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The Asus VivoBook 15 is one of the best recent laptops we’ve reviewed. They say the decision to supersize something, whether it’s a phone or an SUV, must attract some controversy, but the VivoBook has remained steadfast. The Asus F512FA-AB34 model we’re reviewing today easily meets the latest trend of moving towards ultra-portables with ever smaller and lighter designs.
Of course, there are more portable and powerful notebooks than the VivoBook 15, but the price makes all those undesirable options for buyers on a tight budget. Therefore, if all you need is a nice big screen to play with, whether it’s for number-crunching spreadsheets at work, a college term paper of just watching ‘The Gentlemen’ on Netflix, this laptop from Asus fits the bill nicely.
The ASUS VivoBook 15 F512FA gets a refreshed look over its predecessor and it manages to pack a few premium design features that are commonly found in Asus’ high-end laptops. For instance, it now features an ErgoLift hinge that angles the keyboard to offer a comfortable typing experience, something you’d usually find on the pricier Asus ZenBook UX333FA line.
Instead of a dull, black boxy design like most budget 15-inch laptops, the new VivoBook 15 gets a gray, brushed-aluminum lid and a shiny, gray deck with barely noticeable crosshatching. The same flair extends to the keyboard deck, and further accented by as Chrome ‘Asus’ logo on the lid. It measures 14.2-by-9.1-by-0.7 inches and weighs 3.5 pounds, which is quite standard for a latest-gen 15.6-inch laptop. The ErgoLift feature on a value laptop is something that should excite you when it comes to design and ease of use.
Connectivity is fine, since you get most of the ports you’d usually need. Here we are talking of two USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card slot and LED indicators for charging and battery status, all these are on the left side. On the right side, there is a charging port, a USB 3.1 port, a USB Type-C port alongside a headphone/mic combo jack.
Asus has a good reputation for its VivoBook brand, and it’s only going to win more fans here, with a full HD (1920-by-1080) resolution screen. It uses In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel technology to deliver vibrant colors and clear images, something we only see in notebooks that cost more. The full HD screen is a delight to use, both for serious office tasks and for watching movies, with great viewing angles.
In fact, it’s a NanoEdge display that has an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio, giving you more screen estate over the body bezel. Asus claims that this VivoBook uses their in-house Splendid Visual Optimization technology, which, apart from being a marketing gimmick, I don’t see any major improvement that would set it apart from other entry-level IPS panels.
On the ASUS VivoBook F512FA-AB34, the design, and screen should be the main attraction before you look at even performance. Another thing should be its weight. It’s light. Seriously so, but it doesn’t feel flimsy because of the lightweight profile.
If there’s one thing I need to criticise, it could be the standard VGA, which isn’t going to do anyone any favours. In 2018 we simply expect things to be better. Especially when Asus decided to design a well-rounded system at a very reasonable price. The speakers are surprisingly good, managing good maximum volume and a little tone of bass. You can gladly watch YouTube and Netflix with these speakers, they can fill a small room, and music plays well.
Keyboard & Touchpad
The same material used in the body is replicated in the keyboard deck and touchpad. Still, it offers a decent amount of key travel and a comfortable feel, though, the keys themselves aren’t particularly luxe. They do take another point from this laptop’s premium construction, but it’s a design you won’t be seeing in similarly-priced systems.
Despite the laptop’s compact size, the keyboard is big in all the right places, with nicely sized letter and number keys. The Backspace and Enter keys are large enough, the Shift key is the same size as the rest of the keys, which is sometimes hard to hit, but over time you’ll get used to it. For the touchpad, it is fairly good, but it doesn’t give you the instant feel you get from the likes of Dell’s XPS 13 and MacBook Air.
Packed inside of the Asus VivoBook F512FA-AB34 are an Intel Core i3-8145U processor, 8GB of RAM, an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics card and 128GB SSD. The Core i3 has two processing cores, and operates between a base frequency of 2.1 GHz and a turbo frequency of 3.9, with a 4M cache. The system feels snappy during usual Windows tasks, including multitasking with multiple apps and browser tabs running.
However, the system’s cooling fan kicks on when you open multiple apps and tabs on the background, especially when streaming videos. Surprisingly, it’s not overly loud and obnoxious, but it’s definitely noticeable. The processor used here is a popular choice among budget laptops and Chromebooks, so we’re not surprised by its level of performance.
The VivoBook F512FA’s specs sheets signals very good performance when it comes to everyday tasks like watching videos, browsing the web, and editing spreadsheets. You can get away with the very basic of games, simply put, online games and other simple titles like Minecraft.
The Asus VivoBook 15 uses an energy efficient CPU, which adds to good, but not great battery life. The notebook lasts 8 hours 24 minutes, over the IdeaPad 530s’ 7 hours 43 minutes, but still behind the Aspire 5 that last 9 hours 27 minutes on single charge. The mainstream-laptop average of 7:28 is about an hour shorter than the VivoBook 15’s runtime.
The ASUS VivoBook F512FA-AB34 offers most of the features you’d want in an inexpensive large laptop, from a high-quality display to an ErgoLift hinge that make typing more comfortable. There are a few things you’d probably rather avoid like a finicky touchpad and lean storage, but the palatable price makes up for them.
And thanks to a fairly capable Intel core i3 processor, the VivoBook F512FA-AB34 is even better if you take a gradualist approach to replacing an aging machine or buying a new laptop for work or college.
If you can make a few compromises and open your wallet much wider, both the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-54-51DJ) and Lenovo Flex 14 offer better performance and they are our top picks in the budget category. But if the big-laptop form factor is what you’re after, and your budget limit can’t stretch, the ASUS VivoBook F512FA-AB34 is excellent value and should be near the top of your list.
ASUS VivoBook F512FA-AB34
The ASUS VivoBook F512FA-AB34 offers most of the features you’d want in an inexpensive large laptop, from a high-quality display to an ErgoLift hinge that make typing more comfortable
- Good value
- Comfortable keyboard
- Decent battery life
- Storage would be better
- Not so colorful display
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ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop, 15.6” FHD, Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Windows 10 in S Mode, F512FA-AB34, Slate Gray
2 used from $379.00