Notebookcheck

Asus GL550JK-CN391H Notebook Review

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 07/15/2014

Pure versatility... ...or something like that would be a fitting slogan for the GL550JK. Unlike the 750 line, Asus uses a fairly slim chassis that sports a gaming-suitable, mid-range GPU and a high-end IPS screen. Read here how the 15-inch device fares compared with the contenders.

For the original German review, see here.

In contrast to the recently tested Asus G750JM-T4014H (GTX 860M) that is sold for starting at 1400 Euros (~$1905), the slimmer GL550JK is available from 1100 Euros (~$1497). Presently, only a few Internet shops list the corresponding model dubbed GL550JK-CN390H. The buyer not only gets a Herculean quad-core processor from Intel (Core i7-4700HQ), but also eight GB of DDR3 RAM and an HDD with a capacity of 1000 GB. That is accompanied by a DVD burner and Windows 8.1 operating system.

A considerably better configuration (GL550JK-CN391H) is available for almost 300 Euros (~$408) more. The 16 GB of DDR3 RAM is just as impressive as a Blu-Ray combo drive. The installed storage device is a large 256 GB SSD. No differences are found in the screen or graphics card. Thus, the non-glare, Full HD screen is supported by a Maxell-based GPU. It is however too bad that Asus uses the GDDR3 rather than the GDDR5 version of the GTX 850M. Just how much performance is lost can be read further below under Performance.

Model Asus GL550JK-CN390H Asus GL550JK-CN391H
Processor Intel Core i7-4700HQ Intel Core i7-4700HQ
Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M
Working memory 8 GB DDR3 16 GB DDR3
Storage device 1000 GB HDD 256 GB SSD
Optical drive DVD burner Blu-Ray combo
Display 15.6" 1920 x 1080 matte 15.6" 1920 x 1080 matte
Operating system Windows 8.1 64 Bit Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Price (notebooksbilliger.de) 1100 Euro 1400 Euro

Case

Metal lid
Metal lid

With its GL550JK, Asus presents a gaming offshoot that shouts ultrabook in many aspects. In addition to the omitted maintenance cover (more about that later), the slim build would have to be mentioned here. The 28 millimeter height (~1.1 inches) is quite petite for a gaming laptop. The GL550JK places itself between the 15-inch Gigabyte P35W v2 (21 millimeters; ~0.8 inches) and the MSI GE60 (33 millimeters; ~1.3 inches) contenders, which sport either a GeForce GTX 870M or GTX 860M.

Just considering the graphics performance, the Clevo W650SJ barebones is a serious rival. The dark-gray all-round laptop that we tested in the form of the Schenker's M504 achieves a very similar height with 31 millimeters (all specs without stoppers, ~1.2 inches). Asus' product clearly wins in terms of quality. Owing to the above average manufacturing, and the aluminum parts on some surfaces, the chassis makes a great impression. The plastic dress of Schenker's M504 cannot really compete with that. We also liked the GL550JK's looks more. Although the Clevo barebones scores with a restrained line, the 15-inch laptop is not very stylish.

Asus follows MSI's example, and adds several bright red highlights (ROG logo, keys, laptop border) to the chassis. The design does not look too frilly due to the black base color. Overall, the casing's quality is on par with the aforementioned MSI and Gigabyte laptops.

The stiffness is quite impressive - apart from the wobbly lid. Despite the thin build, the base unit barely yields even under strong pressure. The hinges prove to be a bit weak. Familiar to most laptops, surface vibrations force the monitor to rock. At least, the lid can be opened easily with one hand.

The weight has to be praised: 2.3 kilograms (~5.1 pounds) are relatively comfortable to carry (keyword: university/office). However, we would have appreciated a smaller and lighter power supply. The 160 x 75 x 25 millimeter (~6.3 x 3.0 x 1.0 inches), 120-Watt model weighs 456 grams (~1 pound).

Connectivity

Interfaces

The connectivity is very similar to that of MSI's GS60. Asus does not only treat the GL550JK to three USB 3.0 ports, it also received two digital video ports (HDMI + MiniDisplay port). A Kensington lock, card reader, and RJ45 Gigabit LAN port are also part of the bundle. We look a bit skeptical at the combo audio port; most customers will likely prefer a dedicated microphone and headphone jack. The biggest unique selling point of the GL550JK is the external subwoofer that belongs to the standard scope of delivery, and is connected to the laptop's left side via a cord.

