- Good performance
- Attractive design
- Quality screen
- Mediocre battery life
- A little noisy
- So-so build quality
- Review Price: £869/$1303.5
- 2.5-3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-7300HQ (Core i7 available)
- 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 CPU (1050 Ti available)
- 8GB DDR4 memory
- 15.6-inch Full HD screen
- Weight: 2.5kg
What is the Asus ROG STRIX GL553?
The ROG STRIX GL553 is part of 2017’s new breed of sub-£1000 gaming laptops that can play the latest AAA games at Full HD resolution.
Despite sitting in the same price category as rivals from Acer and Dell, Asus has somehow managed to chuck extra features at the GL553 that the competition can’t manage. It’s not perfect but, for the money, the GL553 is the best that I’ve tested.
Asus ROG STRIX GL553 – Design and build
Like most mid-range gaming laptops, Asus hasn’t prioritised a svelte build or premium design with this machine, but it has put some focus on gamer-oriented features. These include lit-up, neon orange highlights and a ROG logo on the lid, a neon orange touchpad border, RGB keyboard backlighting and a creased black brushed metal frame. It’s old-school gaming hardware design with a modern twist, and I really like it. But if you’re after something subtle you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
Build quality is a mixed bag, with the keyboard tray in particular offering a bit more flex than I’d like. There’s also a bit of gap between the top and bottom portion of the chassis, and the lid has a huge amount of flex to it.
It weighs in at 2.5kg, which isn’t particularly travel-friendly, but at least it will fit into most regular backpacks if you need to lug it around on occasion.
Asus has equipped the GL553 with every connector a PC gamer could want. On the left there’s gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and Type-C connector, along with a 3.5mm headset jack. On the front edge there’s a stealthy SD card slot that you could easily miss, and on the right there’s one final USB 2.0 port and, unusually, a DVD drive. Internally, there’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi from Intel along with Bluetooth 4.0.
Asus ROG STRIX GL553 – Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard is large and well-spaced, with no omissions as far as buttons or layout oddities go. There’s an extra shortcut key to take you to Asus’ ROG Gaming Center software, and the W, A, S and D keys are highlighted in white. The W key also get a small ridge to let you know where your middle finger should be during intense gaming sessions.
The keyboard uses RGB backlighting, letting you light four different sections of the keyboard in any colour you fancy. It’s not as advanced as the per-key backlighting of some high-end laptops, but it’s impressive nonetheless and is a step above both the Acer Aspire VX 15 and Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming.
The keyboard is comfortable to type on, and while its chunky, long keypress is satisfying, I’m not convinced it’s the best choice for twitchy gamers who need absolute speed when moving around in games. It’s not bad by any means, and I quite like it, but I think it’s an acquired taste.
The touchpad is Microsoft Precision-certified, which means it’s capable of performing all the most important multi-fingered gestures and manages an overall level of responsiveness that’s above what cheaper laptops can muster.
Asus ROG STRIX GL553 – Screen, webcam and audio
Asus has bucked the sub-£1000/$1500 gaming laptop trend by fitting a proper IPS screen to the ROG GL553. It’s a 15.6-inch, Full HD panel that manages both excellent viewing angles, vibrant colours and relatively high brightness. Maximum brightness is pegged at 314 nits, which is much better than the offerings from both Acer and Dell. Colour coverage, too, is good at over 90% of the sRGB gamut. This means that most of the colours requested of the screen can actually be displayed, leading to more accurate and vibrant images.
The built-in speakers are fine for a bit of music and dialogue-heavy TV. There is some bass, but not enough to make games immersive and enjoyable. They’re perfectly adequate when you’re not gaming, though.
The webcam is fine, picking up faces nicely without too much blotchiness. The microphone works for video chats but certainly isn’t a replacement for a headset microphone.
Asus ROG STRIX GL553 – Performance
This laptop comes in a variety of specifications, but the key differentiators between models are the processor (Core i5 or i7) and graphics card (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti). The model on review here is the cheapest option, with a quad-core Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor clocked at 2.5GHz up to a maximum of 3.5GHz and the GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of video memory. Along with 8GB of DDR4 memory and a 128GB SATA SSD, this machine motors along nicely in everyday tasks, and is happy enough to fire up video and photo editing tasks as well.
In the GeekBench 4 benchmark, it managed single- and multi-core cores of 3973 and 10801, which are both excellent results that soundly beat the Acer VX 15 that’s powered by the same processor.
In the gaming tests it acquitted itself well. Tomb Raider at High settings in Full HD was handled at an average frame rate of 44.2fps, which is very playable. Shadow of Mordor at Ultra, clocked in 46.1fps. In Battlefield 1 at the game’s own suggest automatic Medium settings ran at a steady 65fps.
Full HD at Medium settings is this laptop’s sweet spot in the latest AAA games, but expect much higher framerates in eSports titles such as CounterStrike and DOTA. If you want more performance, consider the 1050 Ti model, and take a look at Trusted’s 1050 Ti review for a detailed performance breakdown.
The fan on the left side of the laptop gets up to a proper whirr when the machine is under sustained load. It’s relatively loud, and even if you’re gaming with a headset on, anybody in the same room as you probably won’t be particularly pleased with your presence. It’s no worse than the competition, though, and certainly quieter than gaming laptops of years gone by.
SSD performance is fine, but doesn’t come close to higher-end machine with NVMe-based storage. The 128GB SATA unit is fine, putting in a CrystalDiskMark read score of 500MB/s, which is fast enough to not be a bottleneck in Windows. The main concern is that that 128GB isn’t really enough nowadays for more than a Windows install and one large game. There’s a 1TB hard disk as a bulk storage drive, but you’ll lose the ability to load quickly into games.
Asus ROG STRIX GL553 – Battery life
There’s always compromise when you’re not paying top dollar, and Asus has chosen to give the battery in the GL553 short shrift. In the easy Powermark benchmark Trusted uses, it lasted just over four hours, which is longer than some gaming laptops but less than half what the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is capable of.
Should I buy the Asus ROG STRIX GL553?
Of the three big-brand, sub-£1000/$1500 Trusted has tested, the Asus ROG STRIX GL553 is the most well-rounded. Its biggest shortcoming is battery life, and even then it’s not a complete lost cause in the portability department. The cheapest Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming, which features a near-identical specification, has a much poorer screen, and the same is true of the Acer Aspire VX 15. At this price, the Asus is the best buy.
At the top-end (around £1100/$1650 for a Core i7, GTX 1050 Ti) model, though, the Dell is a better bet as it comes with a significantly improved IPS screen and still benefits from excellent battery life.
A great all-rounder of a gaming laptop.