Notebookcheck

Asus N551JK-CN166H Notebook Review

Sven Kloevekorn, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 02/01/2015

Silver entertainer. Asus introduces an overall well-designed, representative all-rounder in stylish aluminum looks to the upper-range for approximately 1000 Euros (~$1134). It is even possible to risk a game owing to the GeForce GTX 850M. Only the choice of processor is questionable. Our in-depth report reveals how the device fares in the single tests.

For the original German review, see here.

Owing to the speedy Intel Core i5-4200H dual-core processor (2x 2.8 - 3.4 GHz, Hyper-Threading, TDP 47 watts) and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M Maxwell graphics card with its own 2 GB of video memory, Asus' N551JK-CN166H is well-equipped for routine applications and even high-performance software. However, it finds its limits in many up-to-date games in high settings. Asus apparently did not focus as much on an especially compact and slim appearance and low weight but rather favored quiet and cool operation and the full utilization of performance potential in the construction. Users who want even more speed can opt for the i7-4710HQ quad-core according to Asus' product webpage. Furthermore, the pro version of Windows 8 can also be selected and the GTX 850M is allegedly available with 4 rather than 2 GB of memory. A Blu-ray combo drive underlines the multimedia claim of our model. It can be replaced with either a pure DVD burner or a Blu-ray writer. According to Asus, there are plenty of storage devices to choose from. The most various combinations of conventional hard drives with different capacities with and without an SSD cache, RAID systems, and pure SSDs are listed. What will ultimately be available in stores is another matter. A big German price comparison discovered seven different versions of Asus' 551JK at test time. All models available in retail apparently feature the same Full HD IPS screen.

We primarily kept an eye on the size and screen resolution and made sure that the contenders also come from the 1000-Euro (~$1134) price range while choosing both comparison laptopsHP's Envy 15-k010ng that we tested in October 2014 is slightly lighter than the review sample, sports an energy-efficient i7-4510U (2x 2.0 - 3.1 GHz, Hyper-Threading, TDP 15 W) and relies on a cheaper TN screen and DVD burner. However, a 256 GB SSD and 12 GB of memory are on-board unlike the Asus that has to be satisfied with a conventional HDD with a 24 GB SSD cache and 8 GB of RAM. The third participant is Acer's Aspire V 15 Nitro that we classified as a gamer due to its GTX 860M and i7-4710HQ quad-core (4x 2.5 - 3.5 GHz, Hyper-Threading, TDP 47 W). Although it features the strongest components, it is the lightest with 2.2 kg and slimmest with a height of 24 mm on the field. Like the review sample, the IPS screen ensures high viewing-angle stability besides other advantages. The 128 GB SSD is small, but there is enough storage owing to the additional 1 GB HDD. An optical drive has not been installed for reasons of space.

Case

Silver and black are the dominating colors on the casing. The matte display bezel and the rough textured underside are black. Asus touts the N551JK with its "One Body Aluminum Design," which backs our assumption that the surfaces are "only" plastic, which successfully simulate an aluminum finish. The base unit's flat upper side has a matte shimmer. Fingerprints remain just as invisible there as on the metallic-looking display back, which makes the impression of one of Asus' well-known Zenbooks with a concentric cut and the illuminated Asus logo in its center. In addition to the rounded corners and the successful surfaces, the concentric perforated grille below the hinges sets visual highlights.

We could warp the base marginally with a lot of effort, but it did not produce any noise. The stiffness and apparently impeccable build make a solid impression despite vast use of plastic. Unfortunately, the fairly stiff and pressure-resistant lid cannot be opened with one hand due to the tightly pulled hinges. However, it barely wobbles during movements and can keep its position quite safely when shaking the device lightly.

Connectivity

The connectivity does not give reason for complaint. The outdated VGA port has been axed. However, besides HDMI, there is now a modern mini-DisplayPort that includes some technical advantages like longer cables. Manufacturers also propagate it because, unlike HDMI, it does not involve license fees. Three USB 3.0 ports are acceptable. The memory-card slot on the front right not only accepts SD cards, but also Sony's proprietary flash drives. A fold-out Ethernet port for cabled LAN is also installed. Although all interfaces are located in the front area on the sides where connected cables and peripherals might interfere with an external mouse, only one USB 3.0 port and the audio jack is on the right, which is favorable for right-handed users.