We deem the interface distribution as middling; while right-handed users will hardly have problems using an external mouse, left-handed users will be confronted with limited elbowroom when many cables are connected (possible collisions).

Wireless Communication

The wireless adapter's performance disappointed us. Despite the fact that Asus uses a brand name product (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260), the range was not convincing in the test. Just 1 - 3 bars were displayed at a router distance of 10 - 15 meters (~33-49 feet) and through several walls. The connection was also often lost completely, or not found from the outset. The signal quality should be better in short distances.

Left: DC-in, subwoofer port, RJ45 LAN, HDMI, MiniDisplay port, 2x USB 3.0, audio
Left: DC-in, subwoofer port, RJ45 LAN, HDMI, MiniDisplay port, 2x USB 3.0, audio
Right: card reader, USB 3.0, optical drive, Kensington lock
Right: card reader, USB 3.0, optical drive, Kensington lock

Maintenance

At first glance, the GL550JK does not provide many maintenance options because Asus does not use a traditional base cover. However, users who have a good assortment of screwdrivers can take off the entire underside. All the important components can be accessed after removing 10 T4/T5 Torx screws - starting with the working memory, over to the 2.5-inch slot up to the Wi-Fi adapter.

The user can then even access the optical drive and the cooling system. Asus opted for a dual-fan system that is connected to both the processor and graphics card via heat pipes. As is typical for ultrabooks, the battery is connected directly to the motherboard, which will upset many users. The battery can be reached from the outside in most gaming laptops.

Preloaded software
Preloaded software

Software

The installed software is neither exaggerated nor stingy. In addition to a few Asus tools, there are free trial versions of Microsoft's Office 365 and McAfee's Internet Security. Entertainment fans should look at AsusDVD (a different name for CyberLink's PowerDVD) that supports rendering Blu-Ray media.

Accessories

Asus is quite generous with accessories. The subwoofer is accompanied by several information leaflets (manual, warranty cards, safety notes). A polishing cloth and a pack of Velcro ties are also included. However, no recovery DVDs are found (few companies still include them). The Windows 8 routine has to be used for system backup, which is found under settings, PC settings.

Warranty

Asus includes a two-year warranty on its product.

Input Devices

Keyboard

Attention gamers: Since Asus installs a multi-level, adaptable backlight in the keyboard; the 15-inch laptop can be used at night. The bright red lettering generally enables finding the keys easily, and they stand out nicely from the rest of the surface. Their size is more than sufficient with 15 x 15 millimeters. The buyer will only have to live with a reduced width and/or height in the number pad, arrow keys, and F row.

The keyboard does not give much reason for complaint technically. Both the pressure point and stroke meet the expectations, just like the typing noise. Other keyboards are not as pressure resistant, and make a louder noise. With the exception of the Ins / Del keys, the layout is also satisfactory.

Red lettering...
Red lettering...
...and red back light.
...and red back light.

Touchpad

Users who prefer a conventional touchpad will not be happy with Asus' GL550JK. The underlying ClickPad mechanism that does not make use of dedicated mouse buttons has always divided the minds. Performing all actions on one field is convenient, but various drawbacks of ClickPads in many laptops (poor accuracy, yielding surface, unreliable detection, etc.) are frustrating.

The technology in Asus' GL550JK at least makes a fairly feasible impression. The accuracy could be a bit higher and right and left clicks are detected only after several attempts, but the ClickPad is not a catastrophe. The Asus "Smart Gesture" tool allows managing multi-finger support (zoom, rotate, scroll, etc.), among other things. Apart from a few exceptions, gestures are implemented flawlessly. Asus has also done everything right with the size: 10.4 x 7.3 centimeters (~4.1 x 2.9 inches) should satisfy most users.

Display

Following the latest trend, Asus does not integrate a viewing angle dependent TN screen, but a considerably superior IPS model. 1920x1080 pixels are standard in the 15-inch category, and enable using multiple, simultaneously opened windows.

322
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
317
cd/m²
305
cd/m²
328
cd/m²
308
cd/m²
291
cd/m²
287
cd/m²
298
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 338 cd/m²
Average: 310.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Center on Battery: 328 cd/m²
Black: 0.43 cd/m²
Contrast: 763:1

Compared with the LG Philips LP156WF-4-SPB1 screen in Schenker's M504 (also IPS), the Samsung 156HL01-02 is somewhat brighter (310 vs. 296 cd/m²), but also has a slightly lower contrast, though 763:1 rather than 930:1 is still good. The same is true for the black level that is 0.43 cd/m² instead of 0.33 cd/m². Although the illumination specified on paper is not overwhelming, the screen looks homogeneous. We did not ascertain screen bleeding in our review sample.

