Don't be fooled by the Asus Q524UQ's good looks. Behind the $1,100 2-in-1's dark-chocolate frame and pretty copper hinges are a giant bezel surrounding the 15-inch display; a slow, old-school HDD; and a mushy keyboard set too far back into the case. Those who want a ton of storage out of the box might like the 2TB hard drive (despite its lack of speed), and proponents of the new USB Type-C will enjoy Thunderbolt 3 compatibility, but there are far better convertibles in this price range.
Man, oh man is the Q524UQ pretty. It's made of a dark-chocolate-colored, brushed aluminum with copper accents that would should make most other laptops green with envy. The lid features the Asus logo and offers a peek at the top of the rounded copper hinges.
Opening the laptop reveals a 15.6-inch display surrounded by a thick, chunky bezel; a fully island-style keyboard with a number pad; and a black, aluminum deck.At 5 pounds and 15 x 10 x 0.9 inches, the Q524UQ is sized comparably to other 15-inch 2-in-1s. The Samsung Notebook 7 Spin (5 pounds, 14 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches) isn't as wide but is just as heavy. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (4.6 pounds, 14.9 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches) is just a tad lighter, and the 15-inch variant of the HP Spectre x360 (4.2 pounds, 14.8 x 9.8 x 0.6 inches) is the lightest of the bunch.
Just like other bend-back 2-in-1s, the Q524UQ's 360-degree hinges lets the machine switch among four modes. You can use it just like your regular laptop, fold the lid all the way around to make a tablet, and use the device in tent (an upside-down "V") or in display mode (with the keyboard face down and the display pointed toward you).
The model we reviewed had a design flaw: The right side of the palm rest in laptop mode wasn't flush with the rest of the laptop, causing the computer to wobble a bit when I pressed down on it. This happened on the majority of desks and tables I tested the computer on, but not all of them. When I rested my hands on the deck for typing, the weight of my right wrist kept the system from wobbling.
A strong selection of ports lines the sides of the Q524UQ. On the left side of the laptop are the lock slot, a proprietary port for a subwoofer that comes in the box, an SD card reader, a USB 3.0 port and a headphone jack.
On the right are a Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output and the power jack.
The 15.6-inch, 1080p touch screen on the Q524UQ is sharp, but it's dim and its bezel is huge and reflective. When I watched a 1080p trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, rebel jumpsuits were appropriately orange and I could see every speck of dirt on them. But in darker scenes, I spent far too much time looking at my own image because of how reflective the glass is. It's no worse than most other convertibles, but the giant, reflective bezel exacerbates the issue.
The Q524UQ's display covers an excellent 108.5 percent of the sRGB color gamut, surpassing the mainstream notebook average of 91 percent. The Spectre x360 was even more vivid, at 119 percent, while the Notebook 7 Spin and Inspiron 15 had less impressive hues, at 72 percent and 62 percent, respectively.
The panel is precise, with a Delta-E score of 0.7 (zero is best). The category average is far higher, at 2.3, and the Spectre x360 was worse, with a score of 4.1. The Inspiron 15 (0.9) and Notebook 7 Spin (1.8) also fared worse than the Q524UQ.
All those colors would be great to look at if the screen were brighter. The Q524UQ measured an average of 258 nits on our light meter, which falls under the 15-inch laptop average of 264 nits. However, none of the competition beat the average: The Inspiron 15 (244 nits); Spectre x360 (246 nits) and Notebook 7 Spin (260 nits) were all on the dimmer side.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keys have 1.44 millimeters of vertical travel (just shy of the 1.5mm we prefer) and require 70g of force to press down. They felt a little mushy while I typed, but there was little flex in the chassis. I was able to hit 108 words per minute (which is within my average range of 100-110 wpm), with my standard 2 percent error rate, but it wasn't a comfortable experience.
The keyboard is set 4.6-inches back from the notebook's edge, which required me to reach farther than I'm used to when I typed. The touchpad is a luxurious 2.8 x 4.1 inches and was extremely accurate when it came to navigation. Gestures in Windows 10 like scrolling, pinching to zoom and hiding apps with a swipe to show the desktop all worked without issue. The touch screen was quick to respond when I used it in tablet, tent and display modes.
The Q524UQ produces loud, clear sound, but this audio is sorely lacking in the bass department. When I listened to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," the vocals and guitar were clear and the drums were crisp, but I couldn't hear the song's erratic bass line at all. The built-in speakers were loud enough to fill our small conference room with the song.
