Creating an affordable gaming laptop is all about knowing where to compromise, and Asus seems to have absolutely nailed it with the latest TUF FX505DV notebook. Coming in at just over a grand it’s by no means a ‘cheap’ gaming laptop, but compared to the $2,000 – $3,000 rigs that normally turn up sporting Nvidia RTX graphics, this machine comes as a welcome relief.
That’s because it has been designed first and foremost as a portable gaming rig, not a machine that can double as an office notebook during the day, or one that will allow you to also use it like some sort of rendering workstation workhorse. The combination of AMD APU and Nvidia GPU provides the gaming oomph while being a little more wallet-friendly than the latest 9th Gen Intel mobile processors are able to offer.
But you’re not missing out on some gaming luxuries either. You want RGB lighting? We’ve got RGB lighting. You want a super-slick screen? We’ve got one. You want an NVMe SSD? We’ve got the NAND for you too.
So yes, the Asus TUF FX505DV has got the lot, and the only sacrifices you’re going to have to make show the notebook manufacturer making smart decisions where it’s had to make compromises. And that’s all you can ask. Okay, I’d maybe ask Asus to change the TUF moniker, because neither ‘The Ultimate Force’ nor TUF (tough, geddit?) really work for me.
In terms of the overall spec you’re looking at a list with a whole lot of positive checkmarks against the goods. Top of said list is that Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU. Now, the RTX 2060 is the bottom rung of the RTX Turing ladder, but it’s still a quality graphics chip, and that is made doubly obvious when paired with a 1080p screen.
|Asus TUF FX505DV|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 3750H|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 2060 6GB|
|Storage||512GB Intel 660p SSD|
|Screen resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Price||$1,180 | £1,115|
With it you get 1,920 CUDA cores across 30 SMs, and 6GB of GDDR6 memory running on an aggregate 192-bit memory bus. Just like it’s big desktop brethren. It’s essentially the same GPU, except that it’s been clocked down to cope with the thermal and power restrictions inherent with going mobile.
And with its RTX prefix that means you also get a key to the executive bathroom of ray tracing. At 1080p with DXR and DLSS enabled you’re able to get some decent ray traced performance on the move. For a short time. Running the GPU at max speed away from the plug is seriously going to drain your battery.
But that’s not the only GPU at play here because the Asus TUF FX505DV is also rocking AMD Vega graphics too. The AMD Ryzen 7 3750H APU comes with a Vega 10 GPU, which in mobile form means it’s got 10 compute units and 640 GCN cores. Honestly that’s not really going to come into play when you’re gaming – the GeForce GPU is your guy there, buddy – but it keeps things ticking over quietly on the desktop when you’re not doing anything GPU intensive.
Aside from the GPU component, the 3750H is also rocking four last-gen Ryzen cores for a total of eight CPU threads. So yeah, don’t be fooled by that Ryzen 3000 nomenclature, this is no 7nm Zen 2 chip. This is still the same 12nm Zen+ design, but that’s no bad thing except maybe on the efficiency front. It has a nominal 2.3GHz base clock speed, but comfortably clocks up 3.7GHz under all-core load, and will hit its rated 4GHz boost when a single core is being taxed.
Keeping all that honest is 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 1,866MHz, with a 512GB Intel 660p SSD looking after all your game library needs. It’s a moderately speedy SSD, but not necessarily at the front of the line when it comes to overall read/write performance. Still, it’s a hell of a lot faster than a hard drive or even a SATA SSD.
Asus has also kitted out the TUF FX505DV with a 120Hz 1080p panel too. High refresh rate screens are still a luxury, but something I struggle to do without on a day-to-day basis. It’s not a perfect display, however. It’s not that bright, the white saturation is pretty poor, and the black levels are a bit of a struggle too. But it has a smooth gradient between colour shades, the viewing angles are pretty good, and shows decent contrast levels too.
But what of performance? Inevitably when compared with a six-core Intel CPU it scores way down on the processor benchmarks, but as we’ve been saying, this isn’t a machine designed to chomp through calculations of an afternoon. It’s about gaming and on that front it does rather well.
On Ultra settings Far Cry: New Dawn just misses out on hitting the 60fps mark on average, and at max settings, and with ray tracing set to high, Metro Exodus still managed a very healthy 45fps on average. It does drop to 25fps as a minimum, so it’s not exactly a 100% smooth gaming experience on the highest in-game settings.
So, where is this compromise of which I speak? It’s in the actual laptop part of the machine, the actual chassis et al. All the internal gubbins marry together incredibly well – apart from Far Cry getting a little confused and initially booting on the paltry Vega graphics – and the screen is pretty decent too. But that plastic chassis, middling trackpad, and bouncy keyboard are less inspiring.
None of them are bad but they just lack the feeling of robust quality you’ll get from one of the higher-spec – and therefore more expensive – Asus STRIX laptops. Though honestly, that’s exactly where I’d be happy making the sacrifice. The feel of the keyboard doesn’t distract you when you’re gaming and, unless you’re a total masochist, you’re going to be plugging a mouse in and eschewing the trackpad most of the time too.
But battery life is pretty miserly too. This isn’t really a gaming laptop you’re going to want to pull away from the plug socket as even with BatteryBoost enabled you’re looking at just over an hour of solid 30fps-max gaming. It can also get rather loud. That plastic frame doesn’t hide the sins of the thermals, so while it can operate relatively at a relatively chilled level it does have to shout about it.
Again, though in aiming for this price point that’s exactly where I’d want Asus to make its compromises. The essential gaming experience is taken care of by the TUF FX505DV, and that’s what we really care about.