Like in the G750JM and G750JZ, Asus installs its own color profile that is appealing in the CalMAN test. In addition to the grayscale, both the color saturation and color accuracy are higher than in Schenker's M504 or Gigabyte P35W v2, which also sports an LG Philips LP156WF4.

Asus GL550JK-CN391H vs. sRGB (grid)
Asus GL550JK-CN391H vs. sRGB (grid)
Asus GL550JK-CN391H vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
Asus GL550JK-CN391H vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Color Management
CalMAN: Color Management
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker

Another advantage of Samsung's 156HL01-02 becomes evident in the color space. While Gigabyte's contender only covers 73% of sRGB and 53% of AdobeRGB, Asus' GL550JK manages 80% and 59% respectively. The differences are not extreme subjectively; both screens provide a multimedia-suitable image.

Asus GL550JK-CN391H outdoors
Asus GL550JK-CN391H outdoors
Asus GL550JK-CN391H outdoors
Asus GL550JK-CN391H outdoors

The biggest plus point of the IPS technology is its high viewing angle stability. Unlike TN screens, no major deviations occur vertically. The image only distorts in side views from above or below. The 15-inch laptop also does a good job outdoors. The combination of high brightness and matte finish ensure carefree outdoor use; only direct sunlight causes visibility problems.

Viewing angles: Asus GL550JK-CN391H
Viewing angles: Asus GL550JK-CN391H

Performance

Haswell
Haswell

Processor

Although a dual-core processor would theoretically be enough for the GeForce GTX 850M, Asus installs a genuine quad-core CPU in the GL550JK. The non-removable Core i7-4700HQ clocks with up to 3.4 GHz under load, which is even a challenge for some desktop systems

Six MB of L3 cache is just as lush, and it underlines the premium claim. Being a member of the Haswell generation, the Core i7-4700HQ is built in the 22 nm process. A TDP of 47 Watts is on par with the Core i7-4700MQ that is used in a vast number of gaming laptops.

As appropriate for a modern laptop, Asus' GL550JK supports Nvidia's Optimus technology, which allows switching between the DirectX 11 capable Intel HD Graphics 4600 chip and GeForce graphic cards - depending on the requirement. Its purpose is reducing the power consumption.

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ Memory
System info CPUZ SPD
System info GPUZ (HD 4600)
Systeminfo GPUZ (GTX 850M)
System info HWiNFO
System info CrystalDiskMark
System info Latency
System information: Asus GL550JK-CN391H

Turbo Boost

The processor can overclock its base rate of 2.4 up to 3.4 GHz via Turbo Boost. Like in the G750 line, the technology almost completely maxes out its potential. We ascertained clock rates ranging from 3.2 to 3.4 GHz in Cinebench R10. It was also 3.2 - 3.4 GHz in the graphic heavy Unigine Heaven benchmark, as can be seen in the third screenshot. Only under extreme conditions (during the stress test via FurMark & Prime95 tools) did the clock not greatly surpass its base rate (reaching only 2.5 - 2.6 GHz). The laptop never exhibited a tendency for throttling.

Single-core rendering
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load
CPU & GPU load

CPU Performance

Because the Turbo mode functions decently, the CPU scores are on a very high level. 642 points in the multi-core rendering of Cinebench R15 exactly correspond to the result of MSI GE60 that is also powered by a Core i7-4700HQ. The dual-core processor in Schenker's M504 (individually configured!) calculates almost 50% slower in this test. The gap is considerably smaller in single-core rendering. With 134 points, Asus' GL550JK positions itself between the Gigabyte P35W v2 (125 points @ Core i7-4710HQ) and Nexoc's M731 (148 points @ Core i7-4810MQ). Schenker's laptop achieved 128 points here.

