- Good-looking and durable
- Smooth performance
- Well-constructed keyboard
- Occasionally iffy touchpad
- No dedicated graphics
- Screen lacks colour accuracy
- Review Price: £749
- 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U
- 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
- 256GB SSD
- 15.6-inch 1920x1080 LCD screen
- 1xUSB 3.1, 1xUSB 3.0, 2xUSB 2.0, 1xHDMI, SD memory card slot
What is the Asus VivoBook S510U?
This latest VivoBook fancies itself as a bit of a MacBook rival, at a price that’s far more friendly to your pocket. Asus’ sleek silver chassis packs in some very respectable specs, including a choice of Intel Core chipsets and up to 16GB of memory. Plus, you get a crisp 15.6-inch Full HD display for your media and work. All for a mid-range cost that doesn’t brush the £1000 mark.
So is this really a Windows-based alternative to Apple’s creative laptops?
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Asus VivoBook S510U– Design and build
Asus describes this new VivoBook S as ‘feather light’, although I reckon I’d struggle to find any bird rocking plumage that weighs 1.5kg. All the same, given the size of this machine, it certainly isn’t hefty. I found I could squeeze it into a standard-sized backpack and happily carry it around all day without busting my back.
Likewise, that 18mm chassis isn’t quite as ‘ultra-thin’ as Asus makes out. Those edges are certainly slender, but the bottom of the laptop curves outwards to add a bit of extra chunk. Again, this isn’t an issue. The VivoBook S510U will slip into laptop sleeves without complaint.
Of course, if you’re looking for a really super-portable laptop around this asking price, we’d point you towards a 13 or 14-inch device. Something like the Dell XPS 13, or Lenovo’s IdeaPad 520S. If you’re after a mid-range machine that can be taken on the road when needed however, the VivoBook certainly works.
That metal frame is both attractive and solidly constructed in every area. From the well-designed hinge to the slender lid, the VivoBook feels like a perfectly premium laptop. I poked and prodded it aplenty, finding very little flex as I went.
Connectivity is just as strong as you’d hope for in a device this size. As well as the single Type-C USB 3.1 port, you have one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 connections, providing plenty of space for your peripherals. These are evenly distributed between the left and right edges too. Along those sides you’ll also find an HDMI port and an SD memory card slot.
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Asus VivoBook S510U – Keyboard and touchpad
Speaking as someone who types a few thousand words almost daily, one of the most important factors of any laptop is the keyboard. Thankfully, the new VivoBook S offers a typically well-constructed Asus board, which is comfortable to type on all day long.
Those isolated (chiclet style) keys are well sized and spaced, so I found I reached my peak touch-typing speed in no time at all. None of the keys feels squashed or proves awkward to locate without looking. Even the cursor keys are given plenty of room, which is almost a rarity on laptops.
And while there is a little flex towards the centre of the keyboard, it’s nothing significant. The deep travel contributes to comfort levels, and you shouldn’t suffrt finger fatigue even when smashing out documents for hours at a time. You can even type well into the night as the board is fully backlit, with three stages of brightness to cycle through.
However, there were times that I didn’t get on with the VivoBook’s touchpad quite so well. For one, it isn’t quite as spacious as I’d hoped. That much is forgivable, but the pad also proved rather unresponsive to multi-touch gestures. Occasionally, I’d drag two fingers up or down the surface to scroll through a web page or document, to no avail. Thankfully, I saw this issue infrequently – although it always seemed to pop back up again just when I thought it was resolved.
Note that some models of the VivoBook S come with a fingerprint sensor, built into the top right-hand corner of the touchpad. However, my review device lacked this feature. Windows Hello also isn’t fully supported, so I had to use a PIN/password to unlock the laptop instead of facial recognition.
Asus VivoBook S510U – Screen
That 15.6-inch display almost fills the VivoBook’s lid, with only slender bezels surrounding the panel.
It’s a Full HD screen, so you need to push your face up close and squint a little to make out any individual pixels. Visuals are certainly sharp enough for enjoying a spot of Netflix on the move, as well as editing photos and playing games. However, colour accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. Our DisplayCal tests revealed that just 65% of the sRGB gamut was covered, with results of 47% and 49% for the NTSC and Adobe RGB ranges. Professional photographers will likely want to look elsewhere for a means of tinkering with their snaps.
Asus’ usual ‘Splendid’ customisation tool is on board, allowing you to activate vivid colours on demand. However, this tends to simply boost saturation levels. The best feature is the Eye Care mode, which puts out warmer visuals. That’s far easier on the ol’ peepers when you’re working late into the evening.
Still, colour accuracy aside, I have few complaints. On top brightness you won’t struggle to see when outdoors, especially thanks to the anti-glare surfacing. Viewing angles are nice and wide, so you can buddy up and watch some shows with a mate on the go.
Asus VivoBook S510U – Audio
Asus is a big fan of burying its laptop speakers beneath the frame, right beside the front lip. As a result, any music or other audio that you play will be slightly muffled, especially if the VivoBook is resting on your lap.
Audio quality from those stereo speakers is perfectly fine – although, as usual, you’ll want to use headphones for truly enjoying some music. I was happy with those built-in blasters when simply viewing a movie in the kitchen while cooking, however. On top volume, I could still clearly make out every word, despite the clamour of kettles, fans and other implements.
Asus VivoBook S510U – Performance
One of the strongest elements of the VivoBook S510U is its performance. Depending on which model you plump for, of course.
Our review machine came with the Intel Core i7-7500U processor on board, ably backed by 8GB of RAM. You can downsize to an Intel Core i3-7100U chipset instead, if your needs aren’t quite so demanding.
That Core i7 platform offered a silky-smooth everyday experience in my testing. Jumping between several different tasks, all while streaming music non-stop, never resulted in a noticeable stagger or stumble. This blip-free running is further aided by a reasonably quick 256GB SSD, which offers read/write speeds of just over 500Mbits/sec.
The PCMark score of 2808 is almost identical to the results spat out by Asus’ ZenBook UX430UA, and better than plenty of other mid-range laptops that we’ve tested lately. Meanwhile, Geekbench churned out some respectable figures: 4131 (single core) and 7960 (multi-core).
Note, however, that it’s basic integrated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 620) taking care of the visuals. This means the VivoBook is best suited to older or less demanding games, rather than fast-paced recent action titles.
Asus VivoBook S510U – Battery life
With a mixture of tasks, I found that I regularly achieved between five and six hours of life on a full charge of the VivoBook’s battery. This includes lots of Office software action, photo editing and web browsing, all while streaming some music. If you bump up the screen brightness to maximum levels, this drops to just under five hours.
The standard Trusted Reviews PowerMark benchmark test involves a loop of video playback and web browsing until the battery finally dies. With this test, the VivoBook managed 7hrs 22mins. Not one of the strongest results around, but it certainly betters plenty of rivals.
Why buy the Asus VivoBook S510U?
Although several competing laptops offer better portability or dedicated graphics for the same asking price, the VivoBook S510U is still a solid mid-range laptop. Although it isn’t quite as slim or light as Asus makes out, I had no trouble carrying it around all day. And that sleek metal finish certainly looks premium, with a reassuringly durable finish.
Usability is strong, despite the occasional disobedience of the touchpad, while connectivity impresses too. And although the lack of colour accuracy will put off professional media editors, that Full HD screen is just fine for everybody else.
Rounding off with strong performance and respectable battery life, the VivoBook delivers a smooth and satisfying everyday experience.
There are other portable mid-range laptops available at the same price, but the Asus VivoBook S510U serves up some good specs in an attractive and rugged metal chassis.