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Asus TUF Dash F15 review: Portable game-machine that carves out its own niche

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It’s 2021 and gaming laptops are everywhere. The performance-oriented yet portable machines are now targeting spaces beyond just pure gaming. Hence, you have gaming laptops that are thin and light, gaming laptops that look beautiful, not chunky and those that are aimed at casual gamers as well.

The Asus TUF Dash F15 that I got for review aims to be all of those three things. It blends the performance and features of a gaming laptop along with the looks and weight of a sleek, light machine that you can carry around. But does that make this a good overall device? Read on to find out. But before that, here’s a quick look at the specifications.

Asus TUF Dash F15 Specs: Intel 11th Gen TGL-H35 i7-11370H | RTX3070 (TGP + Dynamic Boost) (80+5) W | 15.6-inch FHD IPS panel | 8GB DDR4 RAM, SO-DIMM support up to 32GB | M.2 2230 PCIe SSD 1TB | Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX + BT 5.2 | 76WHr battery

Design, Display and Build quality

Asus TUF Dash F15 is a beautiful machine, especially in the white variant. From the thin bezels on the screen to the aesthetics of the chassis, keyboard and trackpad, every inch of this machine is made to look elegant yet cool to both gamers as well as casual users.

Asus TUF Dash F15 review, Asus TUF Dash F15, Asus Laptop, The Asus TUF Dash F15 features a relatively slim body for a gaming laptop with rugged build quality and military durability. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

At 2 kgs, the laptop is not the lightest when you look at the thin & light segment, but it isn’t as heavy as conventional gaming laptops as well. This lets you carry it around fairly easily. The dimensions here are 360 x 252 x 19.9mm, which are pretty compact for a machine dedicated at gaming.

It has a brilliant 15.6-inch FHD IPS display panel with great viewing angles, adaptive sync and 240Hz refresh rate for a smooth experience across work and plays. It is also pretty rugged with the build and every part of the laptop is rock solid to the touch. There is no creakiness in the buttons and good tension on the hinge. 

Asus has also implemented its signature weight distribution that we have seen across many ZenBook devices along with rubberised platforms on the bottom that keeps the laptop firmly in place and lets users open the screen of the Dash F15 with just one finger.

Connectivity and Keyboard

It comes with a number of input and output ports that should be more than sufficient for the users the brand is targeting. Apart from the 3 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A slots, HDMI 2.0 port, 3.5mm headphone port, RJ45 port and a Kensington lock, we also have a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port that supports USB 4.0, Power Delivery 3.0 for charging as well as Display port 1.4a. All the ports are on the sides.

The keyboard has a well laid out set of keys that have a single backlight that comes in three brightness levels. The greenish teal colour of the backlight looks great at night, but if you’re using this machine during the day on the white variant, you might want to turn this off.

Asus TUF Dash F15 review, Asus TUF Dash F15, Asus Laptop, The Asus TUF Dash F15 features a single backlit keyboard with special transparent keys for the WASD movement buttons for gamers. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The WASD keys are also transparent for gamers and they look beautiful when lit up. Key travel distance is great at 1.7mm for a laptop of this dimension. There is also a dedicated section of four hotkeys that let you quickly toggle the volume, mute yourself in games and open up the Armoury Crate software.

Performance

The performance bit is where things start getting tricky for the Asus TUF Dash F15. Keeping benchmarks aside, the simplest way to explain who will and will not be pleased by the performance here would be by presenting three scenarios that define the laptop and its real-life capabilities. 

For hardcore gaming: If you are buying this laptop for pure gaming needs, you may not be very satisfied with the performance factor here. The overall numbers dished out by the combination of an Intel 11th Gen TGL-H35 i7-11370H and a GeForce RTX 3070 at 80W+5W(Dynamic boost) are by no means bad. However, the quad-core processor and lower TDP (Thermal Design Power) will mean you are not getting the absolute best bang for buck with the Dash F15 when it comes to sheer performance.

For performance in a thin and light form factor: Looking at another scenario, let’s say you’re not into ‘gaming’ gaming. You do occasionally play a few favourite titles, but your primary purpose of getting a laptop is portable performance, which you would use for office, while using programs like Premiere Pro, Illustrator or Photoshop. 

Asus TUF Dash F15 review, Asus TUF Dash F15, Asus Laptop, On this variant of the Asus TUF Dash F15, you get a 240Hz refresh rate screen. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

In this case, the Asus Dash F15 has all the performance you need and more to keep you going. However, you end up paying a lot more money here than you need to, largely for gaming-specific features that you may not find very useful, even missing out on a fundamental element like the webcam.

For moderate gaming + work performance: A third scenario is where you need a gaming device that gives above-average performance for you to enjoy the latest titles, but you’re okay with not getting the absolute best possible gaming performance at this price, if your machine has a much more portable form factor that you can carry around quite easily. This includes carrying it to work, where your laptop has enough can breeze through resource-heavy programs. Here, the Asus TUF Dash F15 may just be what you need.

Battery Life

The TUF Dash F15 is great with battery life and with non-gaming use, you can manage up to 7 hours of battery life. Asus claims that simply watching media can get you about 16 hours of battery life as well. However, with heavy gaming, expect the battery to deplete in about 1-1.5 hours.

That will not be a problem though, as if you want to make the most of this machine’s gaming performance, you’d run it in ‘Turbo’ mode while keeping it plugged. Thankfully the laptop also comes with a pretty compact charging adapter for a gaming machine and also supports Power Delivery 3.0 via its Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port.

Verdict: Is the Asus TUF Dash F15 for you?

The Asus TUF Dash F15 is a heavy performance-oriented device, but not the best pure gaming laptop you can get at the moment. Its USP may be the GTX 30 series GPU, but the graphics performance is bottlenecked by the quad-core processing power and gamers will not be able to make the most of the GTX 3070 or 3060. For that level of gaming, you have better options to choose from, including some great Asus machines, especially from its dedicated gaming ROG lineup.

The Dash F15 is a great laptop with a good balance between performance and portability, for what I think is a small target group of people, which makes this a hard recommendation for the masses. This is further aggravated by the lack of a webcam, a fundamental necessity for a working professional during the pandemic years. However, if you do fall in that third space and want a machine that aims to be the second-best at both performance and portability, the Dash F15 is a great buy. 

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