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Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition (FA617XS) review: A brilliantly balanced performance

ASUS TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition (FA617XS) review - featured
Our Rating :
£1,342.99 from
Price when reviewed : 1,200
inc. VAT

With an excellent 240Hz screen, good gaming performance and solid battery life, the TUF A16 is superb for the price

Pros

  • Excellent 240Hz display
  • Good battery life
  • Impressive gaming performance

Cons

  • No biometric security
  • Poor 720p webcam
  • Unbalanced layout of I/O ports

There are a lot of excellent gaming laptops to choose from if you have between £1,200 and £1,500 burning a hole in your pocket. The majority – make that the vast majority – have an Nvidia GPU buried inside.

Nvidia’s dominance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the alternatives, though, especially now that AMD’s own GPUs have closed the performance gap.

As we shall see, Nvidia and AMD are now running neck-and-neck in the GPU stakes, so now could be the perfect time to dare to be different.

Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: What you need to know

If you see the words “Advantage Edition” on a laptop, it means you’re getting something with a CPU and GPU from AMD. AMD’s pitch is that this delivers higher levels of performance and efficiency because it controls the whole performance pipeline. Before you scoff, remember that this is essentially Apple’s pitch.

The argument about who makes the best CPUs – AMD or Intel – may be settled now that AMD has proven it can fabricate chips every bit as good if not better than Intel. When it comes to GPUs, however, Nvidia’s dominant market share can make it seem the default choice. AMD can, however, match it blow-for-blow with its own automatic MUX switching and latest-generation upscaling technology.

In short, then, if you’re thinking about buying a gaming laptop, you really do need to give AMD’s offerings some serious consideration.

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Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: Price and competition

Configuration tested: 16in 1,920 x 1,200 240Hz IPS non-touchscreen, AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU, AMD Radeon RX 7600S GPU 8GB vRAM, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage. Price when reviewed: £1,329


The A16 is available in two basic forms, but both are built around the same AMD discrete GPU: the 95W AMD Radeon RX 7600S. The cheaper model comes with the Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU, a 1,920 x 1,200 165Hz display and a 512GB SSD. It’s yours for £1,200.

The more expensive version has a Ryzen 9 7940HS processor, a 2,560 x 1,600 240Hz panel and a 1TB SSD, and costs £1,400. Asus also lists a model with the 120W RX 7700S GPU, but there’s no news on that being sold in the UK.

Gaming performance should be broadly similar for these two models, given the identical GPU and the small differences between the CPUs. Both are 8-core/16-thread components, with the Ryzen 9 running a faster maximum boost at 5.2GHz versus the Ryzen 7’s 4.7GHz.

Our favourite cheap gaming laptop here at Expert Reviews is the Medion Erazer Crawler E40. For just £800 (note the price does fluctuate, rising to around £1,000 periodically), you get a good 144Hz screen and decent speakers, solid 1080p gaming performance from the 100W Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU and a rather fine keyboard. There’s no space for extra storage, but you can add additional RAM. It is ridiculously good value.

If you can live with an old-school 15.6in 16:9 144Hz display, then the Asus TUF A15 has much to recommend it, especially at the current price of £957. Gaming performance from the 140W RTX 4060 GPU is strong and, just like the A16, it has a great keyboard. Battery life is strong, too.

Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: Design and build quality

The A16 is a thoroughly modern piece of design: very angular, with a display that takes up over 90% of the device’s footprint. The lid and the main body are made from plastic, but it still feels sturdy and solid. There’s a wide plastic lip on the top of the lid which makes opening the A16 with one hand a cinch.

At 2.2kg and 355 x 252 x 26.8mm (WDH) it’s reasonably light and compact for a 16in gaming laptop. And you can have it in two colours: black and sandstone, the latter giving off stylish Alienware vibes. My review machine had the Sandstone base but a silver lid, a combination that didn’t seem to be available anywhere at the time of writing.

Like all Asus TUF machines, the A16 is pretty rugged, and it can successfully survive what Asus describes as a “rigorous battery” of MIL-STD-810H endurance tests.

It can be upgraded easily, too. Removing the base is a simple job and, once inside, you can boost both the RAM and SSD storage via a pair SODIMM slots and two M.2 2280 mounts. Asus says 2TB of storage and 32GB of RAM are the maximum the system can accept.

Elsewhere, it’s slightly less practical. The layout of the I/O ports, for instance, is not the most balanced, with everything located on the left edge, apart from a single USB-A port. The left side is all the more cramped because the ports and DC-input jack are located toward the front. That’s far from ideal for left-handed mouse users.

And wireless communications are, disappointingly, handled by a Realtek 8852BE card, which doesn’t support the 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E protocol.

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Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam

The keyboard is a typically comprehensive Asus TUF affair, complete with a full numeric keypad and a one-tone white backlight. The keycap graphics are typically stylised but still clearly legible.

The keys have 1.7mm of travel and a crisp and precise action with a positive end stop, making them as good for gaming as any non-mechanical keyboard can be. Asus’ placement of the volume, microphone mute and Armoury Crate buttons in a separate row above the Fn keys is a handy design touch, but I would have liked the “power mode” button to be alongside them.

