Asus X552CL review
Powerful, durable and cheap, this is our new favourite budget laptop. Here's our Asus X552CL review.
UPDATE 27/03/2015: Stocks of the Asus X552CL have finally sold out. If you can find one going for a song then it remains a solid budget laptop, but don't worry if you can't find any on sale - our Best Laptops of 2015 list has you covered.
Asus knows how to build a brilliant cut-price laptop – take a look at its 11.6in VivoBook X200CA and 10.1in Transformer Book T100 if you don’t believe us. But its X552CL takes on the challenge of putting together a more powerful 15.6in system while still managing to keep down the cost. With a Core i5 processor, Nvidia graphics and a sensible range of features for £400, it looks like Asus may have nailed the formula. See also: what's the best laptop you can buy in 2015?
Asus X552CL review: design
This isn’t a laptop to set the pulse racing: the X552CL’s exterior is cast entirely in sombre, matte-black plastic. The only note of visual interest is a textured chain-link finish that stretches across the lid and wristrest, and a fake, brushed-metal effect on the keyboard panel. It’s inoffensive, though, and while the 2.27kg chassis doesn’t ooze the rock-solid charm of pricier models, it feels well put together, with the base remaining firm despite its slim profile. If there’s a weak point, it’s the plastic-covered lid, which flexes more than we’d like: if you’re tempted to carry the X552CL on your travels, consider investing in a padded laptop bag.
Inside that unassuming exterior lurks a potent specification. While most sub-£500 laptops make do with Core i3 processors and integrated graphics, Asus has found room in the budget for an Ivy Bridge Core i5 CPU, 6GB of DDR3 RAM, a capacious 750GB hard disk and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 710M GPU. It’s a seriously capable combination, putting the Asus in pole position for application performance this month, with a score of 0.67 in our Real World Benchmarks. This represents more than enough power for everyday tasks, and the laptop should even stand up to challenging video-editing projects without slowing to a halt.
Asus X552CL review: gaming power
Thanks to the Nvidia GPU, gaming performance is also very good for a laptop with this price tag. The X552CL eased through our Crysis benchmark run at 1,366 x 768 resolution and Low quality settings with an average frame rate of 78fps. Unusually for a £450 laptop, there’s also enough power to turn in playable frame rates in our Crysis benchmark at 1,600 x 900 resolution and Medium quality: the X552CL averaged a smooth 32fps. That’s impressive for a budget machine, and proves that there’s power enough for most modern titles, as long as you don’t push the resolution and quality settings too high. Should you wish to indulge in a spot of gaming on the big screen, there are HDMI and VGA video outputs along the laptop’s left-hand edge.
The Asus’ 15.6in display offers a merely adequate 1,366 x 768 resolution and fairly narrow viewing angles, thanks to the use of a TN panel. Nevertheless, image quality is respectable: although the LED backlighting reaches only a modest maximum of 216cd/m2, the contrast ratio of 251:1 is a touch better than average. The improved contrast ratio helps the Asus dredge up more detail that its peers. By far the best aspect of the Asus’ performance is its natural colour reproduction: lifelike skin tones and bright, solid-looking colours immediately distinguish the X552CL from its budget rivals.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||380 x 251 x 34mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce 710M|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical drive||DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.9mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||4hr 33min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 29min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||72fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.67|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|