ASUS FZ50VW Review

++ 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)

Availability

Asus FZ50VW:

GL552VW (with an IPS display and no SSD)

Pro : + Relatively very good gaming performance for the price (but as other laptops)
+ 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
Con : - TN display of low quality, low contrast, bad colors, bad vertical viewing angles
- 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

Introduction

Asus FZ50VW in sun

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!

ComponentDescription
ModelASUS FZ50VW-NS51
PriceAs tested, $880
CPUIntel Skylake I5-6300HQ, 4C/4T, 2.3-3.2GHZ, 4MB cache
GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5, GM107 (Maxwell I), 640 shaders, core@1097-1200MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 128-bit bus
Motherboard / ChipsetASUS GL552VW / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
2xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x16
RAMSK Hynix 1x8GB DDR4@2133MHZ HMA41GS6AFR8N-TF
StorageHDD : 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 PanelIn review: CMN N156HGE-EAB 1920x1080
Weight / Dimensions2.57kg (~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)
KeyboardRed backlit (4 levels including off)
Connection PortsRight 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
CameraHD
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Intel 7265ac WiFi
Ethernet: None
Speakers / Audio2.0 Speakers
Realtek chip
Battery48Wh
Bios / EC version (test unit)GL552VW.216 /
Extra features

Build quality, Case, design and looks

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)

Looks

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.

Asus FZ50VW Review bottom 2

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 and touchpad

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.

Sound & Speakers

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

General subjective performance experience

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:

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS : Windows 10, fully updated

Drivers: Nvidia Geforce 364.51

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

3DMark performance – link to source:

Asus FZ50 Review : 3DMark benchmarks

Summarized gaming performance

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

Asus FZ50 Review : GTX 960M 1080p gaming benchmarks updated

Crysis 3

Asus FZ50 Review : Crysis 3 GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Thief

Asus FZ50 Review : Thief GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Bioshock Infinite

Asus FZ50 Review : Bioshock Infinite GTX 960M benchmarks

Civilization : Beyond Earth

Asus FZ50 Review : Civilization Beyond Earth GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Metro : Last Light

Asus FZ50 Review : Metro Last Light GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Rise of The Tomb Raider

Asus FZ50 Review : Rise of the Tomb Raider GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

The Talos Principle

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.

Asus FZ50 Review : The Talos Principle GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Battlefield 4 Campaign

BF4 campaign benchmark

Asus FZ50 Review : Battlefield 4 GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

World of Tanks

Asus FZ50 Review : World of Tanks GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Shadow Of Mordor

Asus FZ50 Review : Shadow Of Mordor GTX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Anno 2205

Asus FZ50 Review : Anno 2205 TX 960M 1080p benchmarks

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

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).

Four tests:

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.

Asus FZ50 Review : CPU & GPU temperatures

Heat

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.

Throttling

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.

Noise

  1. 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
  2. Under light/moderate, the FZ50 is pretty quiet and I could barely hear it, again, at night.

Screen & Screen quality

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)

 

 

ContrastBrightnessBlack levelssRGBadobeRGBNTSC
634846

Battery Performance

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

Asus FZ50 Review : battery performance

Issues

  • 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)

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

    • 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

Conclusion

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.

.

  • MD

    Would you recommend this to someone who doesn’t want (or can’t afford) a top-end gaming laptop, who only plans of gaming a couple of times a week and also will hook it up to their HD TV?

    • not really. I’d recommend a refurbished Dell 7559 or something similar, for around $650 from eBay or Dell outlet, like these:
      http://www.ebay.com/sch/Computers-Tablets-Networking/58058/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=7559&_dcat=177&rt=nc&_mPrRngCbx=1&_udlo&_udhi=660

      • MD

        I have sworn off Dell after 3 of their computers died on me within 6 months. Any other recommendation then?

        • wow, really? which models?
          How about waiting for the newer models?

          • MD

            2 Insprion 15R laptops and a 620S PC. Never again will I buy Dell. Amazingly the 2009 model Acer Aspire I have still works even though the screen is busted. But as you can figure it’s showing it’s age and slowing up, so I’m saving my money to get a gaming laptop of a decent price ($850 of less). Are there any other laptops besides Dell that you can recommend?

            • how about my second question?

              • MD

                Newer models of Dell – No
                Newer models of the Asus? – I don’t now. It’s going to take me a few months for save enough to get one, I just thought I’d start looking around now so I know what to get when I have the money. I’m not looking for something top-end or something I can upgrade every 2 months to keep up with the latest DLCs for a game or something.

                • well, they all should start pop up in few months. If I get it right, there will be a nice jump in performance/price You’ll be able to get a lot more for $700-$800

                  Other models currently: Y700 http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/ideapad/y700-series/y700-15-inch/

                  • MD

                    I do like Lenovo’s products. Their stuff is made to last and it’s very good quality all around. I’ll continue to look at some options. But if you find any other deals you think I might like can you e-mail them to me please? pokeman_ash@yahoo.com

  • SGMarc

    You mentioned changing out the panel for this laptop, do you have any suggestions on a screen that could work? There are so many screens and finding this particular model of laptop on sites that sell replacement screens has proven difficult. Great review!

    • Hi!

      Well, you can generally find a laptop with a good 1080p display and copy it.
      http://www.laptopscreen.com/English/screen-part-number/B156HAN01.2/ (cheap and good)
      http://www.laptopscreen.com/English/screen-part-number/LP156WF6(SP)(B1)/ (more current, though I didn’t see real advantages)

      • SGMarc

        Thank you for your reply, I am going to take a look at ordering a new screen soon!

        • well?

          • SGMarc

            Sorry about the delay! I actually got the display this week and installed it! I ended up going with the http://www.laptopscreen.com/English/screen-part-number/LP156WF6(SP)(B1)/ choice as both options were the same price when I ordered it.

            The display looks great! The only issue I am seeing is a small screen flicker that appears seemingly randomly, it does not appear to be the connection as moving the screen does not cause it. My guess is that the EyeCare app that ASUS includes with the laptop it trying to modify the screen (on the old screen it could adjust the screen to remove blue light and so on) and that is what the flicker is, I have not got around to looking into it further as its not super annoying yet.

            I am actually going to be doing a fresh start this weekend on the laptop to address some other issues (one of my USB ports does not work, if the computer sleeps sometimes it wont wake up, and the keyboard doesn’t always light up on first startup making logging in while in the dark an adventure). I suspect I have some older drivers, and a potentially out of date BIOS looking at the support page there are a lot of things added after 05/2016 which seeing this laptop is a little older and probably sat in a Newegg warehouse for a while before getting to me makes sense. Hopefully not installing all the bloatware up front will help address the flickering issue as well, otherwise i may need to check the connection again.

            All in all I am still enjoying the laptop, I primarily use it for work but I do game on it while traveling for work and it gets the job done, wish i didn’t have some of the weird issues I am but they haven’t been game-breaking.

            • You better test it quickly and if the problem could be a hardware problem, it’s better to RMA it

              • SGMarc

                Yeah hopefully that is not the case, unfortunately as this is my work machine RMAing it and waiting an indeterminate amount of time to get it back is not really an option for me

              • SGMarc

                Update on this I returned the panel and they shipped me out a new one, same panel different manufacturer, this one works perfectly and is beautiful. Thanks!

          • SGMarc

            Final update on this: I returned the panel and they shipped me out a new one, same panel different manufacturer, this one works perfectly with no screen flicker and is beautiful. Thanks!