First, let me just say that I’m not an avid laptop user. At a certain point, smartphones became powerful enough that I just migrated to using my phone for most things that would require me to need access to a computer whenever I’m not home. However, since making the switch there has always been a couple issues I’d run in to that a smartphone just didn’t work well for.
For example, if I wanted to go work at a local coffee bar, to get a break from the monotony of always being at my house, since I work from home, I found that it just wasn’t much fun to try and do so and get work done using my smartphone. I mean, I could use a Bluetooth keyboard connected to my phone, but then comes the issue of wanting a larger screen. For me, tablet’s just haven’t gotten to full laptop replacement mode yet, so I’ve steered clear of them for the time being.
Also, I do a lot of photography and video editing, hence you watching this review right now, and I wanted something that could handle editing photos and even the occasional video edit if needed. I also wanted something that featured a large enough screen, physical keyboard, etc. to do those things with.
A desktop setup, while I do have an amazing setup, as I said, comes with being stuck in one spot even within my own home. If I wanted to head in the living room and throw something on in the background on the TV while lounging on the couch to do some writing, I just wasn’t able to.
However, my use of a laptop is far and few in between and the times I actually need it would also be far and few in between so I didn’t want to spend a lot on a laptop especially since I have a desktop setup that cost me over five grand and a smart phone that cost over a grand and those are the two pieces of gear I use most often.
This led to me to budget gaming laptops. Most budget laptops in general are a bad buy in my opinion. I couldn’t ever see myself owning something like a Chromebook or any other type of web book, however, I wanted something that was going to give me the best bang for my buck. Also, being a gamer, who not only games but streams on TwitchTV I knew that I wanted something that if I was traveling, could at least do light gaming on it if I wanted.
I think gaming laptops give you the most bang for your buck if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle most anything you throw at it and want to have that dedicated graphics card as well just in case.
So let’s roll the intro and dive in to my review of the ASUS TUF F15 budget gaming laptop and see if its the right choice for you as well.
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With that out of the way, let’s dive in to the review!
First things first, let’s talk about first impressions. I gotta say, I think this is a good looking laptop. I like the brushed metal look on the top which is offset with a dimple pattern to give it a bit of different design than you’re use to seeing. Also, I love that the lights for the power, hard drive and such are on the top of laptop instead of the typical placement on the front which I always find hard to see when checking for a full charge for example.
The hinge also feels super sturdy and has a good feel to it when opening and closing the screen. On top of that, the middle of the screen is open so that you can still see the lights I just mentioned with the screen open.
While the shell does have this brushed metal look, it’s definitely plastic, although it feels like a high quality plastic. Fingerprints do show up slightly, but I’ve used plenty of other devices that show fingerprints and smudges much much worse than this thing and they do easily wipe off with a micro fiber cloth.
The branding on the unit is done nicely and fits well with the overall design of the laptop. You have the ASUS TUF Gaming Logo as well as the words TUF GAMING here on the laptop and then when you open the screen, on the bottom bezel you have the ASUS branding.
It also has this red line that goes all the way around the laptop that is subtle but adds a bit of a two-tone look to the machine that I personally find attractive. Although, admittedly I’ve always liked black and red together haha!
Overall, I think ASUS did a great job with the design and the feel of the laptop and even though this is definitely a budget-friendly gaming laptop, it doesn’t feel that way and still feels like a premium device.
So what about the specs? Well, if you’re looking up a review of this laptop you most likely have already seen the specs. However, it does come in a couple different variations so I do want to run through them so that you understand exactly which model I’m talking about in this review.
It features the new 10th Gen Intel i5 and although AMD is killing it with their new processors, it’s still a great CPU and for the cost of this laptop, on sale, I think it’s a better buy than say something similar but with an AMD processor like the popular Ryzen 5 4600H.
In fact, if you’re looking for a budget laptop you’ve most likely come across the Acer Nitro 5 which features the AMD processor instead and quite honestly is a better CPU than the i5 IMO. However, where that laptop falls behind in my opinion is that it runs $669.99 and while it does come with that AMD CPU it also has a Nvidia GTX 1650 as it’s graphics card.
This laptop has the i5 which is still a damn good processor but runs $799.99. However, I’ve seen it on sale several times for $599.99 and features a Nvidia GTX 1650Ti instead of the normal 1650 which makes a huge deal in games, editing and anything else that may require a good GPU. I’ve yet to see the Acer Nitro 5 go on any type of sale so overall I think you’re getting more bang for your buck if you can wait till the ASUS goes on sale. At normal prices, then I think the Acer may be the better buy!
