If you're a business professional and you're looking for a robust and reliable notebook, ASUS PRO B551LG might be a good choice for you. ASUS promises a lot when it comes to this notebook's overall construction quality and its extensive security features. We got our hands on this laptop and were very curious to learn if it will rise to our expectations. We ran multiple tests, used it for a couple of days and now we are ready to share our experience with ASUS B551LG. Read this review to learn more about what you get when purchasing this laptop.
Unboxing The ASUS PRO B551LG
Compared to other notebooks sold by ASUS, the packaging of the ASUS PRO B551LG is so simple that you could call it spartan. The box is made of cardboard and the information printed on it doesn't tell you too much about what you'll find inside.
Inside the package you'll find the laptop and its charger, a quick start guide, the warranty and a safety precautions leaflet. A nice touch is the fact that you also get a secondary battery that you can mount on your laptop in the DVD bay. While the laptop comes with Windows 7 Professional pre-installed, inside the box you will also find four DVD discs containing a Windows 8.1 PRO installation, a Windows 8.1 PRO license and the drivers for this notebook.
The ASUS PRO B551LG is available in multiple hardware configurations. The processor can be an Intel Core i5 4200U or an Intel Core i7 4650U/4500U CPU. The variant we received for testing runs the less powerful processor: i5 4200U - running at a base frequency of 1.6 GHz and up to 2.6 GHz in turbo mode.
When it comes to RAM memory, you get 8GB of DDR3, running at 1600MHz, that you can expand to a maximum of 16GB.
The graphics are handled by both an Intel 5000 onboard video card and a dedicated Nvidia Geforce 840M graphics card. The Intel video chip is used when you do things like Microsoft Office work, which don't require too much in terms of graphics power. In such scenarios, using a weaker video card helps increase your laptop's autonomy. However, when running power hungry apps, like playing HD media or playing games, the more powerful Geforce 840M video card comes into action.
On the storage side, you have a wider array of devices from which you can choose. The ASUS PRO B551LG can be equipped with either a traditional hard drive or a great performing solid state drive (SSD). The choices you have are: 500 GB HDD at 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM, 750 GB HDD at 5400 RPM, 1 TB at 5400 RPM, 500GB at HDD 5400 RPM with 8 GB SSH, 128 GB SSD and 256 GB SSD. The model we received was equipped with a 500 GB HDD running at 7200 RPM.
The screen is another area where you have several options to choose from. While the size and the aspect ratio is the same (15.6 inches at a 16:9 ratio) the resolution can differ. The display is available in a variant with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels or a Full HD variant with the resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The screen offers very wide viewing angles (the direct result of using IPS technology) and uses a matte coating, thus reducing any glare on it. The model we've tested had a Full HD screen. Also, on the top of the display, you'll find a 0.9 megapixel HD webcam.
As for the networking options you get an integrated Intel wireless network card that supports the 802.11 b/g/n standards, or a better variant that supports the 802.11 a/b/g/n standards and is also WiDi compatible. The only downside is the fact that there is no variant that offers support for the new 802.11ac wireless networking standard. Also, a Bluetooth 4.0 chip is available on all models.
The ASUS PRO B551LG shines when it comes to connectivity and professional business features. The laptop includes common connectivity options: 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 port, 1 audio jack (which can be used both for connecting a headphones set or an external microphone), 1 RJ45 (Ethernet) jack, 1 mini Display Port and an SD card reader. On top of all that, any professional will be happy to learn that you also get a Smart Card slot, a Fingerprint scanner and a Kensington Lock slot.
The notebook is powered by default by a 4 cells 45 Wh Li-Ion battery. However, we said earlier that the package also includes an additional battery. To use this secondary battery, you'll have to remove the DVD drive and insert the battery in its place. The additional battery offers 23 Wh and uses 3 cells. As you'll see later in this review, using both batteries will give you enough power to even make it through your entire work day.
The notebook has a width of 38.3 cm (15.07 inches), a height of 25.9 cm (10.19 inches) and is 26 mm (1.02 inches) thick. The model we tested weighed 2.2 kg (4.85 pounds), when we used both batteries.
