The ASUS VivoBook 15 X510UQ is an affordable laptop that doesn’t have much to separate it from the crowd, yet it sports a design and performance that will keep students and casual users excited.
THE GOOD: Thin and light profile. Solid performance.
THE BAD: No Ethernet port. Middling battey life.
Unless you need to wring as much gaming power as possible out of a very tight budget, you’ll some value in the Asus VivoBook 15 X510UQ-NH71. A moderately-priced Vivobook that’s sure to appeal to students and the casual user. Over its predecessor from last year, this model adds more power, a dedicated graphics card and has a large display. Nonetheless, it remains very portable enough to tote around on daily commute.
The VivoBook X510UQ-NH71’s spec sheet point towards a system that checks all the right boxes for work and play, though real world use might tell a different story, but a happy one altogether.
The faux aluminum cove of the Vivobook 15 is a mirage. Its brushed finish gives it a metallic look from a far. It’s only after you touch it –or take a closer look– do you realize the plastic casing, designed to match the aluminum profile of Apple’s MacBook Air. With the lid closed, the aesthetic is reminiscent of the latest MacBook Pro, though the former is fairly trim in size.
Weighing in at 3.7 pounds and measuring 0.8 inches thick, the Asus 15 X510UQ is slightly lighter –but thicker, than the Dell XPS 15 (3.9 pounds, 0.66 inches), while the MacBook Air remains thinner and lighter at 0.68 inches and 2.5 pounds, respectively.
Overall, the system maintains a solid build, something we’ve come to like in the VivoBook line. In fact, it feels like it can withstand a slight bump and drop off your desk, though it isn’t something you really want to try. And, the plastic aesthetic that mimics aluminum gives it a premium look, which is a bonus since Asus made the VivoBook affordable without sacrificing the looks.
The bezeless craze that began with TVs and monitors, progressed into smartphones, finally settled on laptops, too. On the VivoBook 15 X510UQ, the 15.6-inch FHD display is surrounded by a narrow bezel, measuring just 7.6mm. This is the same concept used in the Asus VivoBook S510U’s display. It uses In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to deliver graphics at a maximum resolution of 1920-by-1080, which is becoming standard in this category.
Asus markets the ever shrinking designs as “NanoEdge” display, which look very thin, but they shouldn’t be a major selling point. As expected, by reducing the bezels around the display, Asus are able to trim the system’s overall size, just like Dell’s InfinityEdge display. Thin bezels look cool on a svelte system, but apart from beauty, it doesn’t warranty limiting yourself to bezeless screens.
Touchpad and Keyboard
The keyboard deck is cut from the same brushed plastic material used in the body. We expected a full-size keyboard with a separate number pad, and, Asus ensured we don’t get that luxury. It’s been like that on all VivoBook, we can’t complain though. Still, the non-backlit keys offer a decent amount of travel and are as comfortable as we’d expect of an entry level system. That said, the keys aren’t that luxe themselves.
On the Asus ZenBook 3, the fingerprint reader location was moved to the top-right corner of the trackpad. The new VivoBook doesn’t get a fingerprint reader, but is available on the VivoBook S510U, though it has been ticked further into the corner than it is on last year model. The shift in position ensures that it doesn’t interrupt gestures and swipes. For the touchpad, it feels responsive, even if it doesn’t give the instant feel of the XPS 15 and MacBook Air.
A thinner chassis doesn’t give you lots of connectivity options. The optical drive is absent here, to give space for useful I/O ports that you can use to hook your accessories. On the left side is a USB 2.0 port and a standard SD card reader. On the opposite side, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, a single USB C port, a full-size HDMI, a USB 3.1 and a DC charging port. The Ethernet port is gone, but you have 802.11AC Wi-Fi.
Storage is quite mean; you’ll have to swap the 1TB (5400rpm) hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD) in order to get fast booting and speedy overall performance. If you want to benefit from both, there’s an empty M.2 SSD slot next to the drive ay where you can install a snappy drive.
With a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500Uprocessor, a new Nvidia 940MX graphics card and 8GB system memory, the Asus X510UQ-NH71 offers powerful performance among its peers. This configuration keeps the system at par against any tasks thrown its way, without any noticeable slowdowns or blaring fans to keep it cool. It’s possible to have over seven Chrome tabs open on the background, while editing a spreadsheet at the same time, and the system will still keep up with use. Chrome and other productivity suites are known to eat away resources even when idle, but with the core-base configuration, the VivoBook performs admirably.
The VivoBook NH71 uses a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB) graphics card allows for modest gaming, though not as smooth as you’d get in a GTX 1050-equipped system. This is a near-entry level graphics card that an improved version of Intel HD 620, which is common among budget systems. It doesn’t deliver butter-smooth playability like you’d find on Pascal architecture GPUs, but it’s still better than integrated cards. It lets you play at medium settings(1920-by-1080), but beyond that it gets bogged down. Overall, for basic gaming, it put on a favorable showing than its competitors.
Battery performance is where the VivoBook 15 takes a plunge against the like of Dell’s XPS 15. Otherwise, it’s with the realm of better performing desktop-replacement laptops that can be had on a budget. On a single charge and moderate use, it yields 4 hours 19 minutes, against the Dell XPS 15’s 5 hours 58 minutes, and the MacBook Pro’s 8 hours 49 minutes. Still, that enough to last a single lesson in college or a day at work on moderate use.
The Bottom Line
For those looking for a value laptop on a strict budget, where a svelte design and large screen are must-haves, the ASUS VivoBook 15 X510UQ-NH71 ties the right knots. Between having a 1TB hard drive and an empty slot that can accommodate an extra SSD, the system can grow into the pearl you want it to become. Let’s face it, nowhere do you find a value system with a 7th gen i7, 8GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics without spending a fortune. The biggest flaw trickles down to battery life, and even so, it isn’t that bad. It would, however, be fine if it came closer to a full day, like Apple’s MacBook Pro. That said, if you’re in the market for an average Windows laptop for college and work, this VivoBook would be a worth consideration, especially at a time when Asus opted to slice the price a bit.