As the latest addition to their workhorse VivoBook line-up for Malaysia, the Asus VivoBook S15 S533FA brings a combination of stylish looking colourways and updated specs that are ideal for students and those looking for a general purpose notebook.
Events of late have kept everyone stuck in our homes and for many people both office desk jockeys and students alike, their main means to get work done has primarily been a laptop in some form or fashion. But, like tastes in music, not every laptop is intended for everyone.
My college-going niece dropped by one day, asking me, seeing as I’m the resident technophile, what would be an appropriate laptop for someone with her, as she appropriately puts it, ‘cool’ style as she was in the market for one seeing as her present rig gave up the ghost.
When I showed the ExpertBook B9 (B9450) to my niece, she didn’t seem particularly keen, citing the fact that its slick corporate-chic was less for college students like her and more for, as she jokingly puts it, people of more advanced age like me. Granted, that’s a good two decade age gap and her generation thinks the Carpenters is a profession, not a band. I was miffed but reached into the storeroom for something else that had just arrived fresh off ASUS’ warehouses.
The response when she saw the external packaging was nonplussed but that changed immediately when she saw the contents – ASUS’ latest VivoBook laptop that’s been built from the ground up for the Gen Z crowd. She cooed in delight at its striking Gaia Green finish and then nodded appreciatively at the price tag before attempting to make off with it before I finished testing it.
It took some effort to pry it from her fingers, including liberal applications of bubble tea but we managed to put the ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA through its paces. Here’s our review of Asus’ latest affordable laptop for a new generation.
ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA Design
The ASUS VivoBook series has evolved in recent years, adopting increasingly more unique colour schemes that set it apart from the primarily black or metallic silver colourways festooning most laptops. The latest VivoBook S15 S533FA is the latest example of their aesthetic revamp and the packaging that it came with does not do it justice.
The plain brown box that it is packaged in is as different as night is from day, as the laptop came in what ASUS called a striking shade of Gaia Green; a deep metallic green bordering on teal that graces the entirety of the top lid. The Gaia Green finish also repels fingerprints nicely and it remained pristine even after extensive handling.
What makes it especially interesting, especially for Gen Z users is that ASUS is issuing a set of stickers to further personalise your VivoBook though you can naturally add your own to decorate the top lid, which makes the laptop distinctively your own even in a sea of similar looking VivoBooks.
The rest of its sides, palm rests, keyboard frame and underbody of the laptop retain the usual signature brushed metallic silver finish in keeping with many other contemporary notebook designs.
If you peer closer, there are a few compromises in its design but for what you’re paying for, it’s still a very fair tradeoff. The chassis itself is a combination of metal and polycarbonate, with the top lid, and most of the keyboard frame coming in the former and the underbody and display bezels coming in the latter.
Like the Gaia Green top lid, the rest of the brushed metal finish across the VivoBook is equally durable and repels fingerprints and smudges which is gratifying if you have to haul it around all day for classes and work.
As a new aesthetic touch, the top lid itself sports a subtle groove all across one edge to indicate which is the business end when you open it. The build quality here is solid with little play or give in the top lid itself while the keyboard frame has subtle chamfering to give it a classier look.
Rather than the Ergolift hinge, the underside uses 4 rubber stoppers with the two rearmost ones being more prominent than the others to give the notebook a slight tilt for easier typing and for better ventilation for the underside and better sound quality for the downward firing stereo speakers.
Flip it open and you’re greeted by a conventional hinge design along with the aforementioned plastic bezels framing the 15.6-inch display.
Previously, we tested its AMD-powered sibling the S14 M433 which had a similar build and finish but the key advantage here with the S15 in terms of displays is that you have 1.6-inches more of screen real estate to work with.
The top and bottom lids are somewhat chunky by 2020 standards but the left and right sides are gratifyingly slim at less than 4.9mm.
With the larger dimensions offered by a 15.6-inch chassis, the VIvoBook S15 S533FA has the space to cram in a full-sized keyboard with a numeric keypad. Much like the S14 M433 we tested recently, the Enter key is highlighted in a striking shade of neon green with the keys made out of plastic. They’re functional if somewhat plasticky especially when viewed from an angle.
In terms of connectivity, the laptop is very well kitted out with WiFi 6 GIG+ (802.11ax) support and a full bevy of ports on its left and right sides. Much like the S14, the left side has a HDMI 1.4 port, a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port and a single USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port along with an audio combo jack. The right side packs two USB 2.0 ports.
This combo covers most bases, lets you dock a phone to the laptop to transfer photos and documents while trickle charging it, hook it up to a projector or TV for presentations and Netflix and have enough ports left to also hook up a mouse or separate keyboard.
As far as build quality goes, ASUS has managed a fair compromise of quality without compromising on sturdiness and most of the plasticky bits like the underside are hidden out of sight. It’s a bit heavier than other notebooks of its ilk at 1.8kg but it’s still well under what gaming notebooks weigh and can still be comfortably crammed into a backpack along with its charger that’s the size of a squarish-bar of soap.
ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA Specifications and Benchmarks
In Malaysia, the ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA comes in your choice of three other colours and one specification. If Gaia Green isn’t to your taste, you can opt to get it in Resolute Red or the usual Dreamy Silver and Indie Black colourways with all colour variants costing the same price. The model that we’re testing is the retail unit for the Malaysia market though a smaller sized VivoBook S14 is also available with Intel processors.
Display 15.6-inch Full HD IPS LCD, 1,920 x 1080 pixels.
