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Asus VivoBook S15 (S533FA) laptop review

Stylish and colourful, this large-screen, full-HD notebook is ideal for students and home-based workers.

FL_asus_vivobook_s533
Last updated: 20 August 2020

CHOICE verdict

If you're after a stylish, everyday large-screen laptop carry that won’t cost the earth, the 15.6-inch, full-HD Asus VivoBook S15 S533FA is a good value solution that proves that larger laptops don’t have to be all boring and businesslike. With black, green, red or white options, it has enough power and features to keep students and home-based workers happy while keeping their individual sense of style.

Price: From $1149
Contact: asus.com/au

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We spent some hands-on time with the Asus VivoBook S15 (S533FA), courtesy of Asus Australia, and found it to be a solid, good value workhorse with enough processing power and features to keep most people happy.

Performance

The VivoBook's spec is quite good for a model in this price range. Our $1299 test model came with a 10th generation 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-10210U processor, with 6MB cache and Turbo Boost (up to 4.2GHz). It also had a decent amount of memory and storage capacity: 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. There's also a high-end model available with a 1.8GHz quad-core i7-10510U processor.

It offers a 10th-gen Intel processor, lively SSD storage performance and the latest Wi-Fi 6 networking

The SSD is quite nippy, with a measured read speed (averaged over several tests) of 1830MBps (megabytes per second) and write speed of 976MBps, which puts it in the ballpark of many higher-priced offerings. Wireless networking is catered for with the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.1ax) which performed very well, and the latest Bluetooth 5.0.

Asus VivoBook S533 keyboard

Yellow highlighting around the Enter key makes it easy to find.

Keyboard and touchpad

A 15.6-inch laptop gives you more room than compact models, and if you have large hands, you'll have no problem with the backlit keyboard, which has three levels of brightness. The keys are a good width (16mm) with lots of space between them, and have a satisfying amount of key travel (1.4mm) and responsiveness. 

The keys feel soft and are not overly loud (just slightly tappy), so you can pound away on them all day. The F-keys perform system functions by default (brightness, volume, etc) and there is space around the arrow keys so that you can easily find and use them by feel. Be aware of the power button, which is set in the top-right corner of the keyboard, as it can easily be pressed accidentally, putting the system to sleep immediately.

The solid build and very good keyboard and trackpad makes it a decent everyday workhorse

In daylight, the key lettering could use a little more contrast, as we found they could sometimes be hard to see in bright conditions depending on the viewing angle. The Enter key is easy to find though, thanks to a yellow highlight that makes it very visible, and the caps lock has its own LED. 

There's also a number pad, though the spacing on that is slightly squished by comparison. However, we'd rather have the extra room on the main keys, as it does. 

The trackpad is a good size at 105mm x 73mm and has a smooth texture, but didn't give us any tracking issues. It supports all Windows 10 gestures, including four-finger gestures, which is handy as there's no touchscreen, and intelligent palm rejection.

Right-side view of VivoBook S15 S533FA

Slim and light, the VivoBook S15 is a versatile workhorse for the student and home worker alike.

Body

The VivoBook S15 is relatively slim (16.1mm) and reasonably light (1.8kg) for a 15.6-inch notebook. The build quality is generally good – it feels solid and doesn't creak in normal handling. 

It sits comfortably in your lap and doesn't overbalance when the screen is tilted right back. Likewise, it sits flat and stable on a desk, supported by grippy rubber pads, with no wobbling in use.

The screen has a thin border to make the most of the screen area, but it's quite sturdy, with barely noticeable "puddling" when pressure is applied to the back of the screen. The keyboard tray is solid and doesn't bounce while you're typing.

A minor feature that may annoy people who like to leave a memory card inserted permanently is that MicroSD cards don't sit all the way inside the slot (thus they're not spring-loaded), which means they stick out a bit and can possibly get caught on things in transit. 

We found it remained fairly quiet to use, even under full processing load

A chrome trim along the edges of the chassis adds a dash of class to the package, but might be a bit distracting under strong light sources. The exterior bevelled edges are smooth to the touch with no sharp edges.

Some laptops can become quite noisy under load, but the VivoBook S15 has a good cooling system. The fans weren't audible while streaming YouTube consistently. You could only hear a low fan noise even when working under full processor load, and it became only slightly warm on the left side of the base, which is no problem at all.

Screen and audio

As this is a relatively lower priced laptop, despite its 15.6-inch display area, the screen is just 1920 x 1080 pixels (full HD, or 1080p), driven by onboard Intel UHD graphics. However, it has very good horizontal and vertical viewing angles, and the matte screen finish means no annoying reflections. 

The colours were good on our test model, though with a slight yellow tint, with video playback showing good detail. Asus says the thin "NanoEdge" screen surrounds allow an 86% screen-to-body ratio.

The Harman Kardon audio was good but the basic webcam less so

However, as is often the case these days, the webcam was less impressive, producing a fairly noisy picture with low detail.

Audio is provided by a Harman Kardon-certified sound system, which we found gave good clarity, especially in the low-end, and decent power, making it good enough for personal listening without external speakers.

Battery life

Battery life testing returned just over six hours in heavy usage, so you can reasonably expect a full day of normal usage on a single charge. When you run out, our testing showed the fast-charge will take just under two hours to get it up to 80% again.

Connectivity

The VivoBook has a good complement of ports, which you expect on a larger laptop.

Left-side ports:

  • 1 x USB 3.2 (Type-A)
  • 1 x USB 3.2 (Type-C)
  • Full-sized HDMI
  • Power and audio 

Right-side ports:

  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports (Type-A)
  • MicroSD card slot

The bottom line

The Asus VivoBook S15 S533FA is a stylish mid-range, large-screen laptop that's pretty good value for money. Whether you go for the Indie Black, Gaia Green, Resolute Red or Dreamy White version, it has the look of a notebook that costs more and the performance and features to keep many a student and home-based worker happy.

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