The 15.6 -inch Asus X551MA ($268) is a no-frills, budget laptop with a 15-inch display and very basic hardware. Though we have not tested this system, we can draw several conclusions based on its specs, user reviews and evaluations from other tech publications. Check out our Best Laptops Overall or Best Sub-$500 Laptops lists for a series of systems we highly recommend based on our real-world testing.
Who is it for?
The Asus X551MA is designed for those who want a very basic laptop for document creation and light Web browsing. With a price below $300, the X551MA makes sense for parents looking to buy a "first time" computer for their children, or those who need a simple "living room laptop." However, its 15-inch, 4.7-pound body isn't particularly lightweight, so don't plan on carrying it back and forth to school every day.
Key Specs and Features
The Asus X551MA has a 15.6-inch, non-touch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768. This laptop is powered by an Intel Celeron N2830 CPU, a dual-core processor clocked at 2.16GHz, which should be good enough for basic tasks like document editing, Web surfing, video viewing and light media editing. With 4GB of DDR3 RAM, the laptop offers enough memory for light multitasking, while the 500GB HDD has plenty of space for movies and music, but is not very fast.
Embedded in the display is a simple 1-megapixel webcam. Interestingly enough, this unit comes with Sonic Master speakers, which reportedly offer a better listening experience for movies and music than speakers found on similarly priced laptops.
Connectivity options include 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. The selection of ports includes one USB 3 port, one USB 2 port, HDMI, an SDXC card reader and a microphone jack. The system ships with Windows 8.1.
Our Experience with Similar Laptops
We reviewed the similar Asus X555la in August 2015 and appreciated its springy keyboard, high-quality audio and solid battery life. However, we noted some trade-offs, including a hollow-feeling clickpad and a blotchy webcam.
What Owners Say About the Asus X551MA
Despite the X55M1A's shortcomings, most Amazon commenters described it as an excellent entry-level laptop. The screen drew praise for its decent picture quality, and the Sonic Master speakers received high marks for their excellent audio quality. Users also enjoyed the chiclet keyboard, noting its comfortable feel, excellent key response, reasonable spacing and convenient numeric keypad. Users commented that the laptop provides them with enough performance for basic multitasking, such as light Web browsing and document editing.
On the negative side, commenters complained that the Asus X55M1A feels like a "chunk of cheap plastic." They also lamented the low-quality touchpad, citing it as "glitchy" and criticizing the lack of separation between the embedded right and left buttons. Others claim that they got only 3 hours of battery life, a disappointingly short amount of endurance.
What Reviewers Say About the Asus X551MA
A number of professional tech publications have reviewed the Asus X55M1A. According to Laptop Reviewers, it is " no more than an oversized netbook." They cite it as having an uncomfortable touchpad, describing it as "wonky" due to a lack of separation between its right and left click keys. However, they liked that the screen offered a decent, colorful viewing experience.
Notebook Check praised it for being "lighter than many other budget 15.6-inch laptops," and found that it provides enough power for very basic tasks such as Web browsing and document editing. However, short battery life and lack of Bluetooth were listed as major disappointments.
Overall, reviewers praise the comfortable chiclet keyboard, and the laptop's slick, modern design. Despite the webcam's paltry 1-MP resolution, the consensus is that it gets the job done when used for video conferencing. Additionally, journalists report that the Sonic Master speakers provide a better-than-average listening experience. However, like users, professional testers also experienced subpar battery life.
If you are looking for a dirt-cheap, entry-level laptop for your family or yourself, the Asus X55M1A is worth considering, provided that you don't plan to lug it around or use it unplugged all that often.