ASUS’ TUF line-up of gaming hardware is advertised as their rugged line, made from military grade components and designed to be durable in most conditions. In reality it appeals to the gamer who doesn’t necessarily love the sometimes over the top branding and RGB of the ROG line and for gamers who like to watch their budgets, it can be a slightly less expensive option. I say slightly less expensive because the TUF line is not a budget line, but one that saves costs by not being flashy.
An Understated Gaming Laptop
The A15 is targeted at gamers on the go, the specs leave no room for argument there. But as has become standard for this line, the industrial design eschews that “GAMER!” aesthetic. The chassis is a simple aluminium with the lid sporting a stylised, yet understated design reminiscent of armour cases as it looks like there is a metal plate riveted to the lid. In fact, the plate is simply part of the lid and the rivets are just accent pieces. The TUF logo looks quasi-militaristic, like a unit patch from The Division. Again, eschewing publicity, the logo does not light up when the laptop is powered on.
Once you lift the lid - one-handed lift by the way - you get a sense of the gamer target as the “WASD” keys are clear and every key is underlit by per key RGB. I hate RGB, I think that for most people there is no use case and that it is just another way for companies to justify their sometimes-ridiculous pricing. However, when it comes to keyboards I have come to appreciate the customisation as being able to change the colour of keys to suit their function for a specific program makes it easier to train yourself to use shortcuts or just to find that key when you forget which one does what. The keyboard itself is well built with very little deck flex when pressed and while I didn’t get used to the smaller keys, the short travel was appreciated and I would say that the keyboard is good, but not spectacular.
On that subject I do think that ASUS should consider dropping the number pad on the right as the laptop is a fifteen-inch laptop and to cram a number pad in means that the other keys are closer together. With long term use you will get used to the smaller and closer set keys, but initially I found myself making too many typos.
Below the keyboard is a good track pad. I did not experience any problems with palm rejection when typing or accidental clicks when pressing on the areas of the chassis around the pad, but it is a bit small. When Apple’s smaller Macbook and MS’ similar sized Surface laptops manage to give you generously large track pads, other manufacturers can too. The final mark of a quality build is the flex when lightly twisting the lid/screen. I am glad to report that the flex is not egregious and that the A15 lives up to the TUF model designation.
The model I was sent to review contained the following go faster bits:
• CPU – AMD Ryzen 4800H
• RAM – 16GB DDR4-3200MHz
• GPU - NVIDIA RTX2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
• Display - 15.6” IPS Panel
• 144Hz Refresh Rate
• Adaptive Sync Enabled
• Storage – 1TB NVME drive (PCIe Gen 3)
• Can be expanded with a 1TB 5400RPM SATA HDD
• Connectivity – Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 5.0
• I/O – 1 x combo audio jack
• 2 x USB 3.2 (Type A)
• 1 x USB 3.2 (Type C) with support for Display Port 1.4 output
• 1x USB 2.0 (Type A)
• 1 x Full Ethernet port
• 1 x HDMI 2.0b
• 1 x AC adapter (barrel plug type)
• Battery – 90 Wh Lithium Polymer
• Weight 2.3kg
All in all, the A15 packs some impressive hardware into a tiny package.
Special Operations – Perfect Gaming Performance
Impressive hardware when put together leads to some extremely impressive performance. First up were the synthetic tests. Running Unigine Heaven to test thermal performance led to an impressive average FPS on Ultra settings of around 120FPS. Not that all surprising given that this is a DX11 test and the GPU involved. However, the thermal performance of the GPU (as reported by HWINfo) after thirty minutes of a looping run was very impressive, peaking at 89 degrees centigrade. This speaks to the impressive thermal solution. I will however caveat that with the note that when the fans ramp up, you will know about it. At full load, this sucker is loud, but some tinkering with the fan curves will nicely balance thermal performance with noise. However, if you are gaming, even on the go, you are likely going to be using a headset, so the fans won’t bother you.
At full load, this sucker is loud, but some tinkering with the fan curves will nicely balance thermal performance with noise.
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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1 October 2020
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