The ASUS K501UX is an excellent entry-gaming laptop with a strong build, ample storage and full HD display alongside a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics card. It delivers all these for far much less than you’d expect for the price.
PROS: Sleek, stylish design. Category-leading performance, thanks to Intel Core i7-6500U processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics card. Backlit keyboard. Decent battery life.
CONS: The 256GB SSD is on the stingy side.
The ASUS K501UX is a superbly-designed gaming laptop that offers solid performance for far much less than the competition. This system is powerful enough to provide a butter-smooth gaming experience on all but the highest settings with its 15-inch FHD display and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics card. It strikes a perfect balance in form-and-function as it can efficiently perform daily work and media tasks when you’re not playing. It rivals the Dell Inspiron i7559-2512BLK gaming laptop, only that the K501UX is equipped with a dual Core-i7 CPU; while the Inspiron is powered by a true Quad-Core -i5 CPU which gives it an upperhand in clock speeds. Despite its impressive feature set and leading performance, the ASUS K501UX is several hundred dollars less than the competition with similar specifications, and that makes it easy to name it our Editors’ Top Pick for entry-level gaming laptops.
Design and Features
Asus laptops have maintained a fairly constant design, especially the Zenbook line, over its several iteration and the latest entrant with a brushed aluminum cover, but unlike the subtle concentric circles finish we saw in the ASUS F555LA-AB31, the K501UX sports a classy dark blue metallic cover with a hairline-textured finish. Measuring 0.9 by 15.0 by 10.0-inches and weighing a paltry 4.4 pounds, this system is thinner and lighter than its main rival the Dell Inspiron i7559 that measures 1.0 by 15.1 by 10.4 (HWD) and weighs in at 5.67 pounds. If you prefer portability to anything else, perhaps looking for a machine you can tot around with performance to match, then the K501UX fits the bill.
As expected, the non-touch 15.6-inch matte display supports Full HD (1920 by 1080) resolution, making it ideal for professional image and video editors. Still on display, the Inspiron i7559 has all the bells and whistles you’d expect, graced by a 15.6 inch IPS display (superior to TN panels in terms of colors and viewing angles) which will make most budding gamers happy. The system has a back-lit, full-sized chicklet keyboard and an intuitive touchpad alongside great audio output. If you need to carry it around, you can slide it into the Bonvince 18.4″ Laptop Backpack $55.99 at Amazon , which has nicely placed compartments for the power adapter, mouse and other peripherals.
Ports and Connectivity
Connectivity is excellent. The system comes with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI-out port for connecting to an external monitor or HDTV and an SD card reader. The DVD/CD drive is missing, but that is not surprising as most manufacturers are shelving it perhaps on the wake of operating systems being downloadable directly. If you really need one, maybe for your older games and programs, then you better off with options such as the LG’s External DVD drive $25.54 at Amazon .
Internet connectivity comes in way of an RJ-45 port or you can opt for the 802.11 A/C WiFi as well as Bluetooth 4.0, while chatting away with gaming buddies on the VGA camera, albeit at low quality. For an entry-level gaming laptop, the 3-cell 48Whrs battery should last you for up to five hours, which is acceptable for day-to-day tasks.
The ASUS K501UX boasts a sixth-generation (Skylake) 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processors (Turbo up to 3.1GHz), 8GB of system memory, and a discrete Nvidia GTX950M graphics card with 2GB DDR3 RAM. The Intel Core i7-6500U is a dual core processor, that promises stable performance, it receives ~4300 points CPU Mark points which is quite decent for a notebook (apparently most laptops average 3000 points these days). This combination of components and features is potent enough to install Photoshop, run a virtual machine, with a guarantee that the system will handle pretty much of anything thrown its way. If we get nitty, the K501UX lags behind the Dell Inspiron i7559-763BLK with a whopping ~7500 CPU Mark, thanks to its sixth generation(Skylake) Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-core processor.
It is not surprising to see the Core i7-powered Asus deliver almost the same performance as the Core i5-powered Dell Inspiron i7559. Simple, while the K501UX comes with a dual core CPU clocked with hyperthreading, the Inspiron i7559-763BLK surges forward with a true Quad-Core that is higher clocked with turbo. Nevertheless, the difference will begin to be felt if only you plan on pushing your system to the extremes. Still, both systems suffice for hobbyist gaming and productivity tasks alike. However, if all you need is a basic laptop, that doesn’t cost much for day-to-day home/office tasks, alternatives like the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 $579.99 at Amazon and ASUS F556UA-UH71 Check on Amazon at Amazon are worth a long look as you shop around.
For storage, there’s a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD). While not as large as the 1TB hard drive storage offered in the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM $349.99 at Amazon , it is faster and you have an empty SATA drive to fit an extra SSD for storage. The 8GB of RAM is excellent, with one of the 4GB modules appearing to be on-board memory, it means one can be replaced by an 8GB stick to a total of 12GB, unlike the Dell Inspiron i7559-763BLK which can take a maximum RAM upgrade of up to 16GB.
On the ASUS K501UX graphics are handled by GeForce GTX950M using 2GB dedicated GDDR3 memory, which is again inferior to the NV GTX 960M with 4GB GDDR5 memory we’ve seen in the NV GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5. Still, you are able to play most titles at high settings (1080p) with a promise of up to 30 frames per second (fps). We tested the unit with Grand Theft Auto 5 and received 30fps, which is way below what we got on the less-RAM-taxing Counter Strike, whereby we hit the +60FPS mark.
Bang For The Buck
The ASUS K501UX is an excellent value, offering good gaming and productivity performance at a reasonable price. It scores close to more-expensive systems during testing, even beating them in some cases. Plus, it sports a solid, sleek chassis and a full HD display and manages to include extras like a backlit keyboard, and decent port options. The ASUS K501UW-AB78 $969.99 at Amazon is an upgraded version of the K501UX with similar design and specs, but it manages to include a roomier 512GB SSD, a matte FHD IPS display and good battery life. Still, the ASUS K501UX remains formidable enough in terms of performance and processing power, while still remaining affordable.
[UPDATE!!!] If you fancy the latest features in a system, then our newest Editors’ Choice midrange gaming laptop the Acer Aspire VX 15 Gaming Laptop $799.99 at Amazon –released early 2017, is worth a long look. It features a seventh-generation Intel Core i5-7300HQ Processor, a pascal-based NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (4 GB) and 8GB, and can be had for much less than similarly-equipped competitors.