If you are on a tight laptop budget and you can accommodate a few concessions in performance and display quality, then the Asus Vivobook 15.6″ should be top on your list.
This laptop does not promise to blow you away, and it doesn’t. But it also has its moments, the battery is decent and the port ensemble is pretty robust.
Throw in a user-friendly keyboard and a fingerprint scanner on the touchpad along with some very slim bezels and a sturdy build and you get a laptop that looks like money well spent.
Design and Appearance
This laptop sports a subdued appearance that subtly highlights its well-groomed and well-textured build. The color of the exterior is slate gray or an alternative transparent silver finish while the deck sports the same look with some extra finishing touches to boot.
Although it has shed some extra heft as a result of its chassis being almost entirely made from plastic, this laptop still looks and feels just as solid as a metallic rig. At 3.75 pounds, it will most likely make a podium finish in the 15.6-inch laptop lightweight contest and its compact form factor further underlines its portability.
There is some degree of flex to this laptops’ frame, but it doesn’t wear out the hinge or cause it to creak in response to the strain. As for the hinge-or ErgoLift, as Asus calls it, drop-leaf gorgeous is the word that comes to mind in describing its operation and pose.
When this hinge flips the lid, it dips it ever so lightly behind the keyboard and then slightly raises the keyboard deck above the undercarriage surface at a height that recesses downwards from the hinge at the 3.5mm mark.
This uplift not only gives sufficient clearance for the bottom-firing speakers to find their voice but also enhances airflow into the system through the bottom vents and sets up the keyboard for a more comfortable typing experience.
Ports and Connection
The right side of this laptop lines up with the lion’s share of ports from what is ordinarily a healthy port collection for such a modestly priced laptop.
USB ports include the USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, and USB 2.0 ports. While an HDMI output, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack take up extra spots in the fairly strong lineup.
The USB Type-C port is conspicuously stripped of a charging function, making it no nearer to being a consolation for the omission of the much-sought-after Thunderbolt port.
Wireless connection is offered via the Gigabit Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and a Bluetooth provision.
Keyboard and Input devices
The keyboard ensemble and the overall input assembly in this laptop is a laid-down marker for an ergonomic typing and navigation experience.
Except for the Numpad, the keys are well-sized and all well-spaced with a passable travel distance and tactile feedback. They are arranged in a chiclet-style layout and benefit from a three-stage backlight, along with a slight ErgoLift-initiated uplift that adds a sense of extra depth to the key travel.
The touchpad is in a good place too. It responds promptly at the caress and tease of a fingertip. It is also very quick to recognize and execute all the gestures in the Windows 10 array.
And to the best part, a fingerprint scanner nestles at the top left corner of the touchpad. It provides easy and secure access to the device through windows hello.
As Asus graces the VivoBook 15 with its SonicMaster audio software, it will not be out of place to expect a rich and dynamic audio transmission at all levels.
But once you put the bottom-firing speakers to work, it becomes fairly obvious that this laptops’ end of the stick is a little shorter than normal, most especially with the volume.
Deep down the bass is just passable and can fly under the radar at low volumes.
However, what the sound lacks in volume, it makes up for in other nuances that become more apparent when you tune in.
The ranges are palpable to the very letter and the sounds do not come with any sort of distortion or buzz at any level of volume.
The display is a mixed bag with this laptop as its 15.6-inches screen can offer quite the spectacle in more ways than one and in both meanings of the word.
The brightness at an average of 257 nits is pretty decent, and the display is as sharp as it can afford to be, but that is the best part.
The Full HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) is betrayed by a lack of color accuracy and consistency across the entirety of the screen.
Any attempt to view the screen from an off-center perspective will be met with a fade of colors and subsequent wane of clarity as a result of the deficit of viewing angles.
And it gets even worse with the color coverage; 58% for the sRGB gamut and a sub 40% coverage for the Adobe RBG gamut.
This means that this laptop will not be making its way to the desks of creative professionals who need colors to be exact and consistent for the bulk of their work.
