Asus VivoBook Pro 15
£1,054.49 | $1,619 www.asus.com Nothing but panel, ports and power
The Asus VivoBook line of laptops spans the entire spectrum of users. From the slim and affordable VivoBook S to the VivoBook Flip that’s even smaller and built for all sorts of contortions and use cases, to the VivoBook Pro, designed to combine portability with power.
Despite the ‘Pro’ name tag, Asus has managed to build a robust laptop (albeit on the heavy side of portability) and price it somewhere more in line with what most users pay for a 2-in-1 laptop. Oh, and did we mention it has Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics inside? Just in case, you know, you want to distract yourself from work with a few matches of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Price and availability
The VivoBook Pro 15 is currently priced at $1,169 on Amazon, mirroring the specifications of the device we received for review. In the UK things are a bit more complicated – the company’s UK website currently only lists a 1080p Full HD model (N580VD) with a combination 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive, instead of the 512GB SSD found in our test unit. It’s currently priced at £1,054.49.
In the US, the Asus website only lists the specific model we tested, while on Amazon the VivoBook Pro gets a 4K upgrade with a smaller SSD and a bonus 1TB hard drive for a couple of hundred dollars more.
At this price, the VivoBook Pro 15 is comfortably below the Dell XPS 15 and Apple’s MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Surprisingly, a comparable 13-inch MacBook Pro isn’t on the high end of the pricing spectrum at £1,749 ($1,799), but it lacks a dedicated graphics card. Whereas a similarly-specced 15-inch model goes for £2,699 ($2,799). As far as the Dell XPS 15 is concerned, you’re looking at £1,814 ($2,174) for comparable specs.
The VivoBook Pro 15’s light gold finish is easily recognisable and hard to miss. With a 15.6-inch display, the overall footprint of the VivoBook Pro 15 is a bit on the large side. Measuring 380x256x19.2mm and with a combination metal and plastic housing, this laptop dances the line of tradeoffs for portability over durability, weighing 2.29kg.
The VivoBook 15 Pro is on the cusp of being too large for easy portability. You’ll undoubtedly notice a difference between the 15-inch MacBook Pro (1.83kg) and VivoBook Pro 15 in your backpack when walking around.
As a laptop for pro users, the VivoBook Pro 15 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to ports. On the left edge you’ll find the charging port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, USB 3.1, HDMI and a USB-C 3.1 port. The opposite edge is home to two USB 2.0 ports, an SDXC card reader, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack.
With more than enough ports to connect external displays, either through HDMI or the USB-C port, along with Ethernet and USB ports for things like external storage drives and accessories you should be more than covered whatever kind of setup you have.
A nearly full-sized keyboard with chiclet keys is found just below the 1,920x1,080 pixel Full HD display. The keys have a slim profile and are responsive. A relatively small number pad is present, but the keys are too thin for fast key-punching. Embedded near the top right corner of the touchpad is a fingerprint sensor used to unlock the laptop. We’ve complained about touchpads with fingerprint sensors inside them before, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention them again.
Breaking up the flow of the touchpad is frustrating and not a decent trade-off for the added biometric feature. The sensor gets in the way, for example, when dragging text or a file across the display – there has to be a better way. Let’s address another issue we have with it: there’s not a clear-cut area that’s dedicated to right-clicks. We’d repeatedly find ourselves using the touchpad and clicking our way around a website or app, only to unintentionally, and randomly, right-click on something.
To be fair, Asus has a small line on the bottom of the touchpad that splits the left and right side of the touchpad. But that isn’t a definitive guide, with a touch or click in the top-right quarter of the touchpad registering as a left-click most of the time. It’s the other random instances of errant right-clicks that lead to frustration.
With Nvidia’s GTX 1050 and an Intel Core i7 processor powering it, the VivoBook Pro 15 is built for more than spreadsheet creation and the occasional video edit.
In our benchmarks and realworld use, the VivoBook Pro 15 proves it can handle anything you care to throw at it – it may not be the fastest machine on the market when using Ultra settings, but it’s more than capable, especially when you consider the price.
Another thing worth considering is the amount of storage space. The 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), while fast, may not be enough, especially if you want to load up your laptop with large video files or games, or just want to make the VivoBook Pro 15 more future-proof, in which case we’d recommend that you plump for the version with the 128GB SSD/ 1TB HDD storage combo instead.
With the added performance gains of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, battery life takes a hit on the VivoBook Pro 15, lasting just three hours and 57 minutes in our movie test – just enough to make it through the average movie with a little wriggle room to spare.
The PCMark 8 battery test revealed even lower battery life, with a measly two hours and 32 minutes of use. For reference, the Dell XPS 15 ran for five hours and 54 minutes in our movie test, and three hours and 38 minutes in the PCMark 8 test.
The VivoBook Pro 15 is a reliable all-around laptop. It’s powerful enough for serious use – as well as gaming – and yet isn’t going to drain your bank account.
However, the VivoBook Pro 15’s touchpad is both finicky and confusing, thanks in part to the presence of that integrated fingerprint sensor, and a lack of clear demarcation between the touchpad’s left and right sides – in our view, touchpads should be straightforward with next to zero learning curve. After a week, we are still trying to learn how to use it.
If you’re looking for a laptop that’s priced right and powerful, the VivoBook Pro 15 is worthy of consideration. Just make sure to buy yourself a mouse. An affordable laptop that packs a punch, but with a quirk (or two) that may drive you crazy.
“As a laptop for pro users, the VivoBook Pro 15 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to ports”