ASUS ROG GL552VW review – the GL552 gets a solid update, still maintains good performance/price ratio

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The ASUS GL552 is a budget-oriented gaming notebook, part of the premium Republic of Gamers lineup, that hooked us for its really lucrative price-to-performance ratio. A lot of things changed since the last generation (you can read our in-depth review here). ASUS has bumped up the specs to a new quad-core Skylake CPU – Core i7-6700HQ, that should bring a marginal increase in performance and a little improvement over in the battery department. Also, the CPU is now accompanied by DDR4 RAM and GeForce GTX 960M instead of the GTX 950M, and the latter is really a huge deal. The higher-end GTX 960M offers a lot more horsepower under the hood and, of course, GDDR5 VRAM instead of DDR3 in the GTX 950M. This will result in a great performance leap over the last generation GL552, but the price gets an “update” as well, the GPU being the main reason for that.

There’s a saying that with more power comes a lot of responsibility and the same applies here. We were somehow happy with the cooling system presented in the last generation, but mainly due to the fact that the GPU didn’t produce a lot of heat, whereas the GTX 960M will undoubtedly tax the cooling system. This is the second reason we wanted to do a full review of the model instead of just testing the raw performance of the new hardware. Furthermore, ASUS has now changed the IPS panel. The last generation came with Samsung panels, but now the company has moved to LG – the same thing we saw with the G551 when it got an update to the GTX 960M from 860M. We are eager to see how the changes will affect the overall user experience and performance of the machine.

The ASUS ROG GL552VW and its variants can be found here: http://amzn.to/1MmUf53

Contents


Retail package

There’s nothing much to it here. The familiar package with AC adapter, charging cable, user manuals and the machine itself.


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Design and construction

ASUS hasn’t changed much of the laptop’s construction except for the touchpad. While the latter has been improved, the rest of the chassis remains the same as its predecessor. To be fair, we would like to see some aluminum, but given the powerful hardware and the reasonable price, we perfectly understand ASUS and their decision to pursue the best performance/price ratio. At the end of the day, that’s what matters for almost every gamer. However, if you’re ready to sacrifice the ROG logo (as well as a couple of twenties) in the name of more premium construction, take a look at the new N551, for example.


IMG_6024

IMG_6015

Nevertheless, we should take a closer look at the machine and make sure there’s nothing we missed upon initial inspection. Starting with the lid, we are again presented with hard plastic and the same aluminum-like piece in the center along with the logo. The cover can be easily opened with one hand, which suggest a good hinge design.

The bottom part of the notebook has the same service cover as we saw with the earlier version. It gives easy access to the most commonly upgradable components like RAM, storage (2.5-inch HDD or SSD), and an M.2 SSD slot. The latter is a great bonus and we are happy that ASUS hasn’t excluded the feature in this version.


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The sides of the notebook are also the same with one notable difference – ASUS has added an additional USB Type-C port which can be used for ultra-fast data transfer or as an additional port for an external monitor. It’s located on the left side where you can also see the main exhaust vent, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, LAN, and DC charging port. The left has only one USB 2.0 port, two 3.5 mm jacks for microphone and headphones, and the optical drive. Nevertheless, the notebook’s profile has grown a bit thicker – from 32.4 m to 34.75 mm. To be honest, though, that’s barely noticeable.

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Moving on to the interior where we are left with the same plastic around the keyboard, with red stripes highlighting the ROG heritage. But we are not exactly satisfied with the rigidity of the material – it bends when some pressure is applied, and it also attracts nasty smudges pretty easily. As for the keyboard, we are happy with the design and LED backlight. Keys appear to have nice feedback and long travel – enough for comfortable gameplay or typing. There are some things worth mentioning, though. The volume keys are too far from the “Fn” button and it’s kind of hard to adjust the volume with one hand. Moreover, ASUS still hasn’t included the much-needed media player control buttons that are a necessity for all game and multimedia-centric machines. Things seem fine otherwise.


