on September 4, 2013
I recently decided to replace my four year old desktop system with a laptop.
Given that this was going to be my main computer, I needed a machine that had a good amount of grunt for video conversion and other processor intensive tasks. This machine has the new Haswell i7-4700HQ processor, which has impressive performance with relatively good power consumption.
I am an occasional but enthusiastic gamer, so I needed reasonably good graphics - enough to run Civ V, Simcity, Skyrim and whatever is released next at mid settings. Obviously GPU is always a trade off between price, performance and power consumption, but I think the GT750M strikes a reasonable balance between the three. You will have to make your own call, though. If you want more performance, look at the Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p 15.6-Inch Laptop (Metal - Dusk Black) which has 2 GT750M's in SLI mode. If you don't do much 3D gaming, an ultrabook or convertible with Intel HD4400 or 4600 integrated graphics (there are quite a few around to choose from) might suit you better.
The screen is beautiful. As screens get better on smartphones and tablets, I find the 768p screens on cheaper laptops hard to look at. Spoiled I guess. The screen is glossy but not as reflective as some I have seen and the viewing angles are excellent.
Not everyone loves touchscreens but it was a must for me. Again, using a lot of touchscreens on other devices I find touch a really natural way of interacting with the user interface, even where it hasn't been specifically designed for touch. Windows 8 is only half the product on a non-touch screen and it seems inevitable that more apps and operating systems will incorporate touch in the future. If you don't want the touchscreen, the ASUS N550JV-DB71-CA Multimedia Notebook (15.6-inch, i7-4700HQ, 8GB-DDR3, 1TB HDD, GT 750M-2G, BD-ROM, Windows 8) is the same laptop without the touchscreen. The trackpad is good too, although I am not a fan of the hidden buttons that everyone has copied from Apple. Initially I found that tapping on the trackpad to click was unresponsive but you can adjust the sensitivity of this. The keyboard is very good in terms of key size and travel, although I would have appreciated a bit of separation between the main keyboard and the number pad so I could easily feel where the enter key was. Frankly I wouldn't have been too fussed if they had left out the number pad altogether.
In terms of size and appearance, this laptop has a very high quality build. I don't care much what my laptop looks like but I do want one that doesn't creak or move while you use it and this certainly fits that bill. The 15.6" form factor is pretty hefty - I would've preferred a 14" version - but as it was a desktop replacement I was not too worried about the size or weight. If you plan to carry it around a lot, I would recommend you go for something smaller.
While I've said I don't care what my laptop looks like, one thing I do like about this laptop is that it is gaming-capable without looking like a gaming laptop. I find those flashy, neon-lit, tattoo-sporting gaming laptops ridiculous but unfortunately this is almost the most capable gaming laptop I have found without the bling. Even the Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p 15.6-Inch Laptop (Metal - Dusk Black) (which looks like the natural next step up from this in the gaming performance terms) has a garish red keyboard which I would feel silly using to do my tax return.
Another important factor in choosing this laptop was warranty. I live in Hong Kong and laptops are generally much cheaper on Amazon than in the stores here, so I wanted a good international warranty. The rules about international warranties vary wildly between manfacturers, but Asus's international warranty is excellent. By contrast Acer (who have a similar model to this laptop) do not offer a true international warranty, so in my circumstances I had to rule them out of consideration entirely.
In terms of shortcomings, this laptop is much better with a decent SSD to replace the supplied HDD. I went for the Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Single Unit Version Internal Solid State Drive MZ-7TE250BW. Luckily it is pretty easy to replace the HDD armed with a Torx#5 screwdriver. One of the advantages of a slightly bigger laptop like this over an ultrabook is that everything is user accessible and replaceable - the RAM, the HDD, the wifi card, the battery, even the optical drive.
A bigger shortcoming is that, unlike several of its competitors, this laptop does not have provision for an mSATA SSD. This means you cannot install a 64GB or 128GB SSD as an OS drive and keep the HDD for data. You have to use one drive, and that means being faced with a choice between a smallish but fast SSD and a big but slow HDD. In my case, I have a NAS for storing data, so it was less of an issue for me. Also USB 3.0 (all the USB ports on this laptop are USB 3.0) makes external drives very fast.
