The upper-mid range 2016 Asus N552VW (N552VW-FW026T) is power packed with the latest Intel i7 processor and the fabulous NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU to let you unleash the power of gaming on the move. While most competing notebooks at a similar hardware setup are priced almost twice as much as the N552VW, this all-rounder laptop does offer a simple design to make up for the powerful hardware. Read our full review below, and see how it compares to the 2015 model we reviewed back in December of last year.
Design and Build
The 2016 Asus N552VW is a perfect embodiment of the N Series notebooks that have come before it, with the same backlit Asus logo embedded at the center of concentric brushed aluminum circles. Despite being hardened plastic, the lid appears to be thick, which adds rigidity and prevents the screen from flexing easily.
The hinges are crafted out of plastic, but feel stable enough to support the laptop. However, opening the lid with a single hand is nearly impossible. The Asus N552VW weighs around 2.7 Kg, which is almost in the range of what most 17-inch notebooks weigh, and the 32.2mm thickness is quite above the average.
The aluminum-style metallic finish on the keyboard base looks and feels rich, with the right amount of sturdiness near the palm space. The Asus N552VW is quite well-equipped with connectivity options, which includes 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C port, 1 mini Display Port, 1 HDMI port, SD Card Reader, a DVD burner and a Combo audio jack.
Asus has equipped the N552VW-FW026T with a 15.6 inch Full HD display panel from LG, based on the IPS display technology and sporting a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Asus has previously used identical display panels with its other mid-ranged ROG laptops, and comes with a pixel density of 141 PPI. The average brightness measurement of the display was recorded to be 311 cd/m2, and no major surface deviation was noticed.
IPS display panels have a reputation of replicating colours beautifully, which is apparent in this display’s 91 percent sRGB colour spectrum coverage. The matte finish on the display and high brightness make the Asus N552VW an outdoor-friendly device, while offering wide viewing angles.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The full-sized keyboard fits neatly on the Asus N552VW, with backlight illumination and numpad included as well. The keys are well-spaced on the chiclet style layout, and the keys have a large travel distance of 1.8mm, making it perfect for gaming and for prolific typing as well. Since the Asus N552VW is marketed as a multimedia laptop rather than the gaming beast that it is, an array of multimedia FN keys have been included in as well.
Asus has equipped the laptop with a ClickPad, which incorporates the right and left click buttons within the touchpad itself. The touchpad has been fitted just a few millimeters below the keyboard deck, with complete responsiveness around the edges as well. Dedicated gamers might want to buy a mouse, but the multi-touch and gesture recognition features of the touchpad make it perfect for causal use.
Under the Hood
Intel’s top of the line i7-6700HQ quad-core CPU rests in the heart of the Asus N552VW, belonging to the 6th generation Skylake series. The 6700HQ runs at a base clock speed on 2.6GHz, with overclocking ability of up to 3.1GHz, thanks to the Turbo Boost technology from Intel. The laptop is powered by 8GB DDR SDRAM which runs at 2133 MHz, and is expandable as well.
As a cost cutting measure, Asus has skipped out on SSD storage for this laptop, which drives down the application processing speed of the machine significantly. You can always upgrade the storage by using the spare mSATA slot, while the 1TB HDD storage should give you plenty of space for taking your data with you.
The most impressive hardware component of the Asus N552VW is its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU, which comes with 4GB DDR5 dedicated graphic memory. A part of the Maxwell micro-architecture family, the GTX 960M belongs to the high-end graphics card category, able to run almost every current and upcoming gaming title on medium or high setting. When put to the test, the Asus N552VW played Tomb Raider at 65 FPS at FHD resolution at medium settings and F1 2015 at 44 FPS at FHD medium settings.
• Elegant design elements and robust casing that is built to last.
• A wide range of input devices, including the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port.
• High quality IPS panel with Full-HD resolution, decent colour contrast and high brightness.
• Great hardware and gaming components at a decent asking price.
• The machine has a rather large footprint and weight compared to similar laptops.
• No SSD storage option offered right out of the box.
The Final Verdict
Asus offers a logical solution for users who are not high on mobility and looks, but need a mean machine that can outrun most premium priced laptops with ease. The Asus N552VW is a part of a growing niche within the laptop industry, which caters to users who never compromise in terms of performance and are looking for a portable desktop replacement system.
The Asus N552VW has all the qualities of a great multimedia machine – an iconic current generation CPU, a powerful GPU from NVIDIA, and the current generation connectivity options to keep it future proof. Just like us humans, the Asus N552VW is not perfect, with some extra bulk to carry around. However, the value at which the Asus N552VW is available and the tremendous amount of horsepower it holds under its not-so-slim chassis, it’s all worth it.
Review date: April 27, 2016
Price at the time of review: $1629 (most stores seem to sell this particular model at around $1799 mark)