While we have seen many high-end, high-performance laptops in the market, let’s just take a step back and look at the brand new ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512. This laptop is made for those who want a lightweight laptop with decent performance for day-to-day use while having an affordable price tag.
ASUS is now expanding the VivoBook lineup too and now branching out to the VivoBook Ultra family. This new lineup is meant to be overlapping or perhaps replace the budget A-series of ASUS laptops. How well does the ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512 actually perform and compete against the competition? Let’s take a look at this review.
Today, we have the new VivoBook Ultra A512 with the following specs:
- Intel Core i5-8265U (4C/8T)
- Intel UHD Graphics 620 + NVIDIA GeForce MX250 with 2GB VRAM
- 4GB DDR4-2400 (upgradable with another SO-DIMM slot)
- 512GB PCIe Gen 3 x2 NVMe SSD
- 15.6-inch 1080p FHD IPS 60Hz
- Transparent Silver colour
From here, we can see a bit of an unusual unboxing experience. While many other laptops just have some booklets and a power adapter only, the ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512 comes with an HDD upgrade kit. This kit includes a heat shield, 2.5-inch storage disk bracket, and also a SATA III to a proprietary ribbon cable connector.
This is unlike the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505D (review here) that chucked in the necessary upgrade tools into the laptop itself. Make sure you don’t lose this kit if you want to put in any 2.5-inch SSD or HDD into your VivoBook Ultra A512 in the future.
Beautiful shiny body
Upon opening the box itself, we can see that the laptop itself – which is wrapped in fabric – is already shining through. The one we have here is in Transparent Silver option, hence its whiteish brilliance.
The ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512 is also available in 3 more different colours – Slate Grey, Peacock Blue, and also Coral Crush. In English, it means dark grey, deep blue, and bright orange. Honestly, I love that orange colour option that ASUS is offering.
From the lid to the backplate and even to the wrist rest area, the entire laptop is in the colour of your choice. Though, just be sure to be careful while handling the laptop as it is completely made out of plastic.
Its plastic construction helps in trimming down the weight but does impact its overall built quality and durability – especially the colours. It can be scuffed and scratched easily, making those damages show more prominently because of its shiny colourful body.
Good keyboard and touchpad
Opening up the laptop reveals a pretty standard layout for a laptop. One thing that stood out to me immediately was the inclusion of a fingerprint reader that is found on the top right corner of the trackpad. Something we don’t usually find on the A series VivoBooks.
The trackpad is actually pretty good here and I found myself not complaining while using it. The VivoBook Ultra A512 is using Windows Precision Touchpad drivers too, hence the overall user experience of the trackpad is considered good.
The keyboard is also pretty good as it has low actuation force with good travel distance yet has tactile and springy feedback. I enjoyed typing on this keyboard and hey – even this review is typed out entirely on the VivoBook Ultra A512. Let’s not forget that the ErgoLift hinge design lifts up the laptop a little to provide an even more comfortable typing experience.
ASUS took a spin on the keyboard layout too. Instead of the usual number pad layout, the VivoBook Ultra A512 does not have the unusually large enter and plus keys for its number pad.
My only complaint on this layout is the power button which is located at the very top right corner of the keyboard. ASUS could have combined the fingerprint reader and the power button together, then moved it somewhere else instead. Putting the power button at the top right corner is bound to cause some users to press on it unknowingly.
Ports & Connectivities
Despite being a budget laptop, the VivoBook Ultra A512 still packs a rather generous amount of ports. On the left, we have:
- 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
- Power and battery indicator LEDs
While at the right side, we have:
- Power jack
- USB 3.0 Type-A
- USB 3.0 Type-C
- 3.5mm combo audio jack
- MicroSD card reader
For a laptop of this calibre, I think the ports selection is solid. The microSD card reader is definitely great for those who want to transfer data from cameras or perhaps a Nintendo Switch or whatever.
The ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512 also has two bottom-firing speakers that are located at both sides under the wrist rest area. They sound decent but they are not particularly loud.
A 15.6-inch display in a 14-inch body
I originally thought that this laptop is actually using a 14-inch screen. Thanks to ASUS’s NanoEdge display, they managed to fit in a 15.6-inch screen in such a compact body. The bezels on both sides measure to only 5.7mm in thickness. Only 5.7mm. That is impressive!
While the bezels remained thin on both sides, ASUS is adamant in retaining the webcam at the top. This results in an 8.8mm thin bezel at the top, alongside with a microphone array. Say no to nose cams!
The colours on this 15.6-inch display are pretty good. While it is considered a budget laptop, the colours on the screen just nice – proper saturation and pretty good white balance too – at least to my eyes. I was able to do some Lightroom work on this laptop too – which nicely leads us to the next section.
The spec of this laptop is not particularly powerful, to begin with. Its utilization of U-series of processors is meant for it to save power.
- Intel Core i5-8265U
- NVIDIA GeForce MX250 with 2GB VRAM
- 4GB DDR4-2400
- 512GB PCIe Gen 3 x2 NVMe SSD
- 15.6-inch 1080p FHD IPS 60Hz
We tried some games on the NVIDIA GeForce MX250 and things are looking rather positive for some titles. Of course, you might need to tone down the quality in some demanding games. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with maximum settings can maintain at a steady 60 fps. Fortnite & DotA 2 with highest settings, however, can only push for somewhere around 35 fps. So they are definitely better with medium or low presets just like how Overwatch can be enjoyable with medium settings at 55~60fps.
The latest and popular battle royale game – Apex Legends, on the other hand, is not as easy to push as the game hardly go over 30fps even with the lowest settings.
When we opened the laptop, we saw that the ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512 is packed with only one single thick heat pipe that is shared between the CPU and GPU, whereby heat is expelled by a single heatsink and a single fan. The fan is surprisingly strong, by the way.
The ASUS VivoBook Ultra A512 comes with quite a tiny battery which I personally think would have been better. However, considering the price and the weight of this laptop, I think it’s a fair trade-off.
The VivoBook Ultra A512, through my usual routine of heavy web browsing with some YouTube videos and some Photoshop/Lightroom, it can last for about 4 hours and 20 minutes and then dipped to 11% battery.
As for charging, we left the VivoBook turned on but idle. It took about 2 hours to charge from 15% battery to a full 100%.
All in all, given with those excellent performing components and at the price of RM2899, this laptop definitely falls in the higher end spectrum of the Vivobook series. Then again, this is an excellent choice for those who want premium ultrabook components without having to pay for the optional premium design and build material, such as the more expensive ASUS ZenBook series or Dell XPS series.
In other words, the VivoBook offers a great value proposition in terms of the actual raw performance and pricing. All without sacrificing the looks with its lively colours and sleek design.
- Lively colours & design
- Lightweight design
- 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Comes with an “HDD upgrade kit”
- Decent performance
- Quiet cooling