Cinebench R15
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
Core i7-4700HQ
642 Points ∼41%
Schenker M504
Core i5-4310M
325 Points ∼21% -49%
MSI GE60
Core i7-4700HQ
642 Points ∼41% 0%
Gigabyte P35W v2
Core i7-4710HQ
588 Points ∼38% -8%
Nexoc M731
Core i7-4810MQ
627 Points ∼40% -2%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
Core i7-4700HQ
134 Points ∼76%
Schenker M504
Core i5-4310M
128 Points ∼73% -4%
MSI GE60
Core i7-4700HQ
135 Points ∼77% +1%
Gigabyte P35W v2
Core i7-4710HQ
126 Points ∼72% -6%
Nexoc M731
Core i7-4810MQ
148 Points ∼84% +10%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
Core i7-4700HQ
6.99 Points ∼40%
Schenker M504
Core i5-4310M
3.56 Points ∼20% -49%
MSI GE60
Core i7-4700HQ
6.97 Points ∼40% 0%
Gigabyte P35W v2
Core i7-4710HQ
6.89 Points ∼39% -1%
Nexoc M731
Core i7-4810MQ
6.79 Points ∼39% -3%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
Core i7-4700HQ
1.49 Points ∼75%
Schenker M504
Core i5-4310M
1.47 Points ∼74% -1%
MSI GE60
Core i7-4700HQ
1.5 Points ∼75% +1%
Gigabyte P35W v2
Core i7-4710HQ
1.55 Points ∼78% +4%
Nexoc M731
Core i7-4810MQ
1.67 Points ∼84% +12%
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.49 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.99 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
57.58 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
134 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
642 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
92.87 fps
Help

Graphics Card

GPU Tweak
GPU Tweak

As mentioned in the intro, Asus is content with the DDR3 version of the GeForce GTX 850M (Maxwell architecture in 28 nm). Since the test of MSI's GE70, we know that the GDDR5 version has a clear lead. Firstly, because the narrow 128-bit is not as limiting, and secondly, because the memory bandwidth is larger (80.2 vs. 32.0 GB/s).

At least the VRAM is twice the size of that of MSI's GE70. However, this has only benefited a few games until now (ultra-setting @ Watch Dogs & Wolfenstein: The New Order). The DDR3 version can barely make use of its higher core clock. With a maximum of 1084, it runs 14% over the level of the GDDR5 counterpart.

Asus overclocks the GTX 850M via GPU Tweak to at least extract a few percent higher performance from the DirectX 11 chip. 1174 points convert to a plus of 8% over Schenker's M504.

GPU Performance

Unlike the G750JM, the overclocking only adds a minor performance boost. No matter whether 3DMark Vantage, 11 or 13: The advantage over the base model (Nexoc M731) is at most 5%. The GL550JK can neither reach the level of a laptop with a GTX 850M GDDR5 nor a laptop with a GTX 860M despite overclocking. 3151 points in the FireStrike test of the latest 3DMark edition are surpassed by both MSI's GE70 (+14%) and Schenker's XMG A504 (+25%). However, Asus' laptop easily defeats an 840M laptop (-48% @ MSI's GP70).

The minus compared with the stronger models wanes a bit in the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark. In the end, it is +14% in favor of the GTX 860M Maxwell when using 1920x1080 pixels and default tessellation (49.5 vs. 43.4 fps). The GTX 850M with a GDDR5 memory only achieves 5% more (45.6 fps). The GL550JK's power would only drop by roughly 4% without overclocking (41.8 fps @ Nexoc M731).

Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
43.4 fps ∼26%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
22.5 fps ∼13% -48%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
41.8 fps ∼25% -4%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
45.6 fps ∼27% +5%
Schenker XMG A504
GTX 860M Maxwell
49.5 fps ∼29% +14%
3DMark (2013) - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
3151 Points ∼21%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
1631 Points ∼11% -48%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
3082 Points ∼21% -2%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
3596 Points ∼24% +14%
Schenker XMG A504
GTX 860M Maxwell
3936 Points ∼26% +25%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
4682 Points ∼21%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
2493 Points ∼11% -47%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
4458 Points ∼20% -5%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
4476 Points ∼20% -4%
Schenker XMG A504
GTX 860M Maxwell
4946 Points ∼22% +6%
3DMark Vantage - 1280x1024 P GPU no PhysX (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
14615 Points ∼28%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
7412 Points ∼14% -49%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
14102 Points ∼27% -4%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
16943 Points ∼33% +16%
Schenker XMG A504
GTX 860M Maxwell
18373 Points ∼36% +26%
3D Mark
3DMark Vantage16119 points
3DMark 114858 points
3DMark Ice Storm104745 points
3DMark Cloud Gate14231 points
3DMark Fire Strike2836 points
Help

Storage Devices

AS SSD benchmark
AS SSD benchmark

While the GL550JK-CN390H has to be satisfied with a 1000 GB HDD, the review sample features a smaller yet considerably faster solid-state drive. The SD6SB1M256G1002 from SanDisk has a size of 2.5 inches and a capacity of 256 GB.

