It's quite clear at this point that the mid range isn't what it used to be. Over the past couple of months companies such as Asus and HP have launched an aggressive strategy whereby they present what used to be considered high end specs on budget laptops.
Such is the case of the top selling Asus F556UA-AS54. This new laptop smashes all expectations with a 256 GB SSD storage module, last generation Core i5 CPU, Full HD screen and quite a bit more for an extremely reasonable price.
Today we're going to take a good look at Asus's latest flagship for the mid range market as we review the Asus F556UA-AS54 in all its glory, exploring its pros, cons and everything else worth knowing. Wanna come along for the ride?
The Good: 256 GB SSD, Core i5-6200U, 8GB of RAM, Full HD display with Blue light shield, Intel HD 520 graphics chip, USB Type-C port (as well as USB 3.0 and USB 2.0)
The Bad: Battery life is standard at 5 hours.
Review of the Asus F556UA-AS54 a new era in the mid range market
A Crisp Display with advanced technology and a lightweight design
While most people will look to the Asus F556UA-AS54 for its set of internal specs, the external aspect as well as the screen of this laptop are also very compelling arguments for any buyer .
Specifically, we've got a 15.6 inch Full HD LED display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Sure, a Full HD display isn't as rare as it once was in the mid range segment. However, Asus takes the stakes even higher by including a Bluelight filter.
As many of you know, blue light is present on most displays and it's responsible for eye fatigue amongst many users who simply can't stare at a screen for hours on end because of this very reason. However, the Asus F556UA-AS54's Eye Care technology promises a reduction of blue light levels by up to 33% making it much more comfortable for hardcore power users.
When it comes to design, we're also very pleased with the look that Asus opted to give this model. It's polished metal look with a golden tone appeals not only to those who look for a minimalistic design but also to that segment who's looking for something a bit different design-wise.
Finally, the absence of a Hard Drive (which has been replaced by an SSD) makes the laptop that much lighter weighing a little over 5 pounds, making it extra portable.
How does it perform? What about gaming?
Performance on the Asus F556UA-AS54 is great for most power users thanks to its Intel Core i5-6200U processor. This specific processor is one of the latest models launched by Intel and when it comes down to laptops, one of the most successful models thanks to its balance between power consumption and processing efficiency.
Getting into the numbers of it all, it's a 64 bit processor with two cores and four threads that works at a base frequency speed of 2.3 GHz and reaches its maximum capacity at 2.8 GHz. There's also 3MB of Intel's Smart Cache and when we combine all of the above with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM you've got a powerhouse if we've ever seen one.
Considering the base RAM at this point is 4 GB for most mid range machines we'd say we're pretty pleased to see that Asus didn't settle for less when designing this model. 8GB of RAM will allow intensive users to not have to hold back when launching several apps at a time and for the low key user, 8GB of RAM is a guarantee that this laptop won't be rendered useless in a couple of years as hardware requirements grow on all fronts.
Unfortunately, while it may prove to be an overall great laptop for most users, this is not a gaming laptop.
The F556UA-AS54 houses an Intel HD 520 Graphics chip which, while it might provide a decent frame rate with many 2015 titles at low settings, it's still a long way from the performance you may achieve using a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 950M, for example. All in all, though casual gamers can get their "fix" with this model we wouldn't recommend it for dedicated gamers.
An amazing storage and a "good enough" battery life
Storage is one of the key elements in our review of the Asus F556UA-AS54. Unlike most of its competitors, Asus has chosen to go all out on this model and endowed it with a 256GB SSD module. This means that storage is significantly faster than a traditional hard drive.
How does this translate to real life usage? Well, for one thing, boot up and boot down times are incredibly fast. Accessing files is much faster, launching programs is up to 3 times faster and it's also quieter because there are no mechanical parts moving within the laptop.
If you've played around with a laptop with SSD storage you'll know what we're talking about and if you haven't be sure that once you go down the SSD route there's just no going back, it's night and day between SSD and HDD.
Though storage, RAM and CPU are all remarkable, we must say that battery life isn't. With a Li-Polymer battery Asus delivers roughly 5 hours of battery life on this model.
Sure, 5 hours isn't that impressive but we should also mention that this type of battery can retain up to 80% of its original charging capacity even after hundreds of charge cycles so it's not like with other models where after a couple of months you see battery life go down exponentially.
A very diverse and up-to date connectivity landscape
When you're browsing through laptop specs you'll find that most of them offer a couple of USB 3.0 ports and that's about it as far as diversification goes.
However, in the case of the F556UA-AS54 things are quite different with a USB Type-C port, 1 USB 3.0 port and 1 USB 2.0 port. There's also a VGA and HDMI port as well as a DVD reader and an SD card reader.
We would also encourage you to take a look at the WiFi connectivity since in this case it's of the
b/g/n/ac variety which means you'll get download speeds up to three times faster from the conventional b/g/n antenna if you've got a compatible router of course.
Closing arguments: Should you buy this laptop?
There are those laptops who fare well when we look at the price/specs relationship and those who do so when we simply look at the specs. The notebook at hand is part of the latter group of machines.
As our Asus F556UA-AS54 review has pointed out this laptop isn't perfect but it's pretty close to perfection.
The design is stunning, the Full HD display with Blue light technology is a great bonus, RAM is perfect for both hardcore usage and "average usage". The CPU offers the perfect balance between power and energy consumption and the 256GB SSD module means you get plenty of storage without the hassle and slowness attributed to a "traditional hard drive".
The fact that it's mildly priced within the mid range just makes the F556UA-AS54 one of the most attractive models in the current landscape, rivaled only by the HP 15-ay013nr which for a bit less money offers more or less the same specs with half the storage capacity. All in all, a great purchase we would recommend anyone looking for a quality mid range model.