In terms of the operating system used by the ASUS PRO B552LG, the model we received had Windows 7 Professional pre-installed and also a set of DVD discs with a Windows 8.1 PRO installation on them.
For more information on the ASUS PRO B552LG notebook, check this link: ASUS PRO ADVANCED B551LG Specifications.
Using The ASUS PRO B551LG
We've been using and testing this notebook for almost a week and we must say that we love it. Its carbon reinforced case looks and feels great. Its simple and edgy design really gives you the feeling that you are using a professional device, maybe even a military grade one. Also, while using the ASUS PRO B551LG, we didn't notice any excessive heat coming out, nor did we feel the notebook to become noisy.
The screen's matte coating also adds to that feeling. The viewing angles are high and the color reproduction is good. Its Full HD resolution is also a plus, especially from a productivity standpoint. The text looks sharp and the images are vivid, indifferent of the light environment you're in. You won't have problems when trying to understand what's displayed on the screen, both when using it in an office building or outdoors.
The sound quality is not extraordinary, but this isn't a major drawback from our perspective. After all, we're talking about a notebook designed for business professionals, not one designed for multimedia tasks or multimedia editing. The sounds aren't distorted – it's just that their levels are low.
Another thing that we enjoyed about this notebook is its keyboard. It felt comfortable when we typed on it and it also includes a dedicated numeric keypad. The long key travel and the generous spacing make you feel like you're typing on a regular desktop keyboard. All that makes long work hours possible without you getting tired.
The touchpad is generous, with a size of 107 mm (4.21 inches) x 61 mm (2.40 inches), and it offers multi-touch control. That means you can slide your finger(s) from the sides to switch between Windows 8.1 apps, open charms, zoom in or out and so on.
The notebook also includes an HD 720p webcam that's useful only for video calls. Its quality isn't great but it's enough to do the job when you're on Skype or other similar apps.
The ASUS PRO B551LG we received for testing was equipped with a Western Digital Travelstar hard drive. It's a 500GB model running at 7200 RPM. Earlier in this review, we noted that you can also get this notebook running SSDs or hard disks with larger storage capacity. We highly recommend that you buy a version equipped with an SSD, as using a mechanical hard drive is a drawback to this notebook's overall performance. The boot times are a lot slower, launching apps or desktop programs takes a while and things like copying or moving files also takes longer. However, if storage space is essential for you, it may be worth choosing a larger hard drive rather than a smaller solid state drive.
If you're using only the main battery, the laptop will last you for about 3 to 4 hours in normal usage scenarios. This includes tasks like web browsing, working with Office applications, watching videos and some light gaming. However, if you also plug in the secondary battery, you will be able to use this laptop without connecting it to AC power for about 5 to 6 hours. This is not as impressive as we would have hoped.
Apps Bundled With ASUS PRO B551LG
The ASUS PRO B551LG that we tested came with Windows 7 Professional pre-installed. In its package we also found a set of DVDs containing the Windows 8.1 Pro setup and an additional disk with drivers and other apps. Because this notebook is targeted mostly at business professionals, it makes sense for ASUS to let you choose your operating systems. If your company still relies mostly on Windows 7 or if you are simply used to it, then keep the notebook as it is. However, if you prefer using Windows 8.1 and enjoy its features and improved performance, than nothing is stopping you from upgrading. Furthermore, switching between the two operating systems is easy: you just have to insert the bootable disk and follow the onscreen guide. ASUS handles most of the process by itself, including both the installation of the operating system that you choose and the drivers needed for it to work.
When it comes to apps bundled with this laptop, ASUS chose to keep things simple. You'll find only a few additional apps:
ASUS Fingerprint allows you to capture fingerprint biometrics using the built-in fingerprint sensor and use it to authenticate into the notebook's operating system and applications.
ASUS HDD Protection Tool uses internal sensors to detect any movement of your laptop and offers protection for your hard drive in case of imminent physical shocks.
ASUS On-Screen Display turns on or off the on-screen display of notifications related to the use of some keyboard shortcuts like Fn+F8.
