Gaming

Asus TUF Gaming F15 Review

The Asus TUF Gaming F15 has huge expectations to live up to.

The TUF series of laptops is a regular on our best budget gaming laptop list – and 2023’s batch is the first with a 4000-series Nvidia graphics card. That means they’re the first with Frame Generation, the name for Nvidia’s bleeding-edge AI tech that fills the gaps between frames, making games run smoother. I’ve tested it on other budget laptops, such as the Gigabyte G5, and think it’s a revelation, letting me run AAA games on max settings.

This laptop should, therefore, be a big step up in gaming performance from previous TUF models – and the juicy specs suggest it should also outstrip other 4000-series laptops we’ve tested, such as the impressive Gigabyte G5. Thankfully, it fully delivers on that promise. It’s not faultless – no budget gaming laptop is – but it delivers the kind of gaming performance that, even two years ago, would’ve seemed impossible from an $1,100/£1,000 machine.

Asus TUF F15 (2023) – Design and Features

The metallic body feels sturdy and heavy, capable of brushing off the day-to-day bumps of going in and out of a backpack, or moving between rooms at home. The display panel flexes very little when you try to twist it, the hinges feel rigid, and the keyboard panel stands up to a good, firm push. I’ve only spent a month or so with it, but it feels like the hardiest budget laptop I’ve ever tried.

That robust body makes it heavier than most other laptops at 2.2kg (just shy of 5lbs), so if you need something ultra-portable, look elsewhere. But that’s not outlandishly heavy for a gaming machine, and it was never uncomfortable to carry by hand or in a bag.

It’s also one of the better-looking budget gaming machines. The lid has an embossed TUF logo, dimples in the corners, and a cutaway section so that you can see four indicator lights (power on/off, charging, hard-drive access, and airplane mode) when it’s closed. It’s not flashy or obnoxious, and doesn’t look out of place in a shared office or a cafe – but the subtle accents make it feel special.

It’s practical, too: the lid has a handy flap that protrudes past the bottom of the laptop when it’s closed, which you can grab to open it without clawing at the screen.

It is less sleek when you lift the lid. I like the semi-transparent WASD keys, but the cutaway section on the lid makes the hinges look a bit awkward – and the “CAUTION: HIGH FRAMERATE ZONE” all-caps label below the keyboard made me feel self conscious in public.

The layout of the keyboard is more thoughtful, and Asus has crammed lots of keys into a small space without it feeling crowded. You get a full set of function keys, including one to toggle between performance modes, two to brighten or dim the keyboard backlight, and a handy one for taking a custom screenshot at any time.

You also get a full number pad – something lacking in some laptops of this size – and easy-access volume controls above the main keyboard area. It’s an intuitive layout and took almost no time to get used to.

The key presses are a slither too soft and shallow for my liking – I prefer a bit more resistance and depth. But it’s by no means bad to use: I could comfortably type for hours on it, and I never felt like the keyboard was getting in my way in frantic in-game firefights.

It has all the ports you’d expect on a gaming machine: two USB-A ports, a HDMI port, a headphone jack, a USB-C port and a Thunderbolt 4 port, which can charge the laptop at up to 100 watts. That’s handy if you want to leave the house without the power brick – my Steam Deck charger, for example, kept the laptop’s battery ticking upwards even when I was using the screen.

My one gripe with the port layout – and it’s minor – is that the charger plugs in halfway down the left edge of the laptop. The lead was always trailing across my desk. It’s particularly awkward if you’re a left-hander, because your mouse mat will likely sit near where the charger plugs in. I look forward to a future when all chargers slot directly into the back of laptops.

Asus TUF F15 (2023) – Display & speakers

The 1080p display does exactly what you’d expect at this price from Asus: it’s a bright, vibrant IPS panel that doesn’t blow you away. Colorful games such as Jusant pop off the screen, while moody games like Alan Wake 2 feel dark and foreboding. The 144Hz refresh rate combined with G-Sync made every game I tested smooth and responsive.

At this price, you are always making trade-offs. If you’re used to mid-to-high range laptops, the screen won’t feel bright or colorful. It’s not usable in direct sunlight, and while the 75% Adobe RGB color coverage is good for gaming, it might fall short in heavy creative work.

The speakers are decent at medium volumes when you’re not blasting music: I watched videos, listened to podcasts, and played multiple games out loud without offending my ears. That doesn’t mean they sound crisp or deep – even cheaper gaming headsets sound better – but they’re okay in a pinch.

At louder volumes, they sound tinny and washed out, and the bass is virtually non-existent. But that’s what you expect in laptops around this price.

Asus TUF F15 (2023) – Software

The TUF F15 is thankfully free of bloatware, and comes with just two major pieces of software – MyAsus and Armoury Crate.

MyAsus is lightweight and not very useful, apart from toggling a “battery care mode” that stops your battery charging beyond 80%, to preserve it longer. I wish it was just built into Armoury Crate, which is far more comprehensive.

