- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Keyboard and Trackpad
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling
- Screen / Screen quality
- Competing gaming laptops / alternatives
++ Main reason to consider:
Good value/price ratio, with good performance/price, good thermals, relatively good keyboard, SSD + HDD storage.
-- Main reason to avoid:
Mostly, the default display quality, but also lack of Thunderbolt 3 (eGPU option)
+ Quite comfortable with good travel depth, feedback and resistance
+ Relatively very good thermals, holding high clocks even under Furmark + Prime95 while maintaining reasonable temps
+ Noise levels are very low under light load and ok under very high load
+ Speakers quality is acceptable. You could enjoy music with it
+ DVDRW slot (can be housed with a 2.5" SATA drive instead)
+ SSD + HDD storage solution out of the butt, which is very convenient
+ USB 3.1 gen1 Type-C port
- Build quality of the screen's plastic may not be that good. The build quality of the body also may be lacking.
- No Thunderbolt 3, only 3 USB ports, close to the area where you usually place the mouse
- Touchpad a little annoying, not that firm
- M.2 slot supports only SATA drives
So, I saw the Asus FZ50 on Newegg and I thought I’d try it. Seems like it is not available anywhere else in the US at the time I’m writing this. This version of FZ50 comes with a GTX 960M, I5-6300HQ Skylake CPU, 1080p “wide angle” display, USB 3.1 Type-C (TB3??), 128GB SATA M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD. It looks very much like the GL552VW really and I’ll tell you that HWInfo also shows it has the same motherboard as the GL552VW. The GL552VW got good reviews for specific parts, but build quality was criticized really.
For $850-$900 ($880 when I bought it), it’s an interesting laptop, including the SSD + HDD solution. Let’s see how it fairs in this review!
|Price||As tested, $880|
|CPU||Intel Skylake I5-6300HQ, 4C/4T, 2.3-3.2GHZ, 4MB cache|
|GPU||Nvidia Geforce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5, GM107 (Maxwell I), 640 shaders, core@1097-1200MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 128-bit bus|
|Motherboard / Chipset||ASUS GL552VW / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)|
2xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x16
|RAM||SK Hynix 1x8GB DDR4@2133MHZ HMA41GS6AFR8N-TF|
|Storage||HDD : Seagate 1TB ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB 5400RPM|
SSD: M.2 SATA 128GB SSD SAMSUNG MZNLF128HCHP-00004
M.2 : M.2 SATA or PCIe/NVMe 2280 (one)
|Display Panel||In review: CMN N156HGE-EAB 1920x1080|
|Weight / Dimensions||2.57kg (~5.66 Lbs.) + ~0.4kg 120W PSU|
384 x 257 x 34.7 mm
15.08" x 10.05" x 1.37"
(w x d x h)
|Keyboard||Red backlit (4 levels including off)|
|Connection Ports||Right side: Kensington Lock, DVDRW, 1xUSB 3.0, SD Card Slot, audio out and microphone|
Left: AC power, USB 3.1 type-C, HDMI, RJ-45, 2xUSB 3.0
Front: card reader
|WiFi / Ethernet||WiFi: Intel 7265ac WiFi|
|Speakers / Audio||2.0 Speakers|
|Bios / EC version (test unit)||GL552VW.216 /|
Build quality of the chassis is average, but not great. The keyboard surface plastic seems to not sit well in its place (though maybe it’s a design thing?) and the display hinges are not that strong – when adjusting the display angle, you’ll see it “dances” in place a bit – nothing too alarming, though. The battery, in my case, didn’t sit perfectly either and the outer lid could be more rigid, but it’s on the same level as the PE60/GE62 and I think also the 7559. The Y700 stands out here.
Reviews of the GL552VW talked about a very problematic outer lid – I do feel that it’s like many others, even from other laptops. However, indeed, it is a little ‘soft’ and can the protection plastic itself can be twisted rather easily.
I’d say the build quality is average, but leaving me unsure – maybe because of the GL552VW reviews over the web (like this)
The FZ50VW has the plastic chic. Nothing too special
Maintenance and inner parts
The maintenance panel is easy to open, revealing two DDR3L slots (one occupied), HDD and M.2 SATA slot. I opened the laptop chassis completely, but there is nothing interesting on the other side of the moon, in terms of upgradability.
Both CPU and GPU are soldered. One fan cools the system and we’ll see how good the cooling system is (spoiler: efficient enough).
Keyboard. The keyboard is actually nice, in my opinion. It isn’t great, but feedback and resistance were pretty good, travel depth too. Keys are well spaced. The feedback could be more “gentle” and less crude, more gradual over the the click course (instead of one clear point). The keyboard surface itself was pretty firm.
Touchpad. Average touchpad, a little shaky, not a highlight of this machine.
Actually nice, but no bass really. Two speakers, located at the top, just “above” the keyboard. They produce nice sound actually, with relatively satisfying clarity, relatively good highs and mids and good balance. Bass is not really there and generally, the sound did lack richness and deepness, so to speak, but otherwise it was a nice sound.