The plastic touchpad isn’t the biggest I’ve ever encountered at 77 x 130mm, but it does its job perfectly well. The corner-click action is well calibrated and, like the rest of the keyboard, it’s pretty quiet.

Sadly the webcam is a poor-quality 720p affair. It’s noisy, drab and dim, and doesn’t even support Windows Hello facial recognition, which is all the more disappointing because there’s no fingerprint scanner. Biometric security should be standard on laptops costing this much.

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Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: Display and audio

There’s much to like about the TUF Gaming A16’s 16in 16:10 240Hz IPS display. Motion handling is truly top-notch with hardly any ghosting or smearing, and there’s baked-in support for AMD’s FreeSync Premium adaptive sync.

It’s also bright, maxing out at 480cd/m2, and it can reproduce 100.3% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, ensuring a greater depth of colour than your usual budget gaming machine. Black luminescence is a rather high 0.39cd/m2 when the screen is at maximum brightness, but thanks to that high brightness level, you still get a contrast ratio of 1,209:1.

There’s no HDR support but, given this is a basic IPS screen without a trick Mini LED backlight, that shouldn’t come as a shock. Colour accuracy isn’t wonderful, either, with an average Delta E colour variance of 2.56, but that’s still below the magic number 3, beneath which you won’t notice much of a difference with the naked eye.

The display can be connected directly to the GPU thanks to a MUX switch, accessible through the Armory Crate app, but it’s easier just to let AMD’s SmartAccess Graphics feature handle that side of things. This works automatically, much like Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus feature, complete with a slightly annoying pause as it switches between GPUs.

The speakers, meanwhile, deliver a solid, if rather unexceptional, performance. Maximum volume from a pink noise source at 1m was a perfectly acceptable 73.3dB(A), and the soundscape is detailed and expansive, but a little more bass wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: Performance and battery life

The TUF Gaming A16 scored 361 in our standard 4K multimedia benchmark, which puts it on a par with the likes of the Acer Nitro 17 (which scored 352) and Asus TUF 15 (306).

The potency of the Ryzen 9 CPU was also demonstrated by very good Cinebench R23 scores. It delivered 16,939 in the multicore element of the test, comfortably ahead of the 15,624 scored by the Intel Core i5-13500H-powered Nitro 17. Some of that impressive performance is, no doubt, down to AMD’s Smart Access Memory system, which allows the CPU access to the entire 8GB of video RAM if it needs it.

I couldn’t use our standard The Wolfenstein: Youngblood Riverside benchmark as a comparative test because it uses Nvidia’s Ray Tracing API rather than Microsoft’s DXR. But, for the record, the A16 ran the Riverside benchmark at an average of 99fps at the highest (Mein Leben!) detail settings and 2,560 x 1,600 and 156fps at 1,920 x 1,080.

The Metro Exodus benchmark ran at 71fps on the lowest (High) detail settings with ray tracing set to normal and at a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. At 2,560 x 1,600, that number dropped to 45fps.

The laptop ran Returnal at 57fps in 1080p, with the highest detail settings and ray tracing enabled. That rose to 89fps with AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 2 upscaling set to balanced. Upping the resolution to 2,560 x 1,600 saw the results drop to 35fps and 65fps respectively.

On the subject of upscaling, AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 3 has now launched, which offers similar performance gains to Nvidia’s DLSS3. Game support is a little thin on the ground right now, with only Forspoken and Immortals of Aveum supported at the time of writing, but that list should grow longer very soon and will include Cyberpunk 2077.

Running the demanding Forspoken benchmark at 1,920 x 1,200 on the Standard detail preset with ray tracing enabled, the A16 delivered an average 54fps. However, with FSR3 and Frame Generation switched on, that jumped to a towering 139fps (or 79fps without Frame Generation).

I would call those a good set of scores for a machine with a price of £1,399. Moreover, the A16 delivers its performance without much fuss. The two fans aren’t overly loud even when running flat out in Turbo mode, and after a prolonged stress test, with the GPU showing an internal temperature of 78°C, the exterior never got warmer than 49°C. Most of the keyboard deck didn’t rise above 35°C.

ASUS TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition (FA617XS) review - storage performanceFinally, the 1TB Micron SSD in my review machine did a solid job returning sequential read and write speeds of 3,940MB/sec and 2,201MB/sec, while battery life was surprisingly decent.

ASUS TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition (FA617XS) review - battery lifeThe 90Wh battery inside the A16 keeps the lights on for 8hrs 34mins in our standard video rundown test, which involves looping an SD video in VLC with screen brightness set to 170cd/m2.

Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition review: Verdict

It’s the sign of a good laptop that you struggle to come up with much in the way of negative comments, and when you do they are all frankly pretty minor.

So it is with the Asus TUF Gaming A16 Advantage Edition. The display is excellent, it’s easy to upgrade, the keyboard is good and battery life surpasses expectations.

Of course, this is primarily a gaming machine, so it’s gaming performance we must judge it by, but here, too, the TUF A16 needs no excuses made for it. All told, this is one of the most balanced gaming laptop packages you can get for under £1,500. It’s a fantastic gaming machine.

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