ASUS TUF Gaming A15 Review – The Best Gaming Laptop Under $1000?
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 is at the forefront of the new age, AMD powered gaming laptops. In the past, laptop manufacturers have viewed the AMD processors as budget options and thus housed them in their budget offerings. However, with the AMD Ryzen 4000 Series processors, Asus is changing that trend. This has enabled ASUS to provide exceptional gaming performance without burning a hole in your pocket.
The Asus TUF A15 gaming laptop provides you with 8 cores and 16 Ryzen threads, along with a dedicated Nvidia GPU, all under the price tag of $1000. All that sounds quite promising on paper, but how does it perform in real life? Does the built and design uphold the standards set by the performance? Let’s put the ASUS TUF A15 to the test and find out if it is one of the best offerings in the budget gaming laptops sector.
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 is not the best-constructed gaming laptop out there, but it is far from the cheap plastic budget options. In fact, it looks like a premium laptop at a glance, thanks to its sandblasted lid and brushed metal finish.
To keep the price under $1000, Asus has used plastic as the laptop’s primary material. However, all the cheap black plastic is neatly tucked under metal finishes. On the lid, Asus offers two finishes. You can either pick up the professional and sober “Fortress Gray chassis” or the profound gaming version with crimson accents called the “Bonfire Black design.” As the names suggest, the former leans on the sober end of designing and can pass in office spaces while the latter features a full-blown ‘gaming’ design with honeycomb grills and aggressive arches.
The Fortress Gray chassis features a clean, sandblasted lid with four exposed screws on each of the four edges. This adds a rugged and rough look to the laptop and prevents fingerprints from gathering on the panel. The Bonfire Black design features a two-tone finish. Unfortunately, there are no accent lights or glow-up logos on the lid, despite the finish.
The brushed metal and honeycomb design continue as you move through the laptop. The deck features a brushed metal finish, complete with edgy lines to set the laptop apart as a gaming machine. The ‘A S W D’ keys are marked apart as well to continue the gaming aesthetics.
Turning the laptop upside down, the plastic material is finally exposed. However, Asus has not just slapped on a plain plastic back. In fact, the honeycomb grill design continues all the way to the bottom of the laptop, which adds a premium touch to it.
It’s not the slimmest or the most portable gaming laptop. In terms of dimensions, it is 14.10 x 10.10 x 1.00 inches (WXDXH), and it weighs 5.07 pounds, which is not the heaviest gaming laptop out there. The Acer Predator Helios 300, a similarly priced gaming laptop, weighs 5.29 pounds. It’s not hard to carry in a backpack, and most people buying it will probably use it on their desk.
There is a ‘reverse notch on top of the display to house the webcam, which also doubles as a handle to open the laptop. The bezels around the screen are smaller than the previous iteration of the model, but it’s not the slimmest that you can find. Additionally, the chin is quite thick as well. All the bezels are, unfortunately, made out of plastic, which breaks the perfect illusion of the brushed metal finish.
Asus has managed to put those chunky dimensions to good use. The company claims “MILITARY-GRADE” durability on this machine, and it’s supported by solid numbers when it comes to drop tests and extreme temperatures. The laptop is completely durable against short falls from your desk and vibrations that it may experience while you’re in commute. It can easily survive in temperatures up to 120°F and as low as -25.6°F for several days straight. It can also withstand humidity levels up to 95%. While we don’t think anyone would be using this laptop in such harsh conditions, the fall and vibration damage protection is a nice feature to have.
Ports & Slots
Asus has provided a hearty selection of ports on the TUF A15. You get a 3.5mm audio jack, 3 USB Type-A, 1 USB Type-C with display supportDP1.4, an RJ45 LAN jack for wired internet, an HDMI port, a Kensington lock and the power input. Unfortunately, there is no SD card reader.
On the wireless end of connectivity, you’ve got an integrated Wi-Fi 5 and a Bluetooth 5.0. It’s a shame that Asus is using an older Wi-Fi 5 card instead of the latest Wi-Fi 6 card which improves the connection speed.
