4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 CPU (1050 Ti available)
8GB DDR4 memory
15.6-inch Full HD screen
128GB SSD + 1TB hard disk
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.
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.
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.
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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 has bucked the sub-£1000 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.