OS WIndows 10 Home
Memory 8GB 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM (non-upgradable) / 32GB Intel Optane H10 + 512GB M.2 NVMe PCie SSD
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250 w/ 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
Battery 50Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer w/ 64W power adapter
Size/Weight 359.8 x 233.8 x 16.1mm/1.8kg
Compared to last year’s model the VivoBook S531F, the key improvements here for the VivoBook S15 S533FA are a complete migration towards faster SSDs and they’ve doubled the available RAM and the processor to an Intel 10th Gen CPU which are reasonable upgrades to keep it current. They’ve also added Intel Optane memory though it still retains a similar entry-level NVIDIA MX250 graphics card.
One irksome factor remains – you can’t upgrade the RAM unlike older versions of the VivoBook like the S15 S530U that we reviewed awhile back. Fortunately, it has a second unused SSD bay that you can take advantage of to add in additional storage later on.
Unlike the VivoBook S14 that we reviewed last month that had an AMD Ryzen 4000 series processor, this variant of the VivoBook S15 has a more popular 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U processor paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM that has been soldered in and no additional DIMM slots to add more.
For storage, ASUS has plunked in a 512GB SSD with 32GB of Intel Optane H10 memory to offer faster boot times and enhance system performance. This comes as standard for all VivoBook S15 variants in Malaysia.
Rather than rely on the Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics solution, ASUS has kitted the laptop out with an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card which is an entry level graphics solution.
The MX250 card here is the slightly more powerful 25W variant, denoted when you look at it in the settings with the product ID 10De 1D13. This is intended for larger sized affordable notebooks while the lower powered 10W variant with the product ID code 10De 1D52 is for more compact notebooks.
In terms of synthetic benchmarks, the S533FA got the following when the laptop was set to maximum performance settings on the battery management slider::
Cinebench R20 1,175 points
Unigine SuperPosition 720P Low 7871
Unigine SuperPosition 1080P Medium 2696
Unigine SuperPosition 1080P High
Unigine SuperPosition 1080P Extreme 562
3DMark TimeSpy 1284
3DMark TimeSpy Extreme 268
3DMark FireStrike 2534
3DMark FireStrike Extreme 1490
3DMark FireStrike Ultra 544
GeekBench Single Core 918 MultiCore 4169
For general computing, the VivoBook S15 is an excellent performer though the inability to upgrade the RAM is a downer which is compensated in part with the addition of Intel Optane memory. The laptop booted up to desktop in under a minute, apps opened up in a similarly swift fashion and it was able to smoothly tackle a good two dozen open browser tabs in Chrome.
Like its immediate predecessor, the VivoBook S15 S531F, it’s a solid performer that’s able to handle general duties across the board. It can handle a bit of gaming too like PUBG on low 1080P settings, Saint’s Row: The Third at 1080P on medium settings, DOTA 2 on low settings and also tackle photo editing, spreadsheets and the odd simple video edit or two.
The underside got somewhat warm after two to three hours of intensive use so it’s something you’d best use on an in-flight tray or on a table if at all possible. Even under relatively warm loads, the fan noise was inaudible and the laptop runs in a mostly silent fashion.
The provided display is generously sized and gives you quite a bit of screen real estate to work with enough space to comfortably compare two word documents or two browsers side by side with good colour rendition and detail though it’s capped at a 60Hz refresh rate; which is fair seeing as this isn’t intended as a gaming laptop.
The provided keyboard has good spacing and a reasonable 1.4mm of key travel that makes typing on it a pleasant affair. We managed a good 110wpm on it and the addition of the numeric keypad makes it a good proposition for those who need to handle heavy number crunching like accounting, maths and engineering students.
In terms of battery life, we kicked off our battery test with a full charge and our usual workload which had a balanced battery profile, the screen set to average brightness and a workload involving Google Docs, Open Office and heavy use of Chrome with a dozen open browser tabs.
Naturally, your mileage will vary depending on if you max out your screen brightness and performance settings but we also managed to get a couple of hours of YouTube in along with an hour worth of gaming in too and the laptop managed to last a decent 8 or so hours before it got down to less than 10% which is enough for a decent day’s worth of work though this isn’t the best on test.
It took just under an hour to get about a 65% charge on account of its fast charging capabilities and the fact that it is exceptionally compact and light makes it a very viable prospect to carry with you all day.
ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA Verdict
Much like its predecessors, the VivoBook S15 S533FA offers a very reasonable price point that brings you a large display, a full-sized keyboard and decent performance across the board for general computing tasks.
There’s some quibbles of course, like the middling battery life which they haven’t addressed even in the prior S15 from last year but it isn’t a major issue if you’re hovering between lectures or short work meetings outside of the office.
For what you pay for, the VivoBook S15 S533FA represents an excellent choice for casual users and for kitting out those heading over to college or uni. If you’re looking for an affordable smaller sized laptop, the S14 S433FA with a 14-inch display is an option as is their AMD-powered variant the S14 M433 that we just tested.
What we liked Stylish design, good keyboard, fair balance of performance for price, large display, generous array of ports
What we didn’t No way to upgrade RAM as it’s all soldered in. average battery life
We say Sporting vibrant hues and an eye-catching design with a good performance to price ratio, the ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA is a colourful refresh of their workhorse notebook that offers a generously sized 15.6-inch display, an updated 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, Intel Optane memory and an NVIDIA MX250 GPU too.
Review unit courtesy of ASUS Malaysia. Available for purchase online at https://www.ASUS.com/my/Laptops/ASUS-VivoBook-S15-S533FA/
ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA
Asus VivoBook S15 S533FA
Sporting vibrant hues and an eye-catching design with a good performance to price ratio, the ASUS VivoBook S15 S533FA is a colourful refresh of their workhorse notebook that offers a generously sized 15.6-inch display, an updated 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, Intel Optane memory and an NVIDIA MX250 GPU too.