Not long ago, ASUS unveiled their entire AMD Ryzen laptop lineup targeted towards a wide variety of users. The TUF Gaming series in particular is aimed towards consumers who want bang for their buck - and let's be real, the majority of us are unlikely to have obscene amounts of money to drop on a flashy workstation anyway.
In our hands today is the TUF Gaming A15 VAL118T variant, which boasts an AMD Ryzen 7-4800H mobile processor, discrete RTX 2060 graphics, 16GB of DDR4 3200MHz RAM, as well a 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD.
Without further ado, let's dive in.
We're not gonna lie, the TUF Gaming A15 definitely left a solid first impression with its sleek gunmetal-coloured exterior. The laser-etched TUF logo is also a nice touch, adding a hint of style without being too ostentatious.
We also like the small touches they've incorporated into the design that tie in perfectly with the TUF Gaming brand, such as the hexagonal screws, honeycomb vent designs, and black ridged hinge with the brand name etched across it.
At the top of the screen, you'll find that the edge juts out ever so slightly; according to ASUS, this design not only allows them to accommodate a webcam while maintaining the slimness of the bezels, but also helps users open the lid effortlessly without having to pry their nails into the gap to secure a grip.
Flipping it over, you'll find the honeycomb design that's not just for aesthetic purposes - upon closer inspection you'll also notice strategically placed slits that allow for better ventilation to keep the chassis cool.
True to its name, the TUF Gaming laptop is also TUF enough to pass the MIL-STD-810H durability tests, which include - but are not limited to - drop tests and temperature tests to ensure the device can withstand all kinds of abuse you throw at it (though you probably shouldn't do it on purpose).
Keyboard and Touchpad
I'm gonna give ASUS props for fitting a desktop-style keyboard on a 15.6" laptop, complete with spaced-out function keys, numpad, inverted-T arrow keys and all.
Although these aren't mechanical keys, they do have a nice travel distance and distinctly clicky feeling which makes them a pleasure to type on. The space bar is also enlarged, to make sure y'all short-thumbed folks won't miss it.
The performance of the touchpad is nothing to shout about - it works reasonably well, though it could stand to be a little smoother in terms of tracking. If you're picky, do note that it is a traditional touchpad with 2 dedicated physical buttons beneath it, instead of the more contemporary 'buttonless' design where the entire surface can be pressed.
Other interesting design choices include the hexagonal power button and transparent WASD keys, tying into the overall 'edgy gamer' design of the laptop. RGB-wise, it's slightly disappointing with no per-key RGB - rather, it has all-zone illumination which can be customised via ASUS' Armoury Crate software, albeit with limited choices: breathing, strobe, static, and wave.
Connectivity is great, with two USB 3.2 Type-A ports on the left, conveniently out of your mouse hand's way, and one USB 2.0 Type-A port on the right for quick and easy access. If you're a fan of wireless setups, Bluetooth will also allow you to hook up your peripherals without a tangle of cables.
It also has USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4, so you can connect a superfast G-SYNC display for some extra oomph while gaming.
Apart from that, you'll also have an ethernet port, HDMI port, and headphone jack on the left, as well as a Kensington lock on the right.
Display and Audio
Ah, one of favourite things about this laptop - the 144Hz Adaptive Sync display. It's just one of those little luxuries that you'll always crave once you've had a taste of it, so having a buttery smooth display on this little device is truly a treat.
Gaming is fluid and responsive, and although it isn't the brightest display out there, it's decent enough to hold its own in natural daylight. As always, slim bezels are nice to look at, although the 'chin' could stand to be just a little thinner for a sleeker overall appearance.
Audio is nice and rich with decent bass (as decent as a laptop's bass can get, anyway). However, do note that the speakers are downfiring, which works well on smooth, solid surfaces which helps music resonate, but less so on soft surfaces.
This means Netflix and Chill may end up sounding pretty muffled if you're a fan of curling up on the couch or bed (or a nice furry rug like the one pictured above). Maximum volume is decent enough to fill a medium-sized room, though I'd usually recommend using a headset anyway to prevent noise pollution and also to nullify the sound of the fans while gaming.
To measure performance, we ran the laptop through several synthetic benchmarks as well as Monster Hunter: World and Far Cry 5. The laptop has 3 performance presets: silent, performance, and turbo.
Silent mode is pretty self-explanatory, and gives you the best performance possible under 35dB - perfect for casual gaming and light workloads.
Performance mode offers a balance between performance and temperature while keeping fan noise under 40dB. This provides great gaming performance and is set as the default mode.
Turbo mode offers the best possible performance without any restrictions, which means you can expect your fans to start blaring as they attempt to keep up with the taxing, heat-generating workload.
All benchmarks were performed at high graphics settings while the laptop ran on Performance mode. Even Monster Hunter: World, which is notorious for subpar optimisation, ran between 60-75 FPS consistently.
Far Cry 5
NVIDIA DLSS Feature Test
Overall, performance is great, and while the laptop can get warm, it isn't uncomfortably so, as most of the heat is well away from where your hands would rest.
Average surface temperatures
Palm area: ~28°C
WASD area: ~32°C
Vent areas: ~53°C
Battery life is also decent, with the 48 Wh lithium-polymer battery lasting roughly 6 and a half hours of general use (tested with continuous 1080p video playback at 50% brightness and volume), which is more than enough to power you through a work trip to Starbucks without lugging around the power brick. Of course, gaming will drain the battery much faster, but due to performance concerns, you really don't want to be gaming without being plugged into a power source anyway.
Another thing to note is that upgrading has been made easy on this laptop. A pop-open screw provides easy access to the internals, allowing you to replace or add RAM, and increase your SSD capacity by adding a second PCIe drive.
The TUF Gaming A15 VAL118T variant retails for RM5,699, which is a decent price tag considering the amount of power it packs. As a refresher, this is what you'll be getting:
AMD’s latest Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU
16GB of DDR4 3200MHz unsoldered RAM
1TB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD + 1 expansion slot
It's definitely a formidable device for both work and play. Gamers and content creators alike will find that this laptop provides more than enough power for their needs at a reasonable price, making it an easy choice.
If not, you can always check out other variants of the TUF Gaming series (of which there are many) to find a model that better suits you.