ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) – capable device with good cooling

After some years, the ASUS’ TUF series is clearly distinguishable from the ROG devices (in a good way). The design language of these laptops is very different compared to their more exclusive and expensive siblings. The TUF machines are bringing good performance to the table without being too expensive and at the same time, the design is a bit more stealth-ish and mature.

The good news is that these devices come with a decent amount of goodies. Let’s take for example our test laptop for today’s article – the ASUS TUF Gaming F15 FX506HM. What this fella has to offer? The 2021 version of TUF Gaming F15 FX506 is being complemented by Intel’s Tiger Lake H45 CPUs as well as some powerful NVIDIA Ampere GPUs. The default configuration has Core i5-11260H and GeForce RTX 3050 (75W with Dynamic Boost) under the hood which is a good budget gaming device.

The top configuration offers an Intel Core i9-11900H and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (95W with Dynamic Boost) – our test configuration is almost the same, but the processor is the Core i7-11800H. So, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, at least for now everything looks as it should be – we have new Intel CPUs and fresh NVIDIA Ampere GPUs under the bonnet, the design is up to date, there are decent display options, and the keyboard is nice-looking. Visually and on paper, this machine is a solid gaming offer, and this year’s model even comes with Thunderbolt 4.0 which is nice to have.

So, without further ado, let’s check what this ASUS TUF device is able to offer for its money.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/asus-tuf-gaming-f15-fx506-2021/

Contents


Video Review


Specs Sheet

ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) – capable device with good cooling - Specs

  • Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521)
  • Color accuracy  3.9  3.1
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 8000GB SSD + up to 1000GB HDD
  • RAM
  • up to 64GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Home, Windows 11 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Pro
  • Battery
  • 48Wh, 3-cell, 66Wh, 4-cell, 90Wh, 4-cell
  • Dimensions
  • 395 x 256 x 22.8 ~ 24.5 mm (15.55" x 10.08" x 0.90")
  • Weight
  • 2.26 kg (5 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 3x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C
  • Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • 2.0b
  • Card reader
  • Ethernet LAN
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.2
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera
  • HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Array Microphone with AI Noise Cancelling
  • Speakers
  • 2x 2W, DTS: X Ultra
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • Kensington Lock

All ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) configurations

#CommissionsEarned

Design and construction

Just like last year’s device, the 2021 version comes in two versions with different designs – “eclipse gray” and “graphite black”. The differences are clearly visible because of the non-identical lid’s exterior. Apart from that, the laptop feels solid despite the fact that it has a plastic base. The notebook weighs 2.30 kg and there is a light difference between the two abovementioned models when it comes to profile thickness (24.3mm-24.5mm). Overall, these dimensions are just fine for such a device.

The lid can be opened with a single hand and we didn’t observe any bends and squeaky sounds during the process. There is a Web camera that is positioned orthodoxly.

The RGB backlit keyboard has decent key travel and acceptable feedback. We are happy to see a NumberPad section as well as a separated Power button. The arrow keys are a bit too small for our likings but on the bright side, the body is solid, and there are almost no flexes during typing.

The touchpad is definitely a good unit and it offers a great experience in combination with the high refresh rate display. The gliding surface feels smooth on touch and the two dedicated buttons are a nice extra as well.

The bottom plate houses the speakers and the ventilation grills. Strangely enough, the grills are partially blocked but as you may already know from the last year’s review, the laptop is sucking air through the keycaps so probably that’s how the cooling design works.

The hot air is pushed through the two grills that are placed on the back of the device.


Ports

On the left side of the laptop, we can spot a charging plug, an RJ-45 connector, an HDMI 2.0b connector, two USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) ports, a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 2) port, and an audio jack. On the right side, you can found a single USB Type-A 2.0 port.


Disassembly, upgrade options, and maintenance

For popping the bottom plate, you have to undo 11 Phillips-head screws. As always, the bottom right corner screw remains attached to the bottom panel and it’ll slightly lift the edge so that should be your starting point.

Inside we have a big 90Wh battery unit.

When it comes to memory, there are two SODIMM slots, which can take up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM in dual-channel. We can spot two M.2 PCIe x4 slots for additional storage.

The cooling is composed of three shared heat pipes between the CPU and the GPU, as well as a fourth one that cools the graphics memory and the VRMs.


Display quality

ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) is equipped with a Full HD IPS panel, model number Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at a distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

The viewing angles are good. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 306 nits in the middle of the screen and 278 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 14%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6930K – slightly colder than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is good – 1480:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers only 57% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.


Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 22 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.


PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021)’s display (CMN1521) doesn’t use PWM for the brightness modulation which makes it comfortable for long periods of usage.


Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – light emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusion

ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) in the configuration we tested has a 144Hz IPS display with a 1080p resolution, good viewing angles, decent contrast ratio, and the backlight doesn’t flicker at all. The panel has its cons – a narrow color coverage and slow pixel response times.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) configurations with 15.6″ FHD IPS Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


Sound

ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021)’s speakers offer decent sound and the whole experience is on an average level.


Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.asus.com/Laptops/For-Gaming/TUF-Gaming/2021-ASUS-TUF-Gaming-F15/HelpDesk_Download/

CPU options

Currently, this model can be equipped with Core i5-11260H, Core i5-11400H, Core i7-11800H, and Core i9-11900H.

ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.


GPU options

And for the graphics, you get a budget spectrum of devices – the RTX 3050 (75W with Dynamic Boost), RTX 3050 Ti (75W with Dynamic Boost), and the RTX 3060 (95W with Dynamic Boost).

ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which ASUS TUF Gaming F15 (FX506, 2021) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.


Gaming tests RTX 3060 95W (External display)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
HIGH PERF
HIGH QLT
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (Laptop, 95W) 420 FPS PLAY VIDEO 379 FPS PLAY VIDEO
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
LOW
HIGH
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (Laptop, 95W) 242 FPS 183 FPS

Gaming tests Intel UHD Graphics Xe 750 (32EU)

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
HIGH PERF
HIGH QLT
Intel UHD Graphics Xe 750 (32EU) 91 FPS PLAY VIDEO 37 FPS PLAY VIDEO
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
LOW
HIGH
Intel UHD Graphics Xe 750 (32EU) 37 FPS 21 FPS
Show all tested games

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

 

Intel Core i7-11800H (45W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) (Turbo Mode) 3.98 GHz (B+73%) @ 86°C @ 102W 3.88 GHz (B+69%) @ 95°C @ 100W 3.44 GHz (B+50%) @ 87°C @ 77W
MSI Pulse GL76 3.16 GHz (B+37%) @ 95°C @ 65W 3.00 GHz (B+30%) @ 95°C @ 59W 2.87 GHz (B+25%) @ 95°C @ 55W
MSI Pulse GL66 2.94 GHz (B+28%) @ 94°C @ 58W 2.76 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W 2.77 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W

It seems that the ASUS Turbo mode is truly worthing its name. First of all, the TDP levels are fully unleashed (or maybe limited to around 100W which is a lot) and the CPU boosts like crazy but that’s good for the overall performance. In terms of thermals, as you can see in the table above, the ASUS machine is doing a great job when the CPU is under load compared to the other two devices. It maintains higher clocks in all the tests while the processor temperature is lower compared to the two rivals in the short and the longs test.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (95W) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) 1550 MHz @ 77°C 1534 MHz @ 80°C

While using the “Turbo” mode from the Armoury Crate the GPU is being overclocked a bit +100MHz core clock and +150MHz for the memory. Interestingly enough, the long run didn’t differ too much compared to the short test which is great because there is no actual performance degradation when it comes to long gaming sessions.

Gaming comfort

Even more importantly, the WASD area remains cool, because it is located right above one of the fans, and it draws air through the keyboard. The device remains fairly silent during gaming (for a laptop with powerful hardware).

Verdict

At the end of the day, the ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) is a good device. Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend on a gaming machine, you can have it as a modest laptop with Core i5-11260H and GeForce RTX 3050 or it could be a decent notebook with Intel Core i9-11900H/Core i7-11800H and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. As we said earlier, we like the fact that the device design isn’t too intrusive and it doesn’t scream in front of your face “I am a gaming machine”. Maybe you can use it in the park without drawing too much unwanted attention.

In terms of upgradability, we are happy to see that there are no additional cuts in this area. The two SODIMM slots and the two M.2 slots for fast NVMe drives are great features for a mid-range device like this one and the 2021 variant comes with a Thunderbolt 4 port which brings even more value to the whole picture. Maybe we’re missing the good old SATA slot for slapping a big 5TB 2.5″ HDD for a huge amount of movies, pictures, backups, or whatever you want to save on it. But let’s not moan too much.

The overall performance is definitely above the average level. When the Turbo mode is activated, the CPU boosts high enough makes the laptop a snappy performer no matter the situation. Actually, we have tested three devices with this CPU up to date and the ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) is the best of the pack up to date. Under heavy gaming load, the cooling solution is good enough to maintain sustained GPU core frequencies and that leads to stable performance in games which is great news for people who like to play a lot during the weekend.

What else? Oh yes, the display (AUO B156HAN08.2) is a bit of a mixed bag but the most important thing is that it’ll not affect negatively your health because it’s PWM-free. In addition, it has good viewing angles, a decent contrast ratio, and a 144 Hz refresh rate. Unfortunately, this extra isn’t conjugated by the pixel response time which is disappointedly slow, especially for people who like to play shooters like CS:GO and Call Of Duty. The color coverage is just 57% which isn’t inspiring at all, but it’s fine for games and normal daily usage.

Okay, guys, let’s sum it up – the ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) is a decent gaming device because it can be configured with the latest and greatest Intel Tiger Lake H45 CPUs and some mid-range NVIDIA Ampere video cards. The cooling solution is doing a great job under load and that leads to higher CPU and GPU frequencies which affects positively the whole performance during gaming or some other heavy load. The keyboard is comfortable and silent, and in addition, the WASD section is cool enough for long hours of gaming. The display is a decent unit but it’s a bit slow for fast-paced games because of its slow response time.

Another key selling point of this device is the upgradability – two RAM slots and two slots for blazing-fast NVMe drives are on your disposal as well as a handy Thunderbolt 4.0 port. The ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) doesn’t have a lot of weak points which makes it a good offer in the mid-range class of gaming laptops. This is a solid laptop that can be bought with decent hardware but if you need something more powerful than the GeForce RTX 3060 (95W) maybe you should take a look at the ROG Strix models or perhaps at some other brand.

Pros

  • Capable cooling
  • Two M.2 PCIe slots and two RAM SODIMM slots
  • The display doesn’t flicker at any brightness level Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521)
  • Budget-conscious
  • Wi-Fi 6 and an RGB backlight
  • A good keyboard and touchpad combo


Cons

  • The panel has slow pixel response times Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521)
  • Tiny Arrow keys
  • Covers only 57% of the sRGB gamut
  • No SD card reader

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/asus-tuf-gaming-f15-fx506-2021/

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