The FZ50VW comes with “Audio Wizard” and “ICE Power” software, both helped to tune the sound (though not making the speakers better, ofcourse). With no equalizer involved, the sound was a little bit “closed” and also lacked treble, in my opinion. The software “multimedia” and “Soundscape” preset did better it, in my opinion, though some distortion and strange sounds could be heard while using those, plus, it sounds a little more plasticy. I could enjoy music with this machine. I’m saying it because some others machines were lacking even that (Dell 7559 I’m looking at you!).
So, I’d say, relatively to other $1000 laptops, you could gave it a 75-80 and I’d say it’s a part you shouldn’t be worried about. The Y700 still a lot better, overall
Performance is good, also thanks to the 128GB SATA SSD. No real surprises there. Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots, you can see that the bios and motherboard name are those of the GL552VW:
3DMark performance – link to source:
I skipped some of the benchmarks, because we already have lots of GTX 960M gaming benchmarks for most games really, and they pretty much repeat themselves. Added The Talos Principle and Rise of the Tomb Raider
Only tested “Ultra” graphics settings with SMAAx2. It was pretty smooth, except occasional deeps in FPSs which didn’t seem to be related to a specific scene – probably some CPU throttling you can prevent with ThrottleStop.
As described before, the CPU and GPU both cooled by the same single fan dedicated fan on the left (compared to you, when you are using it typically).
1. Idle, power saver mode
2. Gaming : Crysis 3 gameplay. “very high” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “High performance” power mode.
3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.
4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1366×768 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.
The FZ50VW is doing pretty well. The chassis temperatures remain pretty moderate even highest load of Prime95 + Furmark, with the exception of the left side, where the cooling system throws out the hot air.
The Asus FZ50VW does well under highest load. The CPU temps may get to the 90-92C, but as soon as the fan kicks in faster, the temps go down and remain very reasonable, even under a long period. The I5-6300HQ can keep 2.6-2.7GHZ clocks, even under Furmark + Prime95 load.
It’s not here, but under Crysis 3 and Talos Principle, CPU clocks are around 2.8-2.9GHZ.
You can see that with MSI Afterburner, the GTX 960M can keep 1070MHZ core clocks, with no real problem with temps.
- Under high load, the fans are audible (as expected), but that not that bad – even at night, in a quiet room, it wasn’t annoying and didn’t interfere with listening to music through earphones
- Under light/moderate, the FZ50 is pretty quiet and I could barely hear it, again, at night.
The Asus FZ50VW uses the N156HGE-EAB 1080p display. I think this is the same one that one in the first versions of the Lenovo Y50 non-touch laptop. Colors are washed and lacking, vertical viewing angles are not good, accuract is lacking. Blacks are not really black and contrast is not good. That’s a huge drawback, but you can replace the panel.
My simple camera test shows that either the FZ50VW uses no PWM mechanism to control brightness or the frequency is very high. This is in line with LaptopMedia test (link)
The FZ50 can hold for around 5-6 hours doing the usual work stuff and can hold around 2.5 hours of youtube 1080p 60FPS movie
- Users and reviews have reported build quality issues, but it seems to me that the FZ50VW has an average build quality while people expected much better from the GL552VW (which seems to be the same as the FZ50)
- The popular Dell Inspiron 7559 (review and purchase options) for around $700-$800 with an I5, SSD/SSHD, good thermals, IPS display (two version are available, both are much better than this display)
- Acer VN7-592G which is nice but has big disadvantages in the thermals department (review)
- Some MSI options which are not that interesting, because of the performance/price and value/price ratios
- Clevo N155RF with GTX 965M and a nice IPS display. a strong competitor. Costs more, even without an OS
- AW15 R1 or R2 with 965M and I5/I7 and the Amplifier option (eGPU solution), for example, from eBay
Wel… The Asus FZ50VW has a good combination of qualities and features, including good thermals, SSD + HDD, good keyboard and acceptable speakers, all for $800-$900 (bought for $880, now $850). However, the TN display quality is a problem. It is replaceable ofcourse, but then the price goes up to the levels of the N155RF (with GTX 965M), for example. Moreover, the Lenovo Y700 Intel version is sometimes available for $8800-$850, has better speakers, an ok IPS display, good enough thermals and no real disadvantages otherwise (maybe except the SSD, but you can purchase one for a low price).
So, overall, the FZ50VW is a nice laptop, barring display quality and maybe some areas of the build quality, but unless it goes for, like, $800, it’s hard to justify it, due to the competition. The IPS version, the GL552VW, comes with an I7 and no SSD, for around $950-$1000, and it’s not worth it just for gaming, probably. Bottom line, good laptop, bad display, some low points around the build quality and connection ports, but performance/price and value/price is perhaps not as competitive as other laptops in this price range.
So, I’d probably recommend either getting the Dell 7559 for a lower price when available (like $700-$750) or a faster or more loaded laptop for a little more.
Just to add another point – the lack of Thunderbolt 3 and the possibility of eGPU solution makes this laptop considerably less future proof. However, that’s the case with the Y700 and 7559 too.