I really didn't identify any other issues with this machine. All in all I am one happy owner.
In my dreams I would quite like this CPU/GPU combination in a convertible form factor - a touchscreen is more useful again if you can fold it flat and use it like a tablet. But at the moment, none of the convertibles have a dedicated GPU or even Intel HD5100 graphics (which approaches the GT750M for performance). Maybe next year for that.
PS: I noticed that some of the specs for this machine on Amazon and a lot of other online retailers were wrong. Amazon seems to have corrected them now, but to make clear:
* No model of this laptop has an mSATA drive or any place to put one.
* This model has a 1080p IPS touchscreen. The DB71 model has a 1080p IPS non-touchscreen.
* This model has a DVD-RW drive. Some Asian and European models have a Bluray/DVD combo drive or a Bluray-RW drive.
* This has 8GB of RAM, two 4GB modules. Some Asian models come with 16GB RAM.
* This model has a 1 year international warranty and 1 year accidental damage protection (in the US & Canada only). In other countries, Asus offers a 2 year international warranty but no accidental damage protection.
* The keyboard is backlit with 3 levels of light.
One final thing: if you are shipping this (or any) laptop to or through Hong Kong, you will need to get hold of the Material Safety Data Sheet for the laptop battery. For this laptop, the battery part no is C41-N550 and the MSDS is available by telephoning Asus Hong Kong. Do not try Asus USA, they will not know what you are talking about!
on October 16, 2013
First Off, as far as comparison, I am an IT Professional. Part of my job is opening and setting up brand new laptops for customers. That being said, this laptop has some very good points and a few disappointment points as well. I will break this down to pros and cons for easier comparison.
~ The screen quality is fantastic. First off, the screen is firm and rigid so touches do not lift the front of the laptop, nor does the screen flex when touched. The screen is a full HD 1920x1086 display (I know the description can be confusing).
~ The backlight keyboard is very similar to that of a MacBook Pro, the key depth is sufficent to feel like you are actually typing on a keyboard and not just a flat surface. One observation is that the backlight is a little lower end. Light bleeds through around the edges of the keys and shines slightly through the keys themselves, though it is easy to see in the dark so I am still considering this a pro.
~ Additionally, the processor is one of the best i7's available for laptops right now, and has not hung up at all on me since I received this product.
~ The power plug socket is snug and builds confidence in the fact that it does not feel cheap and loose, but rather a good firm connection.
~ The touchscreen is very responsive and accurate.
~ The overall feel of the laptop is solid and strong and does not feel cheap and provides a rigid feel.
~VERY disappointing that the screws on the bottom of the laptop are Torx #5 screws, not phillips or standard. I stripped one of the screws trying to replace the original hard drive with another SSD I had purchased. So this was a frustration point for me.
~ Disappointed with the bezel on the DVD tray. The right side of the face of the DVD tray is not glued down tight and sticks out about 1/8 inch which is just enough to get caught on my case when I slip the laptop in a case I have. I was able to put a dot of super glue on it and clamp it with a clothespin to reduce the protruding plastic piece, but it is still not completely flush with the rest of the bezel.
~ The 1TB 5400 RPM HDD is a throw-away component, included to keep the cost of the pc down. As soon as I got mine, I used the EaseUS Todo Home software to replicate the included HDD to my SSD and put that in. But I HIGHLY recommend getting a faster HDD if not an SSD to really uncap the potential of this computer, as the 5400 RPM HDD will NOT do it justice.
I think overall the laptop is good, with the quality of components that are included, however I think ASUS should take just a tad bit more time to improve the build quality of the laptop. This laptop costs enough to be able to expect quality build quality and it would be nice to see it improve a touch. I have confidence that this laptop will do everything I need it to do with both work and finishing my Computer Networking degree, and be able to run any application I can throw at it. I believe that this laptop is worth more than the price they are charging and I feel it is a good deal. I would say go for it and see for your self.
~ Power Users
~ IT Professionals
~ Graphics Intensive Business People
on August 20, 2013
First off, I bought this laptop from another vendor, and cannot comment on Amazon's shipping or service. However, after owning this product for about a month, I can comment on the laptop.
