REVIEW / Asus N550JK, Stellar 15.6" Entertainment Laptop

The Swiss Army Knife of laptops

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Wait! There's a newer generation of this model: Asus ZenBook Pro UX501
Bénigne Millière Published on June 27, 2014
Translated by Hugh Ehreth
This is an archive page, the content is no longer up to date.


  • CPU Intel Core i7-4700HQ
  • Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M
  • RAM 6 GB
  • Screen 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Storage space 1 TB
  • Optical drive DVD/CD Drive


The N550JK hails from Asus' N Series, a range of entertainment-oriented laptops that claims 'unparalleled' sound quality and 'striking' displays. The model we're reviewing here boasts a 15.6" Full HD IPS display, a powerful CPU and GPU, audio by Bang & Olufsen and a 1 TB mechanical hard drive. Let's see if it lives up to the hype.


N55 presentation700

The N550JK is a well-built machine with a sober, elegant design. Made entirely of aluminium, the chassis screams solidity; the lid is the only section that feels slightly lower in quality. We didn't notice any play anywhere in the body and the hinges feel as though they're built to last. The overall size (383 x 255 x 27.7 mm) and weight (2.77 kg) are average for a 15.6" laptop.

N55 clavier700

The chiclet keyboard is the same colour as the palm rest and offers perfectly comfortable typing. The keys are well sized, are pleasant to type on and have decent rebound. It contains all the shortcuts one tends to expect out of a keyboard and includes a numeric keypad. The nicely sized touchpad is a great cursor-moving tool that responds promptly to your finger's commands and recognises all of the standard Windows 8 touch gestures. The touchscreen is easy to use. Full HD resolution, even on a 15.6" display, doesn't make a touchscreen the best way to deal with the classic Windows desktop, but it's perfect for the Start Screen interface.

N55 clavier retro 700

The keyboard backlighting can be adjusted to one of three levels of intensity. It stays discreet thanks to the bluish hue, but it's still strong enough to use in the dark.
N55 connectique 700
N55 connectique 700

Along the left edge of the machine are two USB 3.0 ports, an audio in/out combo jack, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a connector for the external subwoofer and a mini-DisplayPort. On the right edge are a DVD drive, one USB 3.0 port and an SD card reader.

The wireless connectivity consists of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which we measured as having a relatively stable signal of -48 dBm from 5 to 10 metres away and -53 dBm from 20 metres away.

N55 temperatures

Considering the components inside, the N550JK handles its temperatures admirably well (it maxed out at 56°C, but only during our stress test). That said, we would have preferred it to be even cooler, even if that meant more fan noise. It should be said, the fan is quiet; we picked up 42 dB at the most. Just watch out where you place the computer, as a good amount of the air is pulled in through the bottom of the chassis.


N55 sous pixel

The N550JK has a 15.6" IPS display with 1920 x 1080 pixels. We measured the contrast at 837:1 and the brightness at 329 cd/m², both of which are excellent for a laptop.

Adora temperature couleurs(1)
Grey colour temperature
Msi Adora gamma
adora delta E
Delta E

The colours are just as excellent with a Delta E of 2.3, denoting faithful, natural tones. This puts the display in the top rung of notebooks for colour fidelity. The colour temperature is also near-perfect at 6,635 K, where the ideal is 6,500 K. This is an outstanding screen, which is quite an advantage for an entertainment-oriented device.


Bang & Olufsen did the audio, providing a decent headphone signal with lots of power and very little distortion at full volume. The stereo image is accurately reproduced and there isn't too much background noise.
N55 audio

This graph shows the frequency response for the four speakers in the front of the computer only, as our standard testing protocol doesn't include a section for a subwoofer. The drivers deliver decent sound in the highs and high-mids, but they obviously lack bass. Fortunately, with the subwoofer on, all that missing space gets filled out, adding in those low-mids that were lacking.

On the whole, the N550JK provides very good sound quality that makes it a great machine for listening to music and watching films.

Note: The model we were sent to review (N550JK-CM137H) features an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, 6 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M video card and a 1 TB hard drive. The comments above refer to all versions of the Asus N550JK, whereas the sections below apply only to the model we tested. Available configurations may also vary depending on the country/region in which you live (see inset below).


The Intel Core i7-4700HQ is a processor more commonly found in gaming laptops. And while it only has a mechanical HDD backing it (an SSD would do wonders), it still was able to achieve an outstanding score of 140 in our in-house rating system. Compare with competing laptops here:
Performance Index
N55 perf machine
Click for details

As a result, the Asus N550JK can handle any type of task without flinching. Any programme, from the least to the most complex to run, will execute swiftly. A solid-state drive would have helped speed up the startup and shutdown times, as well as the launch times for certain applications, but the overall user experience is still top-notch.


This is the first time we've tested an Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M graphics card. It has 2 GB of memory here and is based on the same platform as the GTX 860M—Maxwell architecture with 640 processing units and a 1,250 MHz clock rate—but has its clock capped at 876 MHz by default and 923 MHz in boost mode (that's on our model, the frequencies vary from one chip to the next...).

N55 graph gpu 700

It nonetheless gets the job done and clearly outperforms its predecessor, the GT 750M, as well as the GTX 765M, which is supposed to be the better of the three. You can play any recent game in the screen's native resolution on the N550JK, but with the most demanding games you'll have to put the graphics on High, not Extreme, if you want fluid gameplay. As for Full HD videos, they play perfectly on the N550JK.


With components like these, we weren't surprised to see the N550JK last just 4½ hours in our standard battery test (continuous video playback in airplane mode with the keyboard backlighting turned off, the brightness at 100 cd/m² and headphones plugged in). This is good, but it's a far cry from the Apple MacBook Pro 15", which lasted 6½ hours in the same conditions.
Models, specs & options
Asus has a few optional configurations for the N550JK in the UK:

- Intel Core i7-4700HQ
- Intel Core i5-4200H

- up to 16 GB

- Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M
- Intel HD Graphics 4600

- 1 TB HDD (5400 RPM)
- 1 TB HDD (7200 RPM)
- 750 GB HDD (5400 RPM)
- 750 GB HDD (7200 RPM)

Optical Drive:
- Blu-ray DVD Combo
- Super-Multi DVD
- Blu-ray Writer

The N550JK's basic components can be accessed simply by removing a few screws, allowing users to manually change the hard drive (one 2.5" slot only) and RAM.


  • Beautiful display
  • High-performance CPU & GPU
  • Great sound quality
  • Comfortable backlit keyboard has everything you need


  • Overheating when stressed
  • Battery life could be longer


The Asus N550JK is an outstanding, versatile laptop. Only the most demanding gamers should find fault with it. Tech-savvy users might want to replace the HDD with an SSD to boost the performance even further and get the absolute most out of this stellar PC.
5 Asus N550JK DigitalVersus 2014-06-27 12:19:00
Compare: Asus N550JK to its competitors
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Debenhams Plus 749.00 See offer  
Laptops Direct 774.97 See offer  
BHS Direct 779.00 See offer  
John Lewis 799.95 See offer  
Currys 799.99 See offer  
BT Shop 811.35 See offer 811.35 See offer  
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