Review: ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop with Intel Core i3-1005G1 (Latest 2020 Model)

In this video, I will be reviewing a $399 dollar 15.6” laptop that boasts impressive specs and build quality. Will this laptop take the crown of the best budget laptop of 2020? Let's find out.


This is the latest model of Asus VivoBook 15 and it is powered by Intel’s 10th generation Icelake CPU. At the time of making this video, it was selling for a really great price on Amazon. To find out if this laptop is any good, I will put VivoBook 15 through 10 rounds of gruelling test. So without further ado, let's get started

Build-Quality

While looking at VivoBook 15, I get the feeling that Asus took inspiration from their premium ZenBook line of laptops. This is a well-crafted laptop and it comes in five different colors. My review unit is Slate Gray in color and it has this understated professional vibe.


VivoBook 15 is made from ABS polymer but Asus has given it a faux aluminum finish which makes it look far more premium than its price. The top lid has an anodized aluminum finish which is non glossy and it contrasts nicely with the glossy Asus logo carved in Chrome. When you open the laptop, you are greeted with a dark black keyboard sitting on a faux anodized aluminum base. The palm rest has a polished smooth finish which feels very comfortable while using the keyboard and trackpad.

The underside of the laptop is made from polycarbonate and it is matte black in color. The laptop chassis feels very rigid and I didn't experience any creaking or bending while using the laptop. Vivobook weighs 3.75 pounds which is not bad for a 15.6 inch laptop. Overall, for a $399 price point, I am extremely pleased with its build quality. Comparing the build quality of Asus Vivobook 15 with similarly priced Acer Aspire 5, I think Vivobook feels far more premium and durable.

Keyboard & Trackpad

Let's talk about the keyboard. Vivobook 15 has a unique hinge mechanism called ErgoLift that adds a 2° keyboard tilt which helps with creating a more ergonomic typing position for your fingers. It also creates extra room underneath the laptop for improved audio and heat management. Vivobook 15 has a full size backlit enabled keyboard. The intensity of the backlighting is user adjustable and it can be completely turned off if you want to preserve battery life. The keys are black in color with white lettering which creates a nice contrast especially with the backlighting turned ON.

The keyboard feels very sturdy when typing, thanks to its one-piece construction. The keyboard layout is quite thoughtful, for e.g. the commonly used keys are bigger in size while the numpad and function keys are smaller. This allows Vivobook 15 to accommodate a full size keyboard without feeling cramped. The keys provide 1.4mm key travel and they offer an actuation force of 30 grams. This creates a nice tactile feedback for a comfortable typing experience. After few minutes of practise, I was able to hit my top typing speed without any issues. If you are someone who types a lot of emails, creates word documents, enters data in excel sheets or does software development, you will love this keyboard.

Lets talks about the touchpad. It's not made from glass, but the build quality feels pretty good. This touchpad measures 4.2 by 2.9 inches and it has a smooth faux aluminium finish. The surface feels very smooth to touch and it lets your finger glide effortlessly. There is no wobbling and you get a satisfying click everytime you press the touchpad. Vivobook 15 comes with windows precision drivers and it supports all windows 10 gestures. In addition to scrolling, you can perform complex gestures like toggle between various open apps, switch between virtual desktops, see all open windows and quickly minimize to desktop. There is also a built-in fingerprint sensor on the touchpad which supports Windows Hello. It's really fast and unlocks the laptop as soon as you put your finger on it. Overall both the keyboard and the touchpad are quite good, not just for the budget price point, but for any price point.

CPU

Let's talk about the CPU. VivoBook 15 is powered by the 10th Generation Intel Core i3 Processors. Specifically Core i3-1005G1 which comes from the newest Icelake family of CPUs built on Intel’s latest 10nm process technology. They offer dual cores and 4 execution threads and operate at 15W thermal envelope. The base clock frequency is 1.2 Ghz and the max turbo frequency is 3.4 Ghz. In Passmark CPU benchmark, this CPU performed really well scoring 5,243 points.


That makes it 24.5% faster than Intel’s Comet-Lake processor which was released earlier this year, and 47.3% faster than Kaby Lake R processor released last year. I ran both chrome and firefox browser and opened over a dozen tabs, and was seamlessly able to switch between various tabs without issue. Day to day tasks like emailing, web-surfing, watching streaming videos from youtube and netflix was smooth. I also tried productivity tasks like word-processing, data crunching on excel sheets and this laptop breezed along without any trouble. I also did some software development in python programming language and found the performance of this laptop to be quite good.


I think whether you are a student who is interested in a laptop for school work, or someone looking for a fast budget laptop for casual work, vivobook 15 is an excellent choice. One thing to remember is that Vivobook ships with the dreaded windows 10 S mode. But you can upgrade to full version of Windows for free. All you need to do to get rid of S mode, is to attempt installing any non-microsoft software say for e.g. Google Chrome. You will get a prompt asking something like “do you want to upgrade to a full version of windows”? Just click on Yes, and follow the simple instructions. You will have a full version of windows running in 5 minutes. I encourage everyone to do this, because windows 10 ‘S’ mode sucks and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

GPU

Let's talk about the graphic performance. Vivobook 15 is using Intel UHD G1 Graphics. This is Intel’s integrated Gen 11 graphics architecture. It features 32 Compute Units running at a base clock speed of 300Mhz and a max clock speed of 900 MHz. This new integrated GPU is significantly faster than Intel’s older UHD 620 graphics. For e.g. this laptop can drive an external 4K monitor at 50Hz refresh rate, something the previous generation Intel GPUs could not do.