-Top-of-the-line 4th gen Core i7 processor
-Brand new, dedicated video card
-absolutely massive hard drive
-keyboard w/ backlight
-Full HD touchscreen display with IPS technology (very wide viewing angles)
-excellent build quality
-hard drive is only 5400 RPM
-keyboard backlight is not perfect
-gets a little warm with heavy use
-it doesn't make me pancakes
This really is an excellent laptop, especially for the price. For a little more than $1000, it offers you a slew of high-end components inside a well-built, attractive casing. For some more money, you could get a laptop with a higher resolution screen (Macbook Pro Retina) or with slightly better components (Razer Blade) but there's really no reason to unless you're a hardcore gamer or have a need for ultra-high resolution displays. The touchscreen makes Windows 8 infinitely more enjoyable, and makes me wonder why people ever complained about it. The hard drive, while massive, is a bit slow, and seems to occasionally bottleneck the system during some intensive tasks. However, during most use cases, this is a non-issue, and is easily rectified( Just buy yourself a faster hard drive). It does get a little warm when under heavy use, and may require a lap desk or a cooling pad to remain comfortable at times, but again, the problem is easily fixed. The keyboard backlight is a nice touch, with one minor issue. At certain angles, light leaks out from underneath the keys, making them hard to see. But, when one is sitting normally, this isn't an issue. The keyboard itself is wonderful, and I'm not sure why people have complained about it. I suppose it's a preference thing.
Overall it's an amazing laptop for the price, offering an excellent mix between build quality, aesthetics, and power.
on August 14, 2013
[UPDATE (8/15/13): If you read the comment thread to this review, you'll find that there has been some confusion around whether this laptop offers a true high definition display. Turns out that this model being sold by Amazon is full high resolution (FHD) 1920x1080.]
Bought this for my son for college and he loves it.
Pros: 4th gen I7 processor; excellent graphics and better-than-expected performance from the NVIDIA graphics card while gaming; a relatively fast boot probably helped along by the 24 gb ssd; 1 tb of storage; 8 gb memory; light weight considering the size of the screen; and a touchscreen display that makes using Windows 8 almost tolerable, and it looks amazing -- so good that I would have assumed it was 1080p (but it's not). [CORRECTION: As stated in the update, the display resolution is 1920x1080.]
Cons: It runs a little warm when gaming, so we bought a cooling pad; the bottom of the case could be a little better quality of plastic; would prefer the hdd be 7200 rpm instead of 5400. All of which are very minor issues. My only significant complaint is the keyboard. The chiclet keyboard feels cheap and there's something about the layout that makes it easy, for me, to lose my position and strike the wrong key. My son, the laptop's primary user, doesn't notice it. So it may be a generational thing or just my problem. And the backlighting on the keys is lackluster at best. I would prefer Asus to have installed black keys and some kind of rubber gasket to prevent light from bleeding out of the sides of key. Those two changes alone would have turned the feature from worse than useless to excellent.
If the option were available to me, I would probably have given this laptop 4.5 stars because of the keyboard, and really only because of that. As a writer, it would take me some time to adjust to this keyboard. But my son thinks it's 5 stars all the way, so 5 stars it is. Overall, this is an excellent value that you will find hard to beat. Quality components, I7 Haswell, solid graphics card, touchscreen, beautiful display, nice fit and finish... It's a win!
Note: This has nothing to do with the computer but avoid the Microsoft app store like the plague. It's a mess and many of the apps are buggy. You're much better off downloading and installing software the old-school way. Skype, for example, was a nightmare. I ended up uninstalling the app that came from the MS Store and downloaded the Win7 version of Skype in order to make it work properly. Had to do this with a number of applications.
on November 6, 2013
Update 14-Nov-2013: I recommend installing two drivers after a clean install of Windows 8 -> 8.1. Download and install, from the ASUS support website, the ATK driver to enable keyboard backlighting and SmartGesture driver to enable touchpad features and more refined touchpad operation. Hiting the fn+f4 key raises the keyboard brightness.
