The ASUS A55VD-AB71 is simply overall an EXCELLENT laptop once you get past one or two minor inconveniences. I bought this to replace my one year old Gateway NV55S04u 15.6-Inch Laptop that I also got from Amazon in 2011. My personal policy is to replace laptops within two years of usage but after seeing this ASUS A55VD and the specs it had I decided to break my custom and make it a one year deal. This is my very first time purchasing an ASUS product as I was skeptical about the brand at first since the name is never really mentioned in regular advertising campaigns in comparison to its rivals such as Acer, Gateway, HP-Compaq, Dell, etc. I have only had it for roughly a week but so far so good.
The good parts about the ASUS A55VD are the blazing fast Core i7 processor, the large 750GB hard drive and the IceCool Palm Rest. I was a little perturbed when I saw that the hard drive was split into two parts, a C: drive and a D: drive; the latter being for data only. While I understand this is for protective means in case of data loss or corruption I didn't find it necessary in my case since I don't believe in filling up laptop hard drive spaces as it causes eventual slowdowns. That being said I used the Windows 7 in-built Computer Management tool to merge the partitions together. I prefer it that way overall.
The memory of 6GB that it came with normally would be sufficient for the average user in conjunction with the Core i7 processor but my personal rule of thumb is to ALWAYS max out computer memory....or get as close to the maximum as one can comfortably afford so I purchased the Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) Laptop Memory (CMSX8GX3M2A1600C9)
kit at the same time and installed it. The system works like a dream no matter what task you "ask" it to do with this boost.
I usually have the laptop on for 8 or more hours plugged in a day so far and the heat levels are pretty moderate. I can keep it on my lap for quite some time and it doesn't get noticeably hot at all. Even at the bottom of it so kudos to ASUS for an excellent dissipating design. The lower right side of the laptop adjacent to the touchpad does get slightly warm when it's on for several hours but it's not enough to be an issue of discomfort for the right hand when resting on it.
There were two things I were disappointed with however - the volume of the Realtek HD in-built speakers and the hybrid graphics of Intel HD4000/Nvidia 610M. Firstly, the speakers were allegedly to be Altec Lansing according to the info on the Amazon website but that is not the case. The speakers also sound so low even at their maximum that you'd swear something was wrong with your hearing and that you were prematurely going deaf. Even with adjustments made with the Realtek HD Audio Manager the sound increase was next to negligible. Thankfully, however, my years of gained pc skills reminded me that I could use external software to enhance the sound quality. For all those interested you can purchase DFX Audio Enhancer and SRS Audio Essentials. The combination of both have my volume levels for both music and movies operating at desired output levels....as far as laptops go at any rate.
Secondly, in regards to the graphics card, in no way was it mentioned on the Amazon site that the graphics would be a combination of Intel HD4000 and Nvidia 610M. It only lists the Nvidia. This disappointed me as I prefer dedicated graphics over embedded ones since the latter eats up part of the ram. Fortunately it seems to only consume 115MB of my 8GB ram. This isn't a deal breaker by any means BUT buyers should always know EXACTLY what they are getting before making a purchase. I will accept no excuse in regards to this from Amazon or ASUS.
Overall the ASUS A55VD-AB71 is a raging beast of a laptop. Just keep in mind that some tinkering has to be done to get it to perform at the optimum levels most enthusiasts and/or gamers are looking for when making a purchase of $700 to $900. Personally I got it at $729 which for a laptop this powerful is a real bargain.
UPDATE December 7, 2012: I decided to test the waters after doing some searches online about it and put in two sticks of 8gb each Corsair 16 GB (2x8 GB) DDR3 1600MHz (PC3 12800) Laptop Memory CMSO16GX3M2A1600C11
and they took. The ASUS A55VD-AB71's Intel Core i7-processor and chipset can take 16GB of ram as indicated on the Intel website DESPITE the fact the ASUS website says a MAXIMUM of 8GB only. COMPLETELY INCORRECT!!! This will be a welcome update to those who are music, video and graphic artist professionals. I am loving this laptop more and more now.