The K55VD is one of the cheapest Ivy Bridge laptops we've seen, and can be found for under £550 if you shop around online. The Core i5-3210M processor is nippy, although the benchmark score of 132 in our WorldBench 6 suite is a little lower than we'd have expected.

It's nothing to complain about, though, since the K55VD easily outstrips other laptops at this price and will even please most gamers thanks to its GeForce 610M graphics chip which has 2GB of memory. It managed a respectable 46fps in our Fear game test. It's unusual to have great 2D and 3D performance for less than £600. See also: Laptop Advisor

K55VD

Asus K55VD: build and design

So what's the catch? Well it's hard to overlook the plastic construction even if the metal wrist rest adds a touch of class. When the K55VD is shut, though, there's no mistaking it for a more expensive, slimmer model. It weighs 2.6kg, so you're going to notice it in your rucksack.

K55VD side view

The lid is quite flexible, but we saw no indications that this was damaging the screen when we opened the K55VD's lid by each of it's corners.

The K55VD is available in a range of colours. Our sample was dark brown, but there are also vibrant pink, purple and orange options. The white model lacks the metal wrist rest of the others.

There's 6GB of RAM, which should be plenty, built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an HDMI output. The only signs of compromise is a 500GB hard disk and only a pair of USB 3 ports, but these are minor quibbles.

Asus K55VD: screen, keyboard and touchpad

Asus K55VD

The 15.6in display has a standard 1,366x768 resolution and a glossy finish. It's bright enough and has vibrant colours but suffers - as most budget laptops do - from narrow vertical viewing angles. Speakers, though, are better than average, delivering decent volume and quality.

We like the large keyboard with its numberpad to the right. The separated keys have enough travel for good feedback and therefore fast typing. The only layout issue is the narrow cursor keys which can be fiddly for anyone with fat fingers.

We're not big fans of the button-less touchpad. It's good to see multitouch support for scrolling and zooming, but clicking the buttons at the bottom of the pad made the cursor jump around the screen, making it tricky to click and drag, or even to click on small objects.

Touchpad

Asus K55VD: battery life and warranty

Battery life is good, with the 50Wh unit lasting five and a half hours in our MobileMark tests. This is all the more respectable given the performance on tap. Plus, Asus backs the K55VD with a two-year collect and return warranty. Most manufacturers give you just 12 months' cover, and you're responsible for taking it back to the shop, or posting it back to the manufacturer directly.

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Asus K55VD: Specs

  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-3210M (3.1GHz Turbo) dual-core with Hyperthreading
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 + nVidia GeForce 610M with 2GB RAM
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) TN gloss
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 500GB hard disk, SATA 3Gbps
  • 6GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • gigabit ethernet
  • tray-load DVD±RW
  • VGA, HDMI
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic, 3.5mm line-in, 3.5mm line-out
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Kensington lock slot
  • SDHC card slot
  • 105 x 74mm, buttonless, multi-touch trackpad
  • 90W mains charger
  • 50Wh lithium-ion, removable battery
  • 2590g
  • Two year collect-and-return warranty
  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-3210M (3.1GHz Turbo) dual-core with Hyperthreading
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 + nVidia GeForce 610M with 2GB RAM
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) TN gloss
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 500GB hard disk, SATA 3Gbps
  • 6GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • gigabit ethernet
  • tray-load DVD±RW
  • VGA, HDMI
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic, 3.5mm line-in, 3.5mm line-out
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Kensington lock slot
  • SDHC card slot
  • 105 x 74mm, buttonless, multi-touch trackpad
  • 90W mains charger
  • 50Wh lithium-ion, removable battery
  • 2590g
  • Two year collect-and-return warranty

OUR VERDICT

It isn't the prettiest, but Asus' K55VD delivers surprisingly good performance for your money. The touchpad takes some getting used to, but as with the smallish 500GB hard disk, these foibles aren't deal-breakers.

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