It is obvious in the AS SSD benchmark that it is a strong solid-state drive. With a total score of 930 points, the SanDisk drive is on par with the 240 GB version of the Crucial M500 that achieves a very similar score (920 points @ Schenker XMG A504). Asus' GL550JK-CN391H does a particularly good job in the sequential write test. An average of 428 MB/s is only a dream for many SSDs. There is room for improvement primarily in the access time. The 0.125 ms in read is only second rate for a solid-state drive (0.054ms @ Crucial M500), although the difference is not noticed in practical use.

SanDisk SD6SB1M256G1002
Sequential Read: 498.9 MB/s
Sequential Write: 457.4 MB/s
512K Read: 294.8 MB/s
512K Write: 375.9 MB/s
4K Read: 35.48 MB/s
4K Write: 107.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 344.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 211.6 MB/s

System Performance

Owing to the SSD, the system performance can compete against more expensive and allegedly stronger laptops. 5981 points in PCMark 7 are threatening for both Gigabyte's P25W (4700MQ, GTX 770M, mSATA RAID) and Asus' G750JH-T4080H (4700HQ, GTX 780M). However, PCMark is extremely focused on the storage device so that the results should not be overrated.

PC Mark
PCMark 75891 points
PCMark 8 Home v23588 points
PCMark 8 Creative v24220 points
PCMark 8 Work v24316 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The gaming tests make the impact of the DDR3 VRAM considerably more evident than was apparent in the synthetic benchmarks. Depending on the game, the GDDR5 version calculates between 1% (Dota 2) and 61% (Hitman Absolution) faster. However, the gap settles to approximately 26% (1920x1080 pixels, maximum graphic options, enabled anti-aliasing).

The results can be compared with MSI's GE70 by 1:1 because of the identical graphic drivers. This is a bit different with the GeForce GTX 860M that we partly tested with newer drivers. According to our benchmarks, the Kepler version (~10% behind the Maxwell counterpart) has a lead of almost 20%. The mid-range GeForce 840M chip does not stand a chance against any of the graphics cards. It is -50% compared with the GTX 850M DDR3. The homespun overclocking of the GL550JK is rarely noticed in the frame rates (+1.5%).

Not every game will satisfy users who like to play using maximum details and up to 4x anti-aliasing. The GeForce GTX 850M tends to be suitable for high details in conjunction with disabled anti-aliasing. Since low resolutions are interpolated quite well, it would be advisable to switch to 1600x900 pixels should it come to bottlenecks in performance. We would recommend at least a GTX 860M or even better a GTX 870M or GTX 880M to demanding gamers.

