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The Asus VivoBook 15 X515 is very affordable and, like some other low-priced notebooks from Asus, manages to deliver a premium look that we normally see in notebooks twice the price. But as with all other budget machines, they often seem like they’re too good to be true. The fact that you can get just enough performance to see you through a few years at an exceptionally low price is quite enticing.
In the case of the Asus VivoBook 15 (model X515MA-AH09-CA), you’re paying less money for less performance and less battery life and are willing to do with a less vibrant display. In return, you’re getting decent port options, a nice design, a thin chassis, and an almost edge-to-edge 15.6-inch display. But in this Asus VivoBook 15 X515 review you’ll find out how this is a result of the compromises one has to make to save money.
Performance takes the biggest hit here with the VivoBook 15 holding up for only simple web tasks, but anything more taxing is going to be painfully slow on the Intel Pentium Silver N5030 processor. Still, there are some good design touches on this laptop and, if you need a laptop at this price point, there are certainly worse options out there. However, you should consider taking a look at our best laptops under $500, or if Windows isn’t a must-have, a Chromebook around the same price will be a better investment.
Design and Features
Asus has remained consistent in carrying over some of the premium design touches of its flagship ZenBook line into the budget and midrange lines. While the VivoBook 15 X515 comes in a plastic body, rather than the metal unibody in the higher-end siblings, it still looks the part when witting on a desk. It sports a textured Slate Gray finish paired with a silver metallic sheen of the Asus logo centered on the lid to contrast it.
We’re surprised to see the ErgoLift Hinge here, which angles the keyboard deck slightly upward for a better typing experience. Lifting the lid reveals an interior that carries over the same finish as the lid, including a color-matched trackpad with a built-in fingerprint sensor, while the keyboard breaks away with a standard black finish. The NanoEdge Display adheres to its name with minimal bezels on each side, but it would be nice if that included the top bezel.
At 2.46kgs and measuring 23.37 x 36.07 x 2.03 cm, the X515MA-AH09-CA isn’t going to be a hurdle carrying around on daily commute, but it isn’t going to challenge premium thin and light laptops in portability as well. It’s in the same ballpark as the Acer Aspire 5, the HP 15 laptop, and most other 15-inch laptops out there.
Port selection is decent, and it even includes a USB Type-C port. The left side has one USB 2.0 port, a USB Type-C port, and an HDMI port, while the right side has two additional USB 3.1 ports and a combo headphone/mic jack.
The VivoBook 15’s 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display offers thin bezels on either side of the laptop, with a little more at the top to accommodate the webcam. But it doesn’t go beyond the looks, the display’s dim color profile and mediocre viewing angles make it an underwhelming device for bingeing on your favorite media content. It makes nature shows like Planet Earth II, look older than they are, while movies like The Watchful Eye are hard to see in dark scenes.
Viewing angles on the Vivobook 15 are a bit odd, too. You’ll have to look at the laptop at an exact angle – almost 100 degrees – to see the display without a sheen. The issue extends to dark colors, especially black and gray, and if you often work in dark mode for most apps, it’s simply hard to ignore. The sheen issue makes the laptop hard to use with Windows 11 night mode. With the 720p resolution, the laptop is also not very bright maxing out at 205 nits, while competitors like the Acer Aspire 5 and HP 15 are brighter, measuring at 259 nits and 224 nits respectively, though both models are below the industry average of 269 nits. Whichever way you view it, the VivoBook 15 isn’t meant to deliver a cinematic experience whatsoever.
- 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) Touch NanoEdge bezel display with stunning 83%...
- Powerful Intel Core i5-1135G7 Processor (Up to 4.2 GHz, 4 cores, 8M Cache) with Intel Iris...
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, and Windows 11 Home
Keyboard and Touchpad
With an underwhelming display, the keyboard is a bit of a mixed bag. The chiclet keys are comfortable to type on, and I appreciate the number pad squeezed into the right side of the keyboard and that you can turn it on and off with the Number lock key, just the way you’d do on a full-sized keyboard.
But after you begin working with it, you discover the issue with the distance between the keys. The individual keys are on the smaller side and are widely spaced so that it feels like you’re typing on a cheap external keyboard. I also find the placement of a few keys, Page UP and Page Down, farther than where you’d naturally want to rest your fingers. If you want to get some serious work done, plan to get this laptop docked.
Beyond the keyboard, trying to use Windows 11 gestures on the VivoBook 15’s 4.1 x 2.9-inch trackpad may be annoying at times. You’ll find yourself with lots of unwanted swipes, and I just wish the trackpad was a bit bigger, and it feels off-center at its current placement and width.
The Intel Pentium Silver N5030 processor paired with 4GB of RAM doesn’t sound impressive, but the laptop loads up a dozen of Google Chrome tabs, including two YouTube videos without a stutter, and you can jump between all of them. You aren’t picking the VivoBook 15 for gaming, but when it comes to everyday computing and handling an array of web tasks and apps, you shouldn’t have any issues.
The VivoBooks 128GB SSD isn’t doing it any favor taking 28 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media. This translates to a transfer rate of 177 megabytes per second. Competing machines like the Acer Aspire 5 do better at 369.6Mbps and are still nearly a third the speed of the category average of 453Mbps.
With the Intel UHD graphics on the VivoBook, you aren’t going to play any demanding games, and that’s expected. If you’re set on a gaming PC, you’ll need to spend at least a bit more on one of our best gaming laptops.
Depending on your use case, the VivoBook 15’s battery life might be the final nail in its coffin as it lasts just over 5 hours in tests, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. This is well below most budget laptops and Chromebooks, and while most don’t offer much in performance, at least they make in almost all-day battery life.
On a typical day, if I were in a rush and needed an affordable throwaway laptop to run a few basic tasks, the Asus VivoBook 15 X515 (X515MA-AH09-CA) would likely carry the day. It has just enough power to run everyday tasks and enough power to type away an urgent office document. But as this Asus Vivobook 15 review has shown, performance is where this model draws the line, and the dim display doesn’t make things better, either.
At least there are lots of ports, so if the VivoBook 15 X515 is the only choice you have in your backpack, an external monitor, a set of speakers, and a mouse can help with some of its issues. But if you can swing it, at least consider spending a few hundred more on the Core-i5 version of the VivoBook 15 with more power in the processor.
Asus VivoBook 15 X515
The Asus VivoBook 15 X515 (X515MA-AH09-CA) is an affordable laptop capable of everyday tasks, with a nice-looking design but is held back by a dim display, meager battery, and weak audio.
- Very affordable
- Full keyboard layout
- Light and portable
- Sub-par battery life
- Dim and Dull display
Last update on 2023-09-22 at 13:49 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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ASUS VivoBook 15 X515 Thin and Light Laptop, 15.6” HD Display,Intel Pentium,4GB RAM,128GB SSD,Windows 11 Home in S Mode + 1 Year Microsoft 365 Personal, X515MA-AH09-CA
11 used from C $287.49