A winning combo of the CPU you need and the GPU you want makes the TUF A15 the best affordable RTX 40-series laptop
- Good value
- Impressive battery life
- Strong gaming performance
- No biometric security
- 13th Gen Intel CPUs are more powerful
It’s no secret that the new generation of Nvidia RTX40-series and Intel Raptor Lake laptops are rather expensive. But while paying a premium for a GPU that can run very demanding AAA titles at high refresh rates is one thing, paying for CPU performance that you arguably don’t need is quite another.
Asus is pitching its new TUF A15 at gamers who really don’t need or want the levels of fire-breathing CPU performance that the latest 13th Gen Intel chips deliver and would rather spend their money on a laptop that favours gaming performance and battery life.
Asus TUF A15 review: What you need to know
The company has done this by pairing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU (with a 140W TGP and 8GB of vRAM) with a mid-level 8-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU. The latter was released in January 2023 and is built using the 7nm lithography process rather than the less-efficient 10nm process used by Intel for its 12th and 13th generation processors.
The end result is an affordable GeForce RTX 40-series laptop that delivers impressive gaming frame rates while at the same time offering CPU performance that’s more than adequate for most users. This may just be the most cunning idea by a laptop maker in the RTX 40-series era.
Asus TUF A15 review: Price and competition
Configuration tested – FA507NV: AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU, Nvidia RTX4060 140W GPU, 16GB RAM, 8GB vRAM, 512GB SSD, 15.6in, 144Hz, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS non-touchscreen; Price: £1,149
Asus lists four models in its latest TUF A15 range refresh. Three of these come with an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU at the helm, while the fourth uses a Ryzen 7 7735HS. You can accompany the Ryzen 9 chip with either a RTX 4050, 4060 or 4070 GPU while the Ryzen 7 model only comes with the RTX 4060.
The most obvious comparable model I’ve tested recently is the MSI Katana 15, which has a less powerful RTX 4050 GPU but a more potent CPU in the form of the Intel Core i7-13620H. I found it to be a generally likeable and capable machine let down by a poor screen and shockingly bad battery life.
If you want state-of-the-art gaming, the new Asus ROG Scar Strix 16 is the obvious choice but you’ll need to sell your firstborn and a major organ to afford one. Performance is epic, and the Mini-LED display is a stunner that delivers great HDR performance. It costs £3,399, though, so is quite a step up.
If you’re not too fussed about DLSS 3 support (one of the RTX 40-series’ key attractions), the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i has a lot to recommend it, including a very good display, excellent battery life and a punchy RTX 3070 GPU. It’s more expensive than the TUF at £1,799 but it is a great all-rounder.
Acer’s Nitro 5 is another perennial favourite when it comes to affordable gaming and the AN515-58 model offers a fast 165Hz Full HD display and an RTX 3070 Ti GPU with 8GB of vRAM for £1,300. It’s a very appealing package and one of our favourite mid-price gaming laptops.
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Asus TUF A15 review: Design and build quality
Externally, the latest Asus TUF A15 looks a lot like the, now largely unavailable, 2022 model. That means it sticks with the 15.6in 16:9 display type rather than adopting a 16in 16:10 panel, as is becoming all the rage these days.
Asus says the new model is 4.5% smaller and has a keyboard that’s been redesigned “with a strong nod to the aesthetics of mecha anime”. Looking at the photographs of the 2022 model alongside the new, however, I genuinely can’t tell the two apart and according to Asus’ spec sheets, they are exactly the same size and weight at 354 x 251 x 25mm (WDH) and 2.2kg.
Just like the 2022 model, the new A15 packs a strong selection of physical ports with four USB in total (two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 and one USB-C 4.0), an HDMI 2.1 video output, an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm audio jack. I do take issue with the positioning, though, because all of these, except for one of the USB-A ports, are on the left side, which can lead to serious cable congestion.
The A15 deserves its TUF moniker thanks to meeting the US military’s MIL-STD-810H requirements for resistance to shock, vibration and particle ingress, making it one of the tougher gaming laptops knocking around. It certainly feels solid enough, with only a small amount of give in the centre of the keyboard and some fairly minor levels of wobble in the lid when you give it a good, hard twist.
Fitting the A15 with a measly 512GB SSD is, I think, taking money-saving too far. With a large number of games now coming in at 50GB, 60GB or 70GB you can fill 512GB in very short order and, in my opinion, 1TB should be the absolute minimum for a gaming laptop. The Micron SSD that came fitted to my review unit wasn’t the fastest I’ve come across either, returning pedestrian read and write speeds of 3,290MB/sec and 1,195MB/sec respectively.
Luckily, you can easily whip the base panel off and swap out the supplied SSD as well as add a second one and access the two SODIMM memory chip slots.
Efforts to reduce costs are also noticeable in the networking kit because you only get support for 5GHz Wi-Fi 6 rather than 6GHz 6E and the RealTek Ethernet connectivity is 1Gbit/sec rather than 2.5Gbits/sec.
Asus TUF A15 review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam
I’ve always liked the keyboards on Asus TUF laptops and I’ve no reason to change my view with this model. The numeric keypad may be made up of reduced-width keys and the cursor keys may be half-height but, considering this is only a 15in machine, I’ll let that slide.
The keys themselves have 1.7mm of travel and a clean, precise and quiet action, making them as good for gaming as any non-mechanical keyboard can be. And Asus’ placement of the volume, mic mute, Armoury Crate and power mode buttons in a separate row above the Fn keys underlines Asus’ fundamental understanding of what makes a good gaming laptop keyboard.
