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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Asus N551JK, EeeBook X205TA and X555 reviews

By Andrei Girbea , updated on September 22, 2015

It’s been quiet here lately but I haven’t been slackening, as I tested a few new laptops for our other website, TLBHD.com.

Among them, the three mentioned in this post’s title, the Asus N551JK multimedia laptop, an update of the popular N550 series, the compact and affordable Asus EeeBook X205TA, an 11.6 inch sleek and light mini laptop that sells for only $199, and the mainstream 15.6 inch Asus X555 series. Why just Asus laptops, you might ask? Well, it’s easy, that’s what I can mostly grab my hands on in this part of the world (spoiler alert, stay close, I’m currently working on reviewing a new 2-in-1 laptop, and it’s not an Asus :P )

Neither of these laptops mentioned above are ultrabooks per se, in fact the N551 and the X555s are not even ultraportables, but all of them are interesting entries in their classes and all of them are new (some even unreleased yet at the time of this post, but they will hit the stores in the next few weeks). So I am going to tell you a few things about each below.

Asus N551JK

On a first look the N551 might look a lot like last year’s N550, with mostly a similar silver metallic body, interior design, keyboard or display. It also packs the compact external subwoofer that Asus have included with N series laptops for a while now.

However, once you look a bit more carefully, you’ll notice some of the changes that make the N551 revision imh an overall superior device to its predecessor.

But let’s start with what you might not like. The N551 is not entirely covered in aluminum anymore and is thicker and somewhat heavier than the N550. The bottom and part of the edges are made from rough plastic, but the lid-cover and the interior are still metallic, so I don’t think that particular aspect should bother you too much. Especially since this approach allows for a an easily removable battery and quick access to the RAM and storage bay, in case you want those upgraded.

My major gripe with the tested N551JK was the poor Wi-Fi performance once you got a bit further away from the router. Close by, nothing to complain about, but at 30 feet with 3 walls in between the speed dropped considerably. Hopefully the final release unit won’t have the same issues, and if they do, it is possible to replace the Wi-Fi chip if really needed, although it might get a bit complicated.

The Asus N551JK bundles fast hardware, a nice IPS screen, a metallic body and a powerful speakers system in a proper priced package

The Asus N551JK bundles fast hardware, a nice IPS screen, a metallic body and a powerful speakers system in a proper priced package

On top of these, the new laptop offers a redesigned cooling solution, with the exhaust placed on the left edge, and no longer behind the screen’s hinge. And that seems to work really well, as the N551JK is a solid performer and doesn’t get hot under load either. I’ve tried a couple of modern games and had no problem running them smoothly at the screen’s native resolution (FHD), with medium, and in some cases even with Very High, details.

Speaking of the screen, Asus put a nice IPS panel on this N551JK. It’s matte and paints popping colors, it’s bright enough for indoors use and the contrast and viewing angles aren’t bad either. On the other hand, some of you might complain about ghosting in certain games (IPS panels are usually slower), but I for one would rather live with that than with any of the available TN displays. Plus, let’s not forget this is not primarily meant for gaming, it’s a multimedia laptop, powerful enough for intense everyday use, for photo and video editing, for watching movies, for programming, etc.

That’s the short story. The long version is here, in my detailed review of the Asus N551JK and in the video below.

Asus X555

You’ll find laptops selling for between $500 and $900 in this line, basic everyday 15.6 inch computers for the average consumer. They are built on Intel Haswell hardware, but corners were cut when it comes to the materials, screen quality or battery size. But if you do want mid-level notebooks with a modern platform, these might be the ones.

Asus also plans a K555 model for the next few months, with a metallic case and slightly beefier configurations. While the X555 versions will be available in mostly two variants, as the X555LA (with Intel 4400 HD graphics) and the X555LD (with Nvidia GT 820M graphics), paired with Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, up to 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB HDDs, the K555LDs will bundle Nvidia 840M graphics, the same choice in processors, memory and storage, but also a 1920 x 1080 px display (with a TN panel, but hopefully overall better than the options on the X555s).

You can find more about both these series from my extended review.

The Asus X555s are affordable 15 inch laptops with Intel Haswell hardware and Nvidia graphics inside

The Asus X555s are affordable 15 inch laptops with Intel Haswell hardware and Nvidia graphics inside

Asus EeeBook X205 series (X205TA)

This is an 11 inch laptop that weighs less than a kilo, runs on a fanless (thus completely quiet) platform and will last for 6-8 hours of real life use. Not bad for something that sells for $199.

