Asus G550JK - It's understated. It's quiet. But is it really for gamers?

If it weren't for the ubiquitous red trim and Republic of Gamers regalia emblazoned on the chassis of Asus' new G550JK, you'd hardly be able to tell it was a gaming laptop. Its cooling fans are subtle, as is the brushed metal exterior and restrained keyboard aesthetic. The user-controlled red LED backlighting is a bit of giveaway at this point, but where so many manufacturers fall the wrong side of tacky in a bid to look ?aggressive' Asus manages to maintain an air of decorum with the G550JK. The machine's build quality is excellent. Squeeze the mounting around the screen and you don't feel layers of flimsy plastic buckling under your fingers - it feels steadfast. The keys are intelligently spaced and give good feedback, and of course the backlighting is a boon. The quality extends to the trackpad as well, which is responsive and doesn't get sticky under sweaty fingers (hey, it's summer). Bundled with this 15.6-inch gaming lappie is a subwoofer unit, which plugs in via a proprietary connection near the charger. But the piece de resistance is its IPS screen. It's absolutely dripping with deep colour, gives a great viewing angle and is neither too glossy nor fuzzy in direct sunlight. Everything on the outside of this laptop is absolutely tip-top. However, this isn't some money-no-object Alienware machine. It comes with a tag of ?900, and compromises must be made to hit that price point while looking as pretty as this. Intel's Core i7-4700HQ holds its end of the bargain in CPU-intensive tasks, outperforming pricier laptops we've tested in the past.

However, the GTX 850M isn't your one-way ticket to hassle-free, silky smooth high performance mobile gaming, even on the G550JK's native 1,366 x 768. For day-to-day use Asus' latest can't be faulted and it's actually quite luxurious. But ironically, given its RoG regalia, gaming is its chief weakness.

Turn it down

You should only really consider the GTX 850M's performance level a drawback if you're chasing that 1080p 60fps dream on a mobile device, though. By swallowing a little pride and turning a few in-game sliders from ?ultra' to ?high', the components under the hood can throw out a steady 30 frames per second, and do so impressively quietly. Even under the load of the Heaven 4.0 benchmark the laptop is quiet as a mouse. This is a multi-talented device - but sadly, sheer gaming power just isn't one of its strengths. Crucially, it's actually small and light enough to take with you. The 15.6-inch screen might not trick your eyes into believing you're at an IMAX, but the sharpness and portability more than make up for it. The appearance, size and weight of the G550JK make it a realistic device for use on public transport, on a wobbly table in a cafe, or simply on your lap. This is a multi-talented device but it runs the risk of confusing potential buyers. Yes, it is a gaming laptop, but not an uncompromising thoroughbred like Medion's Erazer X7829 on p30. Outright gaming grunt isn't a feather in its cap, but in almost every other regard it's a great package.

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