The Asus FX504GE-ES72 is a midrange gaming laptop that doesn't cut corners in delivering strong performance and a decent styling, thanks to an eighth generation processor and other forward-looking components.
PROS: Newer, Powerful CPU. Faster SSD storage. Full HD IPS screen.
CONS: Short battery life. Lacks USB Type-C port.
PC maker Asus has a tradition of releasing durable systems and peripherals, ranging from gaming rigs to productivity components. And now, they have something for entry-level gamers in The Ultimate Force (TUF) motherboard range. All systems bearing the TUF moniker are designed for enthusiast gamers who desire to own a ‘full-fledged’ Republic of Gamers (ROG) system, but a tight budget doesn’t allow for that. As such, the Asus TUF FX504 Series is a step below the cheapest ROG out here, in both pricing and components.
Our review system today is the Asus FX504GE-ES72 $899.00 at Amazon , a 15.6-inch gaming laptop that is billed as an update to last year’s Asus FX503VD-EH73. It’s the second TUF laptop we’re reviewing, packing an eighth generation Core i7-8750H processor, a 4GB GTX 1050 Ti GPU, 8GB RAM and a full HD In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel technology (TN) display.
All laptops in this year’s FX404 Series can only go up to GTX 1060, while models in last year’s FX503 Series go up to GTX 1060, based on the configuration you choose. However, the sub-$1000 asking price for these models is very attractive and stands to compete with the likes of the Acer Predator Helios 300 and Dell’s Inspiron 7577 Series.
The TUF FX504GE looks almost identical to the Asus FX503VD-EH73 except for a few changes on the lid and the palm rest. Instead of a plain design, the new iteration gets a few red flourishes on the outer cover, the same extends to the palm rest as well. Also, the corners are now fairly sharper, giving the system an aggressive, gamer look than its predecessors from last year. That’s just about the only difference that’s separating it from Asus’ other line of gaming laptops.
Measuring 1 by 15.1 by 10.3-inches (HWD) and weighing 5.1 pounds, the system is in the same ballpark with most 15-inch gaming laptops. The Acer predator Helios 300 weighs 5.51 pounds, and the MSI GL62M 7REX-1896US weighs 5.29 pounds. Currently, 6 pounds isn’t zenith on these sides, the ASUS ROG STRIX GL703VD-WB71 weighs a massive 6.7 pounds, though we have lighter alternatives like the MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro-230, weighing a paltry 3.96 pounds.
The case doesn’t pick fingerprints easily and won’t keep traces of oily fingers with regular use. Overall, the system’s Xotic PC skin blends well with the rest of the chassis but stays clear of the usual bling you’d find on most ROG gaming laptops. The keyboard deck is sturdy, has some flex with intentional force; otherwise it remains strong for rigorous gaming.
The system’s 15.6-inch full HD display features a 60Hz IPS panel, which is free of backlight edge bleeding and delivers fast black-to-white response times.
However, an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel is preferable over Twisted Nematic (TN) technology, as it offers wider viewing angles and delivers better quality colors.
Some might prefer a 4K display, only that the pricing and GTX 1050 in the Asus FX504GE isn’t muscular enough to deliver butter-smooth gaming on most titles to make them playable at 4K resolution.
If 4K resolution is a must-have, you might have to spend slightly more on a GTX 1080 GPU –and a screen to render it. Also, if you need a touchscreen, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
This laptop gets a standard selection of I/O ports, including: three USB ports (two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0), a HDMI port, an Ethernet jack, and mic-in, headphone-out, and line-out jacks, as well as an SD card reader. The system also features Bluetooth 5 and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity, as well as an HD Web camera.
For the price, we didn’t expect Thunderbolt 3, so its absence isn’t a deal breaker, but the lack of both USB Type C and an SD card reader can be overlooked.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The backlit keyboard has scissor-switched keys, with a red theme that’s very visible night or day. The WASD buttons are easily identifiable, with its 1.8mm key travel distance making it a safe bet for rigorous gaming. Apart from the WASD buttons that have a thicker profile, the rest of the keys aren’t very easy to identify, especially in a poorly lit room.
About the best part of the keyboard is that Asus manages to include both a number pad and full-sized directional arrow keys. Not always found on a 15-inch laptop. Below it is a 105mm by 75mm touchpad that sports a false glass finish but sends accurate gestures to the screen. Still, the experience isn’t as top-notch, something that will make most gamers use a mouse.
The is outfitted with a hexa-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor, which replaces the same quad-core i7-7700HQ chip from last year. Most will see this as a major upgrade, but the only inclusion in this Coffee Lake-H processor over the i5-7300HQ is Hyper-Threading for 12 threads concurrently. This inclusion puts it ahead of the likes of Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ when it comes to performance benchmarks.
That said, it does make computing and daily productivity, with the extra CPU cores adding the much-needed multitasking power. It is the same hexa-core CPU being flaunted on higher-end notebooks like the MSI GV62 8RD-034, GIGABYTE Aero 15X v8-BK4 and the Asus GL703GE-ES73. The newer processor combined with 8GB RAM and 256GB give the system excellent performance, which is something we expected of the six-core i7-8750H chip.
GPU performance is at par with other midrange gaming laptops fitted with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics processor. The FX504GE-ES72 is an excellent choice for budding gamers who are after gaming on the go, but don’t mind frame rates in the 50-60 fps range. The system manages to play modern titles smoothly at high settings, including Tomb Raider (65 fps), FarCry 4 (53fps) and Shadow of Mordor (67fps).
Gaming laptops are never good with battery life, except for a few. The Asus ES72 belongs to the class of juice-sipping notebooks, with a 48 WHrs battery that will last about 3 hours on a single charge but can drop to 1 hour 26 minutes when gaming. To be safe, you’ll have to be carrying along your adapter, and have a socket around.
The Bottom Line
Personally, I do welcome newer and affordable gaming notebooks for as long as they don’t offer lackluster performance as a way of justifying a few dollars to be saved along the way. In the case of the Asus FX504GE-ES72, it doesn’t cut corners, offering a peppy CPU, an IPS screen and 256 SSD storage. Granted, the short battery life and lack of a USB Type-C port are a bit painful, the good thing they don’t get in the way of performance.
With a solid feature set, it does undercut much of the Pascal-bearing laptop competition. There are more powerful alternatives out there, some more powerful components such as GTX 1070 and 1080 graphic cards, better 4K displays, and sleeker designs, but the Asus FX504GE still remains sweetly affordable. I particularly prefer the restrained styling, high quality build and top-tier components used. If you’re in the market for a value gaming laptop with forward-looking components for much less than the competition, have this at the top of your list.