Though it's true that convertibles mostly thrive in smaller form factors that doesn't stop manufacturers from launching convertible laptops with bigger form factors. Such is the case of Asus, a company that hasn't specialized on convertibles as much as Dell or HP have, yet has experience even before they arrived in the scene thanks to its transformer lineup.
Today we're going to share with you guys our review of the Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX), an interesting convertible that packs a Core i3 CPU, 500GB of storage and actually opts to include a DVD drive, a true rarity within this for factor. Without further delay, let's get on with it!
Pros: DVD drive, 6GB of RAM (upgradable to 8GB), Core i3, low price tag.
Cons: 4th generation Core i3 instead of 6th generation.
Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX) Review of a Core i3 Convertible
A nice yet familiar design
We're not gonna lie to you guys, when it comes to design this model heavily reminds us of Apple's MacBook Pro. The finishing materials coupled with the black keyboard bear a striking resemblance to Apple's iconic pro lineup. That said, the similarities end there since when you take a glance at the back cover you'll see a black top cover which quickly tells you that you're looking at an Asus laptop.
Materials on this convertible are pretty good with a strong build quality that makes it pretty clear that we're not looking at some cheap "rushed product" but at a more polished notebook. The hinge on this notebook allows you to flip the screen completely so that tablet mode is easy to access but you can also place it on a standing position allowing you more options than the standard tablet or laptop.
The Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX) packs a weight of a little over 5 pounds, standard when you're looking at a 15.6 inch model and boosts a thickness of 1.12 inches. Regarding the display, it's not Full HD but your standard HD resolution (1366 by 768) with a glossy touchscreen display.
Though we always say that convertibles are better suited for smaller form factors when it comes to portability, it's also true that a bigger form factor allows for a more precise touchscreen interaction, allowing fewer mistakes to be made when interacting with the device on this mode.
Performance of the Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX) is based on an Intel Core i3-4005U dual core processor. This is a 4th generation CPU that runs at a base frequency of 1.7GHz with 4 threads and 3MB of Intel's smart cache.
It's not the latest Core i3 to hit the market but we suspect Asus was looking to cut costs somewhere and decided to bet on an older CPU since most users wouldn't notice that much of a difference in the way of performance.
That said, this is a pretty good CPU, especially when coupled with the 6GB of DDR3 RAM integrated on this convertible. What's more, maximum RAM can be increased to 8GB by simply swapping the 2GB module for another 4GB module making this convertible a true powerhouse when it comes to multitasking.
All in all, while our more "tech savvy" side would've wanted for a 6th generation i3 instead of a 4th generation we know that the true differences are hardly noticeable in everyday tasks. To this point, this notebook is aimed specifically for uses such as image editing, web browsing, video streaming, coding and compiling, launching virtual machines, light video editing and so forth. Overall, what most of us actually do on our laptops.
What about graphic performance?
As far as gaming is concerned, the Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX) is not a gaming laptop. With an Intel HD 4400 Graphics chip housed in the interior, this model can do a decent job on low setting with light gaming such as Dirt Rally, Fifa 16 as well as SIMS 4.
However, more complex games to the tune of Far Cry 4 or even Assasin's Creed Unity would be pretty much unplayable unless you enjoy playing at less than 14 frames per second (if you're lucky!).
That's not to say that this laptop features a bad graphics chip, for stuff like light video editing as well as video streaming and image editing this GPU will do a fine job but for hardcore gaming or even professional graphic design we wouldn't really recommend it.
Storage and Battery life
One downside of having an "older CPU" in place is that it's not as power efficient. That's something that we can quickly appreciate when we take a look at battery life that while not bad isn't remarkable either, offering up to 5 hours of usage on a 2 cell battery.
That said, these are standard figures within its price range so don't expect to find a laptop that offers much more than that with this set of hardware.
On the storage front we've got a 500GB hard drive operating at 5400rpm. That's way more then what you would get if they had opted to go down the SSD route so we actually prefer having a full 500GB over a 128GB storage unit that you have to continually monitor to check that you have enough available storage.
What are the options for connectivity?
Asus goes above and beyond when it comes to connectivity as we can appreciate in this review of the Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX). For example, there's a DVD drive, something incredibly rare within convertibles, even in those that feature a 15 inch display.
We've also got an ethernet port, HDMI output, SD card slot, 3 USB ports, Bluetooth 4.0 support as well as WiFi b/g/n connectivity. Though not related to connectivity per se we would also like to point out the inclusion of your standard webcam as well as SonicMaster audio.
Wrapping things up!
In closing we really liked the Asus R554LA-RH31T(WX), especially because of its inclusion of a DVD drive. The processor is ok to go beyond basic computing tasks and into more demanding software, RAM is more than enough for intensive multitaskers and the design is simply beautiful.
Battery life is within average numbers and storage is what we've come to expect from convertibles that don't carry an SSD storage unit. Overall, set at a competitive price, this is a great laptop as well as a solid convertible for anyone in the market for something that can go the extra mile in terms of RAW performance and not just look pretty and work like a basic tablet.