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Asus Vivobook S510UA review: It’s not fancy, but it’s fast

A Kaby Lake Core i7 at a wallet-friendly price

IT Pro Value
Price
£666
  • Speedy performance; Cheap; Fast charging
  • Unimpressive build quality; Poor screen; Short battery life

The Asus Vivobook S510UA is one of Asus' more affordable laptops, aiming to deliver high performance without breaking the bank. With more and more notebooks sliding towards the premium end of the scale with 1,000-plus pricetags, it's welcome to see a machine that's still in the mid-range price bracket - if only just.

But with affordability comes compromise, and Asus has inevitably had to cut some corners in order to bring down the price of the S510UA. The question is: are these compromises acceptable?

Design, keyboard and trackpad

As is often the case with some of Asus' cheaper models, the Vivobook S510UA is a mixed bag in terms of quality. The aluminium-finished lid is good-looking and feels premium, although it's not quite as sturdy as models with a proper metal unibody construction.

In general, this is a run-of-the-mill laptop in terms of looks. Our review unit came in a pale gold (although oddly, the lid was a similar but subtly different silver colour), and while it wasn't as offensive as gold laptops can sometimes be, it's not especially eye-catching either.

Its dimensions aren't anything much to shout about either - with a weight of 1.5kg and a 17.9mm thickness, it's quite a bit chunkier than other laptops in the same price bracket.

The lacklustre design and build quality extends to the keyboard as well. There's a noticeable amount of flex to the keyboard, and a hollow, bouncy feeling when typing with anything more than the lightest of force. There's minimal feedback too, and a distinct lack of travel depth, although it is backlit.

It's fitted with a good trackpad - which is rarer than you'd think, despite being one of the simplest elements of a laptop - but pretty much everything else about the design is either average or disappointing.

Display

The disappointment doesn't stop there. When looking at cut-price laptops, the display is usually one of the first things to suffer. We'd expect the screen to be uninspiring on a mid-range laptop like this, but the S510UA's 1080p panel is a let-down even by those fairly low standards.

For starters, the maximum brightness of 266cd/m2 is pitiful, even when compared to cheaper laptops. This means that the screen looks dim and dull, even when in well-lit conditions. Colour accuracy is off too, so images look muted and flat, with severe crushing.

The only bright side is that it features a matte anti-glare coating, making it good for working under harsh lighting. The bezels are also slim compared to most laptops, so you've got a sizeable amount of screen real-estate to play with versus the laptop's footprint.

Specs and performance

Happily, things improve in the area of performance. Here, the Asus' Intel Core i7-7500U CPU and 8GB of RAM put up a good fight, coasting to an impressive score of 55 in our benchmarks, beating both the Dell XPS 13 and the HP EliteBook X360. These results were broadly held up by our Geekbench tests as well, although the S510UA fell very slightly behind the X360 and XPS 13.

In practise, the S510UA was fast and responsive, coping well with multi-tasking and demanding apps, with no noticeable slowdown. If you're looking for brute force at a reasonable price, this notebook has a capable amount of power to offer.

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