Gaming laptops are a hard needle to thread. On the one hand, you need something that’s portable enough to be considered an actual laptop. On the other, you need it to have enough power to handle some of the latest and greatest games available for PCs, and not at minimum graphics settings (which doesn’t count). Plus, it’s always nice if the computer also doesn’t look terrible. Asus has achieved the trifecta with its new Republic of Gamers G551LM notebook, which offers some impressive performance in a package that won’t break the bank.
- 15.6-inch, 1920×1080 matte display
- Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM
- Red backlit keyboard with WASD highlights
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M with 2GB dedicated GDDR5 RAM
- MSRP: $1,099
- Product info page
- Few compromises for the price
- Plug in to a monitor for desktop-style gaming
- Built-in display isn’t the best
The Asus G551LM has an aesthetic that matches what you’d expect to find from a so-called “gaming” computer, meaning lighted accents, a metallic finish and some red trim to set off the dark color scheme. The backlit keyboard likewise glows red, with a special, additional accentuation around the WASD keys, which any good PC gamer knows is where you’re left hand will be spending much of its time controlling your character’s movement. The laptop is no ultraportable: it needs girth to house its powerful internals and decent-sized battery.
Asus has employed restraint in designing the G551LM, however, with a look that, while hinting at the computer’s gaming roots, also wouldn’t draw sidelong glances in a boardroom. The ROG crest on the top is probably the most ostentatious aspect of the laptop when it’s in clamshell closed mode, and the lighting effects of the keyboard can be dialled back according to your preference when needed.
The G551LM also has some design efficiencies that will appeal to anyone who has to use their laptop frequently for work, as well as gamers, including a flip-down door that provides access to a full-sized Gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 3 ports, a full-sized HDMI out, a mini DisplayPort out, an SD card slot and a DVD multi drive. The lack of Blu-ray might irk some, but this is a $1,000 gaming laptop, after all, and the price savings have to come from somewhere.
Inside, the keyboard and surrounding surface are pleasantly unadorned, with ample palm rest space available and a full numpad for gaming convenience. The trackpad is generous and responsive, as well, though you’re still gonna want to procure a decent mobile gaming mouse to take full advantage of what the G551LM has to offer in the specs department.
The G551LM is a notebook that puts all its resources into the right places for its target audience – you get a portable computer that can handle big games, thanks in large part to that Nvidia GTX 860M under the hood. The laptop had no trouble running most modern games I tried out, including Shadow of Mordor, The Sims 4, Tomb Raider and others. You can’t necessarily max out the graphics settings in all of these games, but you can definitely enjoy even recent titles at more modest configurations.
The price you’ll pay for the high performance is that the battery isn’t exactly a long-lasting solution when you’re actually using the G551LM for gaming. That might actually be the laptop’s greatest weakness, in that it’ll only get you a little over an hour of gaming with the keyboard backlight on, screen brightness set to a decent level, graphics performance pushed up and Wi-Fi running.
Gaming on the device is also not exactly the best experience when using the built-in trackpad, but that’s not news to anyone who’s ever tried gaming on a notebook before. To get any serious gaming done, you need an external mouse, but Asus has provided the G551LM with one of the best built-in trackpads I’ve used on a Windows device, so it’s not all bad.
The display is also one of the low points here – it’s a matte screen, which is great for using it in brighter conditions, but it’s also washed out, and if you’re used to the super high resolutions of most devices these days, its 1080p resolution will look underdone. Still, it’s a screen that shows off the games it’s meant to work with, and in those situations, you won’t notice things like less-than-crisp rending of text.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, this is a very good option because it combines top-notch performance in terms of its processor and graphics card with a price tag that isn’t crazy. The issue with most gaming laptops is that they expect you to fork over a big chunk of change or a device that’s pretty specialized, but Asus’s G551LM manages to lower the barrier to entry for this category, meaning that gamers looking for a mobile solution might even have a little left over for upgrading their primary desktop tower.