ASUS G550JK Laptop Review – Thin, Lightweight Gaming

Gaming laptops aren’t for everyone, but the ASUS G550JK offers features that almost any gamer will appreciate.

As soon as you pull the G550JK out of the box, you’ll find yourself thinking that it’s awfully thin for a so-called “gaming” laptop. Don’t think that means it’s short on hardware, though. This laptop might not boast bleeding-edge gear, but it’s definitely got a nice collection of upper mid-range components inside. Here’s the list:

  • CPU: Intel i7 4710HQ @ 2.5GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR3 1600
  • Video: GeForce GTX850M w/ 2 GB VRAM
  • HDD: 750GB 7200 RPM SATA

ASUS puts their Republic of Gamers branding front and center on the G550JK, emblazoning the lid of the laptop with a glowing red logo. It’s a sleek-looking laptop, with a brushed finish interrupted only by said logo. Lift the lid, and you’ll see that minimalism continues inside. A matte black finish surrounds an anomaly for a 15.6 inch laptop — a full keyboard with number pad. A large wrist rest area features the same finish, which is pretty at first glance but also acts as a magnet for smudges and fingerprints.

The first thing you notice about the keyboard on the G550JK is the keys — they’re much larger than you might expect. Typing on this laptop is actually a pleasure, unlike some laptops that sport cramped, uncomfortable keyboards. The keys have a good feel, and are a bit quieter than a typical chiclet keyboard. The red backlight is bright enough to easily see the keys in a dark room, but still unobtrusive enough to keep from distracting from gaming. It’s nearly impossible to see the keys without the backlight in any sort of low-light situation, so you’ll want to keep it on most of the time. The only disconcerting thing about the keyboard is that the right arrow key occupies some of the space traditionally reserved for the numpad zero, which caused some confusion for my fingers.

The 15.6-inch 1920×1080 IPS panel has great colors and viewing angles. The G550JK’s display sports a matte finish that helps to reduce the glare on the screen. That means the screen isnot quite as sharp as one with a glossy finish would be, but if you’re using this laptop in a brightly-lit area, you’ll appreciate the matte coating.

There are a bevy of ports available on the G550JK, including three USB 3.0s, one HDMI, a mini DisplayPort, and, of course, the usual headset and SD card slots. ASUS has also included its “SonicMaster” subwoofer in the box. Plugging this in adds immensely to the quality of the laptop’s sound for both games and music. The hard drive, power, and charging status lights appear on the front edge of the laptop, just below the touchpad. This location keeps the lights from distracting you while gaming.

All of these features are great, but the true test of any gaming laptop is how well it runs games, and the G550JK does so quite well. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim runs at 45-60 frames per second at 1920×1080 on Ultra settings, and there were no noticeable frame rate drops when I played. The only time I saw this laptop struggle was with the extremely demanding “Fire Strike” demo that’s part of the 3D Mark benchmarking program, and the G550JK still managed to eke out a score of 3000 on that test. That doesn’t measure up to high-end gaming laptops or desktops, but it’s definitely a respectable result.

While gaming, the G550JK disperses heat well. Despite spending several hours playing games with the laptop plugged in, it never got uncomfortably warm. With many laptops, a lack of heat management can necessitate the use of a dedicated laptop cooler, but I never had to with this one. Still, the fans do tend to get loud under load, with the noise becoming noticeable during gaming. It’s certainly possible to drown it out with game sound or by putting on a headset, but it can be an annoyance.

Another big concern with laptops is battery life, and it’s a weak point for the G550JK. I was able to get about two hours of gaming out of a fully charged battery, so if you want to play anything for an extended period, you’ll need to be plugged in. For desktop tasks (web browsing, email, etc.), you can get closer to four hours of battery life with continuous use.

The ASUS G550JK is a solid gaming laptop that you can pick up for under $1,500. It offers good gaming performance in an attractive package, even if it does tend to hang onto fingerprints like a crime scene investigator. Its battery life may seem lacking, but most gaming laptops struggle in that area. The quality keyboard and solid construction make the G550JK a great buy for any gamer looking to go portable.

You can grab the ASUS G550JK over at Amazon.com.


The G550JK was reviewed using a sample unit provided by ASUS.

Ron Whitaker is managing editor at GameFront. Find more of his work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @ffronw and @gamefrontcom.

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