ASUS TUF Dash F15
It's been a hot minute since I last laid my hands on a TUF Gaming laptop, so I'm extremely excited to be able to give the new ASUS TUF Dash F15 a go.
While ASUS has mostly retained the rugged design aesthetic of its predecessor, the ASUS TUF Dash F15's overall appearance has matured over time to present an extremely sleek-looking device that belies its capabilities.
Gone is the rather cheesy looking tramp stamp, which has been replaced by the much better-looking new TUF Gaming logo. The lid features a matte gunmetal grey finish with the new logo on the top right, and 'TUF' running down the left edge.
The hinge still works similarly, with the indicator LEDs remaining visible no matter if the lid is open or closed. However, the honeycomb back vents have been replaced with simpler-looking vents that now run down both sides of the laptop as well, providing additional ventilation to aid cooling.
On the bottom, you'll find sturdy rubber feet that elevate the laptop to give more headroom for ventilation, as well as more vents and one speaker grille on each side.
Overall, the build quality is as 'TUF' as ever, despite its relatively slim profile for a gaming laptop. Of course, it won't fall into the thin-and-light category any time soon, but considering the amount of power packed within this laptop, the chassis is admirably svelte and portable.
Opening up the laptop, you'll be greeted with ultra-slim bezels around the 144 Hz refresh rate panel. On gaming laptops, speedier refresh rates are always appreciated for a super smooth and fluid gaming experience, which is exactly what you'll get here. But that's about the only highlight of the TUF Dash F15's display - the brightness and colour accuracy are pretty average, so don't expect to rely on it for creative work.
Personally, the 1920x1080 resolution works well for me - for gaming purposes, I'll always pick a high refresh rate over a higher resolution, especially on a 15.6" display. In any case, you can always hook the laptop up to an external display via the HDMI 2.0b or Thunderbolt 4 ports.
One thing to note is that there is no longer a webcam available, which is a puzzling choice considering the amount of distance learning and working we're subjected to nowadays.
In terms of audio, you'll find it sufficient for binge-watching movies or attending online classes with, but for gaming and music purposes, I'd recommend using a pair of headphones as usual.
Firstly, the audio quality on the down-firing speakers is just average, and secondly, the fans on this can run pretty loud when under load. Unless you want your immersion to be disrupted by what sounds like a jet engine taking off, just stick to using a headset (no one wants to hear your music anyway). There's a headphone jack on the right, as well as a slew of USB-A and USB-C ports, so no matter what type of connector your device uses, you'll be able to use it without any issues. If you're a fan of wireless solutions, you'll be glad to find that there's onboard Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity as well.
Unlike the last TUF Gaming laptop I reviewed, this one has done away with the numpad, which can be a yay or nay depending on your needs. While I always appreciate having a numpad for work purposes, having a centered and less cramped layout can also be appealing to some.
Interestingly enough, there's no RGB for those who enjoy disco bling, which is a bit unusual in a gaming laptop within this price range. Rather, ASUS has chosen a rather charming teal as the backlight colour for the keyboard, and only provided 3 rather vanilla modes to choose from, which are static, breathing, and strobe.
The choice of colour is a love-it or hate-it affair - personally I prefer the soothing shade of teal over the vibrant red found in most other mono-coloured gaming laptop keyboards. However, perhaps a plain white would be more universally appealing, and would better match the sleek and minimalist exterior.
Apart from the updated layout and colour scheme, the keyboard is still as tactile as ever. The keys are well spaced and evenly illuminated; for those who are afraid people won't recognise this as gaming laptop, the WASD keys are finished in a transparent texture, providing a stark contrast against the black keys surrounding it. There's also a tiny notch on the W key, so you can intuitively feel where your hand is supposed to go.
Taking a leaf out of ROG's book, ASUS has included an extra row of shortcuts above the main keyboard cluster; these are the volume controls, mic toggle, and a shortcut to Armoury Crate. The power button retains its hexagonal shape, and still doesn't come with a fingerprint sensor.
Integrated into the function keys are the usual shortcuts, with a single peculiarity - a shortcut assigned to the Snip and Sketch tool, instead of simply integrating the print screen function directly. As someone who uses the print screen button regularly, this was rather inconvenient.
Thankfully, the trackpad was a joy to use. While not particularly large, the surface is smooth and a pleasure to glide on. It doesn't have discrete right and left click buttons, but I prefer it that way anyway.
In terms of ports, there are a-plenty, as hinted earlier. This time, the ports have been brought forward closer to the user, due to the extra vents on both sides of the laptop. Luckily, most ports are situated on the left, away from your mouse hand.
On the left, you'll find the charging port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, a HDMI 2.0b port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, a Thunderbolt 4 port that supports Power Delivery, as well as the headphone jack. On the left are two more USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports as well as a Kensington lock to prevent sticky-fingered individuals from sneaking off with your device.
One great feature is that it supports 100 W USB-PD charging, but unfortunately one isn't included in the box. In any case, the battery life for carrying out general productivity tasks on this laptop is surprisingly long, clocking in at over 8 hours of web browsing and word processing before needing to be juiced up.
With an Intel i7-11370H chip and RTX 3060 powering it, it's unsurprising that the TUF Dash F15 produced great frame rates in all tested games on Performance Mode, even at the highest settings. Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider produced average FPS rates comfortably above 60, while the notoriously un-optimized Assassin's Creed Odyssey clocked in at an average of 49 FPS, which is commendable for these specs.
Of course, you can always drop the settings down a notch to make full use of the glorious 144 Hz refresh rate display - actually, I'd absolutely recommend it above maxing out the settings.
As mentioned earlier as well, prepare for a great deal of noise once the laptop begins to take on heavier loads. Apart from Performance Mode where these benchmarks were conducted, there's also Turbo Mode and Silent Mode. The latter drops noise output to pretty much zero when temps are low, which is amazing for working in public spaces where you don't want to be a nuisance. In terms of heat, the keyboard and palm area remained at tolerable levels, while the area above the keyboard became quite hot.
As for synthetic benchmarks, it scored well across the board as well:
In CrystalDiskMark, it showed remarkable performance as well, though the 512 GB SSD is a little small for my liking - 1 TB of storage space should be the minimum in gaming laptops nowadays, considering the size of triple-A titles. I managed to fit 3 games before filling the SSD up nearly to the brim. However, if you're the type who sticks to just 1 or 2 titles, especially smaller competitive games like Valorant or Dota, the storage space should be more than enough for you.
Buy or no buy?
For RM5,499, the ASUS TUF Dash F15 is a decent option for gaming. The RTX 3060 is capable of handling most titles on high settings, and the battery life for productivity work is outstanding as well. Design-wise, I find it aesthetically pleasing - although this is of course an extremely subjective matter.
It could use a few improvements, such as including a webcam, fingerprint sensor, print screen key, and hopefully improve the audio as well. But overall, it's still a sleek little device with a relatively portable form factor that will fulfill your gaming needs.
There are multiple configurations available for the ASUS TUF Dash F15, ranging from a more affordable RTX 3050 variant up to an RTX 3070 variant. For more information, you may visit the official product page here. #asus #tufgaming #gaminglaptop