Agree with ASUS company slogan "Inspiring Innovation. Persistent Perfection." The ASUS N550JV-DB72T is indeed a refined notebook. I'm retiring my Dell XPS 15z which also was good for its day. The ASUS is a nice step up in comparison; 30% faster real world CPU speed and double the cores (2 to 4), cooler running 35w CPU, better keyboard (better feel, backlighting, adds a numeric keypad), QUIETER under load, much better speakers, decidedly better build. Other things are similar; screen quality, touchpad, weight, size, ease of upgrading (memory, SSD, WiFi (N to 802.11ac)). I'm getting 3.5 to 4 hours of websurfing on battery. That's quite sufficient for my usage pattern.
A negative, when compared to the competition, is the weight -- around 6 lbs. That's 1.5 lbs heavier than a MacBook Pro 15 2013. You get what you pay for in regards to weight.
I prefer buying ASUS computers because they have come with one year international warranty and one year accidental damage coverage. Fortunately, I've never had to use either. ASUS superior build enables them to offer industry leading warranties.
I installed an SSD (of course), 16GB, and Intel 7260 802.11ac WiFi card and then did a clean install of Windows 8->8.1. All went smoothly albeit I had to use wired Ethernet to download the WiFi driver before WiFi would work. Windows Update seems to have automatically installed every driver.
After a clean W8 install, you'll have to manually check the box of Control Panel->Appearance and Personalization->Display->"Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays" otherwise text will look fuzzy. I also recommend setting Intel->Graphics Properties->Color->Advanced - Contrast to 49 and Gamma to 0.9. YMMV.
Be sure to have a Torx T5 screw driver on hand for when you need to crack open the case -- those aren't Phillips heads on the bottom plate.
The ASUS power brick has a way short AC-side power cord, only around 3 foot. I recommend getting a 6 or 12 foot cable such as Pwr+® 3 Prong 12 Ft Ac Laptop Power Cord Cable for Dell IBM Hp Compaq Asus Sony Toshiba Lenovo Acer Gateway MSI Notebook Computer Charger (12 Ft - Extra Long)
I bought an extra AC-DC adapter, in anticipation of donating another to a hotel. I recommend the one known as N550TSBA06G which works well, bears UL and CE certifications, ASUS equiv amperage (6.3A), uses two prong plug instead of three, gets warm but not hot, cord has reinforced ends and a ferrite core, 100-240AC input, green LED light, 6ft (2m?) power cord, even has four soft feet to avoid scuffing -- really nice power brick for $18.
on August 31, 2013
Exceptional CPU performance: Haswell may not have been a revelatory release versus its predecessor but there's no doubting that it's got the chops to handle whatever I chuck at it.
Reasonable GPU performance: The HD4600 seems to deal with all of my typical desktop stuff without fault, and I'm still able to bust out some Civ V without it being a total kludge. Optimus is completely seamless.
Great Screen: 1920x1080 IPS panels should really just be the minimum standard at this point. Anything lower on a 15"+ notebook is literally an affront to the eyes.
Touch Panel: I'm not really a fan of Windows 8, but if you're going to roll with the latest MS OS you'd be doing yourself a disservice by getting a machine that does not support touch. I've already gotten some amusement out of my idiotic attempts to touch the screen on other people's older machines since I've started using this one and become used to having the screen as an input option.
Audio: It works well. It's not as outright fantastic as the prior gen N56VM but it is very nearly the same.
Build quality (see cons on this as well): Seemingly quite solid. All-metal chassis, some flex on the panel but only if you try. Lovely beveled edges on the deck and the panel that provide a good cleft for prying it open. There is a rubber ring around the entire exterior of the panel that "seals" the display against the deck. I'm not sure what kind of glass the panel is covered in and whether I will have key-marks in the future but so far it's not picked up any scratches from my occasionally grubby mitts. Ports are all quite solid in feel excepting the SD slot(see cons). The power plug from the PSU is a right angle and I'm all for it. PSU is large but somewhat flattened out so it's not too terrible to keep in a bag pocket.
Heat: Intakes from bottom grilles and exhausts from the back in the hinge area. No warm wind coming from the sides of the unit.
Drive performance: Out of the box, the 1TB drive that comes with this unit is just plain slow. Windows 8 does a good job with whatever caching mojo it has going on (Note, there is NOT a 24GB caching SSD in these units, despite any indication to the contrary elsewhere. There is physically no slot for it inside the chassis) so it keeps things moving well. However, the responsiveness of the machine is just dragged into the pits by the 5400RPM drive. I suggest immediately extricating it and replacing with an SSD if you want the machine to show its true capabilities. Be advised you'll need a Torx #5 to get into the chassis. Also, don't attempt to remove or replace the screws without a surgeon's touch. They are VERY delicate.