Right: audio in/out, USB 3.0, subwoofer, Kensington lock
Right: audio in/out, USB 3.0, subwoofer, Kensington lock
Left: power, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0
Left: power, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0

Communication

As long as the manufacturers do not blunder with the antenna construction, Wi-Fi modules from Intel like the installed Dual Band Wireless LAN 7260 (a/b/g/n, no Gigabit LAN) usually provide a good to inconspicuous reception performance. That is also the case here. When gradually moving away from the router while adding new architectural obstacles, our Asus laptop maintained the DSL line's maximum transmission rate during a download for a long time. It ultimately only decreased relatively moderately. Although we have had laptops in review that did a better job, problems should not occur under normal circumstances. It is possible to use the less frequented 5 GHz band in cases of high Wi-Fi density, providing the corresponding router is available. Gigabit LAN is installed for stationary use.

Accessories

In addition to the power supply, an external subwoofer, a cable tie, and the usual warranty and user manuals are in the box. There is no recovery media, and thus the recovery partition should not be tampered with.

Maintenance

Although a maintenance cover exists, we cannot say anything about the components behind it. Our review sample was a shop device that has to be handled with care. We abandoned our attempts to lever off the extremely tight fitted cover after removing both screws for the risk of damage. The battery is easy to take out, though.

Warranty

Asus includes a 24-month manufacturer warranty from date of purchase. The warranty on the battery is limited to 12 months. More information can be found on the Asus Warranty Card.

Input Devices

Keyboard

This author is against down-scaled number pads like Asus recurrently installs. They virtually force larger hands into a cramped position when compiling numbers and do not fulfill their actual purpose of quick inputting. It's either/or here. Apart from that, the keyboard layout used in Asus' N551JK does not provide any surprises. The typing feel can be described as soft, which is due to the palpable yet not exactly crisp pressure point and a relatively clear stroke. The black-gray lettering on the level, non-slip, bright keys offers a decent contrast when the keyboard's 3-level backlight is disabled. When it is on, the lettering lights up in a bright blue and can then only be recognized properly in dimmed surroundings. All keys, including the big ones, only produce a very subtle noise level so that the N551JK can be recommended for use even in noise-sensitive environments.

Touchpad

The touchpad, designed as a key-less ClickPad, made a convincing impression. The tactile feedback is poor because the surface is absolutely sleek, and there are exceptionally wide areas at the edges that do not register touch. Besides that, the mouse cursor cannot follow unrealistically swift gestures. All that hardly proved annoying in practice, and it pleased the author with flawless accuracy and outstanding responsiveness. Drag & drop always functioned reliably, and every tap was implemented correctly. The pleasantly short drop of the "keys" has an ideal resistance and crisp pressure point, and they produce a quiet, acoustic feedback when triggered in the author's opinion. Up to three fingers at the same time were detected. The extensive, well-documented configuration options in the Asus Smart Gesture menu are exemplary.

Display

Matching the price, Asus relies on one of the 15.6-inch IPS screens that formerly stood out with too long switching times for gamers. That is usually not an issue anymore owing to technologies like Overdrive. The cheaper, swift but also considerably more viewing-angle dependent and almost always less color accurate TN screens have lost one of their last advantages with that. They are now usually reserved for lower-priced consumer laptops. In any case, we did not ascertain streaking or the like when playing a game on Asus' N551JK. The Full HD resolution (16:9) results in a pixel density of a sufficient 141 ppi and never caused problems in fairly up-to-date games in contrast to higher resolutions. Asus lists an alternative TN screen with 1366x768 pixels on its product webpage, but we did not discover a corresponding model in retail.

The average maximum brightness of 312 cd/m², which both contenders even surpass slightly in the test, can certainly be called superb. However, the uneven illumination of 83% is not a very good rate, but it is still acceptable and is not noticed subjectively. We discovered a single halo at the lower edge that was not visible during normal use when looking at a completely black screen in a darkened room using maximum brightness.