I was able to play 4k videos on youtube without any dropped frames or stuttering. I also played fortnite at 720p setting, and got 45 to 60 fps gameplay. At 1080p setting Fortnite was still playable but the frame-rate dropped to about 30fps. So that means you will be able to play casual games without issues. This GPU also supports the latest version of Intel’s video encoding framework called quicksyn. I ran handbrake and ffmpeg video encoders and had no issues with 1080p h264 video encoding. Overall, for the price I am pretty impressed with both the CPU and GPU performance of this laptop.

Display

Vivobook 15 comes with a 1080p 15.6” Full-HD display. The screen delivers around 230 nits of brightness which is OK for indoor use, but you can forget using this laptop outdoors. The screen is not glossy, instead it comes with a matte finish. The matte finish does have some advantages, it greatly reduces the glare and reflections which is very useful since the screen isn't very bright. But it also means that the colors are washed out and don't look very good. Also the LCD screen is not an IPS panel, this is a TN-panel which does not offer very good viewing angles.

When this laptop screen is directly facing you, texts and pictures look sharp and video looks good. But if you tilt the screen, the text and the pictures look washed out. Overall, I am a little disappointed with this screen. Even though Asus did an excellent job with its thin bezels and almost 90% screen-to-body ratio, they have compromised on the screen quality. I would have loved to see an IPS panel but that might have made this laptop a little more pricey. In order to get to a $399 price point, every laptop maker has to make some compromise. With Vivobook 15, you get a great build quality and performance, but Display is where Asus decided to make a compromise.

RAM & SSD

Now let's talk about the system memory and on board SSD storage. Asus Vivobook 15 comes with 8GB of RAM. This is a blazing fast 3200 MHz DDR4 RAM which is great for day to day tasks. I had no issues running over a dozen chrome tabs and seamlessly switching between them. Casual internet surfing, watching youtube videos and running productivity tasks like word processors and excel sheet went without a hitch. You can upgrade the RAM if you wish to, but note that 4GB RAM is permanently soldered to the motherboard. There is 1 user upgradeable DIMM slot which can take upto 16GB RAM.

The laptop has 128GB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD which is blazing fast and runs like a champ. It is user upgradeable, so you  can replace it with a bigger SSD if you want more storage. I will drop a link to a compatible PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD that will work with this laptop. To access memory and SSD slots, you will have to open the back of the laptop. There are 10 screws which easily come out, but the base of the laptop needs to pried open. You will need a prying tool kit which can be bought from Amazon for about 10 bucks.

👉Buy recommended PCIe NVMe SSD upgrades


Battery & thermals

Let's talk about the battery life. The Asus VivoBook 15 uses an energy efficient 10nm CPU which helps with battery life. I got 9 hours of battery life during continuous 1080p video playback at 150 nits of brightness. I also tried PCMark 10 Battery test which simulates real world usage by running common office applications at regular intervals. I got around 8 hours of battery life which is not bad. Vivobook comes with a tiny 45-Watt charger which supports fast charging. It is able to charge the battery from 0 to 60% in under 50 minutes.

Even though Vivobook comes with a USB Type-C port, you cannot charge the laptop using this port which sucks. But the good news is that Asus has done an excellent job with thermal heat management. The ergo hinge lifts the laptop when in use, creating extra room for fans to suck in cool air and keep the system cool. The icelake family of CPU and GPU are more power efficient and that combined with a good heatsink and cooling fan, Vivobook remains cool and does not overheat even under heavy use.

Audio and webcam

Let's talk about audio. Asus VivoBook 15 comes with bottom firing stereo speakers. They look like typical laptop speakers, but sound surprisingly good. Most budget laptop speakers are very tinny, but these deliver quite rich sound. One thing helping improve the audio quality is the ErgoLift hinge which lifts the bottom firing speakers by few millimeters. This creates a resonance chamber effect because the sound bounces back from the table and feels more rich.

Let's talk about the webcam which is very important these days because all of us are working from home. It's a 720p webcam mounted at the center of the top bezel which creates a perfect angle for zoom video calls. I do wish that more laptop makers start paying attention to the quality of their webcams. I would like to see 1080p webcam as the bare minimum on all laptops. BTW, you can easily step up to a high quality 1080p webcam by going with an external USB webcam.

Ports

The port selection on Asus Vivobook is quite good. You get a USB 3.2 Type-C port which is great, but it only supports data transfer. So that means you cannot charge the laptop with this port or connect it to an external monitor. But there is an HDMI port, which does let you connect Vivobook 15 to an external monitor. I was able to connect this laptop to my 4K monitor and get a full 4K resolution at 50Hz refresh rate.

You also get one USB 3.2 Type-A port and couple of USB-2.0 ports. In addition, there is a microSD card reader which is great for transferring video and photos from your GoPro. There is also a headphone jack as well as support for bluetooth 4.1 devices. For internet connectivity, Vivobook 15 supports Wi-Fi 802.11 AC standard. But there is no WiFi 6 support and the ethernet port is also missing. Overall, this is a decent selection of ports for most folks

Conclusion

I think Asus Vivobook 15 is a great budget laptop. It offers good build quality, solid keyboard and trackpad, good performance, good battery life and impressive heat management. Only negative is the quality of the display panel which is not very bright and viewing angles are narrow. It's not a deal-breaker, but I do wish Asus had given us a better IPS panel. So what do you guys think of Asus Vivobook 15? Do you think this laptop should be crowned the budget King, or should Acer Aspire 5 continue to hold that title? Please let me know in the comment section below.

Purchase Links

👉 Buy ASUS VivoBook 15

👉 Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop with AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
👉 Acer Aspire 5 Slim with 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10110U
👉 Buy recommended PCIe NVMe SSD upgrades



Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Comments

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