t open up automatically nor does it feel like you’re having to pry open the laptop with your fingers.
The outer lid features an embossed Asus logo as well as an ROG logo with a subtle red colour backlighting. It isn’t very striking but it’s good enough when gaming in the dark and still does grab attention. The upper portion of the laptop lid has a plastic insert to facilitate for better antenna reception but it is done well and doesn’t really stick out like a sore thumb. On the inside, the laptop has a mix of black and red colour combinations that almost every gamer will admire. The black finish on the inside is something that is really difficult to describe. It feels great to rest your palms or hands against and is smooth to the touch. However, it isn’t matte nor is it a piano type glossy finish. It is something in between the two that makes you want to use the laptop more. You have ROG branding and logo on the inside as well along with several red accents which we loved especially on the inner side of the trackpad. The sides and bottom of the laptop has a different tough matte plastic feel that gives it more durability and more grip when holding or when kept on a flat surface. There are 4 triangular rubber stubs at the bottom too that give good grip.
The battery at the bottom is removable but is seems physically tiny compared to the size of the laptop. We shall discuss more about the battery life later on in the review. The overall footprint of the laptop is a bit on the bigger side when you take into consideration the slim laptops of today for a 15 incher. However, when you take a look at the impressive internals, you will appreciate how compact Asus have managed to make the system. The 15.6″ display has a 16:9 aspect ratio and despite the slightly larger footprint, ti fits into every 15″ laptop case or backpack that I’ve tried. In fact, I did managed to fit the GL552 VW and my Macbook Pro Retina into my Thinktank StreetWalker HardDrive and take it across security and on-board an airplane. It was a snug fit but it is possible so just the GL 552VW alone should pose no issues to frequent travellers either.
The laptop isn’t too heavy either at 2.591 kgs including the 4 cell battery which is on the lighter side for a gaming laptop of this calibre. In comparison the svelte Macbook Pro Retina too weighs in at around 2.04kgs for the 15 inch model. The power brick too is pretty lite despite the larger size that it occupies. The overall build quality of the GL552 VW picks up where the JX left off and definitely fixes one of the main problems that was present on the latter, the lid. The metal lid adds to the premium look and feel and users will definitely feel that they are getting their money’s worth.
Ports and Controls
Let’s start with the left side which houses the power socket, the air vent, a USB-Type C port, HDMI port, ethernet port and 2 USB 3.0 ports.
The right side houses the audio inputs for headphones and microhpones as well as a USB 2.0 port, the Optical DVD drive and the Kensington lock. We wish that Asus had included a 3.0 port here as well.
At the front lip, you have 5 indicator lights for various statuses and the 3 in 1 card reader. The different markings for the LED indicators are done on the inner side of the laptop and is visible once you lift up the lid.
On the inside, you have the full fledged QWERTY keyboard along with a numeric keypad on the right hand side, the trackpad and 4 speaker grilles (2 on either side of the ROG insignia).The upper lid houses the 15.6″ display, the microphone, the webcam as well as rubber stubs to prevent the display getting in contact with the keyboard.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The GL552 VW has a full fledged QWERTY keyboard along with a numeric keypad on the right side. The keys have a chiclet style island layout with rounded edges around the keys. The keys have adequate spacing and travel between them that makes typing quite easy. The feedback could’ve been slightly better but once you use it regularly, you will get used to it. It is pretty good for gaming purposes but for typing a lot of words, it may not be the ideal fit.
One good aspect is the lack of flexing which is an issue that plagues some of the laptop keyboards these days. What we really liked is the ample amount of space for your palms to rest while typing and reduces the fatigue on your hands during extended gaming or typing sessions.
The trackpad is quite smooth and easy to use especially thanks to the large surface area it covers. The clicks offer good feedback and we quite like the red outline too as we stated earlier. Apart from the red outline, there is also red backlighting for all the keys. The backlighting can be adjust in several different levels and the backlighting is even through all the keys. The WASD keys have thicker backlighting since they are ideally used for gaming.
One thing we that may take some time for people to get used to is the power key which is located at the upper right hand corner of the keyboard rather than as a separate button towards the sides of the laptop or near the display. I am already used to it since I own a Macbook Pro Retina which has a similar layout but I prefer the having a larger and more distinguishable power button like on my ROG G750 JW.
The display on the GL552 JW is a 15.6″ IPS unit with 1920×1080 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. There is an anti-glare coating on it too that really helps improve the viewing angles and also eases the strain on your eyes. For those of you who prefer to have some privacy, you may need to install a special screen guard or filter to prevent prying eyes since the viewing angles are really wide. The sunlight legibility too is really good so even if you are in a room that get a lot of natural light falling onto the display or when travelling, the display offers good visibility. There is a slight dip in the contrast ratio after around 45 degree but their claim of offering 178 degree viewing angles is more or less accurate.
