Laptops have become an essential piece to anyone’s life. Gone are the days when a desktop was the go to device when it came to computing and gaming. That’s why it’s become increasingly important for laptops to be put to the test.
The ASUS Vivobook series has always been the company’s go to when it comes to affordable laptops with good specifications. This year, at Computex, the company announced a refresh to the series bringing updated insides and a new, fresh design which breathes new life into the series.
The biggest question now remains: Does the Vivobook S15 strike the right balance between affordability, value for money and technological prowess to make it a solid choice for consumers?
The Vivobook has almost always inherited the design aesthetic of the flagship ASUS Zenbook series which gave it a semblance of being a premium choice for the consumer. However, the hand-me down design aesthetic also meant that more often than not, the ASUS Vivobook was weighed down by the weight of the design and premium build materials than its insides.
That changed this year with the new Vivobook S15. ASUS introduced a few functional design changes which brought more value to the table and also allowed more thought out features to be part of the Vivobook’s allure.
The first of these changes would be the hinge of the laptop. ASUS introduces what they call the “Ergo lift Hinge” in the new Vivobook S15 (S530). The new hinge doesn’t just allow you to get the lid up for the Vivobook. It also lifts the laptop by about 3.5°. This slight lift allows more efficient cooling of the laptop thanks to the extra air flow and it also lifts the keyboard every so slightly for a more ergonomic position when typing.
These practical benefits were very apparent during the review of the Vivobook S15. I was able to type for longer periods of time as fatigue from prolonged typing didn’t set in as quickly. This was also due to the increased travel of keyboard and also less feedback from typing. That said, the ergo lift hinge also allowed the laptop to handle larger processing loads before beginning to heat up. Even when it did, the heat wasn’t as high other laptops without the hinge.
Aside from the practical update to the hinge, the Vivobook S15 (S530) also brings some more aesthetic changes including the selection of colours and also the design intricacies. The first thing you’ll probably realise about the new Vivobook S15 is the pop of colour any of the Vivobooks. ASUS has chosen to accent the sides of the Vivobook with colour instead of colouring the whole laptop. The new approach to colouration gives the Vivobook a more premium and elegant look compared to its predecessors. The elegant inclusion of colour is just enough to allow some self expression. In addition, the keyboard surface of the laptop is textured. This breaks the once cold exterior of the ASUS Zenbook with a warmer, almost organic touch
Another big design change you’ll notice immediately are the narrow bezels of the ASUS Vivobook. The new vivobook minimises the bezels to a mere 6mm. This allows a bigger screen to be fit into a smaller body. This makes the overall device smaller and more compact that you’d expect; that’s even with the larger, more immersive display.
The Vivobook S15 managed to pair specifications which pack a punch with a price point that is really compelling. In general, the Vivobook brings a combination of discreet graphics with capable processors and a dual solid state drive (SSD) and hard disk drive (HDD) combination.
This year, it seems like the name of the game for the ASUS Vivobook S15 (S530) is value for money. ASUS has decided to deliver as much value as they can with the Vivobook S15. Depending on the combination, the vivobook should be able to cater to the entry level user all the way to those who are looking to kick start their YouTube channel. Of course, the duration of how long it will meet your needs will depend on how much power you need from the laptop.
VivoBook S15 (S530)
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8550U||Intel Core i5-8250U|
|Display size||15.6 inches|
|Display specs||FHD (1920 x 1080 IPS-level with 178-degree wide view angle and ASUS Tru2Life Video technologies|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Graphics||Discrete: NVIDIA GeForce MX 150|
|Memory||4GB DDR4 2400MHz|
|Storage options||Dual Storage Design|
128GB SATA3 SSD
1TB 5400rpm HDD
|Wireless||802.11ac Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 4.2|
|Interface||1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-C|
1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
2x USB 2.0 Type-A
1x 3.5mm Audio combo jack
1x SD Card Reader
|Audio||2x high-quality stereo speakers with ASUS SonicMaster technology and surround effects|
|Security||Touchpad fingerprint reader|
|Battery||42Whrs 3-cell Lithium-prismatic battery|
|AC adapter||65W for Discrete GPU SKU/ 45W for UMA SKU|
|Dimensions||361.4 x 243.5 x 18mm|
The ASUS Vivobook S15 (S530) comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. When you’re looking at the details on paper, you’d be wondering why go with a Full HD panel instead of a higher 4K or UHD panel. The frank truth? Full HD is a sweet spot when it comes to laptop resolution, in my opinion. When you start playing with higher resolutions like 4K and UHD, Windows doesn’t scale properly and graphics become too small and can cause eyestrain.
