Asus is one of the few laptop makers in India who not only believes that gaming on PC has a thriving interest, but also believes that such PC gamers want to pack in all that hardware into a laptop with minimal upgradeable parts. So time after time, it releases a new gaming laptop.
The Asus GL552JX is its latest attempt, and it’s a solid one. But as good a device as it is, it’s more difficult than ever to recommend buying a gaming laptop.
Specs: 15.6-inch Anti-glare IPS 1920×1080 pixels screen | 2GHz (Turbo up to 3.2GHz) quad-core Intel Core i7 4750HQ processor | 8GB DDR3 RAM | 1TB HDD (No SSD) | 2GB DDR3 Nvidia GTX 950M | HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, 3xUSB 3.0, 3-in-1 card reader | DVD writer | 4-cell Lithium-ion battery | Windows 8
Price: Rs. 80,990
Great Screen, Great Laptop
The Asus GL552JX hit the right notes immediately. One of the biggest problems with its predecessor, the G551JK was the terrible screen. On the new model, Asus has thrown in an IPS screen with an anti-glare coating that actually works. I’m not sure if it’s a matte finish, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. It’s a gorgeous screen that doesn’t change colours if you bend it forward or back, has clear visibility in daylight outdoors, and reproduces images perfectly. For gamers, there are not many better screens on laptops.
The actual laptop leaves little to be desired for a gaming notebook in its price range. The hardware is as good as anything you can expect, what with the 8GB of RAM and Nvidia GTX950M graphics. It would have been nice to have an SSD instead of an HDD, but given the size of PC games these days, it’s not a big complaint. You’d need to choose to either have multiple games on your laptop or a slightly faster hard drive, and this is just a judgement call in the end.
All of this is backed up by a full-size backlit keyboard with a pretty good trackpad. Of course, you’ll want to use a mouse when you’re actually playing games. The keyboard is pretty responsive too. And despite all the hardware packed in it, the GL552JX manages to stay cool while running heavy games—not an easy task, as overheating is a frequent problem in gaming laptops.
How Well Do Games Actually Work?
Running PC games on this machine makes one thing clear. This laptop doesn’t have what it takes to get the maximum graphical output from newer games. But it still looks pretty darn good.
I tried GTA V, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Crysis 3. None of the games ran smoothly at the highest of graphics settings. But tweaking to Medium settings, or switching off anti-aliasing, or lowering the resolution, made for a good experience. I generally got about 50-60fps on Medium settings on all games, dropping to around 25fps on High settings.
Lowering the resolution by one bar (to 1366×768) actually had a bigger impact in most cases. With a lowered resolution and switching off anti-aliasing, I was able to run Crysis 3 on High settings.
The Usual Troubles
Unfortunately, despite getting so many things right, the GL552JX suffers from the problems that most gaming laptops have. And that, in the end, makes it a difficult proposition.
The battery, for starters, is a major disappointment. You’ll need to keep the laptop plugged into a charger if you want to actually use it for an hour or more because the battery drains annoyingly quickly.
Yup, that makes this notebook a no-go for taking it around with you when you travel. And that’s actually a blessing in disguise because the sheer weight of carrying this bulky device everywhere would help you develop some serious biceps.
And finally, its nature itself gives it a limited shelf life. With gaming laptops, you can upgrade the hard drive and the RAM, but not much else. So you’re going to be stuck with that Nvidia GTX950M graphics chipset forever. At the rate at which PC gaming evolves, that would mean the laptop is outdated in a year or so. Compare that to a gaming console and you just wasted a whole lot of money.
The Bottom Line
At the end of it, if you absolutely, positively want a gaming laptop, then the Asus GL552JX is a good machine and worth your money. You won’t get anything better at this price, and you won’t feel like you’re too far behind the curve either.
The bigger question, though, is if it makes sense to buy a gaming laptop at all. PC gaming is about upgrades, and if that’s not what you’re going to do to keep up with the new games, then you might as well buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One and a good portable laptop for the same Rs. 80,000. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that gaming laptops are stupid technology now.