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ASUS VivoBook S15 (S510UQ) review – a great multimedia solution that you can actually afford

ASUS has recently started pushing the mid-range multimedia market segment with a number of VivoBook laptops but if you don’t have the extra money for the high-performance VivoBook Pro 15 N580VD and you are not quite into the plasticky feel of the VivoBook X510UQ, then the VivoBook S15 is probably the right choice for you. Moreover, the S15 has more in common with the VivoBook Pro 15 N580VD than the budget-oriented X510.

Anyway, the Core i5-7200U version seems to be reasonably priced and will most probably appeal to most. In any case, the slim, lightweight and partly aluminum chassis is definitely an eye-catcher while the slim side bezels allow for even smaller dimensions. Also, we expect better overall battery performance compared to the VivoBook Pro 15 so if you are looking for a more balanced approach, there’s a compelling reason to opt for the VivoBook S15 rather than the VivoBook Pro 15 despite their almost identical price, depending on the configuration of course. Let’s see how the rest of the features shape up the VivoBook S15.

Contents


Retail package

The laptop comes with a standard VivoBook-branded box containing all of the usual user manuals, AC adapter and a DVD with drivers.


Design and construction

As we already mentioned, a lot of similarities can be drawn from between the VivoBook Pro 15 and the VivoBook S15, especially in the design department. But while the Pro 15 (N580VD) uses aluminum for most of the chassis, the only metal element here is the lid. Luckily that doesn’t take away the overall sturdiness of the case and keeps the weight pretty low at 1.7 kg. Thickness isn’t an issue as well measuring just 18 mm and making it one of the most portable 15-inch mid-range laptops out there.

The brushed metal plate on the back of the lid seems to be okay in terms of rigidity but nothing too impressive – there’s a visible deformation to our twisting and bending attempts. Still, we don’t think this should be a deal-breaker for anyone, especially in this price category. Opening the device with just one hand is possible thanks to the almost linear travel of the single-hinge design. The screen, on the other hand, impresses with thin side bezels while the lower chin and the upper one aren’t thick by any means. This has significantly reduced the dimensions of the device. And, as expected, the bottom piece is made of plastic and interestingly, the only grills are for the loudspeakers.

And regardless of the thin sides, the laptop comes with the usual I/O you’d expect from a 15-inch laptop. On the left, you will find a pair of USB 2.0 connectors and an SD card while on the right, you will see the DC charging port, USB 3.0 port, full-sized HDMI, USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1) and 3.5 mm audio jack. Although this covers the bare minimum of I/O, we would have appreciated at least two USB-A 3.0 ports and a slightly better distribution. With the current placement of the ports, most of the cables will be sticking out from the right side.

The interior uses hard plastic material that strongly imitates anodized aluminum and strangely enough, it doesn’t feel worse than the interior of the VivoBook Pro 15. In fact, we noticed the same weak points – near the spacebar area and right above the keyboard. This means that it’s something due to the structure and not just a poor choice of materials. Still, this shouldn’t be an issue in practice for most users. Anyway, the keyboard is a mixed bag – it has a slightly spongy feel to it and a rather short key travel but tactile and clicky feedback at the same time. Also, no Numpad area despite the standard layout. Luckily, we have no complaints towards the touchpad – it has an excellent gliding surface, light mouse clicks and it’s fairly responsive – a rare occurrence in this price range, to be honest. In addition, the fingerprint is well-integrated and it’s slightly concaved so you can always find it with your fingers without looking at it.

Our final verdict on build quality is mostly positive. There are a few hiccups like the flexible keyboard area and the unbalanced port distribution but generally, the build quality is fine. The case feels firm, light, portable and more importantly, there aren’t any noticeable gaps, protrusions or inconsistencies. That’s quite admirable in this price category for sure.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

There are no service lids so you have to remove the bottom to access the internals. In order to do so, you have to remove all the screws on the bottom including the ones placed under the upper rubber feet.


Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD

The laptop supports a standard 2.5-inch drive and has an M.2 SSD slot for expansion. The reviewed unit featured just one 2.5-inch HDD while the M.2 slot remained empty. The latter is located right next to the RAM chips.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1Free Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot1TB HDD Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

RAM

The motherboard supports two RAM chips each up to 16GB of DDR4-2400. Our sammple featured just one chip of 8GB DDR4-2400 from SK Hynix.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
Slot 1SK Hynix 8GB DDR4-2400 Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
Slot 2Free Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Other components

The Wi-Fi adapter is located right next to the cooling fan and it’s Intel 8265NGW.

The battery is rated at 42Wh and takes a good chunk of the inner chassis.


Display quality

The notebook comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS display manufactured by AUO with model number B156HAN02.1. It offers 142 ppi, 0.18 x 0.18 mm pixel pitch and can be considered as ‘Retina” from at least 60 cm.

Viewing angles are excellent.

We’ve recorded a peak brightness 290 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 273 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 11% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is almost optimal – 6490K and stays close to the standard 6500K when going along the grayscale. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (67% brightness) in the image below.

The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. But in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for office work, web browsing, multimedia and office work, a deviation of 3.16 is still high but will remain unnoticeable for most users. The contrast ratio is high – 1310:1 before calibration and 1280:1 after calibration.


Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of 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 in 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.

Unfortunately, display covers just 51% of the sRGB color gamut.

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.

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

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

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 31 ms.


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.

No PWM was detected across all brightness levels so it’s safe to use for long periods of time in this regard.


Blue light emissions

Installing of 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 – 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.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.

Conclusion

To be honest, we are a bit disappointed by the display mainly due to its limited sRGB coverage. The rest of the properties are fine, though – high contrast, decent maximum brightness and doesn’t use PWM for regulating brightness.

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for ASUS VivoBook S15 configurations with 15.6″ AUO B156HAN02.1 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

*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 bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

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

The laptop delivers excellent sound quality with clear high, mid and low frequencies.


Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region

ASUS VivoBook S15 (S510) technical specifications table

Acer
Not available
Display
15.6”, Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS
HDD/SSD
128GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD, 5400 rpm
M.2 Slot
1x 2280 SATA M.2 (M key) slot See photo
RAM
8GB DDR4, 2133 MHz
Dimensions
361 x 244 x 17.9 mm (14.21" x 9.61" x 0.70")
Weight
1.70 kg (3.7 lbs)
Body material
Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum
Ports and connectivity
  • 2x USB Type-A 2.0
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • Card reader SD, SDHC
  • Ethernet lan
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Audio jack combo audio/microphone jack
Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera VGA
  • Microphone
  • Speakers Stereo 2W
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

ASUS VivoBook S 15 (S510) configurations


Software

We used the pre-installed Windows 10 for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from ASUS’ official support page.

Battery

Unfortunately, battery life isn’t its strongest suit mainly due to the modest 42Wh capacity. However, video playback runtimes appear to be more than okay for some reason while failing to deliver decent web browsing score.

Of course, all tests were run using the same settings as always – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature switched on.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.


CPU – Intel Core i7-8550U

The Intel Core i7-8550U is part of the new 8th Generation Kaby Lake Refresh and it’s a direct successor to the Intel Core i7-7500U from the Kaby Lake generation and the Intel Core i7-6500U from the 6th Skylake generation. With the latest alteration to the ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors, Intel doubles the core count from 2 to 4 and retaining the so-called Hyper-Threading technology, keeping the same 14nm manufacturing process and feature the same 15W TDP.

However, due to the core count change, the base frequency of the Core i7-8550U is lowered to only 1.8 GHz while Turbo Boost frequencies remain pretty high – somewhere between 3.7 – 4.0 GHz. This ensures considerably higher multi-core and single-core performance during short workloads before going back to more bearable frequencies considering the 15W TDP but most of the other specs and features remain the same.