The main dashboard is a little overwhelming at first, but it’s a powerful tool once you get used to scrolling through it. Enthusiasts might enjoy digging into “manual” performance mode to minutely adjust GPU offsets, thermal targets, and fan speeds – it’s easy to use and more granular than other systems I’ve tried.

You can also fiddle with the CPU, disabling some of its P (performance) cores or E (efficient) cores. Asus has a page that explains succinctly why you might want to do that – either to save battery or to boost performance in a limited number of scenarios. Most people won’t use it, but it’s good to know it’s there.

You can also toggle between GPU modes, which can be really handy for saving battery. “Ultimate” forces the laptop to use the graphics card, rather than integrated graphics, at all times. I instead picked the recommended “Optimised” mode. This disables the graphics card when you unplug the charger – and when it’s plugged in, it only uses the graphics card for intensive tasks such as gaming.

This setting made a huge difference on battery tests – which I’ll touch on later. So too did “Panel Power Saver”, which is on by default and automatically limits the refresh rate when you unplug your charger.

Away from the main dashboard, however, the Armoury Crate is cumbersome and confusing. It has a needless news feed and a mysterious “featured” tab that kept failing to load. The built-in “Aurasync” would usually control your keyboard RGB lighting – but that instead directs you to another page where you can pick your colors and lighting modes. The keyboard still has a dedicated “aura” button, but it doesn’t actually work: every time you click it to toggle between lighting modes, it switches the color to red. Bizarre.

As laptop hubs go, it’s far from the worst I’ve tried – and I found myself returning to the central dashboard often to tinker with settings.

Asus TUF F15 (2023) – Performance and Gaming

I came in expecting the Asus TUF F15 to annihilate AAA games. I was not disappointed.

Its impressive performance is partly thanks to Frame Generation, a feature made possible by Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) AI tech. It creates new frames and inserts them between the frames you’d normally see, effectively boosting the frame rate

With Frame Generation turned on, this laptop rips through even the best-looking games. I hit a smooth 100 FPS in Cyberpunk 2077 at Ultra graphics settings, and topped 100 in both Forza Horizon 5 and Hitman 3. These are the kind of numbers that Frame Generation is making near-standard for newer budget machines. Some people have reported input lag when using it – but I’ve never felt any.

Of course, you can’t simply rely on AI tech for good performance. Some games will never support Frame Generation and you need a laptop that will play them, too.

Thankfully, the previous-generation i7-12700H CPU and the RTX 4060 are a heavy-lifting duo. I hit 100 FPS in Call of Duty: Warzone at high settings, and I could even play the recent Alan Wake 2 at 70 FPS without Frame Generation (albeit with other Nvidia AI tech enabled).

In Cyberpunk, without any Nvidia wizardry, I got around 45fps at the highest graphics setting. That might not sound incredible, but keep in mind this is a budget laptop playing one of the most demanding games of the past five years. Dialing a few settings down got me over 60 FPS.

What you’re getting here is a laptop that will play anything you throw at it, at high graphics settings, for years to come. It feels truly future-proof.

The numbers don’t lie: in performance testing, it scored high across the board. It fared better than the Gigabyte G5, which also has the 4060 graphics card, in every test, and scored roughly equal to the MSI Stealth 14 Studio (2023), a much more expensive machine.

Its improvement on the G5 is likely down to two things. First, the Gigabyte laptop limits graphics power to 75W – in Asus’ machine, it’s 140W, meaning you can squeeze more from the GPU.

Second, the i7 CPU trumps the Gigabyte’s i5 – it’s not the newest model, but it’s a good one, and can handle heavy multitasking. I could open dozens of Chrome tabs, download games, watch a video and analyze my storage drive simultaneously without it slowing down.

My one hardware concern is the capacity of the solid state drive, which was 512GB in the model I tested. Given the size of modern games, that’s quite limiting – install four big games and you’ll run out of space. It’s frustrating to have to juggle your downloads, although it should be said that it’s not unusual for laptops of this price.

If you have a bit more cash to spend you should opt for one of the more expensive – although still reasonably priced – configurations that has a 1TB SSD. You can alternatively pop open the laptop and install another SSD in a second slot, but that’s not a fix everyone will be comfortable trying.

Asus TUF F15 (2023) – Battery life

Battery life is solid – and even better if you use the right settings. Our standard battery test on PCMark10, which simulates regular usage at 50% brightness and automatic switching between GPU and integrated graphics, yielded an unspectacular 4 hours 49 minutes. That’s almost exactly the same as the Gigabyte G5, which has a smaller battery.

However, by following the suggested settings in Armory Core – which disables the GPU on battery power – and toggling the default “silent” fan mode I could get it to last for more than 10 hours in the same test, which is something the G5 can’t do.

Those settings are completely reasonable, and don’t throttle performance in the same way that a battery saver mode does. It’s now my default way of using the laptop.


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