This is no premium gaming laptop, it’s intended for the budget market, and the screen reflects that fact. The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 has got a 15.6” 1080p LED screen with a 144Hz refresh rate. It’s not particularly a colorful display, in fact, it seems like one of the parts where Asus has cut short, but given the budget, the company can’t really be blamed. The colors look a bit washed out, and the display is far from color accurate. It leans on the dark and dim end as the brightness peaks at 285 nits. At maximum brightness, it is covering a pretty terrible 62% sRGB and 47% Adobe RGB color gamut. So while it’s fine for gaming, don’t expect to do any color-sensitive work here such as photo editing and film making.
Now that the bad stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff that comes with this display, the 144Hz refresh rate. Given the specs, the high refresh rate will come in handy while playing shooter games as the A15 can easily play most of the shooters and competitive games over 60 FPS. This enables smooth and undisturbed gameplay. Even when you’re not playing, you can see that the 144Hz refresh rate is way smoother as compared to a 60Hz screen. This boosts productivity and lends a smooth feel to the display.
The Asus TUF A15 gaming laptop comes with dual 2-watt speakers that fire out of four speaker grills. The speaker set-up is an upgraded version from last year’s laptop. Asus claims that the TUF A15 can produce 1.8x more sound and 2.7x deeper bass as compared to the previous model. There are eight audio presets including music, movies, along with dedicated presets for gaming genres such as RPG, First Person Shooter and strategy games. You can even dwell deeper and fine-tune the audio output with the built-in equalizer.
All of the grills are side and bottom-firing on either side of the laptop, so, unfortunately, there are no front-firing speakers. Despite that, you can expect a pretty good audio performance out of this laptop. It’s okay if you want to watch a movie or two here, but we’d recommend investing in a pair of headphones for gaming so you can hear all the intricate details such as footsteps of the enemy.
Speaking of headphones, the TUF features DTS:X Ultra technology, which provides surround sound output with compatible stereo headsets. You can expect high quality 7.1-channel virtual surround sound. However, to get the most out of it and achieve the theatre-quality sound, you’d need surround sound headphones to accompany it.
Keyboard & Trackpad
As we talked earlier, the keyboard deck of the ASUS TUF A15 gaming laptop is made out of plastic with a brushed metal finish. It’s not the most sturdy deck, but the flex is minimal. The key travel is neat and the clicks feel tacky. It’s not at all tough to get used to this keyboard. The ‘A S W D’ keys are marked apart from the other keys for gaming. There is a full-size num pad included on the right end, making it easier for inputting numerical data. The keyboard is good for both typing and gaming, but do know that it will get hot under extreme pressures.
The keyboard is RGB lit as well, a modern-day necessity for gaming laptops. You can configure the colors and patterns with the dedicated app. Unfortunately, there is no color mixing, which means that you’re stuck with just one color at a time. You cannot configure each key with a custom color.
The trackpad is made out of plastic, with two dedicated buttons. It feels alright and can pass through all the day to day activities. Like any other trackpad, it’s not suited for gaming and you’re better off buying a gaming mouse.
The AMD Ryzen 7 4800H is a 7nm chip, which, when combined with the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, can produce significant power. The first in class 7nm chips can push extreme performance per watt of energy consumed, thus crowning them the power efficiency king.
Apart from the processor and the GPU, the ASUS TUF A15 gaming laptop features a 512GB PCIe SSD for storage and a 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM, that’s the fastest RAM on a budget laptop. For a reference, the Asus Zephyrus M, an Intel-powered competitor of the A15, comes with a RAM that’s limited to 2666MHz. Moreover, the 16 GB RAM is arranged in a dual-channel configuration, which means there are two sticks of 8 GB RAM under the hood. The dual-channel configuration improves the overall performance and output of the installed RAM. The GTX 1660 Ti with 6 GB of VRAM can easily run demanding games on medium to high settings. You can also upgrade and configure the A15 with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, but that will bump up the price above $1000.
The whole system is powered by a beefy 90WHr Battery, with a claimed battery life of 8.7 hours for web browsing and up to 12.3 hours of video playback. During our tests, the laptop lasted up to 8 hours while browsing the web. However, if you’re gaming, which is the primary purpose of this laptop, the battery life will be significantly less, depending on the game’s requirements. We tested the battery life on the TUF A15 while playing a few AAA titles, and we hardly touched the 4-hour mark. As soon as the GPU kicks in, the battery life will go down the drain as GPU consumes a lot of power. However, without gaming, this laptop can easily last a day without charging.