The EeeBook X205TA isn’t the only notebook available for this kind of money out there. The Acer Chromebook C720 is almost a year old and was one of the best selling laptops in the US, UK, Germany and other markets where users can take full advantage of Google’s services (and where this thing is officially sold). But the X205TA runs Windows, and that makes it a potentially far more versatile device, since it can run most of the software you’re already familiar with from your PCs.

On the other hand, this thing is built on Intel Baytrail-T hardware, a low powered platform only suitable for basic everyday activities. It will handle light/medium browsing fairly well, it can run music and 1080p video content (self stored or streamed) and Microsoft’s Office suite won’t pose problems as long as you don’t deal with very large files. But this is not built for complex multitaksing, for Photoshop and other such demanding programs and activities.

The Asus EeeBook X205TA is a Windows running mini laptop that sells for $199 and offers plenty of features for the money

The Asus EeeBook X205TA is a Windows running mini laptop that sells for $199 and offers plenty of features for the money

On top of that, there’s a mediocre screen on this one, with a 1366 x 768 px  TN panel, which translates in poor viewing angles, contrast and colors. It’s also glossy, thus you’ll end up with reflections and glare in bright light environments. But it’s not like it would be fair to expect a significantly better display on such a cheap computer.

My biggest gripe with the X205TA is the limited amount of storage space: 32 GBs, out of which about 14 are available for your own content with a fresh Windows install, and we all know how quickly the Windows folder grows in time, as you install updates. Asus uses an eMMC for the storage, soldered on the motherboard, which cannot be upgraded. And that leaves you with one solution: use a microSD card to expand your storage (the X205 can take up to 64 GB cards). Or, you can wait for the 64 GB versions of this laptop, which should be available in the near future and will probably sell for around $220-$230.

But even with the limited storage space, the X205TA sure offers a lot for the money and could make for a great Windows running secondary computer, or a light and inexpensive laptop for your kids. Asus plan to offer it in a couple of different colors, and that should make it even more appealing to youngsters. Check out my complete review on TLBHD.com if you’re interested in this device and follow this link for up-to-date prices and potential discounts.

Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief at Ultrabookreview.com. I never liked carrying big laptops around and that fueled my passion for mobile computers back in the 2000s. Things have changed much since then, but I'm still interested in the topic and in the meantime I've owned and tested hundreds of thin and lights, so I know a thing or two about them. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.

11 Comments

  1. Razvan

    November 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Hello, regarding the wifi issues. I have recently bought a lenovo Z710 which has a Intel N-7260 card that is utterly problematic, the speed drops and fluctuates and some users reported getting dc’s also. Do you happen to know the make and model of the wlan card on the Asus N551JK as I am considering returning my lenovo and getting the Asus. If the only problem is slow connection at large distance, then I am ok with that, as long as I see 300MBps in the network dialog (thats the max my router supports), and not fluctuates from 80 to 240 as with the lenovo.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      See the full review on tlbhd.com for the exact wi-fi chip.

      • Ferdinand Hudek

        November 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        Hey, could you write a link to review with wi-fi changing ? I’m thinking about buying asus N551 and i hurt about it wi-fi issues and i wan’t to know if its possible to replace wi-fi.

  2. Simon

    February 10, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I have the asus n551 and I have zero issues with the wifi so idk why u guys wanna change it but yes u can if u wanted to I also replaced the hard drive with a ssd this laptop flies but just like all laptops it runs hot but performance never gives up

  3. Mark

    April 13, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Hey mike , i always follow your web site and your reviews and for that , thank you so much .

    I very , really need your guide to choose beetwen 2 model i opted for : 1 : asus n551jk , 2 : base new macbook pro 13 2015

    I completely know about both advantage from each other but i want choose wisely .

    I want to do 20 megapixel photo editing and 5 minutes 1080p video editing with little text motion and colour and blur and stuff like that .

    I want to know that the base macbook pro can handle my needs or not ? Because i care about battery and ofcurse build quality and more important i like to work with mac os than windows but if is the bad option for my needs i had to work with windows , so i really would be glad to hear from you .

    Thank you so much .

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 14, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Can you be more exact on what each configuration includes? Processor, RAM, storage, graphics, etc? Thanks

      • Mark

        April 14, 2015 at 10:20 pm

        Hello .
        Thank you very much for your reply .
        Your the best for get advice cause your honest .

