As mentioned, the Asus V550CA-CJ106H packs an Intel Core i7-3537U processor. Laptops around the £600 to £800 mark usually go for the slightly lower-powered Core i5 variants when packing an Intel processor, so it's nice to see a Core i7 processor nestled in there. It's a third-generation Core i7 processor, so it doesn't have some of the more mobile-friendly features of the Haswell architecture.
The third-generation Ivy Bridge processors do include improvements over second-gen Sandy Bridge chips, however, including a smaller die. It's also the first Intel processor to use 3D transistors, which are more energy efficient and thus prolong the life of the laptop's battery. Of course, Haswell processors have this feature as well. The maximum TDP of the processor is just 17 Watts, which makes it ideal for a laptop such as the Asus V550CA-CJ106H, as it isn't too much of a burden on the battery, and it runs pretty cool.
The processor is clocked at 2.50GHz, which is a bit slower than you would get on a desktop, but perfectly fine for a laptop, as it carefully balances speed with battery drain and heat. If it was clocked any higher the battery would deplete faster, and more heat would be produced by the processor, potentially making it unstable.
As with almost all modern processors, it's 64-bit, which means that the Asus V550CA-CJ106H can take advantage of the 64GB version of Windows 8 as well as having access to a larger amount of RAM. In the Asus V550CA-CJ106H's case, this is 6GB of DDR3 RAM. This is plenty of memory for most day to day tasks and keeps Windows 8 running fine, but at the same time we're seeing more and more laptops shipping with 8GB of RAM. This means that the Asus V550CA-CJ106H isn't the smoothest laptop we've tried, and heavy sessions of multitasking between a number of intensive applications does take its toll.
It seems almost a bit greedy to be moaning about 'only' getting 6GB of RAM, especially if many people are upgrading from a laptop that had 4GB or less. But we've been spoilt by laptops wielding 8GB, so it's a shame that Asus has cuts corners here. That being said, for light office use, web browsing and photo editing, 6GB of RAM should be plenty.
The Asus V550CA-CJ106H also comes with 1TB of hard drive space, which is divided into two partitions; one for the Windows 8 installation, and the other for your files and programs. It offers bags of room for photos, videos and more, and you'd be hard pushed to fill it any time soon. As it's a standard mechanical hard drive it doesn't offer the speeds (especially when booting up) of a solid-state drive. But that's the price you pay for a lot of extra storage space and a lower price tag.
Other specifications include a 15.6-inch screen with a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768, making sharp, full 1080p high definition graphics a no-no. And there's no optical drive, so you won't be watching DVDs or installing programs from discs either.