The chip also incorporates a newer Intel Gen 9.5 integrated graphics called Intel UHD Graphics 620. The support for Google’s VP9 codec and H.265/HEVC Main 10 is still the most notable feature of the iGPU. Intel claims that the new UHD 620 chips improve the overall power consumption compared to the previous one.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-8550u/


GPU – NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)

geforce-940m-3qtrThe NVIDIA GeForce 940MX is a refreshed version of the older 940M mobile chip but paired with a faster GDDR5 memory and slightly higher clock speeds, which result in noticeably better performance compared to the standard 940M. However, some OEMs will still choose to use the cheaper DDR3 version of the GPU.

Announced back in the first quarter of 2016, the chip is almost identical to the standard 940M (Maxwell) but with clock speeds increased up to 1242 MHz and base 1122 MHz. Again, the memory uses a 64-bit bus and has 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. It still supports the DirectX 12 API and Shader 5.0 feature along with the usual NVIDIA technologies – CUDA, GPU Boost 2.0, Optimus, GeForce Experience, PhysX. The whole GPU is rated at around 15 to 30 Watts depending on the clock speeds and memory used in the specific notebook.

You can browse our GPU ranking to see where the graphics chip stands: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

For more information about the GPU, follow this link: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-940mx-2gb-gddr5/


Gaming tests

GTA-V-benchmarks

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)HD, Low (Check settings)HD, Medium (Check settings)HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average FPS83 fps34 fps17 fps

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GOHD 768p, Low (Check settings)HD 768p, Medium (Check settings)HD 768p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS133 fps99 fps77 fps

Temperatures

Even though the stress tests don’t represent real-life usage because even the most demanding games don’t require 100% CPU and 100% GPU load, we find them very useful to assess the overall stability and effectiveness of the cooling system.

NOTE: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test the unit with the Core i7-8550U processor but we doubt that there will be any significant difference in thermals between the Core i7-7500U and Core i7-8550U as both share the same thermal design power of 15W.

The CPU stress test didn’t show any issues with the Core i7-7500U reaching its maximum Turbo Boost frequency before going down to 3.0 GHz and staying there for good.

Switching on the GPU stress test resulted in CPU throttling at 2.2 GHz but the GPU ran at its maximum operating frequency. However, the latter also appeared to be pretty hot – 84 degrees Celsius. This is too high even for a gaming notebook and this is not the case here.

Interestingly enough, the inner temperatures didn’t affect the interior as much and it remained relatively cool throughout the test.

28.5°
33.3°
35.3°
29.0°
31.3°
32.0°
30.6°
28.0°
28.8°

Verdict

The VivoBook S510’s price suggests that it sits right between the VivoBook Pro 15 and the VivoBook F510 and judging by the overall user experience and performance, this stands true.

In terms of mobility and build quality, the VivoBook S 15 appears to be closer to the bit more expensive VivoBook Pro 15 but when it comes to hardware, the F510 is pretty similar to the currently reviewed model. We’ve got an Ultra-low voltage (ULV) Intel CPU on board paired with GeForce 940MX GPU and a bit lacking IPS display. At least for a multimedia notebook that is. The limited sRGB coverage doesn’t really fit the profile of a multimedia-ready notebook especially when you have the VivoBook Pro 15 with an excellent display at just about the same price as the S510. Also, the keyboard of the latter is a bit spongy and won’t suit everyone’s needs.

When it comes to battery life, the S 15 isn’t a stunner as well. The less than stellar web browsing runtimes will be a deal-breaker for some while the exceptionally high inner temperatures under heavy workload indicate that you may have some trouble in the future with the cooling performance if you do CPU or GPU-intensive tasks more often than not. But if you are going to use it mostly for multimedia and office work, don’t worry too much about it.

In reality, the VivoBook S 15 really is a stepping stone to the VivoBook Pro 15 and does things a bit better than its cheaper sibling, the VivoBook F510. So if you are torn between the VivoBook Pro 15 and the F510, take a moment and consider this option as well.

Pros

  • Fairly good build qualityо
  • Pretty portable for its price
  • Good touchpad
  • Display with high contrast and decent maximum brightness
  • The display doesn’t use PWM for regulating screen brightness
  • Good sound quality


Cons

  • Spongy keyboard
  • Exceptionally high inner temperatures under heavy workload
  • Screen with limited sRGB coverage
  • Unsatisfactory battery life