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Asus N55 review: Asus N55

The N55 is a perfectly capable, middle-of-the-road laptop that's hard to find fault with it.

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Craig Simms
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Craig Simms

Special to CNET News

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

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3 min read

Editor's note: this review has been updated to take into account the included subwoofer accessory.

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8.0

Asus N55

The Good

A decent helping of USB ports. Good graphical performance.

The Bad

Poor sound for something that's meant to be sonically superior.

The Bottom Line

The N55 is a perfectly capable, middle-of-the-road laptop. The sound is disappointing, especially considering that Asus focuses on it for the selling point. But, as a mid-range all rounder, it's hard to find fault with it.

The Asus N series is reserved for audio — in this case, a Bang & Olufsen collaboration called ICEPower.

Unlike previous efforts, the N55 is aimed at the mid-range market, as evidenced by its non-island-style keyboard and mostly plastic construction. The speakers included in the laptop aren't that great, relying on software to try to fill the gap rather than implementing better hardware. Annoyingly, the volume attenuates whenever dynamics get too much for the speakers, which is frequently. No amount of tweaking with Asus' software panel would fix this. We find that this ruins the music-listening experience, with elements of expressive music entirely suppressed.

Thankfully, the included subwoofer accessory goes some way to rectifying this. When plugged into the laptop, tone improves significantly, although the bass is muddy at best and volume still attenuates through the tweeters — it's just less obvious. Still, it's a welcome addition, and a cut above usual laptop sound.

Ports are slightly above standard fare; two USB 3.0, two USB 3.0, gigabit Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, headphone and microphone jacks and a Blu-ray drive. The screen is very standard, though, coming in at a resolution of 1366x768 — at 15.6 inches, we'd hoped for more. Still, laptops with higher-resolution screens at this size are few and far between.

Internally, the N55 is running a Core i7 2630QM @ 2.0GHz, with 8GB of RAM and a 750GB HDD. Nvidia's GeForce GT 555M is featured, paired with Intel's HD Graphics to allow for power saving when the more powerful GPU isn't being used. Network connectivity is offered via 802.11n 2.4GHz, and Bluetooth.

Performance

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

iTunes encoding (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Photoshop CS5 benchmark (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Metro 2033 (in FPS)

  • Max FPS
  • Average FPS
  • Min FPS

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Batman: Arkham Asylum (in FPS)

  • Max FPS
  • Average FPS
  • Min FPS

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Despite having near-identical specs, the N55 outdoes the Aspire on a few benchmarks. Technically, Acer should have the advantage here with its SSD, but the laptops trade advantages over our battery of tests. Speaking of battery ...

Battery life (time)

  • Heavy battery test
  • Light battery test

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


The N55 does OK for battery, but not stellar — keep in mind that being an 18.4-inch laptop, the Acer has significantly more space to store a bigger battery inside.

Conclusion

The N55 is a perfectly capable, middle-of-the-road laptop that's hard to find fault with it. Now if we could just sort out that attenuating volume business...

See more on how we test PCs here.