Gaming laptops typically don’t come cheap but the latest offering from ASUS is an atypical example that blends performance, value and portability in a rather stylish looking chassis. Here’s our ASUS TUF Dah F15 FX516PM review where we put it through its paces…
What is the ASUS TUF Dash FX516PM
First announced at CES 2021, the ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM aims to embody all the aspirations of its forebears as it blends good design with solid specifications and a fair price tag. In Malaysia, the ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM costs RM5,499 while packing an 11th Gen Intel core processor, the current generation NVIDIA RTX 3060 series graphics card and a 1080p 144Hz refresh display.
If you’re looking to shave a few extra bucks off the price tag, you can opt for a slightly cheaper variant that has identical specifications but which trades in the processor for a more modest 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H processor for RM4,699 which is RM800 off.
If you’re looking to go all-in, ASUS also issues a more powerful version designated as the FX516PR with the same processor as our ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM review unit though it has a better quality 1080p 240Hz refresh rate for its display, a larger 1TB SSD and a better NVIDIA GeForce RTX3070 graphics card for RM6,999 which clocks in at RM1,500 more.
Our review sample is the most affordable blend of price and performance of the three while keeping the price to just about the price of a high end flagship phone.
ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM Specifications
The ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM intended for Malaysia comes with the following specifications:
|Price||RM5,499 (FX516PM), RM6,999 (FX516PR)|
|Display||15.6-inch Full HD IPS, 144Hz w/ Adaptive Sync|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-11370H 3.3Mhz|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 RAM /512GB PCIe NVMe M2 SSD – 1 spare SO-DIMM slot / 2 M.2 slots (1 expended for 512GB SSD)|
|Graphics||Iris Xe / NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 w/ 6GB GDDR6 VRAM, 85W TGP|
|Battery||76WHrs 4-cell Li-ion, w/ 200W power brick (bundled)& USB-C Power Delivery (not provided)|
|Size Weight||360 x 252 x 19.9mm / 2kg|
The 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H is a quad-core high performance processor built on a 10nm process from the Tiger Lake-H family intended for thin and light gaming laptops with four cores and 8 threads, a base clock speed of 3.3GHz and a turbo boost of up to 4.8GHz.
It also integrates Iris Xe graphics though this takes a backseat to the provided NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060 graphics card which has 6GB GDDR6 VRAM and 85W TGP.
By default, it comes with 8GB 3,200MHz DDR4 RAM soldered in along with a spare SO-DIMM bay that’s already fitted with 8GB RAM for a total of 16GB RAM out of the box though you can upgrade it after the fact by swapping it out with up to a single 32GB 3,200MHz stick of RAM.
It also features two M.2 SSD slots and comes with a 512GB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x 4 SSD preinstalled that holds the Windows 10 OS and whatever else you have installed on it. You can swap this existing drive out for a larger one or use the second bay as you see fit with both drives theoretically allowing for up to a 2TB drive for a grand total of 4TB if you max everything out. Both these options offer a modicum of expansion options as your needs increase later on.
Other mod-cons under the hood include Bluetooth 5.1 and WiFi 6 (802.11ax) for fast downloads and uploads. Keeping it juiced is a 200W power brick that’s considered relatively light and compact by modern standards.
While it doesn’t ship with a USB-C charger, the laptop supports up to 100W power delivery. More astute users who are toting it about and foreseeing that they won’t be using it for graphic-intensive tasks can bring a sufficiently powerful USB-C charger like the UGREEN 65W GaN that can juice the laptop up via the Thunderbolt 4 port.
Unfortunately, the laptop lacks one important feature critical to working from home – a webcam. If you need to make Zoom calls, you’ll need to buy one separately like the Logitech C922 Pro HD.
ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM Review – Design and Ports
Externally, our ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM review unit comes in a shade of matte black with slightly lighter gray trim motifs emblazoned across the top lid.
Regardless of finish, the TUF Dash F15 is one of the few commercial gaming laptops available with a MIL-STD-810H standard of toughness which means that it’s rated to survive short falls, knocks and bumps without issue, resist vibrations, survive modest cold and hot climes and humid conditions for extended periods of time.
The top lid is made primarily of aluminium and features subtle chamfering on the edges with the finger resistant matte finish ensuring that it looks presentable even with heavy use. ASUS has kept the branding to a minimum here with only a subtle and tasteful TUF logo and monogram emblazoned on the lid unlike their other offerings. There’s no flex in the lid but there is a slight bit of give if you prod the center of the top lid though the whole affair is otherwise very solid.
The left side of the laptop features a DC-IN port for power, an Ethernet port, a HDMI 2.0b port, a USB-A 3.2 Gen1 port, a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port with Power Delivery and a headphone/mic combo jack.
The right side of the laptop features a pair of USB-A 3.2 Gen1 ports for jacking in peripherals while the rear is otherwise bare save for ventilation grilles.
The underside aims to allow for easy access to the spare SSD bay and sole spare SO-DIMM RAM slot for upgrades with all the screws in plain sight for easy access. You do however need some patience as there are a grand total of 15 screws and one pop-up screw before you can open the access panel. There are also two cutouts near for the downward firing 2W stereo speakers.
Unlike other laptops in ASUS, the TUF Dash F15 FX516PM eschews their Ergolift hinge and goes for a more pragmatic solution of raising the base with a series of rubberised feet to ensure proper ventilation. Flipping the lid open can be done one handed on account of the smooth hinges and balanced base which attests to their attention to detail.
The provided keyboard has faint aquamarine backlighting for every key and can’t be altered to other colours with the all-important W,S,A and D keys coming with transparent keycaps. Other unusual features include a hexagonal power button and a series of shortcut buttons that include a mic mute key, a volume up and down key as well as a dedicated shortcut to their Armoury Crate app.
