The Asus VivoBook S S410UN-NS74 is an affordable laptop that stands out from the crowd in terms of sleek design, lightweight profile and spirited performance.
PROS: Sleek, handsome design. Attractive 1080p screen. Reasonable price.
CONS: No Thunderbolt 3 port. Middling battery life.
The Asus VivoBook S S410UN-NS74 is a polished laptop with a reasonable price that’s sure to attract students and office users. It’s powerful and has a medium-sized display, making it a perfect candidate for anyone looking a portable laptop to tote around in a backpack, but can’t do with the limited ports on most ultrabooks.
The Asus VivoBook S has a similar narrow-bezel as what you see on the Dell XPS 13 (Dell calls it Infinity Edge, Asus calls it Nano Edge), a design that packs a 14-inch screen into an almost 12-inch form factor. Even with that, we acknowledge a few shortcomings, including lack of Thunderbolt 3, but bargain hunters will find the VivoBook an appealing choice, champagne gold candidate.
The champagne gold finish of the VivoBook S is easily discernible and easy on the eyes. It has a 14-inch display, with an overall footprint that’s on the small side of ultraportables. Measuring 0.7 by 12.8 by 8.9 inches (HWD), the S410UN-NS74 is in the same ballpark as the Lenovo 320S’ 1.06 by 13 by 13 inches and fairly trimmer than most 14-inch laptops. Our Editors’ Choice budget desktop-replacement laptop, the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM), for example, measures 1.2 by 15 by 10.2 inches, which is pretty standard for the category.
The VivoBook S410UN-NS74 weighs just 3.2 pounds, noticeably lighter than the Lenovo 320S’ 3.75 pounds and the HP Pavilion’s 4.85 pounds. It has a nicely brushed-aluminum lid with a chrome Asus logo at the center, while the plastic keyboard deck, sides and bottom sport the same gold shade.
If you need a laptop that you can tote around on daily commute, this one is in the cusp of being almost ideal for easy portability. You’ll definitely feel it in your backpack than you’d do with a MacBook Pro, but is a little less heavy than notebooks, with some little flex if you grasp the screen corners or press the middle of the keyboard. It isn’t flimsy, though. It can easily be carried on one hand, but it will take two hands to open.
For a laptop labeled for pro users, the VivoBook S410 does offer excellent connectivity. On the left edge, there are two USB 2.0 ports, alongside an SD card slot. On the right edge. You’ll find one USB 3.0 port, a USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1) port, a single HDMI video output and an audio jack. We’re not sure why they didn’t trade the USB 2.0 ports for USB 3.0, but it’s still OK.
As I mentioned earlier, a Thunderbolt 3 would make the VivoBook more versatile, but the main causality would be the pricing. As is, there are more than enough ports to connect to up to two external displays, either through HDMI or the USB-C port, and the USB ports are sufficient for accessories and other peripherals, you should be covered no matter the setup.
Inputs and Display
On the S410UN-NS74 is an illuminated chiclet-style keyboard, that does nothing to impress. It has a shallow, flat typing feel, and the plastic keys have a stiff feedback, which derails from an otherwise awesome layout. That’s for perfection typers, the rest of us will find the keyboard just fine and can get going after an hour’s practice. For excel and spreadsheet jockeys, the lack of a numeric keypad is painful enough, just like on the XPS 15.
Beneath the keyboard is a buttonless touchpad that responds smoothly to taps, although I prefer simply tapping the pad’s surface to left-click instead of pressing deeply into the lower left corner. There’s a fingerprint reader in the upper right corner that works well with Windows Hello gestures.
To that, there are two bottom mounted speakers that are good enough for daily use and a not-so-good built-in webcam. Even in broad daylight, shots taken at 640-by-480 are excessively grainy, smudged and pixelated.
An IPS full HD (1,920-by-1,080) non-touch screen is perhaps the VivoBook’s best features yet. It has spot-on brightness, colors aren’t saturated, rather look full and rich especially if you decide to adjust them via the supplied Splendid utility which lets you choose from various modes: normal, vivid, blue-light reduction or manually choose the color temperature. The FHD display shows sharp detail at Windows’ default 125-percent zoom out-of-the-box.
The Core i7-8550U is a 1.8GHz (4.0GHz turbo) quad-core CPU with Hyper-Threading and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics. Matched with 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive, the Asus gets spirited performance with snappy system startup and app launches and lag-free multitasking.
This is a system that’s suited for both work and play. By play, we’re naturally referring to gaming. The Pascal-based GeForce MX150 is the long-anticipated successor to the widely-popular GeForce 940MX (now outdated) that was mostly used in multimedia laptops.
The new chip has standard storage of 2GB GDDR5-VRAM at a clock speed of 6000MHz, making it a better choice for casual games though it won’t deliver high frames per second (FPS) on modern games.
If you need better playability on modern titles, you can get a laptop with a Pascal-based GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti, like the ASUS M580VD-EB54 or Dell i5577-7359BLK-PUS, for around the same price. However, if you won’t need mind blowing speeds, the S510 is hard to pass by.
Nevertheless, the S410UN-NS74 is capable of handling pretty much anything thrown its way. It may not be the fastest machine in the market, but it has muscle and is more than capable on both work and play, especially when you factor in the price.
On battery life tests, the VivoBook S410UN-NS74 does struggle a little against the Dell XPS, managing just over 3 hours 14 minutes, while the Dell XPS 13 hits 4 hours and 7 minutes. On movie tests, the VivoBook S registers 5 hours 43 minutes, which is almost a day of use. With this, the battery if enough for a movie over a short flight, it might struggle to keep awake on a cross-country flight.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a laptop around the $1000 mark, with main priorities on storage and screen size, the Asus VivoBook S410UN-NS74 checks all those boxes. Backed by a snappy solid-state-drive (SSD) storage, an 8th Gen i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card, performance will never be an issue.
The biggest tradeoff comes down to battery life, and even then, it isn’t that horrible. It would, however, be nice if it kept the tradition of all day battery life that has been kept by previous iterations of the VivoBook. All said, you’re looking at a near-perfect Windows laptop for the average user that is worth serious consideration for both work and play. If shopping for college or home/office use, you should seriously start here.