Review: ASUS VivoBook S15 S530FN/S530UN

As much as high performance gaming laptops tickle my inner PC enthusiast, I still prefer thin and light laptops for everyday use. Going building to building for classes, the last thing this college undergrad needs is a hulking gaming laptop and its accompanying power brick weighing him down.

So when the time came to choose which review I would be doing next, it was a no-brainer. The Vivobook S530UN may not pack the same horses as the gaming laptops in the upper echelon of ASUS’s laptop line-up, but there should be enough of it to go around.

ASUS VIVOBOOK S15 S530FN REVIEW SPECS:

 S530UN-BQ139T (reviewed)S530FN
CPUIntel Core i5-8250U Intel Core i7-8565U
RAM4GB DDR48GB DDR4
GPUNvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5+ Intel UHD Graphics 620Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5+ Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage256GB SATA SSD + 1TB 5400 rpm HDD256GB SATA SSD + 1TB 5400 rpm HDD
Display15.6" FullHD 1920 x 1080 IPS, matte coating15.6" FullHD 1920 x 1080 IPS, matte coating
Ports1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
2x USB 2.0 Type-A
1x 3.5mm Audio combo jack
1x HDMI1.4
1x microSD Card Reader
1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
2x USB 2.0 Type-A
1x 3.5mm Audio combo jack
1x HDMI1.4
1x microSD Card Reader
WebcamHD webcamHD webcam
Power42Whrs 3-cell Lithium-prismatic battery, 65W AC adapter42Whrs 3-cell Lithium-prismatic battery, 65W AC adapter
Operating SystemWindows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro
SRPPhp 51,995Php 64,995

*Note: ASUS Philippines currently designates all S15 modes under S530FN locally. The Intel Core i5-8250 model we reviewed here may also be found to be designated as the S530UN in other markets.

DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY – ASUS VIVOBOOK S15 S530FN REVIEW

Sticking to the previous Vivobook’s design cues, ASUS has kept the changes minimal but noticeable. Brushed metal finish predominantly covers the entire device giving the S15 an upscale look. This particular Icicle Gold color scheme looks elegant and would look perfectly at home in the hallways of an expensive university.

The ErgoLift hinge found on the more expensive ZenBooks makes it way down here and angles the S15’s keyboard when you open it. Rubber nubbins underneath prevent scratching so you don’t have to worry about it scraping the surface each time you unfold the device.

I/O is diverse with one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Type-A, two USB 2.0 Type-A’s, a 3.5mm audio combo port, HDMI 1.4, and a microSD card reader.

The island-style keyboard has a good amount of travel and isn’t fatiguing to use. My only complaint is that the power button is located on the top right where it could easily be accidentally pressed while trying to reach for the keys around it. While the trackpad could have been bigger, it’s nice to see an integrated fingerprint sensor for added security and quick Windows Hello log-ins. 

There’s an acceptable amount of flex on the keyboard and the display. Closed up, the S15 feels sturdy and can withstand a decent amount of pressure for when you put it in a cramped backpack. In spite of the sturdy feel, the S15 isn’t heavy and is easy to carry around.

DISPLAY AND WEBCAM – ASUS VIVOBOOK S15 S530FN REVIEW

More premium features trickle down to the Vivobooks as ASUS has been able to minimize the bezels on the S15. Combined with the 1920 x 1080p resolution, the 15.6-inch IPS display delivers a great viewing experience. The matte finish on the panel fends of some glare, but outdoor visibility isn’t too good on the S15 and you’ll really have to crank up the brightness if you plan to use it outdoors.

The FullHD resolution and IPS panel makes the S15 perfect for users who need to keep multiple windows and desktop elements on-screen simultaneously. This improved multi-tasking and pleasing color reproduction really helps ante up productivity. 

Sadly, we’re still stuck with a 720p webcam. Worse still, the video capture on this particular one is laggy and looks as if its a choppy feed over the internet.

PERFORMANCE – ASUS VIVOBOOK S15 S530FN REVIEW

This model is equipped with an Intel Core i5-8250U, an Nvidia GeForce MX150, 4GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SATA SSD and a 1TB hard drive. Again, these aren’t top-of-the-line specs by any means, but certainly enough in most cases.

 MinimumMaximumAverage
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive35 fps67 fps53 fps
DOTA 232 fps57 fps46.3 fps

In 1080p gaming performance, the GeForce MX150 was able to pump out playable framerates for popular titles such as DOTA 2 and CS:GO on maximum settings without any anti-aliasing.

The small 4GB of memory is quickly saturated during video editing and heavy photo editing. I ran into issues with Adobe Photoshop being unable to save files because of low memory. Fortunately, that’s easily upgradable down the line.

Having an SSD boot drive, the S15 delivered snappy everyday performance. Navigating through Windows 10 was responsive, boot time takes mere seconds even during a cold boot, and the system didn’t choke when opening multiple programs/tabs.

BATTERY LIFE – ASUS VIVOBOOK S15 S530FN REVIEW

Where the lightweight specs show its advantage is in battery life. The S15 was able to last throughout an 8 hour work/school day where I did mostly browsing, taking down notes on Microsoft OneNote, some photo editing, and watching Netflix. That would equate to around 6 hours of actual use. That’s with Wi-Fi always on, at 50% screen brightness, and using the default power-saving state.

But if you do run out of juice on the go, the power adapter is no more than twice the size of your regular smartphone charger. It’s small, light, and can be stowed away in a pocket somewhere in your bag.

CONCLUSION

The S15 has left me with an even bigger appreciation for well-balanced laptops. Because while over-the-top ROG laptops appeal to my inner gamer, and the sexy ZenBooks appeal my imeldific side, jack-of-all-trades machines like the S15 is what our reasonable minds all eventually buy.

Sure you’d get more CPU and GPU power for your money if you go for a similarly priced ASUS TUF Gaming laptop or an Acer Nitro 5. But then you’d be giving up battery life, portability, and SSD performance. So really, the S15 is still the more balanced choice.

To that end, ASUS has hit several key areas with the S15: Good battery life, excellent portability, well-balanced everyday performance, all in a stylish package. Add more RAM down the line (or strike an upgrade deal with your retailer) and you’d have found yourself good company for all your computing needs.

PROS

  • Good battery life
  • Adequate all-round performance
  • Excellent portability
  • IPS display has good viewing angles and color reproduction
  • Windows Hello compatible fingerprint reader is integrated

CONS

  • 4GB of RAM is limiting for content creation and memory intensive
  • The GeForce MX150 is just barely adequate for gaming
  • Power button placement invites accidental shut downs
  • Struggles with outdoor visibility
  • Choppy 720p webcam
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