        See dear andrei i’m in a low budget ,
        If i wanna get a macbook i can get this model :
        Intel core i5 2.7 , 8 gig ram , 128 pcie , intel iris 6100

        And other two model is asus n551jk and g551jm
        N550jk : intel core i7 2.4 4710 hq , 8 gig ram , 1 tb rpm with 24 gig ssd cash , nvdia geforce gtx850m ddr3

        g551jm : same processor , 16 gig ram , same hard drive , and nvidia geforce gtx860 gddr5 .

        I have to mention that some model aren’t available in my country like asus gl551jw !

        See i prefer mac os ui than windows and ofcurse build quality and battery and more but if this macbook model is’nt good for me i had to choose eindows lap top .

        Thank you very much andrei .

        • Andrei Girbea

          April 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm

          WEll, I’d personally stick with the Windows laptops if performance is what you need. Those Core I7 quad-core processor will make a whole of a difference, and you could later upgrade the RAM and the Storage on those fairly easily. I reviewed the N550, the N551 and the GL551 here on the site, in case it helps.

          • Mark

            April 16, 2015 at 10:48 pm

            Dear andrei
            Thank you for your reply and attention .
            Yes your absolutely right about performance .
            The macbook pro cpu is broadwell u series and it’s lo voltage and it’s not made for intensive task !
            Yes i know i almost read and see all of your review , the problem with those models is it’s not portable mashines and week battery life but for that config it’s reasonable , and their touch pad as you’ve said it’s clunky cause i’ve check them in the store , it’s so akward , but they had they reason aren’t they ? :D like apple , i’m pretty sure that apple can kept their design in some product and let the buyer upgrade some of things but they don’t , even they can put a nvidia cheap like 820 gt beside the intel iris but they won’t , it’s dirty policy andrei right ?
            Before i see the n550 and 551 and gl551 in the store i see your review first and everything would exactly like you’ve said , their not perfect but not bad either .
            But for guys like me those asus models are the best choise than macbook , cause how much the operation system and harware be match but their tear when it comes to power hungry apps .

            Andrei , thank you so much , and for your time , and if you had time , open section for build home pc’s and hardware recomandation for low-mid-and high end users . Thank you .

  4. Eduardo Cruz

    April 23, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Reviewers all harp about glossy screens, but manufacturers, including Apple which doesnt care about charging a bit more, produce mostly glossy screens.
    Wouldnt you all think that they would switch to non glossy ones if that was what customers wanted?
    Most customers do prefer glossy screen due to more vibrant colors. I will not trade a little reflection for the dullness of a screen with matte finish. Reviewers must think like users, not the other way around. Another example of this is, reviewing this little laptops amd saying, it is not a beast! Of course it isnt, we already knew that. Why are you people so redundant?

  5. Mark

    April 24, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Hi ya’ll
    Thanks to adnrei review and his advice i bought the n551jk for my work photo and video editing .
    I had stuck between macbook pro 13 and n551jk but the asus was a wiser choice for my work , anyway this machine is really good , the keyboard is give you feels good when typing and touch pad is good either , the screen quality make you satisfied , i’m serious ! And the backlight keyboard really really good when lights off , about performance i tried 3 minutes 1080p video with serious effects with after effects and background rendering speed is really good when it was in full , and its sooooo speady in half , when it comes to export , just 6 minutes gets time ( with 8 gigs of ram and 1 tb hard drive ) and the mashine says : i’m so serious :p , about heating , when exporting and gaming is not that hot at all only little bit , but i use a deepcool multicore x8 with 4 fan and it’s really help the mashine , for those whom care about gaming i say go for the gddr5 model for better gaming experience and modern gamin can playable in satisfied frame ! About battery as andrei says it’s week but i’ve reach 2 hourse of gaming with 65 contrast and wifi and backlight off , and 3:50 hours 1080p movie watching and over little 2 hours editing . It’s good for me , but i don’t have a wifi issue as andrei said , mine is work pretty well . Also in geekbench 3 64 bit the cpu gets this score : single core : 3162 , multi-core : 12104 .
    I never had a asus before but when getting this mashin ( because of my budget ) i never think this machine is that good ! After all i’d recommended for whom like me wanna buy laptop with high quality and performance . And when time come i upgrade the ram and hard drive , and that time this mashine shows his real performance .

    Again thank you andrei .
    Cheers.

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