The ASUS F556UA-UH71 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a daily-use laptop with ample storage and strong performance, and costs less than much of the competition.
- Strong productivity performance
- Full HD-resolution display
- Good connectivity options
- Keyboard is non-backlit
- The 5,400rpm HDD can be sluggish
For a general-use laptop, sometimes all you need is a competent, nice, and not-too-expensive system with decent features that can suffice for schoolwork, office tasks, enthusiast-level image and video editing, or simply surfing the Web. The ASUS F556UA-UH71 checks all these boxes; by refreshingly adding a few upgrades from the well-reviewed ASUS F556UA-AS54 with an irresistible mix of form and function, affordably.
You get reasonably good Skylake Core i7-powered performance, a large, brightly lit 15.6-inch screen, and everything you would need to tackle your multimedia projects, including a DVD burner and an SD card reader. A more powerful graphics and a speedy SSD would be nice, but neither omission prevents the F556UA-UH71 from being a good selection for an everyday-use PC.
Design and Features
The Asus UH71’s design and features haven’t really changed from its predecessor the ASUS F555LA-AB32, so I’ll focus more on performance and other distinct features. The system is compact for a desktop-replacement, measuring 1 by 15 by 10.1 inches (HWD) and weighing 5.1 pounds. In addition to its size, the sports a sleek and elegant exterior with the matte coating on the grey palmrest and concentric circles on other parts which is also good for protecting from scratches and fingerprints.
The 15.6-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1920-by-1080 (Full HD), and dishes out vibrant colors and clear text. The non-touch screen is also gives sharper and clearer visuals for photos, videos and basic games. The chiclet-style keyboard lacks backlighting, which is a luxury seldom seen at these prices. It is, however comfortable to use.
Large speakers and ASUS SonicMaster offer clearer sound and deeper bass- better than most budget computers. If you need to carry it around, you can slide it into the Bonvince 18.4″ Laptop Backpack, which has nicely placed compartments for the power adapter, mouse and other peripherals.
Connectivity options are standard for a budget laptop: one USB Type-C port, one USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI out port, VGA port for connecting to external displays, audio jacks, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a 3-in-1 card reader (MMC/SD/MS). (USB-C is a relatively new technology, but is very useful for connecting speedy hard drives, display adapters, and the like.) Others include the 802.11ac wireless that is three times faster than 802.11bgn, Gigabit Ethernet with RJ-45 connector, Bluetooth 4.0, and a DVD drive for your old games and movies.
Its 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive provides plenty of storage space for your files, although 5,400rpm is too yesterday and 7,200rpm would have been better. To that, add 8GB memory and you have a decent laptop for day-to-day use. All these are upgradable, with the RAM hitting a maximum of 16GB as supported by the processor, while you can swap the traditional hard drive with a snappier solid-state drive (SSD). This can be done by chucking off the 1TB hard drive and replacing it with an SSD, since there is only one slot for a storage drive.
The ASUS F556UA is well equipped with a seventh generation 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U 2.7GHz (Turbo up to 3.5GHz), 8GB of system memory, plus Intel HD 620 graphics card. For the day-to-day notebook user, this combination is more than enough for enthusiast-level media editing on Photoshop among other programs. Apparently, 8GB (upgradable to 16GB) will let you keep dozens of browser tabs open simultaneously, but I don’t see the RAM upgrade as a worth investment unless you planning on more complex tasks and games.
The integrated Intel HD 620 graphics card, is typical for the entry-level desktop replacement, and it doesn’t provide much room for heavy gaming. The ASUS F556UA managed 33FPS on GTA at low settings (1366-by-768), but you can expect better playability on casual games such as Starcraft 2, Minecraft and League of Legends among other lighter titles. If you need to play some recent game titles but on a budget, the Dell Inspiron I7559-763BLK offers smooth playability and good frames per second (FPS) scores even on modern game titles.
That said, the ASUS UH71 still allows you to play some casual games, only at low eye-candy of which you need to pay slightly more to get a dedicated gaming rig such as the ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71, our top pick for entry-level gaming laptops. The system comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Home (64-bit) which is quite standard for most recent laptops in the same category, lately.
The ASUS F556UA-UH71’s 38 polymer battery (not-replaceable) lasted 7 hour 9 minutes in our rundown test, which is commendable, given its FHD display. The HP 15-ay013nr stayed slightly behind with 5 hours 37 minutes, while the Dell Inspiron I7559-763BLK topped the list with an amazing 7 hours 16 minutes on our tests.
The ASUS F556UA-UH71 has enough features and performance to shine among the above-average budget desktop-replacement laptops. It boasts the latest seventh-generation ‘Kaby Lake’ processor, good build quality and design, a decent array of connectivity ports and a full HD screen that’s easy on the eyes.
Competitors like the HP 15-ay013nr and the HP 15-ay011nr either have half the storage or lack a FHD screen, thus remain slightly behind in terms of performance. However, its earlier sibling the ASUS F556UA-AS54 holds it ground, but upgrades such as a jump from Skylake to Kaby Lake, better battery life as well as the Intel HD graphics make the newer model worth considering.
ASUS F512JA-AS34 VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop, 15.6” FHD Display, Intel i3-1005G1 CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint, Windows 10 Home in S Mode, Slate Gray
15 used from $329.99