You do know the brand name do you not? ASUS, it is almost a household name for reliable PC peripherals. In fact in PC peripherals it is one of the best, if not the best. They are also one of the current forerunners in notebook PCs. They are known to be as solid as a brick and as reliable as a pet dog.
They said before that PCs are losing their significance at this day and age; it is the age of smartphones. While that could contain some truth, the PC market is not yet obsolete just yet. In fact with the age of mobility the notebook PC market, specifically has found a new foothold; road warriors.
This new breed of tech based employees with ultra-flexible working hours and highly mobile working platform obviously need something they can carry around for work. They could be in Tahiti next week and still get work done and get paid by having their notebook PCs at their sides. Heck, they could be sipping Mai Thais at Maldives while getting their tan on, and complete their assignment for a company halfway across the world in a totally messed up timezone compared to them. Obviously for these type of people, a full desktop is not going to cut it.
But it is not only for them though, these days offices are also becoming plenty more mobile. In fact with flatter organisational structures and emphasis on mobile telecommunications, offices are not just in a fixed building for employees anymore. Offices could be wherever they are as long as they have an internet connection and a notebook PC with them. Technically then the notebook PC is pretty much at its prime with tower desktops taking a back seat.
These days also it makes more sense to buy a modern laptop than a desktop unless you are really into gaming. Sure a full tower desktop has the upgrade advantage, it is pretty much modular. Laptops on the other hand are not modular. You are stuck with the same hardware for the next three years at least when you buy a new notebook PC. By a year, your hardware is already outdated and there is nothing you can do about it.
But the offer of ultra-portability is too good to not take up. The sort of hardware we are getting these days should last you at least five years anyway to be fair. It could be outdated hardware by the time you learn all its functions, good sides, and flaws. But at the same time it would not matter that much; your PC is still powerful enough to run whatever you may throw at it for the next 5 years.
Just a few weeks ago we did a review of ASUS’ ultimate portable laptop the ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490. If you missed it, here it is. That thing costs an arm and a leg though. So for you that are looking to get a mobile ‘office’ but is willing to trade good-looks and charms for budget and sense, here it is; the ASUS VivoBook S.
The VivoBook S is one of ASUS latest entry into the notebook PC foray. The one we have here is equipped with Intel’s 7th Generation Core i5 processor paired with a GT940MX GPU. It is built to be as mobile as possible, which meas that it is light. It is also built to pack a little bit of punch as well so that you still can do proper work on it. It is built to be beautiful too though with its brushed aluminium top case. But is it any good? Should this be your new weapon for the road? Let us find out together shall we?
What can we say here? Let us see. For starters, if you look at its rough shape, it does look like any other notebook PCs you get in the market. A rectangular slab of aluminium constructed thin box. Wait a minute, it is an aluminium constructed piece. Considering that laptops are aiming to go lighter at every iteration every manufacturer is trying to go for plastic construction on the majority of their hardware; even at this price point. Not ASUS though.
It looks like a proper ASUS with that high quality aluminium finish. It looks properly good with the brushed aluminium look on the top case that covers the Full HD display module. The bottom case feels like they are made of a single piece of material. You can see the seam that forms the bottom case though, secured with tiny Philip screws for easy serviceability. We had the gold coloured VivoBook S15 (we do not know the specific colour schemes; there is also a grey coloured one) for two weeks. The colour scheme, in our opinion is chintzy but quite subtle. In certain lighting conditions, it looks like it was silver. Most of the time though it is unmistakably gold. We think that the grey colour should be a no-brainer when you get this laptop.
Even in gold though the aluminium finish on the bottom case looks good. Its simple, clean, straightforward design is easy on the eyes. The island keyboard with backlighting also looks at home with the aluminium case. Then there is the fingerprint sensor integrated with Windows Hello – its placement makes so much sense, it is intuitive and reduces clutter on the smooth surface of the aluminium top. The sharp edges on the top part of the bottom case adds a certain degree of sophistication. The issue is that because your wrists rest on top of the sharp edges, it might be slightly less comfortable to work with for long hours.
The whole package screams premium though. For MYR3,299 (RRP) you get a super thin notebook PC at 17.9mm, lightweight aluminium construction at about 1.5kg, with super premium build quality as expected from ASUS. It even looks really good at the same time. It is easily one of the simplest, cleanest looking laptops in the market; its size even bordering the ultra-books. Even the sides of this particular hardware is designed to be as clean as possible with minimal clutter.