Build Quality: Touch-pad is raised above the unit's deck on the right button corner. This issue is present on both units I ordered. The N56VM had this problem in the upper left corner. I wish Asus would fix this as it's apparent to me now that it's a consistent issue. The unit chassis is metal, but the bottom has no real internal support structure and relies on the rigidity of the bottom plate for its integrity. It would likely be VERY easy to smash it inward if the unit were pressed down onto something. SD slot is barely recessed. Inserted cards hang out 50% of the card's length. Do not count on being able to insert an SD card and leave it in there. Microphone and Headphones are integrated into a single jack. Maybe it's just me, but I really despise this configuration.
Heat: The system's exhaust design is nice but isn't ideal since the hinge obstructs the exhaust location and vents roughly equally out of the back and up over the surface of the screen. After an hour or two of Civ V, the left side of the deck becomes very hot. However, I cannot knock this issue too hard since the unit's body is so slim there was bound to be heating issues no matter what.
Webcam: The image quality from the integrated webcam is nothing short of garbage. Even if the capture size is reduced to the minimum, the frame-rate looks to be somewhere around 15fps. If the quality of the webcam is a sticking point for you, then you will NOT be pleased. This is the absolute worst element of the unit that I've discovered.
Windows 8 is, overall, annoying. That's really all there is too it. I'm not knocking anything on this unit based on the OS but, I will most definitely knock ASUS on this count for not at least providing drivers for this unit for Windows 7. Others have ditched Win8 for 7 on this unit and indicated only a few issues with certain things they could not appropriate drivers for. However, there are several ASUS applications that handle things like USB charging and keyboard lighting that may or may not work if you go that route.
I wish there was a way to temporarily disable the touchscreen using an Fn combo like there is for the touch-pad. The screen obviously gets gunked up by fingers and wiping it tends to result in errant clicks.
~6 month update:
Still very pleased with the notebook. I have found that I rarely use the touchscreen outside of occasional scrolling of the start tiles, something which I only do rarely since I have everything I commonly access pinned to the taskbar. Upgraded to Windows 8.1 without any issues. System boots directly to desktop now.
Performance: Hauls the proverbial gluteus maximus. Runs MSSQL in VirtualBox VM while I do development in Visual Studio on the host, listen to tunes, and run 30 browser windows with open dev consoles with no trouble. I did upgrade it to 16GB of 1.35v 1600Mhz RAM.
Touch-pad: Lifted corner hasn't gotten any worse, but I don't use the touchpad much anyway. A small wireless mouse with the itty-bitty transceiver nub does the trick nicely. I do like the multi-touch scroll on the touchpad.
Graphics: I didn't buy it to game with and it's no power-house by any stretch but it's still able to game on lower settings without much trouble. Obviously this doesn't work very well when you're on battery. System definitely gets hot after a couple hours of gaming. I recommend having something to lift the back of the notebook up and improve airflow when gaming.
Screen: The glossy glass surface picks up dust out of the air like a magnet, keep a micro-fiber cloth handy. Depending on room lighting, you may be looking at a reflection of yourself pretty often. If you have good lighting behind the laptop and very little behind yourself, the screen is lovely to look at when working on code, browsing, graphics editing, or watching video.
Audio: I have found that the last-gen N56VM's top-mounted speakers are simply superior to this unit's forward-edge mount. When I bother with the sub-woofer and have the unit placed on a table or something, it sounds fine, but the overall external audio setup versus the last gen is not an improvement. I've learned to like the all-in-one headphone/mic jack since I've started using some earbuds with a mic built in. Phone/Voip/Video calls on the notebook are better this way I think. Regardless of headphone quality, you're going to hear some hiss. Nothing to be done about it.
Weight: This thing is no monster Clevo, but it's not light either. If mobility is key, find something in an ultrabook form-factor instead.
on October 6, 2013
Edit: 5 Month Update at the End
As it seems in the reviews here, many people find this laptop to be the only one that fills all of their needs. It's the same for me. I wanted a laptop that had a great screen with touch, solid build quality, good speakers, powerful processor, discrete graphics, and decent battery life. Well, this one fulfills most of those.
