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ASUS VivoBook S510 review: Stylish, affordable, powerful, but weak on battery life

ASUS' last VivoBook S was a premium looking mid-range laptop that was ultimately let down in a big way by a disappointing display. The latest attempt, the S510 follows a similar path to its predecessor, by squeezing a ton of power into an affordable package.

It's not perfect, but it's still a strong laptop for under $900.

What you'll like about the ASUS VivoBook S510

VivoBook S510

Whether it's the highest-end, entry-level or anywhere in between, ASUS makes a good looking laptop. The VivoBook S isn't metal, but it looks like it could be, with a brushed pattern on the lid and a premium gold paint job throughout. Visually it's identical to its predecessor, right down to the skinny bezels around the display.

And despite being plastic, it's still incredibly well made. It feels sturdy, there's virtually no flex in the keyboard area or on the lid

What's also worth pointing out is the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello. There are still plenty of laptops more expensive than this one that don't include Hello support, and ASUS gets extra credit for adding it to a mid-ranger.

CategorySpec
CPUQuad-core Intel Core i7-8550U, eight threads
RAM8GB DDR4
SSD256GB SATA3 and 1TB HDD
Display15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080
GraphicsNVIDIA MX150 2GB
PortsHDMI, USB-C, USB 3.0, micro SD card, and 3.5mm headset jack
Battery50Wh

The VivoBook S510 sees an upgrade in its dedicated NVIDIA graphics, too, over its predecessor. The 2GB MX150 is what you'll get, and in this larger laptop, it's the 25W version, the more powerful variant of the MX150. Paired with 8GB of RAM and an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U quad-core processor, and the VivoBook S510 has power beyond its price.

The VivoBook S510 combines SSD and HDD storage options, so you get the benefit of large amounts of mass storage and a faster drive to boot Windows and essential apps from. The S510 has a SATA SSD, so we're not getting blistering speeds, but when it comes to read speeds at least it's up there with the best.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
VivoBook S510i7-8550U4,31612,812
ZenBook UX331i5-8250U4,13312,805
Surface Book 2 15i7-8650U5,03614,237
Surface Book 2 13i7-8650U4,86214,694
XPS 15 (9560)i7-7700HQ4,50313,587
Razer Blade 2017i7-7700HQ4,27713,597
Surface Laptop i7i7-7660U4,7149,535
Surface Pro 2017i7-7660U4,5139,346
Surface Booki7-6600U3,9777,486

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)

DeviceReadWrite
VivoBook S510541 MB/s225 MB/s
ZenBook UX331509 MB/s433 MB/s
Surface Book 2 1TB1,411 MB/s1,202 MB/s
Surface Laptop i7486 MB/s244 MB/s
Surface Pro 20171,284 MB/s963 MB/s
Surface Book 1TB1,018 MB/s967 MB/s
Surface Laptop i5423 MB/s237 MB/s

GPU performance is surprisingly good once again from the MX150, and that continues to be the theme with this mobile GPU. It scores 49,210 in Geekbench 4's CUDA test.... It's not a gaming laptop, but for creatives, it's a lot to get in such an affordable package.

NVIDIA GeForce MX150: Everything you need to know

VivoBook S510

It will play some games if you need it to, and the popular esports titles like CS:GO and League of Legends can certainly be enjoyed on the S510, likewise you'll be able to get some mileage from titles like Fortnite and Overwatch. Running the For Honor benchmark on medium graphics settings at 900p resolution yields an easily playable 43FPS average, which is pretty remarkable.

It's not for gamers, but you can certainly enjoy a little downtime when you're done working.

What you'll dislike about the ASUS VivoBook S510

VivoBook S510

While the display is certainly an improvement on last year's VivoBook S, it's not perfect. As with several recent ASUS laptops we've looked at, overall quality is much better, but the brightness still suffers. Even using this laptop in a well-lit room leads to issues seeing the display clearly at times.

It's not a glossy finish, at least, but unless you can shade the display from direct light then you might be a little disappointed.

One half of the SSD performance is a little lackluster as well. It's still faster than an HDD and the read speeds are great for a SATA drive, but the write is around half that of Samsung's 860 Evo, something we'd consider the benchmark for a SATA SSD.

The biggest issue the VivoBook S510 has, though, is the battery life. The battery just isn't physically big enough, and 5 hours or so is about all you can expect. Push it with anything that involves the GPU in particular and that'll drop further still. It's a little disappointing that ASUS has smaller laptops with bigger batteries than this.

Should you buy the ASUS VivoBook S510?

VivoBook S510

The VivoBook S510 is a really good mid-range laptop. It looks fantastic, has amazing specs for the price, all the ports you could want and is just an all-around nice laptop to use.

The big reason to think twice would be the battery life. If you're frequently away from a power outlet for extended periods then you can certainly do better. But on balance, this is a great buy, with a quad-core CPU and dedicated graphics for under $900.

If you're looking for this kind of performance and price but a little more from the battery, the ASUS ZenBook UX331 is worth consideration.

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Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

5 Comments
  • Honestly, the only thing they should do is omit HDD and add more battery in its place. Could've been another great thin and light 15" to rival the expensive LG gram 15 or Acer's Swift 5. But they didn't and miss the market.
  • Dual HDD Bays is a killer feature. You can add cheap SATA SSD 512GB for only $100. As long as this gets 7 hours under productivity workloads off the charger, it should be fine. With an U-Class CPU and MX150, you aren’t really getting much power out of this. Lol. I wouldn’t pay $900 for this spec package. I’d buy something with a 7th Gen HQ i5 and a better GPU. I buy laptops mostly because I visit far off places and a desktop doesn’t go well with planes. I don’t sit in coffee shops using my PC. So battery Life is only so important before the extra is worthless. The CPU and GPU is weak sauce at that price point. You can built an editing desktop for barely more than that.
  • Hi Richard, I noticed that in your laptop/notebook reviews you keep forgetting to review or even mention in the specs their Wi-Fi cards. Because they are portable devices their connectivity to the Internet is very important. I personally bumped into many otherwise decent notebooks but with atrocious Wi-Fi cards. Asus, Dell, ... the list just goes on.
  • Ethernet as well. It isn’t good being stuck with a slow card or chipset. I’ve also notic d some laptops have issues when you use I.e, BT headsets. The internet basically does on them. Probably something to do with some Realtek cards that have combo WiFi and BT. Maybe Intel, as well. I had a laptop that would do that. Anytime I used a BT headset, the internet basically stopped working until I shot the headset off, lol.
  • Battery is where mid range laptops fail in general. It’s not hard to get a pretty decent one from a performance aspect. Many have quad i5s and even i7 CPUs. Where they fail is battery life, unless they are Netbook-level in specs to force more endurance out of the device.