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We are pleasantly surprised by the small, but notable change in the touchpad. It now performs much better than the last generation without any significant wobbling – it’s responsive and “clicky”. ASUS has either changed the trackpad or we had bad luck with the last unit we reviewed, and it should be noted that both machines are retail units, not testing samples.

Display and sound

The GL552VW has an IPS Full HD panel (1920 x 1080 pixels), model number LP156WF6-SPB5, manufactured by LG Display and it differs from the last generation GL552JX. The diagonal is 15.6″ leading to a pixel density of 141 ppi and 0.18 x 0.18 pixel pitch. The screen can be considered “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal to or greater than 61 cm.

Micr-ASUS GL552V

The display has excellent viewing angles as you can see from the image below.

Angles-ASUS GL552V

We measured the maximum brightness of the display – 311 cd/m2 with a maximum deviation of only 8%. Also, the color temperature (6600K) aligns almost perfectly to the optimal of 6500K and we observed no unacceptable deviations on the surface of the display.

BefMax-ASUS GL552V

Color reproduction

To put things into perspective, we would like to give you a little introduction into the sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts. The CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram represents the spectrum of colors visible to the human eye, thus giving you a better perception of color gamut coverage and color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB), used by millions of people in HDTV and on the Web. As for Adobe RGB, it is used to work with professional cameras and monitors when preparing print. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone, and so reproducing them accurately is key in a quality display.

The yellow triangle represents the ability of ASUS GL552VW to cover the sRGB color gamut – 91% in this case.

Gamut-ASUS GL552V

The graph below is the same but with recorded results – the one on the left is pre-calibration while the one on the right is after. The colored circles represent the reference colors, the white circles being the result. You can see the main and additional colors with 100% and 50% saturation inside the sRGB gamut.

Colors-ASUS GL552V

Below you can see the gamma curve that aligns with the 2.2 standard.

Gamma-ASUS GL552V

We tuned the display at 140 cd/m2 brightness and 6500K color temperature.

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X-Rite i1Display Pro was used for the calibration.

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We tested the display using 24 commonly used sample colors like skin tones, grass, blue sky, orange etc. After profiling the display had an average DeltaE 2000 deviation of only 0.72, while the contrast was 1100:1 before calibration and 1060:1 after. Pretty good results.

Result-ASUS GL552VREPORT-ASUS GL552V

Another representation of the colors we’ve tested.
ColorChecker-ASUS GL552V

Pulse-width modulation (PWM, Screen flickering)

Unfortunately, while the display has awesome picture quality, the panel uses PWM across all brightness levels and it becomes user-friendly only at 100%. Although, the frequency of the emitted light is 20.6 kHz, which is considered to be high enough to greatly reduce the negative impact on human vision.

PWM-ASUS GL552V

Conclusion

We are quite pleased with the picture quality of the notebook as it provides great viewing angles, vivid colors, high contrast ratio and high maximum brightness. The gamma curve and the color temperature are also pretty close to the optimal so this leaves us only with the PWM as a major complaint, yet the frequency of the emitted light is less harmful to to one’s eyesight.

Screen comparison

If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
ASUS ROG GL552VW 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF6-SPB5, 1920 x 1080 pixels141.21
ASUS GL552JX 15.6-inch, Samsung 156HL01-102., 1920 x 1080 pixels141.21
ASUS ROG G551JW (GeForce GTX 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels141-0.15%
Acer Aspire V15 Nitro (VN7-591G, 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels141-0.15%
Lenovo Y50 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels141-0.15%

Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
ASUS ROG GL552VW 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF6-SPB5, 1920 x 1080 pixels311
ASUS GL552JX 15.6-inch, Samsung 156HL01-102., 1920 x 1080 pixels280-9.97%
ASUS ROG G551JW (GeForce GTX 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels292-6.11%
Acer Aspire V15 Nitro (VN7-591G, 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels300-3.54%
Lenovo Y50 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels235-24.44%

Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
ASUS ROG GL552VW 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF6-SPB5, 1920 x 1080 pixels0.70
ASUS GL552JX 15.6-inch, Samsung 156HL01-102., 1920 x 1080 pixels3.92+460%
ASUS ROG G551JW (GeForce GTX 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels1.31+87.14%
Acer Aspire V15 Nitro (VN7-591G, 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels1.24+77.14%
Lenovo Y50 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels1.47+110%

The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).

