ASUS VivoBook S15 Review: A Near-perfect Ultrabook

The unique features of the older model and fine-tuned features of the newer model make it difficult to chose between either of the 15-inch models. Incredible battery life, impeccable design, and portability are few things to love about the VivoBook S15. Its biggest flaw, however, is the limited upgradability options.

Are you looking to buy a stylish, mid-level performance laptop for your daily tasks? If that’s the case, reading this ASUS VivoBook S15 review is a step to making a decision.

I will be providing specification details of the VivoBook S15 such as the design, memory, storage, battery, CPU, and GPU. Specifications are one thing, performance is the most important factor.

For this reason, I will be providing benchmark test results used to analyze the performance of some laptop’s specifications. Also, the performances of the VivoBook S15 will be compared with some of its competitors.

Reading this review will not only provide you with the most comprehensive information about the ASUS VivoBook S15, but it will also highlight if this device will satisfy your needs.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Review: My Initial Thoughts

The ASUS VivoBook S15 ultraportable laptop comes in two models. The VivoBook S15 S532 was released in November 2019 and the S533 was released in May 2020.

Notably, ASUS made changes to some aspects of the design and few other aspects of the more recent model. This review will be focused on the more recent model; VivoBook S15 S533.

With some differences to the new model, it possess some questions. Should you go with the more affordable VivoBook S15 S532 or the slightly pricier VivoBook S15 S533?

Another question is if the VivoBook S15 is worth your money? Let’s get into the review to find out!

ASUS VivoBook S15 Design, Dimension & Weight Review

ASUS almost never gets it wrong with their design and the VivoBook S15 S533 is no exception. This laptop has a nice metal build with an aluminum alloy which feels smooth and sophisticated.

The deck is metal while the rest of the laptop is aluminum finish. This laptop also comes in four variant colors that are nothing short of aesthetic.

You can get it in dreamy silver, indie black, resolute red, or my favorite, Gaia green.

As for its branding, you’ll see the “ASUS VivoBook” text logo with a fine metal finish on the right side of the laptop’s lid. You’ll also see this logo beneath the lower bezel.

ASUS is known for its wide range of lightweight laptops so don’t expect less from the VivoBook S15. It has dimensions of 359.8 x 233.8 x 16.1 mm and weighs 1800 g.

It’s lighter than the Dell XPS 15 which weighs 2041 g. It also weighs the same as the Apple MacBook Pro 15 at 1800 g.

However, it is slightly weightier than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme which weighs 1724g. None of these takes away the fact that the VivoBook S15 is a lightweight laptop.

In terms of ports, ASUS features a fair amount of them. On the left, there’s a USB 3.0 type A port, a thunderbolt 4 USB-C port, an HDMI port, an audio jack, and the power in.

While on the right, there are two USB 2.0 type-A ports and a micro SD card reader.

Away from the ports, let’s talk about what’s under the lid. Opening this laptop’s lid requires both hands which is because of its solid hinges.

Speaking of the hinges, ASUS did not include its signature ErgoLift hinges feature on our review unit. The S15 S532 has the ErgoLift hinges but ASUS excluded it in the more recent S15 S533 model.

Just in case you’re wondering, the ErgoLift hinge feature lifts the laptop to 13° when the lid is opened.

Moving on, when you lift the lid to its full 90°, you’ll see a 15.6 inches screen. This is a Full HD (1920 x 1280) non-touch display screen.

Around the screen are slim bezels with an 86% screen-to-body ratio which gives it a modern, premium look.

As for its display, this is an IPS panel, anti-glare display. It has 250 nits and a 56% sRGB color gamut which means color accuracy on this laptop will be fair but not mind-blowing.

And now to the laptop’s deck, there’s the keyboard layout. This backlit keyboard is very comfortable with good key spacing and 1.4mm key travel.

Knowing its key travel defines the typing speed and comfortability. This is because key travel measures the depth in which a key goes in on one press and bounces back.

To power this laptop, you’ll find the power button at the top-right corner of the keyboard. The main highlight of this keyboard is the fancy yellow outline of the “enter” key like that of the VivoBook Flip 14.

Meanwhile, a commendable feature of this keyboard is the full-size number pad. This is commendable especially because we rarely see it in notebooks these days.

Notably, the backlit and highlighted Enter key of this keyboard are features ASUS included in the recent model, unlike its old model.

Below the keyboard layout is the touchpad. This touchpad is responsive and gestures also work well on it.

Another thing to love about this touchpad is how it doesn’t move around unnecessarily when your palm brushes on it mistakenly. However, one downside of the touchpad is its rather loud click sound.