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 delivers a smooth gaming performance. AAA games from the last decade such as The Witcher 3 and Crysis 3 will smoothly run on high to ultra-high settings with a stable framerate that’s above 60FPS at all times. It won’t be uncommon for these titles to go above 100 FPS either. On the other hand, the low demanding games such as Counter-Strike Global Offensive or Fortnite runs smoothly on the highest settings with a stable framerate above 120 FPS, taking full advantage of the 144 Hz display. Talking about more recent titles, you can play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on Ultra settings at 50 FPS, and if you tweak the settings down to medium at 1080p, you can get an average of 78 FPS. Far Cry 5 on Ultra settings will give you a staggering 89 FPS while bumping it down to medium can give you up to a 100 FPS.
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 laptop is a fantastic choice for productivity as well. The multi-core performance pushed by the new AMD Ryzen 4000 series processor inside is what sets this laptop apart. A lot of the productivity tasks such as video rendering and audio encoding lean on the CPU, so a multi-core CPU is able to push much better performance and reduced render time. Even tasks that require a GPU such as CAD and 3D modeling will benefit from the additional cores when it comes to rendering.
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 houses two fans on either side of the laptop, and three heat sinks. The heat sinks draw the heat away from core components such as the CPU and GPU, and the fans blow it out. The heat is thrown out of the vents on the back and the sides of the laptop. The honeycomb grills on the bottom also help remove the heat passively. Asus pride themselves on the ‘self-cleaning’ cooling design that prevents dust from accumulating on the fans, which can slow down the laptop in the long run.
The thermals were in line with the competition. On our Blender test, the GPU was 127°F while the CPU sat at 174°F. When it comes to gaming, the GPU was at 176°F, and the CPU was at 203°F. The laptop adapts the fan speed to the task at hand. At the turbo mode, which is the highest fan speed, the noise was well under 50Db, making it a quiet gaming machine. You can, however, manually adjust the fan speed and set it to the max, where it produces over 60Db of noise.
So, all in all, it won’t throttle or get extremely hot under pressure. When you’re using the laptop in ideal or light mode for web browsing or video consumption, you can’t even hear the fans. Asus did a rather good job at heat management.
There are a few things that you can upgrade on this laptop. Opening it is not hard at all; only a few screws stand in the way of accessing the inner components. There is an empty slot for an additional M.2 NVMe SSD drive to upgrade the storage. The RAM is not sodded on the motherboard, and thus, it can be replaced as well.
Asus is using a Wi-Fi 5 chip instead of the latest Wi-Fi 6 chip. Thankfully, it’s not sodded on the motherboard, just neatly hidden under the SSD. So you can buy a Wi-Fi 6 chip and install it yourself.
Depending on the battery size of the model you choose, you may have an empty 2.5 inch HDD slot. You can find this slot of the 48 watt-hour battery model, but that space is occupied by the battery itself on our review unit as it’s the 90 watt-hour battery model.
It is hard not to like the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 laptop. It’s the perfect harmony of AMD and Nvidia components that provides the best in class gaming performance under $1000. The built is sturdy and likable. Although it’s edgy, it can pass as a work laptop as well. It does lose a few points when it comes to the display as the colors seem washed out. Thankfully, it supports a refresh rate of 144 Hz. It’s not the most portable laptop, either with its chunky built.
Overall, the ASUS TUF A15 gaming laptop presents insane value for money. It performed exceptionally well during our tests, and its battery lasted for a surprising 8 hours while doing regular tasks, which is a rare scene in the budget gaming laptops segment. So, if you are looking for a gaming laptop under $1000, then we think ASUS TUF A15 is probably the best option right now.
ASUS TUF Gaming A15 Gaming Laptop$999.99
Design & Build Quality9.0/10
Keyboard & Touchpad8.5/10
- Powerful 8-core AMD Ryzen Processor
- Impressive battery life
- TUF Build Quality
- Comfortably keyboard
- Smooth 144Hz display
- Looks chunky
- No per key RGB customization
- Display shows washed out colors