Slim gaming notebooks are an entire subgenre nowadays and the latest one to hit the market is the Asus TUF Dash F15. Weighing just 2kg and coming in at under 20mm, the F15 definitely fits the bill. It is also marketed under Asus' TUF Gaming branding, and is said to be a durable notebook that can take its share of knocks. My review set comes with Intel's newly-launched 11th-gen H-series processor and a budget-friendly Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics chip. Announced in May, this new chip sits below the mid-range RTX 3060, and has fewer processing cores. What this means is that you'll have to lower your expectations (and your graphics settings). If you do need more graphical horsepower, Asus does offer the F15 with the higher-end RTX 3070.
- 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), 144Hz display
- Intel Core i7-11370H with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics
- Thunderbolt 4, 3x USB Type-A, Ethernet, HDMI
Asus says that for the F15 laptop to earn its TUF badge, it has to survive military-spec tests such as drops, vibrations, and extreme temperatures. I wasn't going to drop a S$2,000 notebook, so you'll have to take Asus' word for it. However, I must say that the F15's slim chassis feels sturdy without much flex. It also looks restrained compared to other gaming notebooks. There are no decorative LEDs — the only ones are the keyboard LEDs, which come in a single, Matrix-like green colour. Only three LED effects (Basic, Breathing and Strobing) are available. You can easily cycle through these effects with the Function key marked Aura. The keyboard has no numberpad, but offers decent key travel. It's not clicky enough for me, though.
There are pleasingly slim bezels on three sides around its 15.6-inch matte screen, which looks colourful and non-reflective. But Asus has ditched the Web camera like it did with the ROG Strix Scar 15. I feel this is a bad call — a relatively slim and discreet-looking laptop like the F15 is suitable for work, and having a Web camera is essential for this. And while the display's 144Hz refresh rate is decent enough for gaming, it lacks Nvidia G-Sync support for a smoother gaming experience without any screen tearing. Unlike many of its similarly-priced rivals, the F15 has a Thunderbolt 4 port, so you can easily output the video to newer USB-C monitors. There's also three USB Type-A ports, as well as Ethernet and HDMI, despite the slim chassis.
The RTX 3050 Ti is a fair bit slower than the RTX 3060, even with the F15 set to its fastest Turbo preset. It produced around 40fps at Ultra setting at 1080p in Metro Exodus. In comparison, the Acer Nitro 5 (powered by the RTX 3060) managed 53fps. The Asus laptop was just about playable at 31fps in Watch Dogs: Legion (set at High), though this result was lower than the Acer (44fps). Predictably, the notebook's bottom gets very warm during gaming, while the fans become rather loud. But what's important here is that the heat emitting from the keyboard remains tolerable.
The Asus TUF Dash F15 is well-built, which puts it a notch higher than most gaming notebooks in its price range. But expect to adjust the settings to medium or lower for most games if you opt for the RTX 3050 Ti. You should be fine if less graphically demanding esports titles are your thing. My S$2,198 review set is exclusive to the Asus Store. But you can find an even more affordable version (with RTX 3050 instead) on Lazada for S$1,998. Conversely, the F15 with an RTX 3070 graphics chip is also available on Shopee at S$2,799.
Note: Review unit provided by Asus.
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