Laptop Results Result
difference
Price Price
difference
ASUS ROG GL552VW 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF6-SPB5, 1920 x 1080 pixels91
ASUS GL552JX 15.6-inch, Samsung 156HL01-102., 1920 x 1080 pixels93+2.2%
ASUS ROG G551JW (GeForce GTX 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels84-7.69%
Acer Aspire V15 Nitro (VN7-591G, 960M) 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels91
Lenovo Y50 15.6-inch, LG, 1920 x 1080 pixels64-29.67%

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for ASUS GL552VW configurations with 15.6″ LP156WF6-SPB5 (FHD, 1920 x 1080) IPS screen, which can be found at Amazon.com: ASUS GL552VW

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

[edd_item edd_id_1=’62936′ edd_id_2=’62939′ edd_id_3=’62933′ edd_id_4=’62942′]

You can read more about the profiles here:

How to take advantage of LaptopMedia’s Office, Gaming and Health-Guard profiles

Sound

We are quite satisfied with the sound quality. The stereo loudspeakers provide excellent high, mid and low frequencies, and everything sounds clear and deep.

Sound-ASUS GL552V

Specs sheet

The specs sheet provided below is for the model used in this review. Hardware specification may vary depending on your region.

CPU Intel Core i7-6700HQ (4-core, 2.60 -3.50 GHz, 6MB cache)
RAM 8GB (1x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2133GHz
GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M (2GB GDDR5)
HDD/SSD 1TB HDD (7200 rpm)
Display 15.6-inch (39.62 cm.) – 1920×1080 (Full HD), IPS matte
Optical drive DVD burner
Connectivity LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Other features
  • 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 (Type-C)
  • built-in webcam
  • built-in microphone
  • 2x 3.5 mm jack for headphones and external microphone
  • LAN
  • HDMI
  • card reader (SD, MMC, MS)
  • Sonic Master loudspeakers
  • keyboard LED backlight
Battery 4-cell 47Wh (3200 mAh) Li-Polymer Battery
Thickness 34.75 mm (1.28″)
Weight 2.6 kg (5.73 lbs)


ASUS ROG GL552VW configurations


Software

We used Windows 10 (64-bit) for the purposes of this review and if yours didn’t come with a pre-installed OS, you can perform a clean install and download all the drivers needed from here: https://www.asus.com/Notebooks/GL552VW/HelpDesk_Download/

Battery

The battery remains unchanged from the GL552JX – 4-cell 3200 mAh (48Wh) and we expect similar performance in this department. We weren’t so thrilled with the battery life last time, but we can expect a little bit of improvement due to the lower TDP of the CPU (45W vs 47W) and other power efficient features that the Skylake generation brings. Moreover, the change in the display panel might have a different impact on the battery life as well, but changes should be marginal. The same tests were performed with the same settings – Wi-Fi turned on, power saver on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for to automatically browse through over 70 websites.

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This is a significant increase in battery performance – 320 minutes (5 hours and 20 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

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This result seems to be lower and more appropriate for a gaming notebook – 300 minutes (5 hours).

Gaming

For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on a loop with graphic settings set to minimum.

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As expected, the gaming test took a toll on the battery with only 118 minutes (1 hour and 58 minutes) of play time.

CPU

Intel_Core_i7_logoIntel Core i7-6700HQ represents the Skylake H family and it’s considered a high-performance chip with high voltage – 45W TDP. This is a step down from its direct predecessor – Core i7-4700HQ, but matches its short-lived predecessor Core i7-5700HQ. The Core i7-6700HQ has four cores ticking at 2.6GHz and can go up to 3.5 GHz for one active core and 3.1 GHz for four active cores. The silicon supports the so-called Hyper-Threading technology that emulates one virtual core for each physical, thus establishing a total of 8 threads.