Furthermore, as we often see with ASUS recent products, the fingerprint scanner is built into the touchpad at the top right corner.

Speaking of the fingerprint scanner, ASUS provided an IR camera for signing into Windows with facial recognition on the S532 model. Unfortunately, the S533 model was made to settle for just the fingerprint scanner.

Another noticeable feature difference on the touchpad for both models is the ScreenPad. The VivoBook S15 S532 has a ScreenPad while the S15 S533 does not have one.

The ScreenPad feature on the S532 combines the functions of a standard touchpad with a high-resolution LCD touchscreen. The aim of this is to give you a secondary interactive display with endless possibilities.

To summarise this section, ASUS took out some design features found in the previous model, retained some, and included some more. Regardless, the ASUS VivoBook S15 still stands out as a laptop with an impressive design feature.

Considering all these factors, I believe this laptop deserves a rating of nine out of ten in this section.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Processor (CPU) Performance Review

The ASUS VivoBook S15 S533 has the 10th gen Intel Core i7-10510U processor. This is a quad-core processor with a 12 MB cache.

In terms of processor speed, this processor has a base frequency of 1.80 GHz and a maximum frequency of 4.90 GHz. Unlike the trend of having multiple configuration CPU options, ASUS provided only one CPU processor option.

Unfortunately, it’s limiting especially because this processor is a U-series processor which is a low-performing processor. However, I wouldn’t want to conclude yet till I put it through a CPU performance test.

To test this CPU’s performance, I used the Cinebench test. This is a benchmark test tool used to measure a laptop’s processing capacity, especially when doing heavy tasks.

When this test was over, the VivoBook S15 S533 scored 774. This is a low score when compared with the Lenovo C940 which scored 1173 in the same test.

The ASUS VivoBook S15 however did better than the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 which scored 626.

It is important to note that at some point during the test, the laptop began generating some heat. This is probably because of just one cooling fan on this laptop.

So, you should expect the laptop to generate some heat when it is performing CPU-intensive tasks. The laptop may also generate heat if you have used it continuously for a while.

Despite being a low-end processor, it still provides a fair performance when compared with its competitors. Based on this, I will be rating ASUS VivoBook S15’s processor performance an eight.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Memory (RAM) Performance Review

For RAM, this laptop features a standard memory size of 8 GB DDR4 RAM.

Unfortunately, there is only one memory slot that happens to the soldered to the motherboard. What this means is that memory upgradability will be difficult or nearly impossible.

Based on the fact that the memory of this laptop is soldered to the motherboard and not upgradeable, I strongly recommend that you purchase the laptop with the RAM size you will need now and in the future.

To make it easier to decide, if you have the budget get the laptop with 16 GB RAM. As expected, compared to getting it with 8 GB RAM, the 16 GB RAM configuration costs more.

When it comes to multitasking, the 8 GB RAM on this laptop performs well. This is proven by the fact that Audio streaming on Audiomack, spreadsheet entry, minor picture editing using Gimp, and 12 web tabs were all happening simultaneously.

To further test the memory performance of this laptop, I made use of the PC Mark 10. This is a benchmark test that simulates different real-world productivity and content creation workflows.

We use it to assess overall system performance for office tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet entries and manipulations, web browsing, and video conferencing.

At the end of this benchmark test, the VivoBook S15 scored 3769 points. Far from that score is the Lenovo Yoga C740 which scored 4484.

Also, Dell Inspiron 14 5000 with the same memory size scored 3911 points in the same test. Apparently, the ASUS VivoBook S15 underperformed when compared with its competitors.

Having a non-upgradable 8 GB RAM is a big con of this laptop. Also, considering that ASUS VivoBook S15 performed worse than its competitors in the benchmark test, it does not deserve a rating of more than 6 in this memory review section.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Storage Options & Performance Review

The ASUS VivoBook S15 S533 features 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage. It also supports a maximum storage option of 1 TB.

Expanding its storage is possible because of the additional M.2 SSD empty slot available on this laptop.

Furthermore, this laptop has a micro-SD reader for more storage options. To test the SD card transfer speed of this laptop, I used a Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 MicroSD card of 64GB.

To copy a JPG file, it transferred at 25MB/s which is faster than the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 with its transfer speed of 20MB/s.

Moving to the storage performance, the Crystaldiskmark test was used to test its performance. This is a benchmark test that provides the read and write speed which determines how fast or slow a storage type is.

For this test, the VivoBook S15 scored 2725MB/s as its read speed and 1090MB/s as its write speed. Lenovo IdeaPad scored 2280MB/s read speed and 1028MB/s as its write speed.

