Asus now has a rather wide product portfolio, with laptops for each segment and workflow. However, it usually gets skipped out of conversations, especially when talking about the higher end of the market. But having used numerous offerings from Asus in the past years, I can positively say that they deserve to be a part of your consideration set. Here’s their best foot forward: the Vivobook S15, which is probably the perfect Windows laptop, which doesn’t break the bank.
The Vivobook S15’s design is trademark Asus, with a sturdy construction and a brushed metal cover. The profile still remains pretty slim, at less than 2 cm thick and a weight of about 1.7 kgs make this a great partner for portable use. It felt reassuringly strong and not flimsy. The hinge was sturdy, and hence one finger opening was not possible. Very few complaints in this regard.
When I reviewed their flagship from last year, the ZenBook 3, I was impressed by the super-thin profile and buttery smooth performance, but a very very limited port selection meant that it hampered my work, more than assisting in it. I am glad to report that the Vivobook S15 excels in this regard, with an exhaustive port selection consisting of a USB 3.1 Type-C, a USB 3.1 Type A, HDMI 2.0, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an SD card reader, and 2 additional USB 2.0 ports, along with a DC power in. Considering my usage of video editing and college work, this was a boon.
Opening up the laptop, you get a 15.6″ matte LED panel, with a NanoEdge display panel (bezels are only 7.8mm thick). The resolution is 1920 x 1080 and has close to perfect viewing angles. The colors were very vivid and punchy. Having a matte coating on top of it means that there were no problems of glare. The max brightness was amongst the best we have seen. The screen to body ratio was 80%, which is higher than a lot of current smartphones too.
Color accuracy was pretty good out-of-the-box. This has a refresh rate of 60Hz, which made gaming more enjoyable.
On the inside, this laptop is powered by the quad-core Intel i7 8550u processor, with 16GB of RAM, an NVidia GeForce MX150 Graphics card, with 2GB GDDR5 of VRAM, a 1TB HDD and a 128GB M.2 SSD on which Windows was installed. Those internal specifications, make the Asus Vivobook S15 one of the best-specced laptops for the price. Needless to say, the performance was top-notch.
Boot-times were less than 10 seconds, and the UI was very responsive. I tried editing videos on this, and it did not break a sweat. Scrubbing on my timeline, adding multiple layers and heavy files and rendering was all very fast. I edited this entire video, and it got rendered in close to 7 minutes with no frame drops. Very satisfying.
Playing graphics intensive games like Asphalt on max settings still gave me constant 60fps, with minimal heating. The performance was a strong point of this laptop.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The Vivobook has a spacious chiclet keyboard, with big well laid out keys. Th key travel was deep enough to be satisfying and not feel spongy. There is keyboard backlighting with 3 stages of brightness. Typing on this was a pleasure and I could type pretty speedily.
Below that keyboard is a glass-covered trackpad. Tracking was smooth and fast, and gesture support was spot-on. Initially, the LMB would get stuck when pressed too hard. But that got solved somehow. The fingerprint scanner on the top of the trackpad was also quick and accurate, with support for Windows Hello.
The laptop is powered by a 42WH battery, which gave me 6-7 hours of moderate usage consisting of music playback, working on Microsoft Office with Google Chrome open in the background. Switching to something like gaming or heavy video editing, the battery life would go down to less than 2 hours. This was enough for my daily usage and could get to work without carrying the charger.
On the other hand, the charging times were short, and even with constant usage, the laptop will go from 0 to full in about 2 hours. While on sleep, that figure was close to 80 minutes.
There is a pair of SonicMaster branded speakers on the bottom, but I found the output volume to be very low. Very difficult to hear if you are in a noisy room, or sitting under the fan. The webcam has a VGA resolution. The ports were all well spaced out, such that multiple pen drives and cables would not interfere with each other. Screen wobble while typing was minimal.
Asus has produced a very well made machine in the Vivobook S15. If you are looking for laptops in the ₹80,000 (US$ 1226) price segment, which has very high performance and battery life, this is the Windows laptop to get. Very few competitors give all of that in such a form factor and price segment. The negatives with this laptop were few and easy to overlook.