However, with the 1080p Full HD resolution on the Vivobook S15 (S530), we could simply setup the laptop and be ready to go without much need to tweak settings. The panel ASUS uses in the laptop had good colour reproduction and the resolution was sufficient that even when we needed to look at details when editing pictures and video it was easy. This is partially thanks to the ASUS Tru2Life engine which optimises the image quality and sharpness.
Of course, gaming performance at 1080p would leave a lot to be desired for power users. However, casual gamers and beginners aren’t missing out on much when it comes to resolution. Keep in mind that the GeForce MX150 might leave a lot to be desired at 4K resolution.
The Vivobook S15 (S530) is also built for Windows Hello. In particular, the laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner placed on the touchpad. This makes signing in a breeze as you don’t have to type your password each time. If you’re like me, this also means an added level of security as you are not typing your password in public.
Speaking of the touch pad, you can also use multifinger gestures to navigate Windows. This makes jumping between apps and navigating between work spaces easy. Scrolling along while reading documents is also easy as it only takes a 2 finger gesture.
Performance – this is usually where we present you with benchmark details and talk about them. But we’re not going to do that. At techENT, we believe that the performance of a laptop goes beyond just benchmarks and extends to the overall user experience of using the laptop.
With the ASUS Vivobook S15, I’ll need to split the performance part into two distinct sections: with the stock 4GB of RAM and after we upped the RAM to a total of 8GB. You’d be surprised how a small increase in RAM impacted the performance of the laptop.
The ASUS Vivobook S15 (S530) is being sold on the market with 4GB of RAM. That being the case, we decided that it would be best to spend sometime with only 4GB of RAM. In total, we spent about 4 days before doing something about it.
The Vivobook comes with an SSD out of the box which meant that the first boot and set up was a breeze. The laptop was snappy and responsive thanks to the extra speed of the SSD and also the inclusion of a 1TB HDD. The laptop was able to handle most of what we threw at it. It didn’t struggle with much. In fact, the laptop could handle about 10 tabs on Google Chrome without much problem.
However, after loading up Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite, the laptop began to become sluggish. There was a slight delay in typing and when things appeared on screen. Launching applications took longer than usual. However, this was no fault of the laptops overall configuration. In fact, this sluggishness was what led us to decide to increase the RAM to 8GB.
With the increase to 8GB of RAM, the laptop was back to being the performer it was built to be. It was breezing through a lot of the menial day to day work such as emails, browsing, word processing and even preparing power point presentations.
Where the laptop hit a bottle neck was when it came to creative work. Programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and Audition seem to push the laptop to its limits. But that in no way implies that the ASUS Vivobook S15 (S530) wasn’t able to do these tasks – it just took longer. However, ASUS’s decision to include the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 gave the laptop that extra umph to perform a lot better than other similarly priced options on the market.
The S15 (S530) was even able to handle some games commendably. Games like Diablo 3 and Torchlight were able to run at sufficiently high settings. That said, more taxing games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Overwatch needed to be set to low to medium settings to get the best performance and frame rate.
Be that as it may, the ASUS Vivobook S15 (S530) still performed better than expected overall. It was able to handle a lot more than expected when it came to high demand tasks and even handling media.
Overall, the ASUS Vivobook S15 (S530) is a great package. However, we’d be hard pressed to not recommend upping the RAM to 8GB at least to get the most out of the laptop. Other than that, the laptop is a near perfect entry level laptop for students or even someone that needs a light, portable laptop for office use. It may not be the go to for people who need the graphics processing capabilities and deal with high resource editing programs.
Also published on Medium.