To sum up, considering the storage options offered by this laptop and their performances, I believe it deserves a nine in this storage review section.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Graphics Card Performance Review

For its graphics, the ASUS VivoBook S15 S533 has three graphics card options to choose from.

There’s the Intel UHD Graphics which is an integrated graphics card. This graphics card has 300 MHz as its base GPU frequency and 1150 MHz as its boost frequency.

The second option is the NVIDIA GeForce MX250 with 2 GB GDDR5 dedicated VRAM. It has a base frequency of 1519 MHz and a boost frequency of 1582 MHz.

Thirdly, is the NVIDIA GeForce MX350 which also has 2 GB GDDR5 dedicated VRAM. Its base frequency is 1354 MHz and its boost frequency is 1468 MHz.

Talking about the integrated and dedicated graphics cards in relation to performance, a dedicated graphics card delivers better performance. The reason for this is because an integrated graphics card shares system memory with the CPU, while a dedicated GPU has its own memory.

Considering this, the Intel integrated graphics chip can handle some basic casual gaming, but you’ll be disappointed if you want more than that. A dedicated graphics card on the other hand will provide a good gaming experience.

Meanwhile, our review unit ships with the NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card.

To know what this graphics card is capable of, I used the 3D Mark test tool. The 3D Mark is a benchmark test tool used to determine the performance of a computer’s 3D graphic processing capabilities

At the end of this test, the VivoBook S15 S533 scored 3917 which is slightly higher than what its previous model scored – which scored 3663.

Other brands like the HP ProBook 450 G7 scored 3519. On the other hand, we saw the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 score higher than all these laptops with 3967 points.

To further test the performance of the VivoBook S15 S533, I played some games. Overwatch played at about 60 fps on medium settings of 1080p resolution.

I also played another game, CS GO on this laptop. It was playable at 65 fps on high settings and 92 fps on low settings.

In brief, the ASUS VivoBook S15 offers a good number of GPU configuration options and overall graphics performance. For that, it deserves a nine.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Battery life & Performance Review

The ASUS VivoBook S15 S533 is powered by a 3-cell, 50 Whr Li-ion. According to ASUS, this battery lasts up to 16 hours.

However, that’s advertising and I did not want to take ASUS’s word for it. To verify the battery performance of this laptop, I had to put it to real-life test to see just how long the battery will last.

To start with, I did a battery rundown test. This test involves using the laptop for basic tasks till it gives up.

More precisely, I put it through a video playback test. In this test, I played a YouTube video repeatedly with WiFi on, brightness at 50%, and volume at 100%.

At the end of the test, the laptop gave up at 9 hours 20 minutes. The 9 hours 20 minutes video playback test of our review model performed better than its predecessor.

The VivoBook S15 S532 performed lower at 5 hours, 15 minutes on the same video playback test.

The Lenovo Yoga C940 is another laptop that performed closer to the S15 S533 at 9 hours 17 minutes. On a positive note, the S15 S533 did better than the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 that lasted 7 hours 31 minutes.

One thing ASUS VivoBook S15 has going for it is its fast charging capability. With an extremely low battery, the ASUS VivoBook S15 gets a full charge in 90 minutes.

In brief, having a laptop with good battery life lets you do just about anything. ASUS did well on the battery and for that, I will be rating it a nine.

ASUS VivoBook S15 Review: Frequently Asked Questions

At the time of publishing this article in September 2021, the ASUS VivoBook S533 has a starting price of $619.95 while the ASUS VivoBook S532 has a starting price of $999.99

Even though this is not a gaming laptop, it provides good gaming performance. You can play games on this device, however, it is advisable not to play high-end games as you may not get a good frame rate

The recommended system requirement to play Fortnite is the NVIDIA GTX 960 or AMD R9 28 GPU with 2 GB VRAM. The system should also have the Intel Core i5-7300U processor and a system memory of 8 GB RAM. With that being said, the ASUS VivoBook S15 fits the recommended laptop to play Fortnite. However, do not expect a mind-blowing graphics performance

The battery lasts about 10 hours on video playback. This should last longer on less battery-intensive tasks

ASUS VivoBook S15 Review: My Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to love about this laptop – from its look to its multiple GPU configuration options and good battery life. Its major con, however, is its lack of multiple CPU configuration options and RAM upgradability.

However, this is a good 15-inch all-around, everyday-use laptop. This laptop offers good value for its price.

It serves well for an average laptop user for everyday use thanks to its lightweight and decent performance. Students, office workers, and travel enthusiasts will find the ASUS VivoBook S15 suitable for their needs.

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Reference And Further Reading