324
cd/m²
336
cd/m²
320
cd/m²
318
cd/m²
323
cd/m²
308
cd/m²
308
cd/m²
279
cd/m²
294
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Samsung 156HL01-102 (SDC324C)
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 336 cd/m² Average: 312.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 323 cd/m²
Contrast: 850:1 (Black: 0.38 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 7.4 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 6.24 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
69% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.98

The impression of a rich black just did not turn up despite the decent black level of 0.38 cd/m² for IPS conditions. However, the high brightness leads to an excellent contrast of 850:1. Black looks really saturated as soon as bright sections are part of the image. Our Acer Aspire V15 Nitro cannot quite compete with a still good 0.46 cd/m² and 689:1, and HP's Envy 15-k010ng cannot remotely keep up with its much too high 0.75 cd/m² and rather modest contrast of 457:1. The gamma rate of 2.98 is quite far from the Windows target of 2.2, and the color reproduction is not very accurate for IPS conditions as the DeltaE rates of 6 (grayscale) and 7 (ColorChecker) prove. That leads to a minor bluish cast in a non-calibrated state of delivery (ICC profile is linked in the box), but it is limited to light or medium light colors. The Aspire only does a slightly better job here, and the TN screen in the Envy lags behind most clearly with a DeltaE of 10 and 11. We do not have any reason for complaining about the image sharpness. The large AdobeRGB color-space coverage, mostly important for dedicated image editors, is very good even for an IPS screen with 69%, and it outruns both contenders considerably.

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
Asus N551JK-CN166H vs. AdobeRGB
Asus N551JK-CN166H vs. AdobeRGB
Asus N551JK-CN166H vs. sRGB
Asus N551JK-CN166H vs. sRGB
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
Screen
-34%
-2%
Brightness middle
323
343
6%
317
-2%
Brightness
312
330
6%
319
2%
Brightness Distribution
83
84
1%
87
5%
Black Level *
0.38
0.75
-97%
0.46
-21%
Contrast
850
457
-46%
689
-19%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
7.4
9.72
-31%
5.79
22%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.24
11.24
-80%
5.01
20%
Gamma
2.98 74%
2.3 96%
2.35 94%
CCT
8098 80%
11010 59%
7347 88%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
69
46
-33%
55
-20%

* ... smaller is better

Users who want to use their laptop outdoors will likely be happy with the N551JK owing to the high brightness and matte screen. The picture was shot on a cloudy day. Apart from the lower right area where the author's shadow fell on the screen, the bright sky reduced the contrast to a tolerable extent. It should be enough to make sure that the sun is not directly behind the user on sunny days.

IPS is almost always a guarantee that the image impression barely distorts even when the viewing angles are changed. Our Asus laptop is no exception and gives the user plenty of elbowroom in front of the screen without the TN typical restrictions like a milky image impression when looking from above. The screen in the N551JK also lost a bit contrast and brightness in narrow angles, but image errors like inaccurate colors did not turn up under realistic conditions.

Performance

Cinebench R15 - clock rates
Cinebench R15 - clock rates

Processor

The Intel Core i5-4200H is a Haswell CPU with medium performance. Its two physical cores can (allegedly) process up to four threads simultaneously via Hyper-Threading. The base frequency is 2.8 GHz, but its Turbo can boost one core to 3.4 GHz and a maximum of 3.3 GHz when both cores are loaded. The unusually high TDP of 47 watts is an attribute of the processor built in the 22 nm process. That is normally only seen among the considerably faster i7 quad-cores from the Haswell generation. A comparison with the almost identically strong i5-4330M (2x 2.8 - 3.5 GHz, Hyper-Threading), which roughly covers the same clock range but only has a TDP of 37 watts, makes that clear.

The performance is quite enough even for sophisticated applications, and the CPU should not limit most up-to-date games. One exception is highly parallelized software that clearly benefits from four or more physical cores, which also applies to games. The relatively strong Intel HD 4600 on-chip GPU is integrated, and takes care of more undemanding (2D) graphics calculations. The considerably stronger but also energy-hungrier Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M performs complex 3D rendering automatically owing to the Optimus technology. When comparing the review sample with tested laptops based on the same processor, only marginal differences are seen that are within the tolerance range in both the multi-core and single core tests of Cinebench R11.5 and R15. Our observation of the core speeds in these tests confirmed a perfect utilization of the Turbo levels. No differences were noticed in battery mode.