The N550JV certainly looks good, and it's made of nice materials. The aluminum gives it a nice feel, and the lid looks/feels good as well. However, the fit isn't quite perfect. The touchpad is uneven and doesn't sit flush. It works fine, but it's annoying to look at. The screen hinge also creaks whenever I move it up or down, and this I find to be incredibly annoying, but I guess I can live with it. Other than that I find the build quality to be quite good.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
I was worried I wouldn't like the keyboard, but I actually find it to be pretty good. The action on the keys is positive and they have a nice amount of travel. The backlighting does bleed some, but I don't really ever find the need to use it anyway. It's nice to have, though. The touchpad works well, and it is accurate, though it seems to have a little more resistance than I'd like (though it might be the humidity here).
Size and Weight:
I was actually surprised by the weight of the machine. I've read some reviews saying it's heavy, but it feels relatively light for its size if you ask me. That may just be because my older laptop was heavier, but I find the thickness and weight to be quite satisfactory on this machine. It tapers up on the bottom, and this helps create a feeling of thinness. It's even more impressive once you consider the fact that this computer has a touch screen, CD drive, dedicated graphics, a keyboard with nice travel, and a decent amount of ports.
The laptop obviously has a pretty powerful processor, although I haven't been able to really test it out yet. I did convert some songs, and I was amazed by how fast it went. It was converting 8 songs at one time. It seems to handle games pretty well. I've played BF3 quite a bit, and it looks really nice and plays well at Full HD. The hard drive is of course the major bottleneck, and it makes itself known. Booting up and loading programs takes so much longer with an HDD versus an SSD, especially a 5400 RPM one, but I can deal with it for the time being. I'm waiting until an SSD around 1 TB comes down in price (currently about $550 at the cheapest). The wireless card kind of sucks. I get about 2 or 3 bars from my room where as with my old Asus I'd get 5. Luckily it's cheap and easy to upgrade.
The screen is excellent. This was one of the major reasons I wanted this laptop. It's of course 1920x1080, and it has excellent black levels, and colors look great on it. The touch is extremely responsive, though I don't use it too often. It's incredible the difference between the screen on this and my 4 year old Asus N51Vf with a 1366x768 screen, and not just the resolution. The screen may just be the best thing about this laptop.
There are four down firing speakers in the front of the laptop, along with the external sub. The sound quality is a mixed bag. They seem to work quite well for simpler, less noisy music, but when it comes to louder rock and such they aren't so great. At least part of it is because they are underneath the front of the laptop, and this doesn't work to its advantage. The speakers are even worse when you have them on your lap. That being said, they are much better than my old laptop's speakers, and they're perfectly adequate. I just wish they were even better, especially since Asus touts them as if they are the best laptop speakers in the world. But it's okay, I prefer listening through some quality headphones anyway. The speakers on the laptop do get loud without too much distortion, and they work really well while watching TV shows and what not where it's mainly just people speaking.
This is one of the more disappointing aspects of the laptop. Maybe I'm just expecting too much, but seeing as Haswell (the 4th gen Intel procs) brought such an improvement in battery to other laptops, I'm surprised this laptop only gets around 4 hours at best with light use. I guess it's just the fact that the processor is such a powerhouse compared to the majority of laptops, and with this you don't get such great battery life. I also feel like Asus probably didn't put a very large battery in the laptop, and unfortunately you can't put in anything bigger since it's on the inside. At least you can change it when it goes bad. (As a side note, if you want your battery to last for more charges, set the computer to turn off at 15 or 20% battery left instead of the default which I think is 5%. LiPos don't really like being discharged that much.)
So that's about all I have to say about the laptop. Make sure you update the BIOS and any other drivers that have updates from Asus. I'll add more if anything else comes up. I had a hard time deciding whether to give the laptop a 4 or 5. If the two build quality issues that I have weren't present it'd be a definite 5. You may not even have those in yours, who knows. I was also considering the Samsung Ativ Book 8, but they still haven't come out with a Haswell version yet. That computer also doesn't have an optical disc drive like this one does, and it's kind of important to me even if I could always just buy an external one with the other laptop.
