Anirudh RegidiOct 01, 2021 14:40:58 IST
VivoBooks in general tend to be workhorse laptops, offering Ultrabook form factors sans premium materials and features. What you generally get are good specs and good build quality. Of late, ASUS appears to be pushing more premium features into the line, such as more metal in the chassis, better displays, and now, OLED.
The laptop I’m reviewing comes with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU with Xe graphics, 16 GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD storage and 1 TB of HDD storage. The display, of course, is a gorgeous 15.6-inch OLED at an FHD resolution.
It performs well, as expected
Performance is typical of a laptop with these specs. Regular office-bee/student workloads will not stress this machine, and with 16 GB of RAM to play with, your numerous Chrome tabs will remain active for long. The Xe graphics chip is a vast improvement over the feeble UHD graphics units that plagued earlier Intel-powered machines, but it’s not enough for proper gaming.
Expect about 60 fps when playing CS: GO and Valorant at 1080p med-high settings, but you’ll need a gaming laptop if you’re hoping to play competitively or to spend time in more demanding games such as Warzone.
If you’re using Photoshop and Lightroom, performance is excellent. There’s no lag or stuttering that I could see, and that OLED really helps the colours pop.
If anything, the one thing I’d like to see ASUS do is to ditch that HDD and offer a 512 GB / 1 TB SSD instead. In 2021, I’d only recommend an HDD for archival purposes. Running apps off an HDD, or even high-res video files, is a pain.
At a little under six hours – with the display at 120 nits – battery life is good enough for a workday. You could manage around eight hours if you’re just watching movies on that gorgeous OLED, though.
Audio volume is good, and there’s enough depth and stereo separation for a reasonably enjoyable movie-watching experience.
The finish could use some work
Bearing in mind that this is a workhorse laptop, I’d say the finish is a little tacky in a subtle way, but the design is functional. There’s just a little too much shimmer and gold in the metal for my liking. I wish the display rotated further, but that’s about it as far as complaints go.
For ports, you get a single USB-C port, 3x USB-A, an HDMI port and a fingerprint reader, which is plenty.
Now let’s talk OLED
OLED displays, even bad ones, look fantastic to the untrained eye. The infinite blacks make colours truly pop, and the depth you get in certain well-crafted movie scenes, for example, cannot be replicated easily by any other display tech. And that’s exactly what the OLED on this VivoBook does: it elevates what would otherwise have been a rather typical workhorse laptop to something worthy of a second look.
The OLED panel here tends to green, something that seems to be a feature of cheaper, uncalibrated panels, but that tint is slight and will not be noticeable to the average user. I measured a max brightness of 404 nits, which is great for an entry-level HDR experience, and for outdoor use. Supported colour volume is an impressive 168.6 percent sRGB — that includes 98.2 percent DCI-P3 — making this a fantastic display for colour-critical workflows like image or video editing.
Of course, some minor calibration is required to get rid of the greens and to bring the white point down from 6700K to a more editing friendly 6500K. Calibration with an i1DisplayPro Plus was quick and easy, and resulted in an average variation (ΔE) of just 0.6 and a maximum of 1.6, which is basically perfect accuracy.
Verdict: Get the i3 variant
A premium OLED panel on an everyday workhorse makes a considerable difference to the usage experience. The OLED is the only thing that’s exciting about this laptop, but that’s not a bad thing.
Even without that OLED, the specs are good, and performance is excellent for the way this laptop is meant to be used. I would have liked a more subtle design, but that’s just a matter of taste.
When it comes to variants, here’s what I’d recommend: the Intel Core i5 + 16 GB RAM + 256 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD model goes for Rs 68,990 (Rs 66,990 during the upcoming Big Billion Days Sale on Flipkart). The 8 GB variant with similar specs will go for Rs 66,000. Between the two, opt for the 16 GB RAM variant. It’s not that much more expensive and worth the performance bump.
Going for Rs 47,000 (Rs 46,000 during the sale), the i3 version, though, is the true sweet-spot. I don’t believe there’s any other laptop on the market offering an OLED, let alone a good LCD, at this price point. If your budget is Rs 50,000, it’ll be hard to pass up on an offer as good as this.