System information: Asus N551JK-CN166H
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
1.46 Points ∼60%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
1.35 Points ∼55% -8%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
1.53 Points ∼63% +5%
Asus N550JK-CN109H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
1.47 Points ∼60% +1%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
3.5 Points ∼8%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
2.79 Points ∼6% -20%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
7.22 Points ∼16% +106%
Asus N550JK-CN109H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
3.55 Points ∼8% +1%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4773
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
10668
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.46 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
3.5 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
130 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
323 Points
Help

System Performance

The PCMark 7 scores clearly show that both rivals in the test sport swift SSDs, while our Asus N551JK has to be satisfied with a conventional hard drive that is only supported by a 24 GB SSD cache. Although that can speed up system booting and frequently used programs, pure SSDs are still highly superior. The gap of up to 19% between the review sample and HP's does not change the fact that it sports a faster CPU. Then again, it is clearly inferior to Acer's Aspire with an i7 quad-core and faster GeForce GTX 860M. As usual, PCMark 8 confirms this tendency and sees the devices closer together than PCMark 7. Subjectively, Asus' laptop ran very smoothly and also noticeably benefited from the SSD cache, though it did not come close to laptops with pure SSDs.

 

PCMark 7
Entertainment (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
3226 Points ∼30%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
3633 Points ∼34% +13%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
4392 Points ∼41% +36%
Productivity (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
3494 Points ∼32%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
4290 Points ∼39% +23%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
5084 Points ∼47% +46%
Score (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
4131 Points ∼45%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
5034 Points ∼55% +22%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
5879 Points ∼64% +42%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
3881 Points ∼60%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
3870 Points ∼59% 0%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
4318 Points ∼66% +11%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
3113 Points ∼51%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
3099 Points ∼51% 0%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
3603 Points ∼59% +16%
PCMark 7 Score
4131 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3113 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3437 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3881 points
Help
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 - first run
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 - first run
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 - second run
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 - second run

Storage Devices

Unusual: Instead of installing a hybrid hard drive, a stand-alone SSD with a capacity of 24 GB is used as the SSD cache for the conventional, one TB HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680. Our tests prove that this leads to the same result. Frequently used applications are copied on the SSD and are opened faster from there than from the HDD. 102 MB/s in sequential read that the array accomplished in the first run of CrystalDiskMark 3 are solid, yet not top rates. In the same run, a weakness in reading small, random data blocks (4k, e.g. OS or program starts) was recorded. The ascertained rates are at the lower end of the field in comparison with other hybrid storage devices. However, strong fragmentation generally characterizes these kinds of storage device benchmarks and should therefore be seen with caution.

Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
22685%
13254%
Read 4k QD32
0.609
351.7
57650%
180.7
29572%
Read 4k
0.326
32.95
10007%
32.23
9787%
Read Seq
102.3
509.2
398%
514.2
403%
HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
Transfer Rate Minimum: 50.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 326.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 88.7 MB/s
Access Time: 19.8 ms
Burst Rate: 254.4 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.6 %

Graphics Card

Nvidia's GTX 850M, launched in March 2014, offers a decent amount of graphics power and belongs to the upper mid-range. The Maxwell chip architecture (GM107) distinguishes it from the former Kepler generation by improved energy efficiency. The performance of the energy-hungrier, older GTX 765M (Kepler) is achieved, and sometimes even surpassed. Although we are dealing with the slower GDDR3 RAM model, the graphics performance of the review sample is on par with other laptops with a GTX 850M. However, there is an anomaly: MSI's GE70-2PC-036XPL, where the GDDR5 version is installed, achieves a 24% higher score in the Cloud benchmark of 3DMark (2014). Since the chip cannot cope with up-to-date, demanding games using high anti-aliasing levels and higher resolutions than Full HD, the size of the dedicated 2048 MB memory connected with 128 bits fits to the mid-range claim. There are no new features: DirectX 11.0 (Feature Level) and 4K support in hardware were already available in Kepler.

The reason that the GTX 850M in HP's Envy cannot quite keep up with the review sample is likely because its memory only clocks with 1800 MHz effectively, which is 200 MHz below the standard of 2000 MHz. When looking at all performed 3DMarks in the chart, the GeForce GTX 860M in Acer's Aspire V 15 Nitro is faster by 11 to 30%. That could be the decisive factor in games where the frame rates close in on the limit of 30 fps in high settings.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
3054 Points ∼8%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
2798 Points ∼7% -8%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
3862 Points ∼10% +26%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
21589 Points ∼12%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
18079 Points ∼10% -16%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
28014 Points ∼15% +30%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
4369 Points ∼9%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
3925 Points ∼8% -10%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
4850 Points ∼10% +11%
3DMark 11 Performance
4255 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
61456 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
9818 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
2675 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Only older and / or graphically less demanding games run smoothly on the GTX 850M in maximum settings in Full HD. An example is GRID: Autosport from 2014. The user will have to choose between 1366x768 pixels in "High" presetting or Full HD with further reduced graphics beauty and no anti-aliasing in the smash hit Battlefield 4. The very similar fps rate in the good-looking Thief (2014) in low to high settings indicates a limitation of the CPU, which should be quite rare. Casual gamers who can live with some massive compromises now and in the future can count on a smooth gaming experience with an attractive graphics quality.