ASUS Smart Gesture lets you configure various settings for the touchpad. You can use it to set the actions performed when tapping or swiping your finger(s) on the touchpad.
ASUS Install is an app that lets you install other ASUS software. While on Windows 8.1 Pro, the only two available options for the ASUS PRO B551LG were ASUS PowerGear Hybrid and eManual Utility. ASUS Power4Gear Hybrid is an app that lets you control the power options for your notebook and eManual Utility is your notebook's manual in a PDF format.
Microsoft Office is actually a trial version that you can use for 30 days before buying or registering your license.
Performance In Benchmarks
As with all our reviews, we don't want to share only our subjective opinion. That's why, in order to get a good idea about the performance offered by a specific device, we test it with several benchmarks. We did the same with ASUS PRO B551LG.
NOTE: As we said earlier in this review, the ASUS PRO B551LG comes with Windows 7 Professional pre-installed and also offers Windows 8.1 Pro as an upgrade. The Windows 8.1 Pro is delivered on a set of DVDs that you can use to install it. We consider Windows 8.1 a better operating system when it comes to both features and performance. That's why we chose to run all our benchmarks in Windows 8.1. It's also worth mentioning that, before running any tests, we downloaded and installed every update available for this operating system.
We started by measuring how long it takes for Windows 8.1 to load on this notebook. Bootracer showed that, on average, the ASUS PRO B551LG needs around 67seconds to boot. Keep in mind that the model we had was equipped with a mechanical hard drive not an SSD. This directly affects the boot times of any computer. If you make a decision to buy an ASUS PRO B551LG and choose a variant that includes an SSD, your boot times will improve dramatically.
Next, we wanted to see how well the ASUS PRO B551LG fares in everyday computing scenarios, like when using it for surfing the web, using Office applications, video chat, editing pictures or playing casual games. In order to measure its performance in such scenarios, we ran the PCMark 8 benchmark. The notebook got a score of 2035 points, which means that it should handle most day to day activities with no trouble.
However, because the ASUS PRO B551LG is designed to be used mostly by business professionals and not as a recreational device, we also used PCMark 8 to see how it fares from a productivity point of view. The notebook received 2469 points in the productivity suite of tests. This score shows that the ASUS PRO B551LG notebook will handle any office activity with ease.
Even if the ASUS PRO B551LG is a business oriented notebook, we still wanted to see if more demanding games are playable on it. So we ran a few tests with the well-known 3DMark Vantage benchmark. The average score it received when running the performance tests was 7348, which means that you will be able to run games with decent graphics quality.
Another thing we wanted to check was how good the cooling system of this notebook is. To do that, we used Prime95 to stress the CPU for about 45 minutes. At the same time, we also kept HWMonitor running, in order to monitor CPU temperatures. At the end, we concluded that the ASUS PRO B551LG manages to keep the CPU temperature under a maximum 71 degrees Celsius (159.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Even if this temperature might seem high, the laptop's case is built very well and you'll never feel it become too warm. That's true even if you're keeping the notebook on your lap or worse, on a blanket.
Finally, we tested the batteries of the ASUS PRO B551LG. In order to do that, we used the PowerMark benchmark. This test aims to measure how long your battery will last when you use your laptop for normal tasks like surfing the web, writing documents, playing media files or playing casual games.
When using only the primary battery of the ASUS PRO B551LG, PowerMark said that this notebook would run for more than 3 and a half hours. This is not a lot if you ask us.
Inserting the secondary battery added another 2 hours to the autonomy of this notebook, raising it to 5 hours and 35 minutes. This is a better result.
ASUS PRO B551LG is a very robust notebook that's designed for business professionals. It looks great and its finish is of really good quality. It's a great device for office work and it also fares well when used for demanding recreational activities like playing games. It's available in multiple hardware configurations from which you can choose one that best suits your needs. We recommend that you choose a model that includes an SSD, as there's lots to be gained in terms of performance. ASUS PRO B551LG is a notebook that you can use for all your day-to-day work in the office and feel comfortable while working on it. It's only important downside is that it seems a little pricey when compared to similar notebooks sold by other manufacturers.