Okay, with that point out of the way haha, let’s continue.
So as I said it as the 10th Gen Intel i5, specifically the i5-10300H, which features 4 cores, 8 threads and a base clock of 2.5GHz with a Max Turbo of 4.5GHz.
It also features an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650Ti which has 4GB of GDDR6 memory. This model does include the video encoder which would allow you stream from this machine as well if you wished, although, I’m not sure I’d want to game and stream from a laptop but its nice to have in a pinch if I was traveling for example.
It features a 256GB M.2 NVME drive which honestly is not a lot. Especially for gaming. However, it does have an additional M.2 NVME SSD slot as well as an additional HDD slot.
It comes with a single stick of 8GB DDR4 2933MHz RAM, however this is also upgradable and, in fact, would be one of the first upgrades I’d recommend you make down the line so that you get the benefits of Dual-Channel RAM speeds.
It features a 15.6″ 1080p display with a 60Hz refresh rate. Again, different configurations offer up to 144Hz but this particular model sits at 60Hz.
In terms of the IO you get two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and one USB 2.0 Type-A port which is on the opposite side. You also get a Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 port which also supports Displayport 1.4. There’s also a HDMI 2.0b port, a 3.5mm combo headphone/mic jack as well as an Ethernet port.
Speaking of networking, it also features WiFi 6 which is super awesome in my opinion as well as Bluetooth 5.1 built in. Some other small things to mention is that it also has a backlit RGB keyboard, a 720p webcam and a 150W Power Adapter.
Now that we got the specs out of the way and you know exactly which laptop configuration we are reviewing, let’s talk about the quality. I kind of mentioned this in the first impressions but having used it for quite some time there are a couple things I wanted to point out that I’ve noticed.
First, on my normal desktop setup I use a mechanical keyboard and have come to love the feel and feedback of them. I was nervous I would dislike any laptop keyboard to be quite honest as the last time I regularly used them, I never felt they were that good. However, I was pleasantly pleased by the keyboard on this laptop and find everything from gaming to just typing up notes of video scripts to be easy and feel good. The keyboard feels high quality and doesn’t have too much flex or cheapness feel to it.
With that said, unlike the keyboard, I’m not loving the track-pad. Personally, I wish it was much larger than it is. This isn’t really a fault of this particular laptop as it’s about the same size of most other laptops, however, I really think Apple has done a great job in this department and would love to see PC versions follow suit personally. Outside of the size, which again is not unlike any other PC laptop, it just doesn’t seem to be super accurate all the time. There are times when the cursor on the screen just stops moving even though I’m still sliding my finger across the track-pad. While it’s a pain, this isn’t a huge deal breaker for me as when it comes to laptops, I’ve just always used an external mouse anyways because of my hate for them overall haha!
The screen hinge surprised me as well. I can open the laptop with just one finger, yet it still feels sturdy and feels like it will last for years to come without wearing out.
The webcam. Well it’s a webcam. Like most webcams, especially on laptops, it’s not great. It’s not even 1080p no matter which configuration you get, however, if you have a good lighting like myself it’s passes. I just wouldn’t expect it to work great in any low lit room. I really wish they’d incorporate whatever the hell phones are doing and put them in to the webcams on laptops at this point haha!
The last thing I want to mention in terms of quality is that these laptops, the TUF series, do meet MIL-STD-810H tests which mean a couple things.
First, it means they can resist damage from unexpected falls, knocks and bumps during shipment and daily use. Which doesn’t mean you can drop this thing from 5 feet and expect it not to break, but most of the damage should be to the plastic shell and it should still at least operate. It also means you don’t need to worry about it rattling around in a laptop bag or anything like that.
It can handle heat and cold extremely well. It can handle operating at temperatures of 49C or 120.2F for several days at a time as well as operate in temperatures as low as -32C or -25.6F.
Lastly, it can also withstand humidity up to 95% for extended periods of time with full functionality although they don’t specifically mention what extended periods of time actually equates to.
I’m not an expert on the tests or how rigorous they actually are, but overall, it’s nice to know that they have been put through some type of testing to work well and hold up to different conditions.
