The Asus VivoBook lineup of laptops has always catered to the mid-range segment. It tries to offer the best hardware at this price while offering a modern design, giving the line a slightly premium feel.
I got to review one of the VivoBooks that Asus launched recently. It runs on an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and an Nvidia GeForce MX230 GPU. Our review unit came with 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB of HDD storage. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. While the majority of the specs looked fine, I was sceptical about the storage type since it has been a minor but noticeable barrier in delivering a wonderful laptop usage experience. More on that, later.
Another feature I look at when using a laptop is the quality and feel of the keyboard and touchpad. You’re going to spend a lot of time fiddling with these two parts and it’s a crucial contributing factor to your overall experience. The X509’s keyboard has a suitable travel distance of 1.4 mm and a comfortable actuation force. I used the keyboard for my daily workloads and my typing experience has been good enough. Nothing to complain about.
The touchpad is also built well and it supports Windows 10 precision touchpad technology. This means that the touchpad supports even four-finger gestures. You will spot a fingerprint scanner on the top right that works with Windows Hello and it manages to work most of the time. Sometimes, it fails to register a finger and at times, it takes its own sweet time to register.
The X509 has a generous number of ports including one USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, one USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, two USB-A 2.0, one microSD card slot, one HDMI port, and one 3.5 mm audio combo jack. Having a USB-C 3.1 port is incredibly useful, making it future proof.
(Also read: Making sense of the ridiculous USB naming convention)
Display: Average with poor viewing angles
A colour-accurate display is crucial if your use-case involves post-processing images or editing videos. Poor picture quality also means an underwhelming multimedia and gaming experience. The X509 definitely can’t be used for creative work and for the rest, the experience is just above average.
During my time watching videos on Netflix and YouTube (the source didn’t matter), I had to incline the display at a certain angle to achieve the best colour reproduction on the screen. At different angles, whether horizontal or vertical, not only the colour but even the contrast would drastically change. During gaming, it didn’t matter much since I didn’t move the angle of the display as frequently as I did while watching movies.
Performance: Satisfactory but with annoyances
Our review unit packs an Intel Core i7 with 8 GB of RAM. Although these specs are enough to offer a seamless experience of browsing the web and using multiple applications, the 1 TB HDD storage threw a proverbial spanner in the works. This meant longer boot times and app loading times. After Windows 10 booted up, it would take a few minutes to settle down while all the startup services and applications did their thing. Until then, disk usage would be 100 percent. This was one of the annoyances where I had to wait until I could start using the laptop or use apps while they heavily stutter. The laptop specs do indicate the presence of a PCIe SSD slot. However, that would mean spending some more money for faster storage.
The X509 isn’t meant for gaming but it does pack an Nvidia GeForce MX230 GPU. While you can forget about playing any kind of graphics-intensive games, popular games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and PUBG Lite will be playable on it. However, don’t expect to play on the highest settings or get consistent frame rates of 60 fps. Again, because of the HDD, game load times will be higher. On battery, gaming isn’t recommended since it’s incredibly choppy and first-person shooter games are practically unplayable.
So, who is the Asus VivoBook X509 meant for? If you’re starting off with work or college and want a 15.6-inch laptop to get the job done, along with some lightweight gaming, this is for you. Don’t buy this laptop if you’re expecting to do some serious gaming apart from work. You will enjoy good web browsing and multimedia experience. The 32 Wh battery will keep the laptop running for close to two hours, which is good enough for a laptop in this range.
Coming to the aesthetics, the laptop does have a sleek and modern design. Build quality is consistent throughout and there didn’t seem to be any weak spots. At close to 2 kg in weight, you can carry it inside a laptop bag. Because of its form factor, we were able to squeeze it inside a bag meant for 14-inch laptops.
If you noticed, I specifically mentioned 15.6-inch because it seems, on paper, that the 14-inch VivoBook 14 X403 is a better choice than the X509 if gaming isn't something you're looking for. It's powered by an i5-8265U processor, 512 GB PCIe SSD storage, and a bigger 72 Wh battery. However, there's no discrete GPU. We will pick faster storage and longer battery life any day on a laptop. The rest of the specs are almost the same.
However, if this laptop has caught your fancy, I would recommend going with the i5 variant of the X509 that's priced at Rs 42,990 rather than spending Rs 59,990 on the i7 variant that won't really give you much of a performance bump for that price difference.