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[Review] Asus VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51: Don't be Fooled!

Pros: Low price point, 256 GB of SSD, 8 GB of upgradeable RAM, fingerprint sensor, ergonomic keyboard.
Cons: Not suitable for gaming, short battery life.

Choosing the best laptop for college or school ultimately comes down to one thing: Finding the best bang for your buck at a "college-friendly budget". Ie: an affordable laptop that can deliver a decent enough performance on everyday tasks.

Such is precisely what Asus set out to do when they launched the Asus VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51, a balanced model that's currently taking the market by storm.

All of this is not to say that Asus's newest low-cost model is not without its flaws -because it's not and we will cover them here- but overall its pros seem to significantly outweigh its cons, at least if you know what to expect. Without further ado, let's dive into this honest review and see if this model is worth your money or if you should be holding out for something better.

Table of contents: 

1) Specs Overview
2) Who is this laptop for?
3) Design & Display
4) Performance
5) Battery Life & Gaming
6) Connectivity Options
7) Wrapping up.

Specs overview:

Display:15.6 inch IPS with 178ยบ viewing angle.
Resolution:Full HD.
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U quad core.
RAM: 8 GB DDR4 (upgradeable).
Storage:256 GB SSD.
OS:Windows 10.
Graphics: Integrated.
Extras: Fingerprint reader, multiple ports, ergolift design.

Who is this laptop for?

For a quick review, we would say that this laptop is best suited for those who are looking for a machine to do simple things with. It's the perfect model to stream movies, browse the web, and edit documents so it's commonly thought off as a "student's laptop", however, within that spectrum we also find a wide array of people who only do an occasional use of a laptop.

A simple yet stylish design with an attractive display

Let's start this off by taking on the design, a place where most manufacturers skimp quite a bit when producing an entry model laptop giving the device a run of the mill design. However, fortunately for us, Asus decided to spend some time working on it and delivered a simple yet attractive design.

The thin - 0.7 inch - and lightweight -3.5 pounds- F512DA-EB51 reduces the distractions to a minimum with a simple backlit keyboard with a dedicated numeric pad and a fingerprint reader located on the upper right corner of the trackpad.

The display, one of its best features, packs a 15.6 inch diagonal with a Full HD resolution  (1920 by 1080) and anti-glare technology to allow outdoor usage. It should be mentioned that it barely has any bezels on the side, with an 88% screen to body ratio which gives Asus's latest offering a novel and updated look that's rare within its price range.

Finally, one of its most innovative features is the fact that it comes with Asus's patented ergo-lift technology, which basically means you get a two-degree angle of inclination on the keyboard to allow for a more ergonomic typing experience as well as a more relaxing overall experience for your wrists when typing for prolonged periods of time over a flat surface.

Let's talk performance: What can we expect?

An extremely common mistake people make when buying an affordable laptop is overestimating their performance potential.

For some reason, many people feel compelled to purchase a low-cost laptop and complain that its performance is sub-par when it fails to deliver a "MacBook like" results. All of this is to say that the VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 has a good performance for its price, keywords being "for its price".

In this regard, under the hood, we'll find a nice AMD Ryzen 5 3500U that works with 4 cores clocking in at a maximum speed of 3.6 GHz.

This, added to the fact that the laptop packs an upgradeable 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage, will deliver a smooth performance on everyday tasks such as surfing the web, watching Full HD video, editing documents, downloading movies, working with spreadsheets, listening to music and doing some light coding (not recommended for usage with virtual machines).

That's it.

Don't expect to use this laptop for gaming.

Don't expect to use it whilst operating two virtual machines with 10 chrome tabs open.

Don't expect this laptop to be used for video editing.

Don't expect it to work with the Adobe suite of programs.

This is an entry-level student laptop with an affordable price tag if you wish to find a machine that will be able to take on these tasks you should be looking at something with an i5 or higher and a dedicated graphics card.

What about battery life and gaming?

When it comes to battery life, the Asus Vivobook 15 F512DA-EB51 has mixed reviews. As you know by now, battery capacity varies greatly depending on usage but overall reviews place the autonomy of this college laptop along the lines of the 2 to 4-hour mark depending on the battery saving setting that we use.

It should be pointed out however that it does pack a lightweight charger so while battery life is far from ideal and its easily the biggest con we see to this model, it's still something that can be easily managed once you get used to carrying with you its lightweight charger.

As far as gaming is concerned, without a dedicated graphics chip and betting on an integrated Radeon Vega 8 GPU you can pretty much rule out any intensive gaming. This is not a gamers laptop by any stretch of the imagination.

What's the connectivity like?

Connectivity is a pretty big deal when looking for a college laptop, no one wants to carry around a dongle everywhere they go. That being said, this model comes with just about everything we would need with the exception on an SD card reader (it has a microSD card reader instead).

Specifically, we've got a standalone USB 2.0 port (in case you wanted to connect an external mouse), a couple of USB 3.0 ports for faster data transfer speeds, a single USB type C port, HDMI output, 3.5mm audio jack and dc power input (it does not charge through the USB Type C port).

Wirelessly speaking it comes with Bluetooth as well as WiFi 802.11 ac standard (up to three times faster than the b/g/n protocol).

Wrapping things up: What else should I know?

Closing up this review of the ASUS VivoBook 15 F512DA-EB51 we can appreciate that this laptop is far from perfect. If you're set to use it as a college laptop and aren't looking for a full-throttle powerhouse of a machine then you should be fine but don't buy this laptop expecting it to deliver a performance equivalent to a laptop twice its price or you will be sorely disappointed.

At the end of the day, you need to consider this is an affordable laptop that boasts a nice display on top of a modern design where you may watch movies, has sufficient RAM to allow for decent multitasking capabilities and packs enough storage to allow you to use it as a media storage machine.

That's it.

Anything more demanding and you should probably look at laptops equipped with a more professional configuration such as the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA-AB77 or the more closely priced HP 15-dy1036nr which we've recently reviewed here.