When you are looking at laptops to buy, you will see more specialized laptops than ever. They meet the requirements of various customers in various sizes, technical specifications, and price ranges. However, many buyers just want a simple 15-inch laptop that can take on the role of a desktop starter at home and on the go. Ideally, one that doesn’t cost a fortune, lasts a long time without a charger and has the necessary ports. The Asus VivoBook S15 ($699.99) delivers these necessary features and has a neat, slim design, a good selection of ports, long-lasting battery life, and fairly reasonable performance. All of this at an affordable price, with no major downsides, and so deserves our Editor’s Choice for budget laptops.
- Great value for feature set
- Snappy performance for the price
- Stylish, slim design with multiple color options
- Long battery life
- Strong port selection and useful extras (fingerprint reader, microSD slot)
One component configuration only
Jump to different sections
- Keyboard & Trackpad
- Productivity, Storage, and Media Performance
- Graphics Performance
- Final Verdict
Asus VivoBook S15 (S533) Specs
|Processor||Intel Core i5-10210U|
|Processor Speed||1.6 GHz|
|RAM (as Tested)||8 GB|
|Boot Drive Type||SSD|
|Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)||512 GB|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Native Display Resolution||1920 by 1080|
|Variable Refresh Support||None|
|Screen Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Graphics Processor||Intel UHD Graphics|
|Wireless Networking||802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth|
|Dimensions (HWD)||0.63 by 14.1 by 9.2 inches|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 10|
|Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)||15:45|
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Design
The first thing you’ll notice about our review sample is its striking green color, called Gaia Green. Dreamy white, Indie black, and Resolute Red are the different color variants, but depending on which one you choose, it’s clear that a fun palette is part of the identity of this laptop. With the S15, Asus is aimed directly at younger users (marketing specifically mentions Generation Z several times) and adapts color options to a generation that the company thinks is creative and expressive.
If you continue with this topic, the Enter key (see below) is outlined in yellow to be represented, and I quote: “Overturning the old system and making significant changes.” Asus: Welcome to the resistance. However, Asus Marketing wants to improve this aspect. The thing is, this laptop is far more stylish than the average general-purpose system. It remains to be seen whether the target market will respond to this approach or not, but otherwise, I like the green color we get to review, while the black and white variants will mix a little more if you are into that.
Asus only offers a US configuration for this laptop, the color of which is the only option that must be specified when ordering. This means that each VivoBook S15 is priced at $699.99 and includes the same components as your model: a tenth-generation Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8GB of RAM, integrated Intel UHD graphics, and a 512GB M.2 SSD.
The design isn’t just flashy, and well built with the beautiful aluminum alloys which form the chassis. This is a high-quality material at a price that gives a luxury feeling than the entry-level laptops made of low-cost plastic. Despite the stronger material, the VivoBook has a reasonably portable weight of 15 inches at 3.97 pounds. (In real life, it feels a little heavier, but the data doesn’t lie.)
The laptop measures 0.63 x 14.1 x 9.2 inches and is slim and compact to fit in your bag for a business trip or daily usage. Between the color scheme and the structure, it’s a comfortable laptop that can be held and used, even if the 15-inch system is bulkier than today’s portable options. (It’s worth noting: if you like the S15 but like the smaller size, there’s a new 14-inch VivoBook S14.)
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Display
Of course, the bigger model you get with a larger 15.6-inch screen can make the size worth it. This offers high-resolution resolution (1,920 x 1,080) and has a slim frame that increases the screen-to-body ratio to 88 percent. It’s more comfortable to see than the usual thick plastic edges found on more budget laptops.
With this panel, there is nothing interesting outside these slim blazes and frames, which are reasonably priced. The screen size is large enough for actual use with many windows, especially if the 13.3-inch screens are too narrow. If you want a touchscreen, you need to look elsewhere because it’s not available on VivoBook.
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Ports
The VivoBook S15 has a good selection of ports. On the right, there are two USB 2.0 ports and a microSD card reader, on the left there is a USB 3.0 port, a USB-C port and an HDMI connection. This laptop doesn’t have a Thunderbolt 3 port, but you can only complain so much about the budget building.
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Keyboard & Trackpad
In addition to the yellow Enter key, the keyboard is standard. The keys are 1.4mm apart, providing a fairly comfortable typing experience, and the keyboard has a full numeric keypad. The touchpad feels a bit pedestrian, with a plastic feel and an audible click. Still, it runs smoothly and the entire press responds quite well, everything you need. An added bonus is the built-in fingerprint reader in the upper right corner of the platform, which you can use to quickly and securely log in once Windows Hello is set up.
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Performance
I have compiled a number of competitive laptops for performance comparisons. Some of them are 15-inch machines, while others have a similar price or equipped with 13 and 14-inch models to show you what you can get for the same price. The following table lists their names and main configurations.
Here are some price differences that need to be considered. For example, the 15-inch version of Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is worth including, but the review unit costs $1,699. As such, it works best here, but you can get a configuration that costs hundreds less.