GRID: Autosport - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
34.7 fps ∼28%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
42.6 (min: 35) fps ∼35% +23%
Watch Dogs - 1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
14.7 fps ∼27%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
18.9 (min: 14) fps ∼35% +29%
Wolfenstein: The New Order - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
32.7 fps ∼55%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
35.7 (min: 29) fps ∼60% +9%
The Elder Scrolls Online - 1920x1080 Ultra High Preset AA:On (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
34 fps ∼48%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
17.9 fps ∼25% -47%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
33.7 fps ∼47% -1%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
38.6 fps ∼54% +14%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
39.8 fps ∼56% +17%
Call of Duty: Ghosts - 1920x1080 Extra / High / HBAO+ / No dynamic fur AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
21.2 fps ∼24%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
10.8 fps ∼12% -49%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
21 fps ∼23% -1%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
28.9 fps ∼32% +36%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
26.1 fps ∼29% +23%
Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
21 fps ∼20%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
11.2 fps ∼11% -47%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
20.7 fps ∼20% -1%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
26.2 fps ∼25% +25%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
26.2 fps ∼25% +25%
Saints Row IV - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:8x MS AF:16x (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
23.4 fps ∼25%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
12 fps ∼13% -49%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
23.1 fps ∼25% -1%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
30.2 fps ∼33% +29%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
31.1 fps ∼34% +33%
Dota 2 - 1920x1080 High / On, Render Quality: 100 % (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
72.2 fps ∼60%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
36 fps ∼30% -50%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
68.4 fps ∼57% -5%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
72.6 fps ∼61% +1%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
58.3 fps ∼49% -19%
Far Cry 3 - 1920x1080 DX11 Ultra Preset (HDAO, Enhanced Alpha To Coverage) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
16.4 fps ∼22%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
8.4 fps ∼11% -49%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
16.1 fps ∼22% -2%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
20.9 fps ∼28% +27%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
20.3 fps ∼27% +24%
Hitman: Absolution - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
14.2 fps ∼19%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
6.7 fps ∼9% -53%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
14.3 fps ∼19% +1%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
22.8 fps ∼30% +61%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
19.6 fps ∼26% +38%
Guild Wars 2 - 1920x1080 All Maximum / On AA:FX (sort by value)
Asus GL550JK
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Asus-OC
24.1 fps ∼31%
MSI GP70
GeForce 840M
11.9 fps ∼15% -51%
Nexoc M731
GTX 850M DDR3 @ Standard
23.8 fps ∼30% -1%
MSI GE70
GTX 850M GDDR5
26.8 fps ∼34% +11%
Schenker W504
GTX 860M Kepler
24.8 fps ∼32% +3%
low med.high ultra
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 112.758.324.1fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 59.355.437.114.2fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 108.990.249.216.4fps
Dota 2 (2013) 118.2110.372.2fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 7060.237.323.4fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 129.789.858.321fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 85.872.141.121.2fps
The Elder Scrolls Online (2014) 80.471.663.934fps
Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014) 6059.941.932.7fps
Watch Dogs (2014) 63.252.820.814.7fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 157.899.368.334.7fps

Emissions

System Noise

One of the biggest highlights of Asus' GL550JK is its moderate noise development. While many gaming laptops produce more than 45 if not 50 dB(A) in 3D operation, the 15-inch device only works with a load noise level of 40.2 dB (average @ 3DMark 06) and 42.6 dB (maximum level @ stress test). Besides Schenker's M504, both MSI's GE60 and Gigabyte's P34G v2 reach considerably higher rates.

The Blu-Ray combo's noise of 37 dB(A) is also quite capable of competing with the contenders. Great: In contrast to the G750, the optical drive does not produce an annoying hum. The GL5500JK is also pleasantly restrained in low load operation. An idle level of 30 - 31 dB(A) will unlikely distract anyone. The fan's low speed prevents it from becoming an irritation although it is permanently active.

Like in the G750, we generally find the management very good. The GL550JK does not know the meaning of massive speed changes. The fact that both fans never speed up unnecessarily during idle operation contribute to that. The barebones manufacturer Clevo can certainly take Asus as an example on this point.

Noise Level

Idle 30.2 / 30.6 / 31.0 dB(A)
DVD 37.0 / dB(A)
Load 40.2 / 42.6 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

As expected, the gentle cooling has an adverse effect on the temperatures. Our thermometer recorded a maximum chassis temperature of 62 °C (143.6 °F) on the upper side, and 60 °C (140 °F) on the underside during full load. However, the CPU and GPU are rarely loaded to one hundred percent, even in the gaming sector.

Among others, Gigabyte's P34G v2 proves that this can be managed better. Although the 14-inch device sports a stronger graphics card, it remained a few degrees cooler. The Gigabyte P35W v2 that we also tested at a room temperature of 27 °C (80.6 °F) was a bit warmer. That is unsurprising since Nvidia's second best laptop GPU works inside.

Sensitive users should definitely look for an alternative. The hands will get noticeably warm in longer gaming sessions. This situation is much more relaxed without load; just below 31 °C (87.8 °F) is neither high nor low for a laptop.

It only gets tropical inside the casing. Both the GeForce GTX 850M and the Core i7-4700HQ surpassed 90 °C (194 °F) in the stress test (CPUID HW Monitor). Normal 3D applications should not push the hardware beyond 90 °C.

