Covid-19 has pushed us indoors and online. With there is no let-up in the spread of the pandemic, most of us are forced to extend our work-from-home schedules, which is stressful to the core as all of us would vouch in unison. The situation is so grim that there is a hunt out there for options to unwind and purchase and use of gaming devices seem to be going up across the world.
Sounds like not a bad time to roll out a series of gaming laptops? Well, a clutch of computer makers seems to be thinking that way. Asus and Acer have just launched their gaming laptops and we are starting with the Asus TUF Gaming laptop.
The Asus TUG Gaming A15 (which we review here) and A17 target those who are seeking a well-rounded laptop that is also gaming focused. Those that are looking for a simple, sleek design while still having great durability and toughness. This combined with the latest GPU & CPU makes it the perfect laptop for just about anyone, regardless of whether it’s for work, studies, or gaming
Good looks, strong body
Asus’ RoG gaming laptops have already earned a name among Indian gaming buffs thanks to their strong build and steady performance. If you want to check about the RoG series, see our reviews here. The TUF series, as the name suggests, aims to be a tough gadget offering cutting-edge gaming experience. As intended, it has the industry-norm of the beasty form, strong hardware muscle and design that will warm the cockles of gamer-hearts.
Asus has given the A15, and A17, a smaller and evidently more portable chassis than its predecessors. This helps the laptops look more compact than their earlier versions and the form factor adds to the overall experience. Despite the smaller size, the devices feature dual M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) slots along with a tertiary hard disk drive (HDD) slot (not in all models, though). The laptops come in two colour variants: Fortress Gray and Bonfire Black, with a honeycomb patterning around the base for grip. Weighing 2.3 kg, the A15 is a heavy laptop and it is not at all easy to handle it with one hand or even carry it around easily. But if you are familiar with the size and strength of gaming laptops you’d know this is no blemish at all.
The TUF series laptops are armed with extra, fast storage. Gaming laptops usually demand that kind of storage since most good, graphics-rich games are so heavy and users are not so keen on relying on external drives for running the games, given that such extras can slow down the performance. Gaming, mind you, is a nano-second business and any delay can cost very dearly. The TUF A15 has its SSDs run on the NVM Express (NVMe) interface and with up to 1TB of storage, the drive offers enough space to store your game files, films projects, and other media. Asus has given an extra M.2 SSD slot for upgrading storage in case you want to store more games and apps.
Powerful, energy-efficient processor
One of the highlights of the Asus TUF A15 and A17 is the processor -- the 4th Gen AMD Ryzen 4000. The AMD Ryzen with its Zen 2 CPU architecture came to desktops last year, adding to the multi-tasking capabilities of personal computers. The Zen 2 architecture, which uses the new 7-nanometer process, is known to be powerful while using minimal energy resources, making it one among the most low-energy chips in town. The processor has eight cores and 16 threads paired with a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU (A15 only) or GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU (A17).
The Asus TUF Gaming laptops benefit a lot from the Ryzen 4000; there is a visible difference in the way games are loaded and played and graphic projects are opened and run -- everything is so smooth and glitch-free. We experienced hardly any halts and delays while playing graphics-hungry games such as the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Assassin's Creed Odyssey. The machine supports up to 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory. The review unit, however, had only 8GB RAM, which is not enough for heavy-duty gaming or graphic-rich multitasking.
The gaming experience is enhanced by the IPS-level display which supports refresh rates up to 144Hz (A15) or 120Hz (A17) with adaptive sync to minimise lags and stuttering and avoid visual tearing. The display is soothing, rich and natural. It doesn’t overdo saturation and brightness as several gaming PCs do. As a result, your eyes are not tired beyond affordable levels even after playing gaming on the laptop for several hours. Ditto for binge-watching; you can just keep gazing at it for hours (full disclosure: a minimum of three hours as my experience suggests ) and still feel your eyes intact.
The TUF Gaming laptops have a neat backlit keyboard. Gaming laptops traditionally sport strong keyboards with keys that can literally take any kind of beating since gaming involves intense keying riots. The A15 doesn’t have annoying noises or slow-riser switches. The layout is simple and clutter-free. Given the price, the keyboard with its dedicated gaming keysets is a good deal, though we feel the keys do not absorb typing shocks fast enough and there is a discernible delay in the response. The keyboard has a full-size desktop design, with the function key row having more space, like on a desktop keyboard. A dedicated number pad is placed at the right edge to make number crunching easier. The space bar with a little extra length is also a plus.
The Asus TUF A15 and A17 sport two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports on the left side and one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port is placed on the right, which supports G-SYNC monitors via its DisplayPort 1.4 alternate mode, and a dedicated HDMI port enables projector links or extra monitors like a TV. The Asus TUF A15 runs on Windows 10 and has the most essential apps pre-installed.
Surprisingly good audio
The Asus TUF A15 has an impressive audio department, which is a surprise these days where one sees substandard built-in speakers even in premium laptops. Asus says the A15 has two upgraded speakers with four cut-outs that pump out 1.8x more sound with 2.7x deeper bass than previous generations. The effect is telling: the audio is immersive, measured and rich. It is armed with DTS:X Ultra technology which offers a high-fidelity 7.1-channel virtual surround sound for theatre-quality audio if you are using stereo headsets. There are some eight preset modes for music, movies and gaming.
Gamers love heated exchanges in the ring, but they hate their machines getting heated up while on the action. Unfortunately, many mid-range gaming laptops develop heating issues. The Asus TUF A15 doesn’t get heated up even during fast and furious gaming thanks to a comprehensive cooling infrastructure supported by multiple heat pipes and three heatsinks that draw heat away from core components. The self-cleaning cooling design helps enhance performance.
That said, the battery of the laptop needs improvement. Granted most games use the machine plugged-in, but if you are a gamer on the go, like most users are these days, you should be prepared to be disappointed a bit since the machine drains out after a few hours of usage. The 48 Wh lithium-polymer battery is not enough for the task entrusted with the A15. Another blemish is the webcam. Though HD, it has given us substandard pictures, making it an unfinished affair. If you are looking for a great camera that can send vivid video out during a conference call (like most of us do during these Covid times), this might leave you wanting more.
To sum up, the Asus TUF A15 is a compact and powerful gaming laptop that can easily double up as a multitasker, especially focussing on graphic-rich tasks. It is affordable, has a pleasing design, impressive display and audio.
The review unit featured here costs Rs 70,990
- Price: Starts from Rs 60,990.
- Pros: Superb display and screen; neat and compact design; robust and swiftly-responding keyboard; impressive processor performance; great multitasking abilities
- Cons: Heavy and there is not enough grip; battery drains out fast;