So what about performance? Well, I’m not a benchmark type person, because honestly, there are channels out there that do nothing but strictly benchmark different machines and then show you how they performed and while that’s great, especially if you are comparing two comparable models and trying to get the best bang for your buck, overall, I’m more concerned with real world testing and does it do what I need it to do.
Is this laptop going to be the greatest gaming or editing laptop you can get? Hell no. It costs $599.99 on sale. Is it the best budget gaming laptop? If you get it on sale, IMO, I think it does beat out the other most popular option which is the Acer Nitro 5. Mainly because of that 1650Ti card instead of the 1650 version as I mentioned earlier.
So let me give you some real world examples of this laptop and from using it and testing it out.
If I was going to be gaming on this laptop, I probably wouldn’t be running the latest triple AAA titles like Cyberpunk 2077 getting ready to release. However, I do believe it can handle most triple A titles, it’s just probably going to be at low or medium settings. For example. I did some testing with Borderlands 3 which isn’t the newest of triple A titles and on badass settings I was averaging 30fps, however, it would drop down below that making it unplayable. Same with Ultra settings. It averages 33fps but dips below that 30fps mark. At High is where it became playable with an average of 44fps and I never saw a drop below 30fps at that point. Now that’s playable. Most people, especially with a game like Borderlands 3, or any other FPS or high action game, you’re going to want to be closer to that 60fps mark. I didn’t start hitting that till medium and to consistently stay over 60fps, I had to play at low settings.
This doesn’t make it a shitty gaming laptop. It makes it a budget gaming laptop. In other games like League of Legends. So not Triple A titles, I saw an avg of 140 fps on Ultra settings. With Rocket League, settings maxed out gave me about 100fps. So naturally it depends on what games you are playing and whether you’re a huge triple a gamer or if you play a wide range.
In terms of photo and video editing, it does great. I was able to do both with no real lag and was able to edit a 4k 30fps timeline with no issues. Does it render slower than a much more pricer laptop or desktop computer? Sure, but it performs great IMO for a device at this price point. If I want to really dive in to a huge edit, I’m going to jump on my $3500 desktop with my $1000 monitor setup.
In fact, I think this laptop works so well, that I wouldn’t even mind streaming from it if I had to while traveling since it has the encoding chip and shouldn’t affect fps. One nice thing I’ll mention in regards to performance is I played for several hours straight on this thing and never once saw it throttle down in performance due to heat. While the fans do get loud. And I do mean loud, they work great and keep the system running at full force even after hours of gaming or editing and rendering.
So let’s talk about what I love about this machine and what I dislike which hopefully will give you a more general idea of where it excels and where it falls off a bit compared to other laptops.
What Do I Love About It?
The Design and Overall Build Quality
The Backlit RGB Keyboard
Unlike Other Laptops in This Price Range You’re Getting The 1650Ti Instead of The 1650
Has WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 Built In
No Noticeable Dead Pixels or Backlight Bleed
Speakers Sound Impressively Good
What Do I Dislike About It?
Screen Doesn’t Get Bright Enough
Screen Is Only 60Hz
Trackpad Isn’t Big Enough and Seems to Lose Tracking Sometimes or Just Stops Tracking All Together For a Moment
Speakers Sound Decent But If You’re Doing Any Heavy Loads The Fans Get Super Loud to The Point You Probably Need Headphones
256GB SSD Not Quite Big Enough – 3 Games, Storage Maxed Out – League of Legends, Rocket League, Borderlands 3
Overall, for the price, again, specifically if you wait to get it on sale. I don’t think you’ll get a better gaming laptop for the price. Nor do I think you’ll find a cheaper option that would actually do what you want it to do. In my opinion, if you’re looking for a budget gaming laptop, you have two options. This or the Acer Nitro 5.
While I think the Acer Nitro 5 is a great budget option as well, and I’ll link it below with a link to this one. If you’re willing to wait for this one to go on sale for that $599.99 price point, I just think you’re getting a better value. If you’re looking for one and this one isn’t on sale, then I think the Acer Nitro 5 is the better buy if you’re just strictly looking for best price to performance ratio.
Hope this review helped and if you have any feedback on how I can make these reviews better in the future, let me know down in the comments below! Also, if you enjoy videos related to tech, gaming and streaming, make sure to hit that like button, the red subscribe button and ring the bell next to it to be notified when I post my next video!
Until next time, peace out everybody!