Asus VivoBook S15 review: one of the best laptop buys in 2020

The Asus VivoBook S15 experience is almost all positive

T3 Platinum Award
Asus VivoBook S15
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Asus VivoBook S15 doesn't excel in any one area – it excels in a whole bunch of them, from the internal specs to the external design. Whether it's the best laptop for you depends on your budget, but at this price we think this is a very difficult laptop to beat.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Bright, crisp 15.6-inch display

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    Excellent design and build quality

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    Latest Intel processors

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not the cheapest out there

  • -

    Screen sticks to 1080p

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    16:9 aspect ratio display

The Asus VivoBook S15 laptop (S533 model) is one we were very much looking forward to reviewing, as previous VivoBooks have impressed us – and indeed by many measures, this is one of the very best Windows 10 laptops that you can get your hands on right now.

When you think about what you want from a laptop, from speed to style to long battery life, the Asus VivoBook S15 ticks a lot of those boxes. You get a large, 15.6-inch display and a full number pad too, though the notebook never feels overly big or unwieldy.

And Windows 10 is Windows 10 of course – Microsoft's desktop operating system continues to get better and better, with improved integration with smartphones (especially Android devices) and a revamped, Chromium-based browser in the form of Microsoft Edge.

Our full Asus VivoBook S15 review will give you everything you need to know to decide whether or not this is the best laptop for you: find out what it's been like to use over the couple of weeks that we've had it, and what we think its particular strengths are.

Asus VivoBook S15 review: screen and design

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Asus VivoBook S15

(Image credit: Future)
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Asus VivoBook S15

(Image credit: Future)

The 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution display that comes with the Asus VivoBook S15 is a pleasure to look at and a pleasure to work with: there are pleasantly thin bezels around the edges, while the display itself is bright, vivid and sharp. The 16:9 aspect ratio isn't our most favourite – that's the 16:10 one, by the way – but it is of course perfect for those widescreen movies and shows.

Elsewhere the laptop makes good use of its premium materials, with a spacious keyboard that feels well cushioned and looks well lit – the different colour around the Enter key is a nice touch – and the trackpad is equally responsive and accurate. The trackpad comes with a fingerprint sensor built in, making logging into Windows 10 a breeze. The all-metal chassis looks the part and gives you the impression that it's going to last a long time.

One of the advantages of picking a laptop this size over something like a 13-inch laptop is you get plenty of ports: the Asus VivoBook S15 comes with an HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port, a USB 3.2 USB-A port, and two USB 2.0 USB-A ports, together with a headphone jack and a microSD card reader. That covers a lot of bases, and there are plenty of colour options to pick from too: Indie Black, Gaia Green, Resolute Red and Dreamy White (we had the green).

Despite the spacious 15.6-inch screen, the laptop is just 16.1 mm (0.63 inches) thick, and tips the scales at 1.8 kg (3.97 lbs). You'll need a bit of room to put it away inside a bag, but it's not going to weigh you down at all. From the materials used to the colourful lids to the backlighting on the keyboards, we like what Asus has managed to do here in terms of design and style, and it stands out in a crowded market.

Asus VivoBook S15 review: performance and features

Asus VivoBook S15

(Image credit: Asus)

Our Asus VivoBook S15 review model came with one of the very latest 11th-gen Intel i7-1165G7 processors, pretty much guaranteeing excellent performance and decent battery life, as well as 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD hard drive. Other configurations are available, with less storage, 8GB of RAM, and a less powerful 11th-gen Intel i5-1135G7 processor, so they're an option if you want to bring the price down a bit. Visuals are handled by Intel Iris X integrated graphics.

In the case of the i7-powered laptop that we tested, performance was more than enough for our day-to-day computing needs, as you would expect from reading those specs. The lack of dedicated graphics means demanding games and big video editing projects are out of the question, but for everything else, the Asus VivoBook S15 has you covered. It's a pacy, capable laptop that's a very good advert for the new 11th generation chips that Intel has pushed out to manufacturers.

Load up a bit of widescreen video and you discover that not only does it look good, it sounds good too – the laptop comes with a Harman Kardon-certified stereo sound system that will even attempt surround sound for you. It's not quite up there with a home entertainment system, and bass is lacking a little bit, but audio remains crisp and clear at a surprisingly high volume, with individual elements of music tracks easy to distinguish. It's another plus point for the laptop.

When it comes to that all-important battery life, the Asus VivoBook S15 does well here too, even though it might not be breaking any records. We were able to get 7-8 hours of use away from a charger, which is decent for a laptop this size, although we weren't really doing anything too demanding. In our standard two-hour video streaming test – maximum brightness, low volume – the laptop dropped from 100 percent to 75 percent, suggesting it lasts for around 8 hours overall.

Asus VivoBook S15 review: price and verdict

Asus VivoBook S15

(Image credit: Asus)

We haven't really mentioned the price of the Asus VivoBook S15 yet, which makes it even more appealing. Check the widgets on this page for the very latest deals online, but at the time of writing you can get the laptop for a very reasonable mid-range price around £700 in the UK or $700 in the US. You can get Windows laptops that are significantly cheaper for sure, but you get so much for your money with the Asus VivoBook S15.

It starts with the design and aesthetics, which are really eye-catching, and the choice of colour options. The 15.6-inch display is perfect for everything from word processing to binge watching your favourite series, and yet despite all that screen space, this portable computer still has its emphasis on portable: it's in no way bulky.

The positives continue when you look inside the laptop, with the very latest 11th-gen Intel processors on offer, and plenty of RAM for handling dozens of browser tabs or dozens of open images. You've got plenty of internal storage to play around with as well, which is super-fast too: shifting large numbers of files around is yet another task that the Asus VivoBook S15 handles with ease.

Everything considered together, this is just about our favourite laptop at the moment. There are more powerful laptops out there, and laptops with better screens, and laptops at lower prices, but for a day-to-day 15-inch laptop that's going to do all the tasks you need it to do and then some, it's very hard to beat at this mid-range price – the perfect balance between price and performance.