If you’re more into content consumption than creation, chances are that you’ll find the 15.6″ screen and its 88% screen-to-body ratio to be of interest.
And this is especially as the trim NanoEdge surround bezels will afford viewers more coverage to feed off.
Graphics and Gaming
The Vivobook 15 is not well stocked with graphic power as it feeds off Intels’ integrated graphics chip-the UHD graphics card.
This graphics card will meet with a brick wall when you attempt any sort of demanding workload on this device.
Although a RAM of 8GB should ordinarily give this graphics card an operational boost, the barely-there processor puts paid to any glimmer of hope that arises.
If you’re more into basic photo-editing and graphics design tasks that do not require any form of 3D rendering, such as for architecture or extensive color coverage, then this laptop is just the right fit for you.
But if you’re looking for a laptop to do more than mere photo touch-ups or to play the latest games, then this 15-incher is a very hard pass off the bat.
The only games that can be comfortably played on this laptop will only ever run below 60 frames per second and at lower graphics settings at best or lower display resolutions at worst.
So you can basically write off most AAA games and other high-end titles from your checklist and settle for less demanding games.
The battery life of this laptop does not overly impress or remotely disappoint with its staying power over workloads.
On a single charge, this laptop can take you through a minimum of 8 hours and 24 minutes of regular computing tasks.
And with an energy-efficient Intel CPU to call on, as well as the provision to charge up to 60% in just 49 minutes, there is a small degree of confidence that comes with using this laptop for either work or play.
Cooling and Noise Emission
To keep this laptop continuously running smooth and cool, Asus employs the service of a copper heat pipe and a generously sized fan.
The result is relatively impressive, this laptop never really heats up to the point of discomfort even during intensive and extended sessions of computing work.
The caveat is with the fans as they kick in at the slightest provocation from moderate workloads. But when they spin, they rarely ever cause a din or a disturbance.
In essence, fan noise is not a problem area with this laptop. And the sprinkling of hotspots around the screen or keyboard deck that only ever surface during intensive tasks like multiple tab web browsing and high-res video playback will not constitute a cause for concern.
The Vivobook 15 is not a power player by any stretch of the imagination and it is not difficult to imagine why, what with the Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor running the show behind the scenes.
The supporting cast is not particularly an A-list ensemble, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will not pull any major strings or throw up any surprises along the way.
With two cores of processing power to draw from alongside a maximum speed of 3.4GHz, this laptop can make a go for anything inside of the Microsoft app store.
You can take on regular computing tasks like web browsing, web design or word processing and this laptop will not break its stride.
And as the apps are wired to perform optimally with the windows 10 home in S mode operating system, the laptop will most likely live up to its expectations.
But if you seek to take things a notch higher, then you might want to consider stepping out of the S mode comfort zone and plunge into the mainstream.
Step up to photo editing and some light gaming and the burst of processing power will just about suffice for the toil. It is under sustained pressure and excessive multitasking that this laptop starts to give in.
The glitches will creep in and the ensuing system lags become a debacle of sorts. Other than that, this laptop puts up decent showings and response times over basic system tasks like booting up or launching system programs.
The Asus VivoBook 15 is a sub $500 laptop with some major wins and some significant letdowns, none so much as the 15.6″ display, it’s big brother sporting a 17.3″ screen, the Asus Vivobook 17 could be a better option.
The build design is not particularly striking and the audio is fair. And while the processor will give its best shot at every time of asking, the firepower in its arsenal will not blitz past demanding computing tasks.
But if your pockets do not have deep linings and you’re comfortable with a laptop that can do the basics right, then this laptop will come in handy.
While your fingers will find typing on this laptop to be easy, your internet connection will be seamless and your work sessions will not be short-lived or laborious.
At its price point and performance levels, the Vivobook 15.6″ does look more likely a good bargain than a major steal or a coup.
Standing screen display size
1920 x 1080 pixels
8 GB DDR4
128 GB Flash Memory Solid State
Intel UHD Graphics
Windows 10 A
VivoBook 15 F512JA-AS54
14.1 x 9.1 x 0.78 inches.