low med. high ultra
Battlefield 4 (2013) 75.2 54.3 20.3 fps
Thief (2014) 35.8 34.8 32.8 18.2 fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 54.79 44.32 31.48 fps

Emissions

System Noise

Asus' N551JK is not exactly one of the slimmest and lightest laptops with 28 to 32 mm and 2.7 kg. The advantage of larger casings is that the cooling, and consequently the noise-scape, is easier to manage. It was apparently enough to install a decent, passive cooling here. During load, the fans first spin hesitatingly, increase their speed steadily, and they run longer than in most ultra-thin gamers after load is stopped. The idle operating noise that can barely be discerned from the ambient noise increases to an audible yet tolerable noise in games, which did not unduly annoy the tester's ears. The comparison with both rivals in the test exhibited slightly higher dB rates for Asus' device in low load. The relatively similar rates during load are a bit mixed. Acer was particularly clever because the V15 Nitro is not only stronger but also slimmer and lighter than our Asus.

Noise Level

Idle
32.1 / 32.9 / 33.7 dB(A)
DVD
36.6 / dB(A)
Load
42 / 44.8 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
Prime95 solo - clock rates
Prime95 solo - clock rates
Prime95 + FurMark - clock rates
Prime95 + FurMark - clock rates

Temperature & Turbo Utilization

The graph below that shows the surface temperatures, which are absolutely uncritical even during high load, speaks for itself. It also looks good in terms of throttling. Extreme CPU load via Prime95 did not push the processor over 70 °C; the multi-core Turbo of 3.3 GHz remained stable. We additionally activated the GPU stress test Furmark to push this unrealistic scenario to the limit. Although the CPU's core temperatures increased up to 92 °C after a short while, the clock remained at 3.3 GHz except for a few tiny drops. Just as exemplary: The GPU consistently maintained its Turbo speed of 1084 MHz. Consequently, throttling is not an issue and even a next-to-perfect Turbo utilization is achieved.

Max. Load
 35.1 °C
95 F
32 °C
90 F
25.8 °C
78 F
 
 35.2 °C
95 F
39.4 °C
103 F
26.3 °C
79 F
 
 30 °C
86 F
34.6 °C
94 F
28 °C
82 F
 
Maximum: 39.4 °C = 103 F
Average: 31.8 °C = 89 F
22.5 °C
73 F
28.4 °C
83 F
34.6 °C
94 F
23.2 °C
74 F
32.6 °C
91 F
37.6 °C
100 F
26.2 °C
79 F
25.7 °C
78 F
25.2 °C
77 F
Maximum: 37.6 °C = 100 F
Average: 28.4 °C = 83 F
Power Supply (max.)  32 °C = 90 F | Room Temperature 20.5 °C = 69 F | Voltcraft IR-360
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 31.8 °C / 89 F, compared to the average of 31 °C / 88 F for the devices in the class Multimedia.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.4 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F, ranging from 21.1 to 71 °C for the class Multimedia.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 37.6 °C / 100 F, compared to the average of 38.8 °C / 102 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 24.2 °C / 76 F, compared to the device average of 31 °C / 88 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (34.6 °C / 94.3 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29.1 °C / 84.4 F (-5.5 °C / -9.9 F).
Subwoofer
Subwoofer
The AudioWizard (Bang & Olufsen Technology) provides extensive configuration options.
The AudioWizard (Bang & Olufsen Technology) provides extensive configuration options.

