How do you rate this laptop with Linux?
Excellent
 
27% (3)
Good
 
55% (6)
Fair
 
9% (1)
Poor
0% (0)
Unusable
 
9% (1)

ASUS X551CA

Introduction

The ASUS X551CA with i3 processor is a quite nice and cheap laptop that comes (at least here on Italy) with free-dos, so you have full freedom to install any OS you want.

It is a good machine to run Linux on it: fast, light, does not make noise, does not heat, good (but not brilliant) autonomy and good graphics (SuperTuxKart runs fullscreen without problems ;) ). If you don't need a lot of power, this laptop is a good alternative, even if it have a couple of weak points that will be considered below.

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Specifications

For full specifications see the ASUS X551CA specifications page.

NameASUS X551CA
ProcessorIntel Core i3 3217U Processor (tested)
Intel ULV Pentium 2117U Processor
Intel Celeron 1007U Processor
Screen15.6“ 16:9 HD (1366×768) Glare panel
RAM4 GiB
HDD500 GiB
Optical DriveSuper-Multi DVD +-RW
GraphicsIntegrated Intel HD Graphics
Network10/100 Base T
Integrated 802.11 b/g/n

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
ProcessorYes
ScreenYes
HDDYes
Graphics ChipYes
HDMI OutNot Tested
Display PortNot Tested
Optical DriveYes
SoundYes
MicrophoneYes
Headphone PortYes
Microphone-In PortNot Tested
EthernetYes
WirelessYesNeeds to be “unlocked”. See notes below
BluetoothNot Tested
USBYes
FirewireNot Tested
Card ReaderYesNeeds kernel 3.14 or later
WebcamYes
KeyboardYes
TouchPadYesNeeds kernel 3.13 or later
Suspend/ResumeYes

Notes

After installing openSUSE 13.1, 64 bits on this laptop (the i3 version) wifi was hard locked. To unlock I just needed to run this command as super user

echo "options asus_nb_wmi wapf=1" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/asus_nb_wmi.conf

Summary

As noted on the compatibility table above, in order to have everything working on the ASUS X551CA you need an updated kernel. At the moment of writing this lines, no distro have 3.14 by default, so you'll need to use some extra repositories.

With older kernels touchpad do not recognize scroll or multi finger event and synaptics module is not loaded, but starting from kernel 3.13 the touchpad works great, even if it is a bit too sensitive.

Card reader is only recognized from kernel 3.14.

Fn keys that control screen brightness do not work with 3.13 or previous kernels, and work quite strange on 3.14 (brightness changes only on very small steps and the changes seems not to be recorded by KDE power management tool), but assigning a different shortcut to those events (mines are now Ctrl-Meta Up / Down arrows) works without problems on the KDE session.

A word to characterize this laptop could be “minimalism”: just two usb ports (one of them usb-3, thought), just one minijack to both, headphone and external mic, no leds for cap lock or num lock (I'm using a plasmoid called “lock keys controller” to indicate the state of both keys), no dedicated multimedia keys (but the fn keys work out of the box).

All in all, an 8+ over 10


Discussion

RGB, 2014/04/18 20:57

This laptop works great with Linux, provided you use the kernel 3.14: with older kernels, touchpad is a problem and the card reader does not work, but with 3.14 everything is perfect. Using openSUSE 13.1 with the kernel repo.

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asus_x551ca.txt · Last modified: 2014/04/19 14:17 by rgb-es
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