When I listened to the song again with the included external subwoofer, the audience was far more balanced (including a bass with plenty of power) and was louder than any laptop speaker could be on its own.Bang & Olufsen's ICEpower app comes preinstalled on the computer and includes a list of different speaker presets. I found that the best option is to leave it on the default Music Mode.
The Q524UQ comes with 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 12GB of RAM, a 2TB and 5,400-rpm HDD, and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU with 2GB of VRAM. The result is a fine multitasking machine, albeit a slower one than competitors. I had 30 tabs open in Chrome (including one streaming a 1080p episode of Last Week Tonight from YouTube) and experienced no lag at all.
Asus' 2-in-1 earned a score of 6,943 on the Geekbench 3 overall performance test, falling under the mainstream average of 7,923. The Notebook 7 Spin (Core i7-6200U; 7,132) had a better score than the Q524UQ but was still below average, while the Inspiron 15 (Core i5-6200U; 6,499) and Spectre x360 (Core i5-6200U; 6,376) performed worse.
Unfortunately, the traditional HDD in the Q524UQ crawls. The laptop took 1 minute and 42 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of mixed-media files, a rate of 49.9 megabytes per second. The mainstream average, which includes a number of laptops with SSDs, is 135.5 MBps. The Notebook 7, with both a 1TB, 5,400-rpm HDD and 128GB SSD was also on the slower side, at 77.4 MBps. The Inspiron's SSD was also slower than average, at 122.6 MBps, while the Spectre x360 beat the average and the competition, with a speed of 149.7 MBps.
The Q524UQ completed our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro, which involves matching 20,000 names and addresses, in 4 minutes and 3 seconds (the exact same time as the Notebook 7 Spin). The mainstream notebook average is 4:42, and the Spectre x360 fell just behind, with a time of 4:31. The Inspiron 15 was even slower, at 4:47.
The Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU isn't powerful enough for intense gaming like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Doom. Q524UQ users are more likely to see performance bumps while working with Photoshop rather than trying to play Metro: Last Light. The Q524UQ notched a score of 96,640, surpassing the average of 78,223. The Notebook 7 Spin also beat the average, with a score of 88,956, while the Spectre x360 (64,632) and Inspiron 15 (64,067) fell behind.
The Q524UQ may be physically flexible, but its location has to be fairly stationary (and near a charger).
It lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of continuously browsing the web over Wi-Fi, That's shorter than the mainstream average of 6:34 and the exact same time as the Notebook 7 Spin. The Inspiron 15 survived for 6:55 and the Spectre x360 endured for 8:27.
The 720p webcam on the Q524UQ is fine for some Skype calls, but it's not accurate. When I snapped a selfie with the camera, my mint-green shirt appeared teal blue, and some of the detail in my face, like my dimple, just barely showed up.The camera is compatible with Windows Hello, so you can log in using your face. In my tests, this worked perfectly in both bright and low-light situations.
The Q524UQ will stay nice and cool no matter which mode you use it in. After streaming 15 minutes of HD video from Hulu, the Q524UQ reached 91 degrees Fahrenheit on the bottom, 89 degrees between the G and H keys, and 82.5 degrees on the touchpad.
Software and Warranty
The Q524UQ comes with a ton of software preinstalled, most of it bloatware. The junk includes TripAdvisor, Music Maker Jam, Flipboard, Candy Crush, Twitter, Netflix, Evernote and Foxit PhantomPDF.
Asus' own software includes Installation Wizard for installing Asus' own tools and drivers, Live Update to check for the latest improvements and bug fixes, Splendid Utility to adjust the display's color temperature, and WinFlash to update the BIOS. Asus' Giftbox includes a number of sales on software and subscriptions, like 20 percent off the Adobe Creative Crows and 50 percent off of a one-year subscription to The New York Times. Dropbox is preinstalled on the computer and comes with 25GB of free space for six months.
Asus sells the Q524UQ with a 1-year warranty.
There is only one configuration of the Asus Q524UQ, and it is exclusive to Best Buy. The $1,100 model comes with a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 12GB of RAM, a 2TB and 5,400-rpm HDD, and Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics with 2GB of VRAM.
When I first saw the Asus Q524UQ and its gorgeous design, I immediately thought I was going to love this computer. But looks can be deceiving, and I was wrong. Its thick, reflective bezel; oddly placed, mushy keyboard; and slow HDD make for a 2-in-1 that's better to gawk at than actually use.
For $1,150, you should buy the 15-inch HP Spectre x360 for its 8-and-a-half-hour battery life, powerful speakers and attractive (but more conventional) design.