Speakers

The tester selected the presetting "Music" in the AudioWizard for testing the speakers and played his usual tracks comprised of different music styles. The first thing he noticed was the somewhat lackluster playback that sounded as if someone had put a wet cloth over a microphone. The sound in maximum volume was, however, fairly balanced in total. It should be high enough for medium-sized rooms and was never obtrusively treble-heavy or piercing. The review sample even had a certain degree of dynamics. The sound receives a bass foundation and sounds a lot richer when the included subwoofer is connected. It does not look as good with the differentiation of instruments, for example, in bass-heavy metal music, which sounds a bit muddy. Unfortunately, annoying volume fluctuations were noticed in higher volumes, which could be eliminated by disabling all audio tweaks. Asus' N551JK-CN166H never managed to convey a surround sound impression. Overall, the sound is satisfactory for the upper price range, though.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The review sample proves to be considerably more frugal than Asus' N550JK-CN109H with identical core components; the decreasing consumption with increasing load of the older model ranges from 5 to 105% (!). The Envy benefits from its energy-efficient CPU, and the Aspire's stronger graphics card is reflected in the highest consumption in the test field. The review sample's standby consumption of 0.5 watts has to be criticized.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.5 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 8.6 / 12 / 13 Watt
Load midlight 72.2 / 104 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The varying battery capacities have to be kept in mind when comparing the battery life: Asus N551JK: 56 Wh; HP Envy 15-k010ng: 41 Wh; Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro: 52.5 Wh. Since a direct comparison is not possible, we will concentrate on the absolute rates. The real-world Wi-Fi test (our test criteria), where Asus' laptop managed 4.5 hours, is interesting. It only varies marginally from both rivals and should satisfy most requirements. Users who want to watch a DVD on-the-go in maximum brightness do not have to recoil from extremely over-length videos. It might get tight with mobile gaming; much more than an hour will be unlikely, like with both other laptops. Generally, more would have certainly been possible had Asus opted for a comparably swift ULV processor with a TDP of 15 rather than 47 watts, such as the i5-4200H.

Asus N551JK-CN166H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
Battery Runtime
3%
9%
Reader / Idle
436
507
16%
596
37%
WiFi
271
249
-8%
277
2%
Load
76
77
1%
68
-11%
H.264
221
Gaming
45
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
7h 16min
WiFi Surfing
4h 31min
DVD
3h 16min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 16min

Verdict

Asus N551JK-CN166H
Asus N551JK-CN166H

The final rating makes it evident that Asus' N551JK-CN166H completely convinced us in the test. We did not discover any really severe shortcomings. Of course, choosing a 47-watt CPU with only two physical cores is a bit questionable, but that was likely for budgetary reasons. The soft keyboard composition and down-scaled number pad are a matter of taste, but they are decent input devices in our opinion. The hybrid solution used for the storage device cannot compete with the two pure SSDs in HP's and Acer's laptops and results in a slightly less smooth operation. The review sample stays quiet and cool even during load; the performance reserves are always full utilized. A highlight is the very bright, viewing-angle stable and high-contrast screen. It only shows minor weaknesses in color accuracy and gamma rates. The stylish and solid casing very much appealed to the tester - when disregarding the problems with the maintenance cover.

HP's Envy 15-k010ng falls slightly behind in the comparison, but not Acer's Aspire V 15 Nitro (VN7-591G-77A9) that can score with its SSD and both stronger and swifter CPU and graphics card. At the same time it is slimmer and lighter than both contenders. However, the screen cannot quite match that of the review sample, and the Acer also gets a bit louder and warmer. Furthermore, it tends to throttle the CPU's clock rate under full load (CPU + GPU). We also criticized the slightly inaccurate touchpad and the lack of a maintenance cover in the test. The Nitro is certainly the better choice for gamers, and although the Asus does not exhibit any real shortcomings, Acer offers a bit more for the money. We do not deny Asus' N551JK-CN166H a purchase recommendation, anyway - why should we?

Read all 4 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Asus N551JK-CN166H. Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de
Asus N551JK-CN166H. Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de

