Good laptops aren't expensive any more.
Laptops have become a necessity for school and college kids and most of them don’t have the luxury to afford a premium laptop like the Surface or a MacBook. Rather their parents aren’t willing to risk spending so much just for Netflix binges and Microsoft Office work, right? 'Cos who knows whether the kid will lose the laptop or break it before Christmas.
Today, there are a bunch of laptops to choose from in the ₹30-40k bracket that perform quite well for their price and Asus’ pocket-friendly VivoBook 15 thriving on AMD’s Ryzen 5 chip stands out on paper if you compare it to other brands like Acer, Lenovo, Dell and HP. Confused which one you should get your hands on? Let's discuss if this is worth your money or not.
“Where’s the ErgoLift hinge?” That was our first concern when we laid eyes on the VivoBook 15.
The VivoBook is the lightest laptop in its segment, weighing at just 1.6kgs, which is much lesser than an average 'budget' laptop’s bodyweight. It’s also slim and slender so it’s easy to carry around in a backpack full of books or to pass around to classmates to copy notes.
We know you can’t feel it yet, but trust us, it’s made of sturdy materials, able to handle the city life and local train rides. Oh, and it sure doesn't look or feel like a ₹30k laptop’. It’s simple and sophisticated, just the way we like it at the Stuff HQ.
The VivoBook 15 has a port for everything you’d want in a laptop. By everything we mean - one Ethernet port, a full-sized HDMI, two USB 2.0 Type As, one USB 3.1 Type A, one SD card slot and one USB 3.1 Type C (Woohoo!). Bring on those presentations, this one has room for all.
Don’t like the Star Grey colour of our review unit? There’s an Icicle Gold colourway too. Both have a brushed metallic finished lid which is subtle and not too flashy or gaudy.
If you’re buying this laptop to purely binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video the entire time, then you'll be in good hands. The 15.6in screen is just as wide as the MacBook Pro 15in thanks to its 7.7mm NanoEdge bezels making way for more screen. It’s got a beautiful matte finish Full HD (1920x1080) res, but with brightness and contrast levels not soaring towards unbearably vivid. Watching Narcos Mexico or House Of Cards is great, colours are vibrant and if you bring a friend along, its viewing angles are fine too.
Keyboard and speakers
Previously, a 15incher had a separate number pad on the right-hand side for quick calculations or number crunching. Well, no more. The VivoBook spreads a premium metallic 14in-like keyboard which makes room for maximum comfort for typing. The key travel isn't the best, but it’s enough to suffice for an average typer to smash down points and notes in Microsoft Excel or Word.
The glass coated trackpad looks pretty from afar and it’s quite roomy to reach corners while browsing the net or editing photos on Photoshop. Using its four finger gesture support is handy once you’re used to it and scrolling on 9GAG or Facebook is smooth and silky.
Thanks to SonicMaster technology's dual stereo speakers, playing music or videos from YouTube gets loud and it even keeps the definition and detail in check. It’s good enough for casual background sessions, but we wouldn’t use it for serious binging though.
Performance and Battery
After flaunting it on the ROG Strix GL702Z gaming laptop, Asus joins forces with AMD for its VivoBook series to keep costs low. It’s rocking the AMD Ryzen 5-2500U Processor (AMD Ryzen 3 - 2200U on the cheaper model) and AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics for small-time editing work and games like Celeste or CS:GO.
According to a few benchmark tests, AMD’s Ryzen 5 beats Intel’s Core i5 chip by a sizeable margin, making it a better chip for efficiency and power management. Hmm.
Apart from that, there’s up to 8GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB SATA 5400RPM HDD for everyday multitasking. Using the laptop for everyday browsing, juggling Photoshop, Slack and Google Chrome was smooth and effortless and never felt like it’s a budget laptop. So we didn’t treat it like one.
The battery is actually quite nice for a laptop at this price. We started using it at 1pm and the laptop switched to its battery saver mode by 4pm with about 15% battery remaining. It then took about a little more than an hour to fully juice up thanks to its fast charge abilities. Expect about 4hrs of average battery if you’re running a few background service and apps. Be sure to check out Asus’ Battery Health Charging feature to switch between various charging modes (Full capacity, balance, maximum lifespan mode) to suit your usage pattern.
Asus VivoBook 15 verdict
The VivoBook is a great all-rounder and checks all the essentials you’d want from a laptop and it sure doesn’t look like a ‘budget laptop’. For the price, it’s a great performer with Ryzen 5 tricks up its sleeve, it's a full-time entertainer keeping TV addicts at bay and everyday commuters will appreciate its slender body form.
If you’re comparing laptops on Flipkart or Amazon India, the VivoBook 15 will not just stand out specs-wise but it'll also look better than the rest in its price category. So, if you’re a student on a budget, the VivoBook 15 is an ideal laptop to pick from the rest.