However, these laptops fall into the same price range and come in different prices and sizes. The Dell Inspiron 14 7000 (7490) is our current choice among ultraportables. It’s a bit smaller than the VivoBook S15, but still a strong competitor. The Dell Inspiron 13 5000 (5391) is even smaller, but since the price is exactly the same as the Asus device, it’s helpful to see what you can get for the same amount of money. Finally, the Lenovo Yoga C740 (15-inch) gives us a look at a competing 15-inch convertible device. With the exception of the Inspiron 13, these devices are all more expensive than the VivoBook, which makes the Asus even better.
PCMark Productivity Test
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by PC benchmark experts from UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we perform simulates a variety of real-life workflows for productivity and content creation. We use it to assess overall system performance on office-focused tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, Internet browsing, and video conferencing. Meanwhile, PCMark 8 has a Storage subtest that we use it to evaluate the system’s boot drive speed. Both tests give a proprietary numeric score; Bigger numbers are better.
The VivoBook S15 has a sleek new 10th generation Intel processor, although it is a modest member of the new family with low power consumption. However, the four cores and eight threads do the job and don’t seem to be fully pushed to their full extent in these tests. It took place on the back of the pack, but it remained close enough, indicating that it is useful for everyday tasks. In terms of storage tests, the SSD is just as eye-catching as the others, leading to fast boot and load times.
Next is Maxon’s Cinebench R15 test, which is fully processed to use all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench emphasizes the CPU instead of the GPU to produce a complex image. The result is a self-assessment that shows the suitability of the PC for processor-intensive workloads.
Cinebench is often a good predictor of handbrake video-editing experiment, another hard, threaded task that’s heavily CPU dependent and easily scalable to cores and threads. We put a stopwatch on test systems while encoding a standard 12-minute 4K video clip (Tears of Steel Blender Open-source demo movie) into a 1080p MP4 file. It is a timed test and lower values are better.
We also perform a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing experiment. With the early 2018 version of Photoshop in Creative Cloud, 10 complex filters and effects were applied to a standard JPEG test image. We calculate each operation and sum up the total. As with Handbrake, lower times are better here.
The Core i5-10210U proved to be one of the best in these media tests because there is more room to stretch the muscles. The VivoBook S15 achieved the fastest handbrake result and was third-best in the other two tests. This is a very good demonstration for its price, and frankly, it’s not that it doesn’t have less storage or other features that make it easier to justify the higher cost of other machines compared. Of course, despite the small differences in performance, none of these laptops are specifically equipped for demanding multimedia tasks. As attractive as the big screen and low price are, if you are a professional media editor, consider the more powerful portable category. Nevertheless, the VivoBook S15 is at least as good as the others here, especially as it shows that the Surface Laptop 3 is much more expensive (and offers twice as much storage space to boot).
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Graphics Performance
3DMark measures relative graphical flesh by creating highly detailed, game-style 3D graphics that highlight particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suitable for different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is better suited for mid-range computers, while Fire Strike is more sophisticated and designed for high-end computers. The results are proprietary results.
The next step is another synthetic graphics test, this time by Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the superposition test also displays and processes a detailed 3D scene and measures system adaptation. In this case, it is rendered with the Unigine engine of the same name and provides a different 3D workload scenario for a second opinion on the graphical features of each laptop.
The graphics integrated into most laptops are not fit for these 3D programs shown here. The VivoBook S15 is neither better nor worse than other Intel systems, while the AMD system is better. However, even this is not a significant factor in application GPU acceleration. You’ll have a hard time on 1080p games with modern titles in high settings. As with the CPU, you will have to look elsewhere if your work is graphics-based or if you are looking for a gaming laptop.
Battery Rundown Test
After fully charging the laptop, we’ll put the device into power-saving mode (as opposed to balanced or high-performance mode), and we’ll do a few more tweaks to save power as we prepare for the unplugged video rundown test. (We also turn off the Wi-Fi connection by putting the laptop in airplane mode.) In this test, we are streaming a video, a locally stored 720p file from the same Tears of Steel video we used in the handbrake test with a 50 percent screen brightness and volume at 100 percent until the laptop shuts down.
As you can see here, the battery life was definitely a bonus for the affordable VivoBook. It was the most lasting machine in the group that will allow you to work without carrying a charger for most of the day. It is larger than some of these laptops, so it may hold a larger battery, but it is still a great laptop.
Asus VivoBook S15 Review: Final Vedict
Overall, the Asus VivoBook S15 is a very strong value. Overall, there is little to criticize, not to mention how low the price is. The build quality of this Price Range is by far the most, and the laptop remains fairly portable despite the 15.6-inch screen.
It’s not a powerhouse of productivity, but it’s not meant to be much closer (or better than) to machines that are much more expensive. If you’re just looking for a daily driver that works easily in the size of a laptop and doesn’t cost a fortune, the VivoBook S15 is definitely the best we’ve seen so far in 2020.