The ASUS F556UA-AB54-BL is a value desktop-replacement laptop that offers a perfect mix of features and performance, but remains reasonably affordable. It packs a full 1080p HD resolution, solid construction, generous selection of ports, and a premium design.
THE PROS: Strong productivity performance. Full 1080p HD resolution display. Good connectivity options.
THE CONS: Keyboard is non-backlit. Middling battery life.
The ASUS F556UA-AB54-BL is a budget desktop-replacement laptop that packs a solid feature set and above-par performance for its price. While most its competitors ring at higher prices, the AB54 remains affordable, but still affords a luxurious design, a 1080p display, a snappy 256GB solid-state-drive (SSD), and good connectivity including USB-C, all impressive features for a value laptop. Its Intel Core i5 processor is the latest seventh generation, the same as the Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4, and its performance gets a push over last year’s model. For anyone looking for a 15-inch laptop that offers respectable features and performance, the Asus F556UA is a shoo-in, worth considering.
The Asus AB54 mirrors early-this year’s model, the ASUS F556UA-AB32, in both design and weight with a sleek, attractive slim profile that can easily slide into a backpack. It is one of those portable 15-inch laptops that you can shuttle on a cross-country flight, or on a daily commute to college and back, but you won’t tote it around all the time. If you need something very portable, a convertible hybrid like the ASUS ZenBook Flip (UX360UA-DS51T) $899.00 at Amazon would be preferable, which measures 0.5 by 12.6 by 8.6 inches and weighs 2.8 pounds.
The metallic construction gives a bit of a heft, but the result is a solid and sturdy system, which we somehow expected. The touchpad and the areas surrounding the keyboard are covered in silver, while the keyboard, lid and the bottom of the laptop are dark blue. The touchpad is well-positioned, and quite responsive. It gets a chiclet-style keyboard, which is positioned rather back, but still smooth and easy to type. As expected for a budget laptop, the keyboard isn’t backlit.
The 15.6-inch display with a full HD (1,920-by-1,080) resolution is crisp and clear for both text and images. A 1080p screen at this price range is quite impressive, since most systems are outfitted with 720p resolution, so the full HD is a worth perk. Of course, the display doesn’t support touch, but it does get good audio quality, with fairly minimal distortion from the in-built speakers. Not that sound is perfect, but it does beat the average for a general-use laptop.
Connectivity is excellent. Here am looking at three types of USB ports: one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port and the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, which was conspicuously missing in the competing HP 15-ay013nr or even its other iteration the HP 15-Ay011nr. If you need to connect it to your external display, a VGA and HDMI output comes handy, while 802.11 AC-type WiFi+Bluetooth 4.1 card will sort your wireless needs. For media, a DVD burner and an SD card reader are available to access your older movies and files. It comes installed with Windows 10 Home.
The ASUS F556UA-AB54 is well equipped with a 2.5GHz Intel ‘Kaby Lake’ Core i5 processor, and 8GB system memory with Intel HD 620 graphics card. For the day-to-day notebook user, a seventh-generation processor that can clock 3.1GHz is more than enough for enthusiast-level media editing on Photoshop among other programs. Apparently, 8GB (upgradable to 16GB) will let you keep dozens of browser tabs open simultaneously.
The 256GB solid-state-drive (SSD) is double the 128GB on the HP 15-ay013nr, while the ASUS P-Series P2540UA-AB51 comes with a roomier 1TB hard drive. While the 256GB SSD makes the system snappier, the 1TB is ideal if you like to store most family snapshots and music files.
The integrated Intel HD 620 graphics card, is typical for the entry-level desktop replacement, and it doesn’t provide much room for heavy gaming. During testing, I managed 30FPS on GTA at low settings (1366-by-768), but you can expect better playability on casual games such as Starcraft 2, Minecraft and League of Legends among other lighter titles.
The ASUS F556UA-AS54’s 38 polymer battery (not-replaceable) lasted 5 hour 47 minutes in our rundown test, which is commendable, given its FHD display. The HP 15-ay013nr stayed slightly behind with 5 hours 37 minutes, while the Dell Inspiron I7559-763BLK topped the list with an amazing 7 hours 16 minutes on our tests.
Solid Performance for a Value Laptop
The ASUS F556UA-AB54-BL has enough features and performance to shine among the above-average budget desktop-replacement laptops. It boasts the latest seventh-generation ‘Kaby Lake’ processor, good build quality and design, a decent array of connectivity ports and a full HD screen that’s easy on the eyes. It does a fine job as a daily-use laptop for work and school, and is equally a good choice for enthusiast-level photo and video editing. As for its battery, though acceptable, it is unimpressive – our Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 Check on Amazon at Amazon lasted over three hours longer on a single charge.
While both of these laptops have nearly identical components, the Aspire E15 does get a discrete NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card and better battery life, translating to better overall performance. Although the Acer Aspire E15 is our top pick for entry-level desktop replacement laptops, the ASUS F556UA-AB54 is also a prime choice, offering respectable features and performance at a very reasonable price.