The best thing about being a tech writer is that you get gadgets to play with. Unfortunately, you have to give them back eventually. Be that as it may, ever since I found out—and this was eons ago—that ‘gaming laptop’ is a real thing and not a figment of my wishful imagination, I’ve always wanted one. So when the Asus G551JK was offered to me for a couple of weeks, I was beside myself with joy.
The G551JK is one of Asus’ Republic of Gamers series of gaming machines. And this is a beautiful beast. The red-and-black colour combination is stunning and the brushed-metal outside is complimented with a red Asus logo that illuminates when the computer starts up, which is a nice touch. The red-backlit keyboard—with the W, S, A, D keys highlighted with red bevels—makes you want to turn off the room lights right away. The screen and keyboard have a matte finish, a welcome change from the usual glossiness. I’m told that the machine comes with an Asus gaming mouse and headset, but these were not included in my review unit.
Let’s get the specs out of the way: the Asus G551JK is powered by an Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5GHz processor going up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost, with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk. This is complimented by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX850M graphics card with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. There is a 6x Blu-Ray optical drive, card reader, HDMI port and three USB ports. The screen is a 15.6-inch full HD IPS LCD screen, with a maximum resolution of 1920x1080px. All of this weighs in at an hefty 2.7kg, but then, I would use it to set up my gaming corner and not lug it about everywhere.
From a user perspective, the G551JK was comfortable to use. Having small hands, I’ve often had a problem with laptops much smaller than this one, with things being hard to reach, especially during gaming when quick reactions are key. With this machine, there was enough space to rest your hands and reach the right buttons and trackpad comfortably. The keyless trackpad—that is, no dedicated right- and left-click buttons—was particularly impressive. It is multitouch, with tap-to-click enabled and nicely responsive.
The laptop comes preinstalled with Windows 8.1 and starts up really fast. I tested it out with Hitman: Absolution at ‘ultra’ settings, not because the game has heavy demands, but because I’ve been consumed with finishing the game and since I’d been playing it recently, I could easily compare. Well, the performance was fantastic. What few hiccups there were were in no part to do with the hardware (hint: you need to run it in Windows 7 compatible mode). The machine zipped through Absolution and made no bones about my incessant loading and reloading. The screen is fantastic, including the viewing angles. Mention must be made about the cooling fan—effective and quiet.
The only place that the Asus G551JK was found wanting in my limited use was battery life. In normal circumstances, that is, non-gaming, it gave me about three hours. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old MacBook Pro can easily beat that. The capslock indicator is another thing I had a problem with—a tiny light towards the bottom of the machine that indicates if capslock is on is a bit too subtle for convenience.
In sum, the user experience was extremely satisfactory. At Rs 82,999, it is not bad value for money. If you’re on the lookout for a gaming monster, you could do seriously worse than snag this one.