Furthermore, the chip is manufactured using 14nm FinFET process and integrates Intel HD Graphics 530 GPU with 24 EU (Executable Units) clocked at 350 – 1050 MHz. The memory controller supports up to 64GB of DDR3 or DDR4 RAM at 1600 or 2133 MHz respectively. The CPU is suitable for heavy applications and gaming.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-6700hq/

Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-6700HQ reached 12.467 million moves per second. By comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU

geforce_gtx_960m_0The GeForce GTX 960M (2GB GDDR5) is located in the high-end graphics card niche, but is used mostly in budget gaming laptops. It is part of the Maxwell family of GPUs. It features 640 CUDA cores or simply – shading units, along with 32 ROPs and 53 texture units. It has 2GB of dedicated VRAM (GDDR5 in this case). The bandwidth of the memory is 80.2 GB/s and the bus is 128-bit wide.

The GTX 960M uses the same GM107 GPU core that we’ve seen in last year’s 860M, but this one is mainly aimed at bumping the notebook’s battery life and adding some extra performance, but that’s not stressed as much. However, the GM107 is clocked a bit higher than last year’s model – 1097MHz of base clock and boost up to 1176MHz. It also supports a resolution of 2048×1536 through the VGA port and 3840×2160 with DisplayPort and HDMI.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-gtx-960m/

ASUS ROG GL552VW GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the ASUS ROG GL552VW models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which ASUS ROG GL552VW model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)


Gaming tests

tomb-raider-2013-wallpaper1

Tomb Raider (1080p, Low) Tomb Raider (1080p, Medium) Tomb Raider (1080p, Max)
157 fps 69 fps 33 fps

f1-2015-game

F1 2015 (1080p, Low) F1 2015 (1080p, Medium) F1 2015 (1080p, Max)
61 fps 46 fps 33 fps

thief_4_wallpaper_by_christian2506-d5x4ppb1

Thief (1080p, Low) Thief (1080p, Medium) Thief (1080p, Max)
55 fps 47 fps 30 fps

gta-5-cover

GTA 5 (1080p, Low) GTA 5 (1080p, Medium) GTA 5 (1080p, Max)
105 fps 35 fps 15 fps

Temperatures

The “Temperatures” section is a crucial part of our review, especially when talking about gaming machines. We conduct a two-staged test with 100% CPU and GPU load to see how the cooling system handles the extra heat and whether that leads to any unpleasant user experience. While this is good way to assess the reliability of the system as a whole, it’s quite unlikely that the general user would reach such high loads.

We start off with the CPU stress test that consists of 100% CPU load for at least an hour. You can see from the image below that the CPU maintains really low temperatures when in idle state – 30-32 °C and the same can be said when operating at full speed – 78-80 °C. The silicon also kept running at 3.1 GHz, which is the maximum operating frequency for four active cores with Turbo Boost activated. The red line on the graph below represents temperatures while the green one represents CPU load.

g552vw cpu

After an hour has passed, we start the GPU torture test as well and we were again pleasantly surprised by the performance of the cooling system. We have to admit that we were expecting very different results due to the shared heat pipes going through the CPU and GPU. Clearly, both chips share the heat as the CPU’s temperatures rose to nearly 95 °C and the GPU was running at relatively high temperatures – around 80-81 °C, but somehow that doesn’t cause reduced performance or excessive heat. Still, the CPU’s clock fell down to 2.7-2.9 GHz, yet still way above the base operating frequency of 2.60 GHz.

g552vw gpu

Since now we know that the notebook has an effective cooling system that keeps the internals low enough to keep running without problems, we should also look into how it affects user experience. We measured the temperatures on the surface around and above the keyboard, so you can see them on the heat map below. The area where your palms rest remains cool and the highest measured temperature is on the left side of the keyboard – 41.1 °C.

temperatures-bottom

Verdict

ASUS didn’t change a lot as regards GL552’s design and construction and, as in the previous generation, the focus is on the performance/price ratio. The same cooling system is able to keep temperatures low on the inside as well as on the outside, despite the much more powerful GTX 960M GPU. Also, the keyboard has the same cool tactile feedback, while the touchpad now feels way more responsive and the “wobbling” effect is gone. The IPS panel offers high maximum brightness, wide sRGB color gamut coverage, accurate color reproduction with well-balanced color temperature and tone response curve. However, it fails to deliver flicker-free display that doesn’t cause eye fatigue (except at 100% brightness). At least the frequency of the light emissions is now higher and will only be noticed by the more sensitive users out there.

