I reviewed a model with these specs:
- Model: Asus TUF Dash F15 (FX516PM)
- Display: 15-inch IPS 144Hz at 1920×1080
- Processor: Intel Core i7-11370H quad-core processor (12 MB Smart Cache, up to 4.8 GHz)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB
- Memory: 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 (one user-upgradeable slot for up to 48GB)
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD (two user-upgradeable slots)
- Ports: 1x USB 4.0 Type-C with Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4a, and Thunderbolt 4, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x 3.5mm combo audio jack, 1x RJ45 Ethernet, 1x A/C power
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2
- Battery: 76Wh
- Dimensions: 14.1″ x 9.9″ x 0.8″
- Weight: 4.41 lbs.
- Price (as tested): $1,149.99
You can, however, upgrade to a slightly more powerful i7-11375H and an RTX 3070, as well as up to a 240Hz display if you want something with even smoother motion for esports.
Asus TUF Dash F15 Review
Design and Features
The TUF Dash 15’s appearance is what you’d expect from a brand pushing military spec MIL-STD durability standards: it isn’t a behemoth, but its hard edges and giant TUF branding on the back let you know this isn’t your typical office notebook. While it bills itself as a thin and light, it is still a 15-inch gaming laptop – certainly not as bulky as some of its competitors, but I wouldn’t exactly call it svelte. But that’s okay, because its size may allow it a bit more power than comparably-specced laptops, not to mention more cooling potential.
The bottom case uses a smooth, black finish with just a bit of texture to the right and left of the keyboard, and some decidedly “TUF” looking speaker grilles along the top. (There’s a white version too, with similar flourishes.) The keyboard itself is backlit and allows comfortable typing, thanks to its large size, standard key spacing, and relatively deep travel at 1.7mm. The WASD keys are translucent, and the W key contains a subtle notch so you can easily find your way back home when gaming. The lighting is not particularly customizable, though, with no RGB and only three animated patterns to choose from – but it’s functional if you’re gaming at night, which is what matters most. You get a few extra keys along the top of the keyboard, including volume, mic mute, and a shortcut to open Asus’ Armory Crate software.
The trackpad is what I would call “fine”: I didn’t have any major accuracy issues where the cursor jumps around, but the surface of the trackpad doesn’t feel as smooth as other, better laptops either. While some trackpads allow your finger to glide effortlessly across the surface, it felt like my finger dragged a bit on the TUF Dash’s trackpad. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, and given the more affordable nature of the laptop, it’s about exactly the amount of corner I’d expect to be cut: it’s not premium, but it’s not sinking down to super-budget level either. You also won’t get any extras like fingerprint sensors, though, and there’s no webcam at all, which is frustrating in the era of forced remote work.
The slightly larger chassis also affords plentiful IO, with one Thunderbolt 4 Type-C port and three USB Type-A ports – not to mention HDMI 2.0 and Ethernet. The Ethernet port in particular is great to see, since it’s left off so many modern laptops – and it can make a big difference, both when downloading large games and when playing online multiplayer with as little lag as possible. Oh, and the headphone jack is always welcome, since the F15’s speakers are nothing to write home about.
Finally, the display is a bit sub-par. While it does use an IPS panel, in testing I found that it only covers about 60% of the sRGB space, rather than the 100% we’d really like to see – so colors won’t be very accurate, and its 853:1 contrast ratio means blacks are going to look more like dark grey. It can reach about 350 nits of brightness, which is enough for most work, but might be just a tad dim if you’re trying to work or game outside in direct sunlight. All in all, though, it’ll get the job done – just not particularly beautifully.
Asus’ laptops don’t come with a ton of software baked in, and that’s a good thing. The MyASUS app allows for certain troubleshooting processes and customer support, but otherwise you’ll probably never open it, while Armory Crate is the gaming-centric app that allows you to adjust the fan profiles, RGB lighting (if you have compatible accessories), display customizations, and some hotkeys. I’m generally not in love with Armory Crate, and find its power profiles more confusing than helpful, though you can feel free to experiment with them to see if you get a few more frames per second (at most) out of your games – though that’ll usually come at the cost of some fan noise.
I do, however, have to give Asus credit for not including garbage like McAfee or other bundled trialware on this machine, like so many others do. In fact, Asus includes it on the $3,000 ROG Flow X13, but I saw no trace of it on this budget-focused laptop – which seems weird, but maybe the company’s learning? Regardless, kudos to Asus for keeping it light.
|Benchmarks||Asus TUF Dash F15||Acer Predator Triton 300 SE||MSI Stealth 15M|
|Price as tested||$1,149||$1,399||$1,899|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-11370H||Intel Core i7-11375H||Intel Core i7-11375H|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 3060||Nvidia RTX 3060||Nvidia RTX 3060|
|3DMark Time Spy||6623||6377||6294|
|3DMark Fire Strike||15073||14416||14091|
|3DMark Night Raid||33147||30238||28015|
|Total War: Three Kingdoms||56||54||56|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||88||85||85|
|PCMark 10 Battery Test||9:10||6:30||3:00|
Performance and Gaming
Thanks to its solid midrange hardware, the TUF Dash F15 holds its own well in games, producing playable framerates in all of our benchmarks – which, remember, are run at Ultra settings, so if you turn a few things down, you can easily take advantage of the higher refresh display. In Doom Eternal, for example, I was easily able to stay over 100FPS in the crowded Super Gore Nest mission on High graphics settings. The 144Hz display performed admirably and the RTX 3060 had no problems keeping up.
In fact, despite having nearly identical hardware to the more expensive Acer Predator Triton 300 SE, the TUF Dash outperformed it in just about every benchmark, likely due to its increased size and cooling ability (not to mention a slightly higher-specced GPU – remember, not all RTX 3060 laptops have the same capabilities).
The keyboard’s deep travel was a welcome advantage while gaming as well, allowing for more defined keypresses as you dodge enemy fire. I also found the laptop kept its chassis decently cool during gaming sessions. In fact, the internal hardware – while it heats up during gaming – rarely thermal throttled during my benchmarks, which was pretty shocking for a self-proclaimed thin and light. (The fan does whirr pretty loudly, though, so make sure you have some decent over-ear eadphones or a gaming headset on hand.)
However, the TUF Dash still has its own shortcomings. The trackpad, for example, was a noticeable step down from the super-smooth pad on the Triton. This won’t be a problem if you play with an external gaming mouse, though you may still notice it in desktop work. The Triton’s display is also better, with improved colors and a better contrast ratio that’ll make your games’ graphics stand out. Still, all those benefits – plus others like the webcam and fingerprint sensor – come at a noticeable increase in price, so if you’re on a stricter budget, the TUF Dash is still worth putting on your short list.
With a huge 76Wh battery and midrange hardware, you’d expect battery life on the TUF Dash F15 to be decent, if not pretty good. But at 50% brightness, PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery test lasted a whopping nine hours and 10 minutes, which is fantastic if you’re looking to get through a full day of work on your laptop. Now, you obviously won’t get nine hours of gaming from this thing, but you’ll get a lot more than the power-hungry, sub-2-hour gaming laptops out there, so this is one area where I can safely say the TUF Dash F15 kicks ass.
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