Unfortunately, the keyboard lacks a numeric keypad which means it’s less than ideal for spreadsheet jockeys and there are no biometrics seeing as it lacks a fingerprint reader and a webcam so you’re stuck with the traditional password for security purposes..
Up top, the provided 15.6-inch display has relatively slim side and top bezels but the bottom one is still somewhat chunky with the most glaring shortcoming being the lack of a webcam. Fortunately, the Full HD IPS panel is ideal for gaming with a 144Hz refresh rate that also has Adaptive Sync along with a fairly conventional 16:9 aspect ratio.
ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM Review – Benchmarks and Performance
The ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM has a potent processor and graphics card combined with a beefy cooling array that ensures sustained performance. It’s not intended to be a pure desktop replacement but it has more than enough performance to tackle any contemporary game without issue.
Plugged in with Performance mode on, we got the following benchmarks which indicates the laptop at its fullest potential short of deliberate min-max tweaking:
|3DMark TimeSpy Extreme||3,198|
|3DMark Fire Strike Ultra||4,337|
|3DMark FireStrike Extreme||8,008|
|3DMark Port Royal||4,075|
|GeekBench 5 Single Core score||1,440|
|GeekBench 5 Multi Core Score||5,035|
|Unigine SuperPosition 720P Low||14,943|
|Unigine SuperPosition 1080P Medium||12,882|
|Unigine SuperPosition 1080P High||9,550|
|Unigine SuperPosition 1080P Extreme||4,287|
|Unigine SuperPosition 4K Optimised||5,619|
|Far Cry 5 (1080P, Ultra settings)||74fps average|
|PCMark 8 Battery Life (Creative)||4 hours 3 minutes|
Under heavy loads, heat is shunted out through the rear which leaves critical areas – namely the palm rest and keyboard pleasantly cool though the top of the keyboard near the hinges does get uncomfortably warm along with the rear.
While the built in cooling fans are audible under heavy loads, they aren’t loud enough that they would drown out the sound of gameplay and it’s highly unlikely you’d hear much of them at all if you’re knee deep in Warzone or Cyberpunk 2077. When handling tasks other than gaming, the laptop was whisper quiet.
Older games like Far Cry 5 were playable on Ultra settings with an average of 74fps but the latest ones have more modest outcomes with Cyberpunk 2077 set at 1080p on high settings getting, on average, a peak of 70fps and an average of about 51fps with some settings like draw distance set to medium or low. It’s far from being a speed demon but it’s certainly playable.
After running through a combination of Far Cry 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 for several hours in high Performance mode, the laptop averaged 80°C which fluctuated by a few degrees here and there depending on what’s happening on screen which is fairly toasty but expected under gaming workloads with the fans averaging 40dB which is audible but not annoyingly loud. Under less demanding workloads, the laptop ran cool and whisper-silent with the fan noise under 16.5dB.
You can also further tweak performance in terms of fan speed and processor performance with the provided ASUS Armoury Crate application baked in.
The provided stereo speakers are above average even with the lack of any custom tuning by any of the usual large audio brands, with the ability to kick out a fair amount of sound without distortion even when cranked to maximum volume.
The keyboard was both fast and responsive though it could have been larger as there is almost an inch and a half of wasted space on both sides that could have gone to getting wider spacing between each key and a larger keyboard. The biggest quibble here is the single zone aquamarine backlighting that’s not exactly the most tasteful choice. If they kept it to just white, it would have made for an easier sell but it’s not a deal breaker.
As far as displays go, the 15.6-inch 1080P 144Hz panel did well for gaming and movie watching duties with good colour rendition, deep blacks and good detail which is apparent when you’re gaming in the dim confines of Night City.
Depending on how you use it, the TUF Dash F15 varies in terms of endurance for its 76Wh battery. If you use it purely for paperwork without heavy video editing or gaming with brightness set to about 60%, the laptop easily lasts a good 8 plus hours.
If you’re using it for its primary role as a gaming rig, it lasts about 3 hours and 45 minutes or so which is borne out in PCMark 8’s ‘Creative’ battery life benchmark which clocks in at 4 hours and 3 minutes.
ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM Review – Is this worth buying?
Over the course of our ASUS TUF Dash FX516PM review, we found that it offered an excellent combination of both value and performance with a fair amount of expandability for RAM and storage.
For just above five grand in Malaysia Ringgit, you’re getting an 11th Gen Intel H-series processor, an NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU and a decent 144Hz display which is excellent bang for the buck any way you slice it.
While it’s an excellent value-oriented gaming laptop, it unfortunately does have a few glaring oversights that make it less than ideal in some scenarios, chief among them work from home duties as it lacks a webcam but that’s something that can be easily addressed on your own.
If you’re seeking a portable and affordable gaming laptop that can competently handle any current gen game, the ASUS TUF Dash FX516PM is a highly recommended choice. If your pockets are a bit deeper, opt for the higher end FX516PR variant with a RTX 3070 GPU and the 240Hz display.
Review unit courtesy of ASUS Malaysia. Available for purchase at https://www.asus.com/my/Laptops/For-Gaming/TUF-Gaming/2021-ASUS-TUF-Dash-F15/techspec/
ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM
ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM Review
The ASUS TUF Dash FX516PM gaming laptop embodies immense value as it integrates some of the best hardware currently available in 2021 at a reasonable price point. If you’re looking for a thin gaming laptop that can tackle heavy duty gaming that doesn’t cost an arm, a leg and a kidney, this should be at the top of your shopping list.
Sturdy build quality
Great performance to price ratio
Fixed aquamarine keyboard backlighting
No card reader