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Quick look at ASUS X556/K556 – a solid upgrade on the inside while still being budget-friendly

ASUS continues to upgrade its X-series – also known as K-series in some regions – and today we are going to take a quick look at the upgraded X555. The new X556 notebook comes in two main configurations, both of which deliver better performance and mid-range-like features without raising the price too much. However, there are some small limitations that come with the lowered price tag and we will let you know that it’s the screen.

You can find the notebook’s price and configurations here: http://amzn.to/29WBbD9

Design

On the design front, the X556 hasn’t changed much compared to its predecessor and even offers largely the same ergonomics with around 25.5 mm height and 2.3 kg weight. For the record, the X555 had a 25.8 mm thick chassis and weighed 2.3 kg so no significant change here as well.


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We are met with the same all-plastic construction and lid that imitates concentric brushed aluminum surface giving you good grip but also attracts fingerprints. It’s offered in several color options and the one we got is in dark blue. Red, white and champagne gold are also available and the interior is painted with the corresponding color as well, although the blue version remains metallic gray.

The build quality is typical for a lower mid-range laptop with bouncy lid, bendable keyboard and rough black bottom cover but we didn’t notice any inconsistencies, gaps or holes. More importantly, the keyboard feels good with relatively long key travel while the touchpad is just flawless. A little bit “clicky” but provides big, stable surface with a nice finish – responds accurately to gestures and clicks.


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One of the key selling points, however, is the big range of ports and their “healthy” distribution on the sides. Unlike most entry-level laptops, the X556 brings support for USB Type-C 3.1 connectivity along with all the usual ports like USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA and an SD card reader. Unfortunately, though, one of the USB 3.0 connectors makes way for the newer USB-C so you have only two standard USBs – a 3.0 and a 2.0.

Hardware

Compared to last year’s model, this one brings a lot of improvement to the table but there are also two main configurations. They both offer most of the Core-U Skylake chips – Core i3-6100U, Core i5-6200U, and Core i7-6500U along with the same screen options and battery capacity. Here’s where the similarities end, though. The budget variant is equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 940M but for a few extra bucks, you can go with the refreshed GeForce 940MX, which offers higher clock speeds and GDDR5 VRAM support. Unfortunately, ASUS has chosen to stick with the DDR3 VRAM so it’s going to be interesting to see the performance gap. Moreover, the budget option comes with DDR3L-1600 memory while the other one supports DDR4-2133 SDRAM and according to ASUS, storage options also vary. For example, the 940MX model supports M.2 SSDs while the budget variant offers only 2.5-inch drives.

As we already mentioned, screen options are the same and they are as follows: HD (1366×768) and Full HD (1920×1080) with TN panels. The battery is 38Wh which is just a 1Wh increase over the older X555.

Specs sheet

The specs below may not apply to your region.

ProcessorIntel Core i3-6100U (2-core, 2.30 GHz, 3MB cache) / Intel Core i5-6200U (2-core, 2.30-2.80 GHz, 3MB cache) / Intel Core i7-6500U (2-core, 2.50-3.10 GHz, 4MB cache)
RAM8GB (2x 4096MB) – DDR3L, 1600 MHz
Graphics cardNVIDIA GeForce 940M (2GB DDR3) / NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3)
HDD/SSDup to 2TB HDD (5400 rpm) or 1TB HDD (7200 rpm) and up to 256GB SATA SSD
Display15.6-inch (39.62 cm.) – 1366 x 7680 (HD) TN, matte / 15.6-inch (39.62 cm.) – 1920 x 1080 (FHD) TN, matte
Optical driveSuper-Multi DVD
ConnectivityLAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Other features
  • 1x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • 1x USB-C 3.1
  • built-in webcam
  • built-in microphone
  • 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones and microphone
  • HDMI
  • RJ-45
  • VGA
  • SD card reader
Battery2-cell, 38Wh
Thickness25.5 mm (1.00″)
Weight2.3 kg (5.07 lbs)