Max. Load
 59.5 °C62.1 °C43.0 °C 
 50.4 °C51.0 °C36.7 °C 
 42.7 °C42.3 °C33.3 °C 
Maximum: 62.1 °C
Average: 46.8 °C
46.6 °C60.3 °C59.5 °C
32.9 °C40.0 °C39.1 °C
30.2 °C33.0 °C33.0 °C
Maximum: 60.3 °C
Average: 41.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  60.4 °C | Room Temperature 27 °C | Voltcraft IR-900

Speakers

Hardly any manufacturer puts so much effort in the sound system as Asus does. The GL550JK has four speakers that are, however, located in the laptop's front area (see screenshot #14 in the right column). We would call the sound good despite the doubtful positioning though.

Even without the external subwoofer, which needs a bit of getting used to in the beginning and could have used somewhat more accuracy, the bass outclasses most contenders. The high maximum volume is also impressive. Music, games, and videos can be turned up pleasantly.

However, the GL550JK's sound system is not truly exciting. The laptop would need more capacity for bigger speakers for that. Nevertheless, the sound quality is sufficient for on the go without headphones. Besides Gigabyte's P34G v2 and P35W v2, both Schenker's M504 and XMG A504 have a poorer sound.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

When only the HD Graphics 4600 is enabled during idle operation, the GL550JK consumes very little power. 11.8 - 20.4 Watts remind us of Schenker's M504. The 15-inch contender consumes almost the same amount of power despite its more frugal dual-core CPU (11.2 - 17.2 Watts @ Core i5-4310M).

The processor's TDP is noticed more during load. Rather than 72.6 - 106.4 Watts, we measured between 81.2 (average: 3DMark 06) and 115.8 Watts (maximum: stress test) from Asus' GL550JK. However, neither laptop is a real power guzzler.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.3 Watt
Idle 11.8 / 15.0 / 20.4 Watt
Load 81.2 / 115.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Reader's Test
Maximum battery runtime (Reader's Test)
Classic Test
Minimum battery runtime (Classic Test)

The non-removable battery does not seem to be a runtime miracle. Just less than 60 minutes of 3D operation using maximum brightness are anything but convincing. The gaming laptop at least lasted for 2.5 hours of DVD playback without its power supply. Internet browsing was possible for approximately 3.5 hours (medium brightness). Up to 5 hours are possible under ideal conditions, i.e. low load and minimum brightness. Except for the Battery Eater's Classic test, the Clevo W650SJ has a longer runtime.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 59min
WiFi Surfing
3h 21min
DVD
2h 42min
Load (maximum brightness)
0h 57min

Verdict

Asus GL550JK
Asus GL550JK

Users who do not mind the somewhat inflexible touchpad, and do not need long battery runtimes can certainly take a closer look at Asus' GL550JK.

Although Nvidia's GPU suffers greatly under the DDR3 VRAM, Asus has done a more than decent job. We would mention the stylish and pleasantly slim casing here. 2.3 kilograms (~5.1 pounds) points more to an office laptop and not a gaming machine.

The numerous ultrabook elements (base plate with Torx screws, integrated battery, etc.) are also unusual from a gamer's point of view. Until now, there were few 15-inch laptops that fit in this line (MSI GS60Samsung ATIV Book 8).

The GL550JK outperforms the IPS contender Schenker M504 in most tests. In addition to the keyboard backlight, the good sound is also a purchase argument. That and the high-contrast screen create a great multimedia backdrop. The restrained fan compensates for the relatively high temperatures, and the GL550JK does not turn into a noisy troublemaker even under high load.

Whether a surcharge of 300 Euros (~$408) in contrast to the cheaper model is justified, is something everyone will have to decide for themselves. In any case, Windows routine is much more fun with a solid-state drive. The competition will have a hard time should Asus install a better battery and GDDR5 VRAM in the successor.

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Asus GL550JK. Test model courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de.
Asus GL550JK. Test model courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de.