The whole package though is reminiscent of another manufacturer’s design in notebook PCs (Ahem, MacBook, Ahem). It runs on a different OS though and an equivalent specced one might cost north of MYR4,000. For less, you really are looking at, in our opinion a better looking laptop, albeit the loss of some fancy LEDs behind the display. You do get a premium metallic finish on the branding though.
The MYR3,299 package that we get here packs a good punch with Intel’s 7th Generation Core i5-7200 processor kicking at 2.5GHz (3.1GHz with TurboBoost). There is an even punchier version of this notebook packing the latest i7, that will set you back at least a cool MYR3,699 though. Worth the upgrade? Maybe. The i5 though, we are happy to report that it packs enough grunt to give you ultimate productivity. Any sort of multimedia is also handled pretty much like a champ on the 15.6-inch Full HD display supported by the Nvidia 940MX GPU.
|Processor||Intel® Core™ i5-7200U 2.5GHz (TurboBoost up to 3.10GHz)|
|Hard Disk||1TB HDD + 128SSD|
|Graphics Processing Unit|
|Nvidia GeForce 940MX with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM|
FHD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel)
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Battery||42Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer battery|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 ac,|
Type C USB3.0 (USB3.1 GEN1)
USB 3.0 port
2x USB 2.0 ports
SD Card Reader
|Camera||VGA Camera with single Mic|
One of the things you may not know about this new VivoBook S15 is that it is light, 1.5kg light to be specific. Not impressed yet? Put it this way, other competing laptops tip the scale at nearly 2kg. In a sense, 500g may not sound like a lot of weight to lose. In the laptop world though it is a whole lot of weight to be lost. If you put that in terms of everyday use it is a quarter of the weight of a regular laptop gone from your back, it practically weighs feathers at this point.
The small-ish body contains a large 15.6-inch Full HD display and a full-sized chiclet keyboard. It is actually plenty smaller than the Lenovo 15-incher I personally own and for good reason. The brilliant Full HD display is bordered by only 7.8mm of bezel which minimises the amount of bodywork that goes into covering the display. Which also means that it is smaller than the conventional 15-inch notebooks. But that also sacrifices the numerical pads you normally get with 15-inch laptops and above.
The missing dedicated numerical pads could be a good thing though. The loss of the numerical pads also means that the notebook has better ergonomics. Your typing position is plenty more centralised and a lot more natural. Your left palm has plenty more room than when you type on a regular full-sized keyboard you get with other 15-inchers.
The keyboard itself has that sharp click noise to it, not loud enough to distract you from your work or your colleague sitting beside you. But it is quite an unpleasant noise. When you do mash the keys a little harder to you start to notice a little rattling noise coming from the mid top section of the keyboard. Upon further inspection it was the chassis itself making the rattling noise. Tapping the source of the rattle seems to reveal some shody build; that isn’t the case though. The air vents are wedged where the hinge sits, which means that materials are thinner there. Also the two rubberised back foot of the VivoBook S is also quite far apart creating this flexible bridge that tends to rattle. It should not be a concern though.
Despite those the keyboard travel is great and it is a very comfortable keyboard to type on for long hours. It is not the best out there obviously. It still does enough to bolster your fingertips’ impacts though so you do not get fatigued just by typing on it. The LED backlighting is a blessing in darker conditions. It helps the VivoBook S look premium too in some sense.
Then there is the fingerprint sensor that, as we have talked about extensively in our ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490 review something we really appreciate. The placement is so intuitive that it becomes a second nature whenever you turn the laptop on. The plus side also is that it does not interfere with the ergonomics of the notebook PC.
Ports available are 2x USB 2.1, flanked with an SD Card reader, 1x USB 3.1 at the opposite side, alongside with the round charging port, a HDMI port, a USB Type-C port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The 7th Generation Intel Core i5 packs 2.5GHz under its skin paired with a 4GB of RAM and a 1TB of hard drive. That is also paired to an 128GB SSD that contains the OS files itself. The result? Super fast start-up like you would expect from an SSD. The start-up is almost as fast as a smartphone if you might. Even the fingerprint sensor integrated with Windows Hello is quick to respond to your touch.
Its weight, as mentioned played a role in how mobile we can get with the VivoBook S15. It was just a matter of whipping it out, turn it on and you are ready to go everywhere you go; as long as you can find a good spot to sit. The weight saving this thing does over the other notebook comes as a real blessing in disguise however. Carrying the slate through the airport was a breeze, you hardly realise that you are carrying an actual 15.6-inch of a multimedia powerhouse in your bag including its power brick. It is that much lighter than the usual 15-inch laptop we are used to to the point that we thought that it was a 14-incher.
