The Asus VivoBook F510UA-AH55 is cheaper than most 15-inch laptops, and with its feature set it looks like good value for a budget system. If all you need is a daily use laptop that suffices for both college and work, the VivoBook AH55 is a shoo-in.
PROS: A premium aesthetic footprint. Good sound quality. Latest 8th-Gen processor. Good storage option.
CONS: Keyboard flex. Non backlit keyboard. Middling battery life.
Now that the tech honchos have declared 2018 to be a year of powerful systems for ever-decreasing amounts of money, Asus is putting out a set of top-of-the line notebooks with the idea surpassing the competition. Of course, that can only happen by releasing into the market well designed notebooks, with the best components and pricing that can’t be leveraged by competitors in the same niche.
Enter the Asus VivoBook F510UA-AH55, an office/college system that will capture the attention of most office users and students alike. Many will see it as an upgraded version of our Editor’s Choice, the ASUS VivoBook F510UA-AH51 (true, depending on how you look at it), but it has more to offer as compared to its other iteration from last year.
With the latest Vivobook AH55, Asus is taking on the likes of Dell XPS 13, Lenovo Yoga 920 and Acer Swift 5, that seem to dominate the budget desktop-replacement category. Under the hood is Intel’s Kaby Lake-R(efresh) chip, that brings a new twist in the world of ultra-thin laptops. Plus, it gets the best storage option that you can’t get in the market for the price.
There are compromises, however, like fewer ports and no optical drive, but it’s expected when you need portability over everything else. If all you need is a daily use laptop that suffices for both college and work, the VivoBook AH55 is a shoo-in.
The F510UA’s design is a refreshed version of last year’s Vivobooks, coming in both lighter and thinner than its predecessor, but managing to significantly reduce on the price. It weighs just over 3.7 pounds and will slide into any backpack with its 0.8-inch figure. Those are notable trims over last year’s model, which weighed 4.2 pounds and was what now appears to be rather spooky 1.6 inches thick.
Those numbers seem to have moved in the right direction – a good thing, but we’re starting to see where Asus has cut costs with this machine. Aside from the lid, that sports a gorgeous spun star gray finish, the entire body is cut from plastic. The system gets a shiny coating that mimics an aluminum construction, but it isn’t anything close to the gorgeous carbon-fiber finish on Dell’s latest Dell PS 15, or even the timeless aluminum build of Apple’s MacBook Pro with touch bar.
Keyboard and 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 XPS 13 and MacBook Air.
Screen and Speakers
Asus has absolutely nailed the 1920-by-1080 resolution on the VivoBook F510UA-AH51. It is an IPS NanoEdge display with a stunning 80 percent screen-to-body ratio. It is billed as using Asus Splendid visual optimization technology, but apart from being a marketing stunt, I haven’t seen how such enhancement add to the overall experience, but it’s good to have them in the package. The screen looks nice, with the only negative being the hinge that doesn’t bend as nearly back as I’d like, and the screen isn’t that bright, afterall.
The speakers are surprisingly good, managing good maximum volume and a little tone of bass. I’d gladly watch YouTube and Netflix with these speakers, they can fill a small room, and music plays well.
Connectivity and Storage
With a thinner chassis, the number of full-size USB ports is lower than what you’d find on notebooks, and the optical drive is also dropped. On the Vivobook AH51, all you have is a USB 3.1 port (Type-C), a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI port. The HDMI is the full size, which is better than the mini-HDMI that’s becoming common among ultrabooks. With USB 3.1 Type-C connector, you can power peripherals such as USB monitors and storage arrays seamlessly. Also included are an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack and a webcam, but the Ethernet port is gone. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Last year, while reviewing the Asus VivoBook F510UA-AH51, we gave it a thumbs down for the choice of storage. In the newer iteration, Asus seems to have had its act together and corrected the glaring omission that was lagging an otherwise superb laptop. Now you have a 128GB SSD for loading apps, and an extra 1000GB hard drive for storage. While the solid-state-drive doesn’t offer much in terms of storage, it does suffice for faster boot times and snappy overall performance.Last year’s model only had a 1000GB hard drive for apps and storage.
The VivoBook AH51 is among the first releases to sport the latest Kaby Lake-R processors, and based on the success of the previous Kaby Lake processors, we’re looking forward to even better performance. The system is equipped with a quad-core 1.6GHz (turbo up to 3.5GHz) Intel Core i5-8250U processor and 8GB of RAM, plus Intel graphics. This is the same configuration we’ve seen on the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH55. Though, the earlier iteration was fitted with a quad-core 2.5GHz Intel (Kaby Lake) Core i5-7200U processor and the same memory and graphics card.
The eighth-generation processor is the latest release and it does crunch number well with strong performance. It adds some much-needed performance, as well as quite a bit of extra battery life over its predecessor ‘Kaby Lake’, which was a sticking point of the previous ZenBook models. What’s truly impressive about this system is how ASUS managed to fit in an 8th-Gen processor and enough memory in such a tiny machine.
The processor spits speeds of between 1.6GHz and 3.1GHz, combined with 8GB memory its ready for most day-to-day computing needs. With a CPU Benchmark score of 7381 points, it sufficient for day-to-day performance, but not enough to enable the system close-in on systems like the Apple MacBook, Dell XPS 13 Touch, and HP Spectre 13. Look at it, the MacBook Air with the same specs costs almost double, and you don’t get the Windows 10 experience.
On the VivoBook is the integrated UHD 620 graphics, typical to midrange ultraportables, which don’t provide much room for 3D gaming. The ZenBook’s Kaby Lake-R processor is fairly new, and together with a dual-channel RAM, its performance is almost at par with most dedicated lower mid-range graphics cards. In short, its gaming capabilities are limited. At low resolution and low to medium quality settings, you can smoothly run games; especially true for games that do not tax the hardware so much. I tested it with hardware-hungry titles like the Witcher 3 and the frame rates were not anything close too good.
For midrange gaming, you might have to look at the ASUS VivoBook M580VD-EB54 which comes with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 gaming graphic card, or better still the Acer Predator Helios 300 thanks to its potent NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 graphic card. If we get nitty, the Zenbook AH54’s gaming performance is on par with Apple MacBook Air 13-inch and the Dell XPS 13 Touch, though with slightly negligible differences since none of the three can run high-end 3D games smoothly.
Battery life is good, and we hope with the newer chips its getting stronger. With that, we are looking at something around 4-5 hours on a single charge, which is around the same ballpark with the likes of the Dell XPS 15 Touch (9550) (5:56), but a fairly lower than the MacBook Pro 15-Inch Retina Display (2014) (8:55). It may weigh more than the svelte ultraportables, but it will last almost as long as most 15-inch laptops. This laptop can last enough for a day at school or at the office on moderate use.
Should I buy the ASUS VivoBook F510UA-AH55?
The ASUS VivoBook F510UA-AH55 is cheaper than most 15-inch laptops, and with its feature set it looks like good value for a budget system. If you’re comfortable with a 2-in-1 system in the same range, the Lenovo Flex 5 is worth a longer glance. If your computing needs are rather complex and you can’t afford losing on portability, go for the Dell XPS9560-7001SLV-PUS or MacBook Pro (MPTT2LL/A), which cost more but make up for better specification and wonderful design. Still, the VivoBook AH55 is a safe buy for anyone wanting a value, nice-looking laptop with the right features for college and work.