Get too close to the Asus’s aluminium-effect keyboard surround and you’ll spot that those brushed metals are plastic, yet the Asus X555L still does a good impression of a luxury laptop at an entry-level price.
Better still, it’s a bit of a bargain basement beast, cramming in a speedy Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM for the kind of money that would normally net you a basic Core i3 and half the memory. If you have £560 in your pocket you can get this laptop with a sharp 1080p Full HD screen, but for £400 you’re stuck with a more bog-standard 15.6-inch display.
The casing doesn’t feel as premium as it looks, while the screen has poor viewing angles and a slight green tinge. Luckily, from head on its bright and punchy, and there are no questions about the X555L’s performance.
With a multicore score of 5495 in the Geekbench benchmark it’s much, much faster than its rivals. And it chomps through the photo and video-editing apps that leave some budget laptops quivering with the gusto of a zombie munching minor cast members in a series finale of The Walking Dead.
It scores high for usability, too, with a nice, spacious, crisp-feeling keyboard and a large, responsive trackpad. The Asus has its faults – the sound is tinny and congested, with precious little bass – but when even the battery life is comfortably above average, at around five hours and forty minutes of HD video playback, it’s a challenge not to be impressed.