While our unit had no light leaks whatsoever and most of the units that I’ve seen at events and shops too gladly didn’t have that issue, there are apparently some reports online stating some units do have that issue so do be sure to check if your particular unit has it and get it replaced. Displays on laptops can be tricky at times and sometimes some can be faulty and also make sure to check out for dead pixels. Overall, we really loved the display on the GL552 VW and it is one of the best aspects of the laptop. Whether it is for gaming or for media consumption, the GL552 VW will delight and satisfy you.
The webcam is located above the speakers and offers good quality videos be it for chatting or for streaming. There are also dual microphones that do a good job with the audio. Users can also connect an external microphone through the mic input jack if they prefer.
Software and Customization
The Asus GL552 VW comes with Windows 10 Home out of the box and users also get several Asus apps and features that help you get the best experience out of your laptop.
Asus Live Update app makes sure that you are running on the latest drivers and software versions to make sure compatibility and performance is up to date. There is a Splendid Utility that users can use to customise and tweak the display to their liking and since the display hardware itself is great, the software helps get the best out of it.
Asus Smart Gesture app allows users to tweak and control the functionality of the trackpad such as gestures. They can also choose whether to disable the trackpad is a mouse is connected or not and also toggle Remote Link which allows users to control their laptop remotely using their smartphone.
Gaming centre allows users to set different profile for different users or games and allowing them to change settings in just one click. Similarly, GameFirst IV allows users to control their network settings and prevent lagging or slowing down during gaming sessions.
There is a safety toggle feature called Eye Care that can be turned on or off based on your needs. Toggling it will reduce the amount of blue light emitted by the screen. Blue light has been found to be harmful when exposed to it for long and it’ll affect your sleep too. So manufacturers have started bundling the feature in smartphones and now its good to see that laptop makers too are including it.
Storage, Connectivity and Performance
The Asus GL552 VW comes with a 1TB HDD as well as a 128GB M.2 2280 SSD. The OS is installed on the SSD and as a result, the boot times and wake times are really fast. The 1TB HDD is a 7200 rpm drive that posted results of over 130 MB/s for both read and write. The 128GB SSD on the other hand offers read speeds of 430 MB/s and above as well as write speeds of 120 MB/s and above. The 1TB HDD drive comes with 932GB of storage while the 128GB SSD comes with 118GB of storage. Since the GL552VW comes with a slide off panel underneath, it is quite easy for users to access and upgrade their storage or memory whenever needed.
It comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac. It is powered by the latest 6th gen Intel® Core™ i7 6700HQ processor that is clocked in at 2.60 GHz.
Users also get a 16GB 1066MHz DDR4 RAM stick with 2 x SO-DIMM socket for expansion up to 32 GB SDRAM. Users also get a NVIDIA GTX 960M chipset with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM.
The laptop is an absolute delight to use be it for gaming or for editing (photos and video) and the thermal dynamics are also pretty good. The entire system does a good job at staying cool even during intensive gaming sessions. However, be wary of the left side where the air vent does get a bit too hot for comfort. We wouldn’t suggest gaming with the laptop on your “lap” but on the desk, it shouldn’t be any problem.
Speakers and Audio Quality
The audio quality is great over earphones or headphones when plugged into the 3.5mm audio jack. However, the speakers are disappointing. The volume isn’t as good as we’d have hoped and there is too little punch. The bass seems almost non existent even with the SonicMaster technology.
There is an Audio Wizard app that has ICESound support called ICEPower that allows users to tweak the audio output either by using presets or manually fine tuning it to your liking. This goes a long way with a headset plugged in and also improved your gaming experience.
The GL552 VW comes with a 4 cell battery and a power brick that outputs 19 V DC, 6.32 A, 120 W. With regular browsing, typing and usage over WiFi, the laptop lasted slightly over 4 and a half hours at 40% brightness. With slightly heavier use, users can get in and around the 4 hour mark. Especially with a powerful set of hardware under the hood, a 4 cell battery isn’t good enough. Therefore, this is a laptop that is ideal for those gamers who travel a lot but not ideal for gamers to game while on the go.
The GL552VW is a really impressive laptop. It offers a really powerful performance in a tiny form factor and definitely lives upto the task of being a gaming laptop. If you are looking for a slim ultra portable laptop that you can use to get your work done while commuting then look elsewhere. However, if you are more of a person who loves to get stuff done sitting down and have easy access to a wall socket, then this laptop will definitely handle any task you throw at it with ease and will look good while doing so. The GL552VW is priced at Rs 82,490 MRP but you should be able to get it at a slightly cheaper price from some retailers.
- Impressive Performance
- Brilliant Display
- Great Build Quality and Design
- Good Ergonomic Keyboard with Even Backlighting
- Good Set of Connectivity Features (Wired and Wireless)
- Speaker Quality and Loudness Aren’t As Good As You’d Expect
- Battery Life is Disappointing