ASUS VivoBook Pro N580V
BUSINESS ON THE OUTSIDE, GAMING ON THE INSIDE.
WITH ITS SIGHTS set on the professional market, ASUS’s new VivoBook Pro has managed to dodge the price-up/performancedown rut that many of its aluminium-clad counterparts get stuck in. Impressively, ASUS has delivered a sleek machine that runs as fast (and hot) as some gaming systems.
The VivoBook Pro sports a very familiar MacBook-esque aesthetic (albeit one from several years ago) combining a brushed aluminium shell with premium and wellspaced keys and sensibly stylish curves. With substantial bezels, a 19mm-thick chassis and a weight just shy of 2kg, this 15.6-inch unit doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the slim-andcompact ultrabooks that currently rule the roost, but the bonus room allows it to pack in some surprising power and shave off some dollars instead. Most notably, the inclusion of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB VRAM) GPU (rather than relying on its integrated one) and a quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor puts it on par with gaming laptops that typically run closer to $2,000. When compared to ASUS’s own RoG Strix GL553VE gaming laptop ($1,999), the VivoBook Pro was only marginally bested in every gaming benchmark we ran (nine in total — including GRID 2, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Metro: Last Light and more). We were also impressed by the relatively inoffensive level of fan-noise during gaming, and while the internal temperatures reached a slightly toasty 96°C and 80°C (for the CPU and GPU, respectively), the shell never grew uncomfortably hot.
The biggest trade off with the VivoBook Pro is that the battery life is comparatively a little disappointing, enduring less than three hours of media playback at 50% screen brightness and beaten out in PCMark 8’s battery tests by units with more power-hungry GPUs. Compared with most gaming laptops, this ASUS laptop has managed to remain rather compact, though, and that means it has a slimmer (read: lower capacity) battery. The model we tested (N580VD-DM264T) comes with a 1TB HDD, which didn’t quite read or write at anticipated speeds, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. This more price-conscious configuration’s main shortcoming is its TN display — it’s a budget panel, meaning the colours are a little flat (especially when weighed up against the vivid contrasts and clarity of, say, the latest MacBook Pro) and the viewing angles are also a tad limited. Despite that, the 1080p screen is still serviceable for gaming, everyday use and media consumption, and the Harman Kardon-designed speakers are about as good as you’ll get on a laptop. If that TN screen’s not good enough for you, for an extra $450 or so, you can get the next model up (N580VDFI263T), which boasts a 4K IPS panel that’ll improve both viewing angles and colours, an additional 256GB SSD and 16GB RAM, although those upgrades will likely negatively affect battery-life, considering that both models share the same capacity. The spec-bump on offer from the higher model would be welcome if you’re a creative looking to work with video, rendering or other design-based software, but may not translate as favourably to gaming. Running the latest titles at 4K will prove too taxing on that GTX 1050 GPU and the SSD won’t do much beyond decreasing load times, so if you’re looking to upgrade for the sake of gaming, we’d start looking for a $2,500 dedicated gaming laptop instead.
With that said, the fact that the VivoBook performs well with low-level gaming is a rather impressive cherry on the top of an otherwise exceptionally competent productivity-focused cake. Anyone looking for a day-to-day machine to occasionally game on will enjoy this feast — as long as you don’t stray too far from a powerpoint.
[ HARRY DOMANSKI ]