Specifications

Asus GL550JK-CN391H

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM86 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
16384 MB, comprised of 2x 8 GB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-12800 (1600 MHz), 2 of 2 slots filled, max. 16 GB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M - 4096 MB, Core: max. 1174 MHz, Memory: 2000 MHz, DDR3, ForceWare 332.35, Optimus
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, Samsung 156HL01-102 (SDC324C), IPS, LED, Full HD, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
SanDisk SD6SB1M256G1002, 256 GB 2.5"
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC668 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
3 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combo headphone / microphone, Card Reader: SD,SDXC,MMC, subwoofer jack
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
MATSHITA BD-CMB UJ172 S
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 28 x 383 x 255
:: Weight
2.29 kg Power Supply: 0.456 kg
:: Battery
59 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 4 cells
:: Price
1400 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: HD, Speakers: four speakers + extra subwoofer (150 grams), Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, PSU: 120 watts, polishing cloth, manual, safety guide, warranty documents, Velcro ties, Microsoft Office 365 trial, McAfee Internet Security trial, CyberLink PowerDVD (Blu-Ray support), various Asus tools, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The GL550JK is clearly aimed at the gamer community.
The GL550JK is clearly aimed at the gamer community.
Red components are reminiscent of MSI.
Red components are reminiscent of MSI.
The 15-inch laptop features a stylish design.
The 15-inch laptop features a stylish design.
Asus installs an optical drive despite the slim build.
Asus installs an optical drive despite the slim build.
The opening angle is surprisingly wide.
The opening angle is surprisingly wide.
The lid could have been a bit more stiff.
The lid could have been a bit more stiff.
The laptop is otherwise quite pressure resistant.
The laptop is otherwise quite pressure resistant.
The materials make a high-quality impression.
The materials make a high-quality impression.
The battery cannot be accessed directly.
The battery cannot be accessed directly.
The entire underside can be removed with the right screwdriver.
The entire underside can be removed with the right screwdriver.
The wireless adapter on the Blu-Ray combo's right.
The wireless adapter on the Blu-Ray combo's right.
The review sample sports a large 256 GB SSD.
The review sample sports a large 256 GB SSD.
Two fans support the graphics card and processor.
Two fans support the graphics card and processor.
Four speakers are on the casing's front.
Four speakers are on the casing's front.
A webcam and two microphones are in the display bezel.
A webcam and two microphones are in the display bezel.
Some surfaces are made of aluminum.
Some surfaces are made of aluminum.
The laptop can get very hot in its rear area.
The laptop can get very hot in its rear area.
High-end CPU + mid-range GPU
High-end CPU + mid-range GPU
The round button opens a customized program.
The round button opens a customized program.
Asus relies on a chiclet keyboard.
Asus relies on a chiclet keyboard.
Windows boots very fast due to the solid-state drive.
Windows boots very fast due to the solid-state drive.
The arrow keys feature a decent size.
The arrow keys feature a decent size.
ClickPads are definitely a matter of taste.
ClickPads are definitely a matter of taste.
The card reader only supports a few formats.
The card reader only supports a few formats.
The capitalized K stands for Kensington.
The capitalized K stands for Kensington.
Most interfaces are on the left.
Most interfaces are on the left.
The power supply is neither tiny nor gigantic.
The power supply is neither tiny nor gigantic.
Pump up the jam, baby!
Pump up the jam, baby!

Similar Laptops

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Devices with the same GPU

» HP Envy 17-k104ng Notebook Review
Core i7 4510U, 17.3", 2.954 kg
» Asus N750JK-T4042H Notebook Review
Core i7 4700HQ, 17.3", 3.11 kg

Links

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Pro

+IPS screen with good rates
+Energy-efficient hardware
+Swift solid state drive
+Brushed aluminum
+Keyboard back light
+Matte surfaces
+Optimus technology
+Extra subwoofer
+Blu-Ray combo
+Stylish looks
+Quiet fan
 

Cons

-Torx screwdriver needed for maintenance
-Wi-Fi range could be better
-GTX 850M only with DDR3 VRAM
-Battery not directly accessible
-Suboptimal ClickPad
-High temperatures
-Poor battery runtimes

Shortcut

What we like

IPS screens ensure a natural and viewing angle stable image.

What we'd like to see

A higher-capacity battery would have been nice.

What surprises us

The GTX 850M has to cope without GDDR5 VRAM.

The competition

15-inch gaming laptops that are not too bulky or heavy: Gigabyte P35W v2, MSI GS60, MSI GE60, Schenker M504 & Schenker XMG A504.

Rating

Asus GL550JK-CN391H
07/09/2014 v4
Florian Glaser

Chassis
78 / 98 → 80%
Keyboard
81%
Pointing Device
64%
Connectivity
73 / 91 → 80%
Weight
61 / 66 → 91%
Battery
74%
Display
88%
Games Performance
92%
Application Performance
93%
Temperature
68 / 95 → 72%
Noise
82 / 90 → 91%
Audio
80%
Average
78%
85%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Asus GL550JK-CN391H Notebook Review
Author: Florian Glaser, 2014-07-15 (Update: 2014-07-16)