We also welcome the new Type-C port thanks to the Skylake chipset. It allows super-fast data transfer and includes support for an external display. With that being said, we can conclude that the new version of the ASUS ROG GL552 is a much better bargain than its predecessor, despite the significant increase in the price tag.

The ASUS ROG GL552VW and its variants can be found here: http://amzn.to/1MmUf53

Pros

  • Same comfortable keyboard and improved touchpad
  • High-quality IPS panel
  • Clear sound and excellent (for a laptop) high, mid and low frequencies
  • Improved battery life as far as Wi-Fi browsing is concerned
  • The cooling system seems to work fine even with more demanding hardware
  • Still maintains good performance/price ratio
  • M.2 SATA SSD slot and USB Type-C port for fast data transfer and external display


Cons

  • We expected more premium materials and sturdier construction
  • Slightly thicker than its predecessor (34.75 mm, 2.6 kg)
  • PWM across almost all brightness levels

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Maxima
Maxima
6 years ago

slightly confused here, does that mean I can use DDR3/DDR3L or DDR 4 Ram on this laptop?

Rossen Pandev
6 years ago
Reply to  Maxima

The slots work only with DDR4.

pctechbuddy
6 years ago

playing dota2 in this laptop ultra with 50-60fps check it out in the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJUhlbpyN3s

Samdubai
Samdubai
6 years ago

I read in the net that it does not support display port through USB c. So we can’t use that port connecting an external display

Samdubai
Samdubai
6 years ago

How do you compare this one with aspire nitro v15?

ChengPu42
ChengPu42
6 years ago

Costco sells a version of this laptop that has 15.6″ 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) Display and I can’t find any information on this panel. Is it IPS or TN, matte or gloss, what is the quality of the display? They don’t list the extended model number just GL552VW. From what I can tell it is only available at Costco.

Parth
Parth
6 years ago

Hello Sir, some ecommerce sites are offering this laptop in just 83k while most of them are offering it for 10k more .So would there be any problem in going for cheaper deal.Would there be any difference between the two?Thanks in advance!!

Anon Zero
6 years ago

Just picked this machine up last week and I’ve been nothing but impressed. I had the last-gen model and it had BSoD issues but so far no problems with the GL552vw. It does get a bit hot on the left side while gaming but that’s to be expected with the hotter-running 960M. The display is probably the most impressive change from the previous model; it’s bright and colorful and the viewing angles are excellent. As far as gaming, I can max out DOOM easily but I had to bump down settings a bit on Rise of the Tomb Raider. The… Read more »

Rossen Pandev
5 years ago
Reply to  KingArthas

This might be due to some faulty units but as you can see from the extreme tests above, the surface didn’t go hot even though the CPU and GPU reached high temperatures.

KingArthas
KingArthas
5 years ago
Reply to  Rossen Pandev

Hi, If you can have it again, test keeping your left hand where it normally rest while typing… 32-33C are quite annoying. And it is when you dont use LAN or left side USB. With LAN connected temp never fall below 34C and is normally 34,5-35C. It is painful. Now I search for thermal insulation pad. And planing to open and apply inside… Which will be mission impossible. It is very week design from a well known manufacturer… this temp at any other area will be acceptable (for right handed man)!!! And it is not only LAN and USB, once… Read more »

Rossen Pandev
5 years ago
Reply to  KingArthas

We already did that and we stand behind our testing method. Temperatures around 35C are really unacceptable when the notebook isn’t on full load. Our unit didn’t get uncomfortable during normal gaming or during normal use. Temps did go high only when we ran the CPU and GPU stress tests. Are you sure your unit isn’t faulty or that your cooling system doesn’t need some kind of maintenance (cleaning and changing the thermal paste)?

saeedskhdr
saeedskhdr
1 year ago

Does this laptop support NVme SSD?