Specifications

Asus N551JK-CN166H (N551 Series)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M - 2048 MB, Core: 902 - 1084 MHz, Memory: 2000 MHz, GDDR3, ForceWare 333.60, Optimus
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR3L 1600 MHz, single-channel, 2 RAM banks, 1 filled
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel, Samsung 156HL01-102 (SDC324C), IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel HM86 (Lynx Point)
Storage
HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680, 1000 GB 
, 5400 rpm, + SanDisk SSD U100 24 GB
Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combo audio in/out, 3.5 mm jack, Card Reader: SD/SDXC/MS/MS Pro/MS Pro Duo/MMC
Networking
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit-LAN (10/100/1000/2500/5000MBit/s), Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4), Bluetooth 4.0
Optical drive
MATSHITA BD-CMB UJ172 S
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 28 x 383 x 255 ( = 1.1 x 15.08 x 10.04 in)
Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion, 5200 mAh, 6 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: HD
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, subwoofer, Asus: FaceID, Smart Gesture, USB Charger Plus, Video DSP, ATK Package, CyberLink Media Story , 24 Months Warranty
Weight
2.7 kg ( = 95.24 oz / 5.95 pounds), Power Supply: 446 g ( = 15.73 oz / 0.98 pounds)
Price
1000 Euro

 

Luster and silver,...
Luster and silver,...
...as far as the eye can see.
...as far as the eye can see.
We believe that...
We believe that...
...the casing is plastic...
...the casing is plastic...
...but its metal appearance...
...but its metal appearance...
...looks deceivingly real.
...looks deceivingly real.
Closeup.
Closeup.
Overview of the input devices.
Overview of the input devices.
The key drop...
The key drop...
...is medium.
...is medium.
Cursor keys with second assignment.
Cursor keys with second assignment.
The tester didn't like the too small number pad,...
The tester didn't like the too small number pad,...
...quite unlike...
...quite unlike...
..the ClickPad.
..the ClickPad.
Dual-laser for DVD and Blu-ray.
Dual-laser for DVD and Blu-ray.
Webcam, stereo microphones, light sensor.
Webcam, stereo microphones, light sensor.
Showroom stickers.
Showroom stickers.
The maximum opening angle is approximately 135 degrees.
The maximum opening angle is approximately 135 degrees.
An overview of the underside.
An overview of the underside.
Model plate.
Model plate.
Hinge...
Hinge...
...and rubber stopper.
...and rubber stopper.
Battery compartment.
Battery compartment.
56-Wh battery.
56-Wh battery.
Left-hand interfaces with fold-out Ethernet port.
Left-hand interfaces with fold-out Ethernet port.

Similar Laptops

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

HP Envy 15 Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i7 5500U
Acer Aspire V15 Nitro VN7-571G Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i5 5200U
Nexoc M514 (Clevo WA50SJQ) Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i5 4210M
Asus Zenbook NX500JK-DR018H Ultrabook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i7 4712HQ

Devices with the same GPU

HP Envy 17 (2015) Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i7 5500U, 17.3", 2.88 kg
Asus N751JK-T4144H Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i7 4710HQ, 17.3", 3.4 kg

Links

  • Tips for buying a notebook - notebookCHECK Purchase Advisory

  • Find the right notebook - notebookCHECK Hardware Guide

  • Display resolution comparison - DPI (grain size) of displays

  • Our test criteria
  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pros

+Stylish, well-built casing
+Successful metal imitation
+DisplayPort installed, VGA omitted
+Dual-band Wi-Fi
+Maintenance cover
+Decent touchpad
+Bright, high-contrast IPS screen
+Good to very good application and gaming performance
+Perfect Turbo utilization
+Unobtrusive fan
+Subwoofer included
 

Cons

-Casing could be slimmer
-No noteworthy accessories
-No Gigabit Wi-Fi
-Maintenance cover fitted too tightly
-Too small number pad
-No real SSD

Shortcut

What we like

Almost everything, actually.

What we'd like to see

An equally fast CPU with lower TDP.

What surprises us

Why do sound tweaks cause volume fluctuations so frequently?

The competition

HP Envy 15-k010ng (comparison device)

Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro (VN7-591G-77A9) (comparison device)

Asus N550JK-CN109H

Asus N750JK (pricier)

Acer Aspire V5-573G

Rating

Asus N551JK-CN166H - 01/28/2015 v4(old)
Sven Kloevekorn

Chassis
82 / 98 → 84%
Keyboard
83%
Pointing Device
84%
Connectivity
73 / 81 → 90%
Weight
58 / 20-67 → 81%
Battery
81%
Display
85%
Games Performance
88 / 85 → 100%
Application Performance
81 / 92 → 88%
Temperature
92%
Noise
82 / 95 → 86%
Audio
80%
Average
81%
85%
Multimedia - Weighted Average
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Asus N551JK-CN166H Notebook Review
Sven Kloevekorn, 2015-02- 1 (Update: 2018-05-15)