The touchpad is decent, too. At 77 x 130mm it isn’t the biggest you’ll ever see but it does its job perfectly well; the corner-click action is well calibrated and, like the keyboard, it is quiet.
The keyboard backlight is fairly basic, meaning that, while each key has an individual RGB LED behind it, you can only set the entire thing to glow one colour or to display RGB-based pulse or wave effects across the entire keyboard deck. Asus limits per-key RGB control to its more exotic ROG machines.
As for the webcam, it’s a grotty 720p affair with little merit; it doesn’t even support Windows Hello facial recognition. That in and of itself isn’t a huge problem but it does mean that because there’s also no fingerprint scanner, you’re reduced to typing in a PIN like a barbarian when logging in. The fact that biometric security is so rare on gaming laptops costing well over £1,000 is ridiculous.
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Asus TUF A15 (2023) review: Display and audio
The two UK models make do with a basic 1,920 x 1,080 144Hz IPS panel. The two models we don’t get here in the UK have a 2,560 x 1,440 165Hz panel. That’s rather annoying but not a first for Asus, whose global availability schedule has baffled better men than I.
That said, the basic screen isn’t too bad, with decent colour reproduction and accuracy. With 92.8% of the sRGB gamut on hand, there’s plenty of colour and even the DCI-P3 and AdobeRGB coverage isn’t disastrous at 69.4% and 66.8% respectively. That’s almost twice what I recorded from the MSI Katana 15’s drab display.
In Armoury Crate there’s no gamut-specific mode to choose, just the usual Vivid, Standard, Cinema and FPS, but measuring the Standard profile against sRGB produced an average Delta E colour variation of just 1.75, which is a very respectable result for an affordable gaming laptop.
Maximum brightness could be higher at 322cd/m², but the black luminance level is not too bad at 0.3cd/m², which gives the screen a solid contrast ratio of 1,062:1.
I was quite impressed that the new A15 not only comes with a MUX switch and full G-Sync support but also Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus tech. The latter is basically an automated MUX switch that doesn’t involve a reboot. You still have to live with the annoying freeze that accompanies Advanced Optimus switching between GPUs, however, and while this isn’t an issue when exiting a game and firing up Netflix, if you’re constantly bouncing between apps that do and don’t require the discrete GPU it can become irritating.
Asus makes no claim about the power output of the two Dolby Atmos-equipped speakers buried inside the A15 but they certainly don’t lack for volume, producing a consistent 73.5dBA at a 1m distance. They don’t sound bad, either, generating a firm if rather aggressive soundscape with a decent amount of bass and plenty of space and detail. They suit gaming perfectly but have enough fidelity to do justice to music and soundtracks as well.
Asus TUF A15 (2023) review: Performance and battery life
Look at the non-gaming benchmarks and you’ll be somewhat disappointed by the A15’s efforts, but cast your eye over the results of the gaming tests and you’ll be rather more impressed.
First, I ran the Metro Exodus and Cyberpunk 2077 benchmarks with all settings maxed out and DLSS set to Balanced. That produced scores of 57.7fps and 62.7fps respectively, while the Hitman 2 test came in at 62.2fps. Turning to a less demanding title, the Wolfenstein: Youngblood benchmark ran at 118fps at maximum settings without DLSS and 143fps with DLSS again set to Balanced. All those tests were run with ray tracing at the most intense setting.
Putting the GPU to more productive use, the SPECviewperf 3ds max 3D modelling benchmark ran at an average of 90fps, which is faster than I’ve seen from any laptop costing a similar amount.
Those are very strong results for a laptop that costs less than £1,200 and broadly in line with what I would expect to see from an RTX 3070Ti-based 2022 system. Of course, that GPU doesn’t support Nvidia’s new DLSS 3 upscaling sorcery, which has a dramatic effect on frame rates: Forza Horizon 5 ran at 95fps on the A15 without DLSS 3 and Frame Generation enabled but at 142fps with it switched on; again at the highest detail settings.
In Expert Reviews’ 4K multimedia test the A15 scored a rather lowly 306, a reflection of the fact that the octa-core AMD Ryzen 7 CPU simply doesn’t have the grunt of the latest Intel 13th Gen Core i7 and Core i9 processors.
Of course, these things are all relative and that score of 306 doesn’t mean that the A15 is a slow laptop. The multicore Geekbench 5 and CineBench R23 scores of 9,542 and 13,906 respectively are nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s only in really CPU-intensive apps such as Adobe Illustrator that you’ll notice the absence of the raw power of the latest Intel silicon.
In our standard video rundown test, meanwhile, the Asus TUF A15’s 90Wh battery lasted 9hrs 44mins, which is impressively close to the best-in-class Lenovo Legion Slim 7i, at 10hrs 10mins.
One final word on battery life. The Ryzen 7 7735HS is partnered with one of the most powerful integrated GPUs on the market, the Radeon 680M, so if you choose to cut the discrete Nvidia GPU out of the picture to maximise battery life you get better graphics performance than you would from an Intel chip with Iris Xe integrated graphics.
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Asus TUF A15 (2023) review: Verdict
It’s taken less time than I feared for a desirable and affordable RTX 40-series gaming laptop to materialise, but the Asus TUF A15 is very much both of those things. While its Ryzen 7 CPU looks a little gutless on paper, unless you plan on running very specific CPU-intensive software you really won’t notice it when push comes to shove.
On the flip side, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU ensures gaming performance is very impressive and considerably better than the old RTX 3060, and that’s before you factor in the benefits of DLSS 3. Add to that the ever-appealing TUF design and build quality, decent display and solid sound system and for the price you can’t really ask for more.