For some reason, Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S) has gained a lot of popularity in a short time. That’s probably due to the very low price. Performance-wise, you’ll get a basic Celeron processor and half a terabyte hard drive running on Windows 8.1. But let’s examine the notebook further and see if there are any hidden blunders you should know about…
Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S) features Intel Celeron N2840. It’s a processor known for affordability rather than performance: it has two cores and clock speed up to 2.6GHz with burst frequency, although on benchmark tests its true nature is shown. CPU Mark grades it at 1000 while Core i3s, the CPU family regarded as middle of the road processors, usually score around 2500. So it’s not a really powerful CPU, although for day-to-day computing the Celeron is adequate. Obviously, lightweight use like web surfing doesn’t need a beefy processor, and you’ll be paying only for what you need.
The laptop comes with 4GB (2x2GB) memory installed. Adding more is not possible, the system only supports up to four gigabytes. That might not be something power users like to hear, but of course the whole laptop isn’t aimed for very demanding use. Everyday computing works well with 4GB RAM, if you require more you should look for another laptop.
You’ll get 500GB storage which is the minimum amount of a modern laptop’s hard drive. It should be OK for use at home or small office: for example, around one hundred thousand JPEG photos can be stored there. The drive speed is nothing to brag about, just 5400RPM. A solid-state drive would be a faster option, although I’ve read replacing parts for this model is tough.
Display and graphics
There is a 15.6″ non-glossy display in Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S). That’s a cookie cutter screen size, the most common one, decent enough for the majority of users. The same goes for 1366×768 resolution: indeed not a Full HD, but you would be the luckiest person on earth to find one for this price. The screen has no touch support which means the pre-loaded Windows 8.1 (64-bit) has to be used with keyboard and trackpad only.
You might already know or guess these cheaper laptops are not too gamer friendly. In Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S), there’s a weak Intel HD (Bay Trail) chip responsible for the graphics. It’s unlikely to run latest games with smooth frames – Battlefield 4, for example, would end up below 10 FPS. However, many people don’t care about those fancy titles but they like older games instead. Minecraft will probably average at 25 FPS and League of Legends about the same. Sims 4 should get 50+ frame rates on low details.
Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S) features two USB ports. One is USB 2.0, the other one is USB 3.0. Not a lot for peripheral freaks, but considering the low price this is understandable. There are also VGA and HDMI outputs for connecting the notebook to an external monitor.
The Asus has a 10/100Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 port and a solid dual-band wireless card. Bluetooth isn’t enabled. If you want that, a cheap USB dongle must be used.
This model has no optical drive. I’ve heard people installing a DVD drive in the Asus, but it requires some technical knowledge. If you don’t know how to do that you can always use an external DVD drive. Also the built-in SD/MMC card slot can be one option, although it only helps if your files are indeed on memory cards, not on DVDs.
There’s a front facing VGA webcam on top of the display, good for basic video chatting on Skype.
Some other things to keep in mind?
Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S) weighs 4.7 pounds, not a lot considering most 15.6″ laptops are 5 pounds or more. There’s a 3-cell battery included which works for 4 or 5 hours on web browsing. Replacing the battery should be possible, although I’ve read it’s a challenging task.
The keys are not illuminated, but the keyboard contains a numeric keypad on the right side.
There’s no MS Office installed. At least not the full version. A 30-day trial might be pre-loaded (can also be downloaded online), but of course you must purchase it if you want to continue using it after the month.
I can see why Asus X551MAV-EB01-B(S) got popular so fast. It’s priced really low, while the performance is very sufficient for daily workloads of web browsing, text editing and other lightweight stuff. There are some missing features, like DVD drive and Bluetooth, although they can be fixed with external gadgets. If I was to point out the obvious, the Celeron processor and integrated graphics can’t do much for power users or devout gamers, but those simpler games listed above will run on this rig. The Asus is a very cheap item, and if you only require little performance, this starter laptop is probably all you need.