With the Nvidia GeForce 940MX discreet graphics card this packs it can some basic graphic intensive operations. For example it would easily run Adobe’s Premier Pro (albeit not as fast as more powerful rigs; the RAM will struggle a bit). Photoshop is quite a breeze too for this machine. Added to the fact that the display produces accurate colours as well colour grading with the VivoBook S is a bliss.
Heat is not an issue if you only use the VivoBook S to browse the web. Firing up the Adobe suite of apps does give it a little push and therefore heat builds up. The heat produced from that is still manageable though.
The SonicMaster audio works great across all sorts of audio, only when they are played at less than 50% volume. anything beyond that you start hearing some sharp crackles and cracked bass. If you do have a decent pair of earphones, or headphones we do recommend that you use them; sounds much better at high volumes (watch out for destroyed eardrums though).
The 42Whrs 3 cell battery is quoted to have about 8 hours of continuous use. We have not gotten anything close to 8 hours though. We got to around 4 hours when the battery indicator tells to charge. We realised though that the short span of battery life could be caused by the amount of tabs I personally open on Google Chrome. Installing the Great Suspender extension (we are not sponsored by them, we swear) does help a great deal. We do recon that if you do plenty of light browsing and listen to music, even with brightness turned up to 100% you could get close to the claimed 8 hours battery life. Battery life do vary from the various ways you use your PC though; so the sort of battery life we get may be shorter than some.
The VivoBook S510U we have comes with a 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixels 1080p Full HD display with ASUS Splendid technology. The Splendid utility app allows you to adjust your display to pop its own colours in vivid mode. If you are planning to use the VivoBook S for hours reading documents, you can switch it to eye care mode where harmful blue light is filtered. You can even adjust how much of the blue light you want filtered. If both modes are not your thing you can even manually adjust your screen mode; make your colour temperature as warm or as cold as you want. One thing you have to keep in mind with the VivoBook S though, the display scale is set at 125% by default so fonts do look like they are a little blown up to help you see better.
Colours on an ASUS display is usually great and it is no different on the VivoBook S. It may not have the 100% sRGB colour gamut, but the tru2ife Video feature built into the PC works great and produces colours as close to what your camera captures as possible. Of course you should keep colour calibrating your display if you do plenty of Photoshop or Premiere Pro works. For movies though, you are getting rich colours to start with. With the NanoEdge Display super thin bezels; immersive is the keyword here.
The ASUS VivoBook S15 – The Freedom Machine
There are a few things wrong with the ASUS VivoBook S15. We did not like the SonicMaster dual speakers. We thought 4GB of RAM was on the little side. We could not get 8 hours of battery out of the laptop as well (could come down to how we use the laptop).
But there are a great deal of things we like about the ASUS VivoBook S15 too. You cannot fault the build quality of this thing, it feels solid and it feels like it will outlive your smartphone. All that premium material is used and you still get a laptop that is lightest in its class; saves you plenty of strained back and shoulders from carrying a heavy slab of a thing all day. Despite not getting about 8 hours of battery life the laptop still has plenty of battery to spend and it will last you at least 4 hours of use. In any case 4 hours is plenty more than enough to be productive on-the-go (we think that you can get nearly 8 hours of battery life depending on your usage pattern though). The 1080p display is quite amazing with its own tricks, and we really like the thin NanoEdge bezel to keep the S15 as portable as possible despite wielding a 15.6″ display. The Intel Core i5 is plenty powerful enough to run whatever applications you might want to throw at it. Of course it may not run Adobe’s Premiere Pro and Photoshop and Lightroom at a single go. It is powerful enough to handle each application though. The fingerprint is quick to respond and is placed at the most convenient and intuitive position ever (we think).
So what do we think? Should you get it? If you are looking for a powerful portable powerhouse, this is your beast. With the ASUS VivoBook S15 you have a few options of upgrading to the more powerful Core i7 and more RAM. The one we have here is plenty powerful enough to keep up with our power runs though. If we do turn down the display’s brightness a little and turn the LEDs behind the keyboard off, we are plenty sure that we can get more battery life out of this PC. Despite our incompetency in extending the battery life, it is still enough to keep you away from a wall plug for a while. It is so light either that you can work basically anywhere you want, even on the road side if you will. It is truly the perfect tool for the road warrior. Do you consider yourself one? Then yes, yes you should get this one.
Also published on Medium.