Notebook: ASUS X55U-FS22-CB

Details

Manufacturer: ASUS
Notebook Model: X55U-FS22-CB
Keyboard: US English
CPU: AMD E450
Graphics: Radeon HD 6320
RAM: DDR3 1333 4GB
WLAN: 802.11bgn
LCD: Glossy 15.6” 16:9 HD (1366×768) LED Backlight
ODD: 8X Super-Multi DVD
HDD: 500GB 5400rpm
OS: Windows 8
Battery: 6 Cells 4400 mAh
Ports: 1 x Microphone-in jack
1 x Headphone-out jack
1 x VGA port
1 x USB 3.0 port
1 x USB 2.0 port
1 x RJ45 LAN Jack
1 x HDMI
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Price: $349.99

Description

A cheap device that is a step above netbooks, but on the low end of notebooks.

Why Did I Buy the ASUS X55U?

I was looking for a cheap portable device for light duty activities such as web surfing and typing of documents. Primary use would be at home. The Main requirements were low price, US English keyboard, decent sized screen, and Linux compatibility.

While browsing electronic retailers, I came across the ASUS X55U. Much to my surprise, it had a US English keyboard, as most low cost Canadian notebooks are manufactured with multilingual keyboards to save on cost.

The next two closest priced units with US English keyboards were the ASUS X101CH Netbook for $279.99 and the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist 12.5” for $775.99. The X101CH has a custom integrated PowerVR graphics chip without Linux Support, and soldered components like the RAM. Upgrading the hard drive and RAM will be difficult. In addition, the graphics card will require at least Kernel 3.4.2 for proper resolution support. The Lenovo Twist, on the other hand, is a hybrid Windows 8 tablet/notebook. It felt a bit heavy as a tablet, and the monitor was flimsy due to the swiveling central hinge. There were too many compromises in the design for a midpoint price. Alas, if I were looking for such a device, I’d rather increase the budget and get something higher end.

Anyway, the X55U was looking ideal upon examination. Though, it may not be enough as older refurbished notebooks could be found for less. However, I then noticed a USB 3.0 port and HDMI port on the notebook, which are features not found on some of the older notebooks. Given that the notebook was new and in-stock with a 14-day return policy, it was good enough for me.

What Do I Like About the ASUS X55U?

It’s cheap and it has a US English keyboard. Finding a US English keyboard notebook in Canadian retail stores is becoming uncommon as manufacturers are trying to save on cost. Apple is an exception, though, as are higher end business notebooks from Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

The 15.6” LCD’s native resolution of 1366×768 has a nice low DPI. Font’s and text appear quite large which is good for writing documents.

Standard components are accessible and upgradeable.

The X55U can automatically detect and boot a Live-USB.

What Do I Dislike About the ASUS X55U?

No BIOS but a UEFI. A UEFI adds another complex layer to the hardware. Luckily, a legacy BIOS mode can be enabled and Asus has not restricted use.

Only two USB ports. One is a USB 2.0 port and the other is a USB 3.0 port.

General Performance of the ASUS X55U

Windows 8

Overall performance was sluggish. For general surfing of the web it performed okay, though multiple tabs caused slow downs. Youtube 1080P videos played smoothly without issues thanks to the GPU.

The CPU, on the other hand, struggles under Windows 8. At idle, CPU usage hovered around 50% and RAM usage was around 1GB. When performing auto-updates and adjusting Windows settings the system slowed down noticeably. Lots of hard drive caching was also noticed and seemed to be a bottleneck of Windows 8 performance.

Puppy Can Bike 5.4.3

Out of the box, the native resolution was detected correctly at 1366×768, the trackpad worked (except for the right click button), and the wireless modem worked.

Sound, however, was not functioning correctly. GPU acceleration requires the installation of AMD proprietary drivers.

At idle CPU usage was less than 3% and RAM usage was under 62MB. With 4GB of RAM, Puppy Can Bike 5.4.3 was loaded and ran entirely from RAM. No hard drive required. Performance was snappy since Puppy Linux was designed to run on minimal hardware. For normal web surfing and document creation, the responsiveness was great as expected.

Final Words

It’s a cheap name brand notebook with better specifications than a netbook, and a US English keyboard. Performance can be improved by upgrading the slow hard drive, and switching operating system.

For the low price, it’s hard to find fault with the X55U as the performance is good for light duty work and the GPU can handle 1080p videos.

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