EDIT: 5 Month Update
I've now owned the laptop for 5 months. Time sure does fly. Anyway, my experience with the laptop has been quite positive so far. It's held up well and still looks as good as new. The screen is awesome for movies, games, etc. The speakers are disappointing. I'd imagine they'd sound a LOT better if they placed them say above the keyboard. I still wish the battery life was better, but I mostly use it at home and so I'm usually plugged in, and I got a 12 foot extension for it so I can sit pretty much anywhere in the house and have it plugged in. I did encounter a bug where sometimes audio won't play through the speakers if the volume is set too low (what I mean is that absolutely no audio comes through and then comes on all of a sudden once I turn it up to around 20/100, though it's not a huge deal and I reported it to Asus. The biggest annoyance is the ever so slow hard drive. I'm going to upgrade with a 1 TB SSD once they come down below $200 or within a year (I guess whichever comes first). Anyway, it's a pretty good laptop overall. With some improvements by Asus this thing could be incredible.
EDIT 2 (March 1, 2014): I decided to upgrade the wireless card today with an Intel 7260. It's a great upgrade for only $30 and almost anyone should be able to replace it. I now get a full five bars connection in my room. It's pretty easy to install. Just use a quality torx #5 driver (I got one from Wiha - made in Germany) and take your time. I was a little worried while popping the back off, but you just start at the front and move your fingers back (though watch out, the bottom cover's edges are quite sharp - I cut my finger) and it will pop off at the back. Then you just locate the wireless card, pop off the connectors, unscrew the single screw, and pull out the card. Then do the reverse to install the new one. I would also suggest blowing out the laptop (especially the fans) if you've had it for a little while. I still recommend this laptop for its target audience.
Update (January 18, 2015): Well, I've had it for over a year now. I just wanted to say I've had no problems with the laptop other than any minor quibbles I've mentioned above. I'm still waiting for SSD prices to drop...
on August 24, 2013
So I just went through a form with Amazon to do a full refund after a month with the computer. This is due to the requirements for the computer. I could not justify the price for what it is. For schoolwork, it is just too big. For gaming, it is not good enough for the price. This computer was the envy of my friends and I truly did love it and will be sad to see it go away...
I am going to take my money and invest it into a very cheap and heavily discounted Asus X202 touch laptop or similar laptop for school, use the excess money to get two solid state drives, one for my new laptop and one for my desktop. I will also get new ram for my desktop as well as a next gen graphics card that so far is future proof. The rest of the money will be thrown towards a PS4 or Xbox One and will take a significant chunk out of them making it easier to get them when they release.
This way I get a computer that is more practical for school, and two very powerful game systems that blow this laptop out of the water.
I will truly miss it, it is a great laptop and I recommend it to anybody with a much bigger disposable income. I'm truly sad to see it go.
Oh, also it had battery trouble and would not keep charge after a month of use. Thats just one more reason.
BELOW IS MY OLDER REVIEW:
Ok, so for about the past 3 months I've been researching various laptops at around 1k for my first year of college.
This was the first one to have everything I wanted-
4th gen Haswell Quad Core
Good enough battery life
Touch Screen at 1920x1080
A good enough dedicated graphics card (gt750m)
The reason i give this 3 stars are because of various flaws I found with it.
The first one I ordered got here in a day. It was a amazing computer, well built, good audio, great screen, battery life. The nvida card was giving me trouble and after a session of Crysis 2, the gt750m's driver reported error code 043, which essentially means it died. I sent it back and got a new one same day from amazon and starting dealing with new issues.
My new issues were the 5400rpm hard-drive and the networking card.
The HDD is just too slow for my tastes, I've grown up on 7200rpm emachines and have a OCZ solid state drive in my desktop. it is simply too slow and I plan on replacing it if I can stay within warranty.
The Networking card (Qualcom Artheros Ar9485wb-eg) is also really slow. It takes a full minute to download 1000kb of data. Both the original and the replacement had this issue. i use either wired now or use a usb wifi adapter. Again if I can manage to stay within warranty I will replace it with something better.
Now for the better stuff.
I really like the gt750m nvidia card, it can handle most games at the same graphics of today's 7th gen consoles. The most taxing game I have are Planetside 2, it is playable in big battles on very low settings at full resolution but at any other settings it is iffy. I can manage 40-50 frames at these settings. I played left 4 dead 2 and that was eaten up. The optimus technology automatically switched to the HD 4600 integrated card in the cpu when I played Halo Combat Evolved at Maximum settings in a close quarters unlimited grenades and rockets 16 player match, the integrated card chewed it up. I haven't tried Crysis 2 on the replacement model yet.
Build quality feels like a very fine aluminum, almost like plastic but very solid, I like it.
Screen is the best I have ever had, it is beautiful.
Keyboard, I didn't like the fact it is silver but it is easy to type on and although the backlit bleeds a lot, it does make it easier to see the actual keys and not just the letters.
Mouse pad is the best I have used. Does not mess up your cursor if you accidentally touch it when typing papers like on some notebooks.
Audio is good for a notebook, the additional subwoofer is weak and I forgo it for my cheap gogroove speakers.
Battery life may sound average at 5 hours but it is very generous, when it says 3 hours and 19 minutes it really does mean that much time is left if you keep using how you are. Other notebooks seem to have a less accurate timing.
Not too much bloatware, easily removed within five minutes.
All in all i give it 3 stars because my first model failed and it has a slow HDD and crappy network card.
Full HD IPS Touch Screen with great angles
Good keyboard although bland
gt750m handles modern games well and is capable at low settings select next gen titles
battery life is generous
CPU is powerful when on high performance mode
good audio for a notebook
SLLLLOOOOOOOWWWWWW HDD at 5400rpm (upgradable)
Crappy network card that WILL frustrate you (upgradable)
Maybe a little big to bring into classes?
First models gt750m died on me
on January 10, 2014
I purchased this laptop for an intensive Master of Architecture program, so would need a laptop that could support 3-d modeling software and adobe suit programs, among others, running simultaneously. I wanted to love this computer.
Has DVD drive
Great touch screen
Lightweight for its size
Decent battery life
However, over the course of the 4 months I owned the laptop, the malfunctions were too significant to overlook.
Many dead pixels on screen from day 1
Could not run rendering software without freezing and shutting down
Had many glitches running adobe suite programs and even using adobe reader (even after troubleshooting with Adobe and Windows)
Graphics card did not work
The last straw:
During the weeks leading up to my semester review I used the laptop heavily, with many programs running at once. It should have been able to withstand the stress, as a "powerful" new laptop. I took great care of it, never dropped it or spilled anything on it. After that period of intensive use the keyboard stopped functioning properly. The "n" key, "b" key, space bar, left shift key, enter key, and ctrl key stuck most of the time (very frustrating).
I Initially purchased this laptop due to the many positive reviews, and specs that indicated a powerful, attractive laptop for the price. I was disappointed that the build quality was so poor. Even my college laptop (now 5.5 year-old Sony VAIO) still has a keyboard that functions flawlessly. I decided to return the Asus and go with the more powerful Dell XPS 15. It is more expensive, but hopefully worth the difference in price for a more reliable, lasting product.
With some improvements I could have loved this computer. However, because of the extent of major issues I experienced, I was not willing to risk getting the laptop serviced and then going back to school (where I have no time to send product back) and having something else go wrong.
on November 19, 2013
I bought this laptop to replace my now 3-year-old Macbook Pro. In all aspects this is a much superior computer (from CPU, RAM, to HDD space (both the Mac and this are 5400RPM)). So that's the pro.
Now for the cons: my first N550JV came with the spacebar not fully functioning. It did not register a key press when pressing it about 1/2" in from the left side. The optical drive trey also did not align flush with the rest of the case, causing it to get caught on anything from my clothing to my skin (ouch).
I contacted Amazon and asked for a replacement. Well, the second N550JV arrived with the spacebar fully functional. The optical drive trey still wasn't perfect, but looking at 180-degree views online, it seems to be an issue with all N550JVs (not that that's justifiable).
But, the big issue with the replacement was the dead pixels on my screen.
I might have just been unlucky, getting 2 defective devices, but what are the odds? Not to mention, for a $1000+ laptop, I would expect a much higher quality product.