Many of us have been lusting over gaming notebooks for years, but are unable to buy the devices due to the inaccessible pricing for even entry-level models. But things have changed over the course of a few months, especially during the pandemic, with gaming laptops emerging as big draws in the booming notebook segment. Now you can get value-focused but true gaming laptops with high-frame rates and a mid-tier Nvidia Geforce RTX GPU for under a lakh. Yes, they are still expensive but costs have come down drastically. Asus’ latest TUF Gaming F15 tries to be your everyday work machine but is designed for gaming at the core. I have been using the TUF Gaming F15 for days, and this is how I rate the mid-tier gaming notebook.
Asus TUF Gaming F15 (2021) notebook: Rs 144,990 as tested (models start at Rs 104,900)
I have always liked Asus’ TUF (“The Ultimate Force”) brand for its simplistic design and focus on performance over the glowing LEDs and edge externals. They don’t go with my personality, even if I am a gamer. Anyway, whether you like a design or not is a personal choice.
TUF Gaming F15 gives the vibe of gaming notebooks when I started my career as a tech journalist and began reviewing laptops. Old school yet modern and impressive to look at, the 2.3-kg device is light enough to carry around in a backpack but its dimensions are also thick.
It meets military spec MIL-STD durability standards but isn’t boring to look at. The laptop has hard edges and prominent TUF branding on the back, which looks really nice. The notebook comes in a grey finish, and the bottom case has a smooth, texture to the right and left of the keyboard as well as a honeycomb pattern at the bottom of the chassis.
The TUF Gaming F15 has just the right selection of ports too: three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, headset and Ethernet jacks, a full-size HDMI 2.0b video output (which is fine for 4K on an external monitor at 60Hz) and the Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 support, and a 720 webcam plus microphone.
The 15.6-inch screen uses an IPS panel, and while the 1080p display is quite rich and the 144Hz display with Adaptive Sync really does make playing games buttery smooth, it only covers about 60% of the sRGB space, rather than 100%. That means colors won’t be super accurate though the display gets the job done. I tried to play games sitting on my balcony on a rainy day and the display was bright enough. The notebook’s speakers are loud and clear but lack bass. I had no trouble using them for casual gaming or attending Zoom calls.
The RGB keyboard has good key travel and satisfying feedback. It has a familiar desktop-style layout with keys nicely spaced out. In my testing, I found that keys are nice and responsive without being too loud. The touchpad is fine for regular work and gaming, though I still prefer to use my trusty Logitech gaming mouse.
I am not a benchmark nerd, and I don’t really care about numbers that I cannot justify. What I care about is the performance of the notebook in the real world. Upon setting up the TUF Gaming F15 notebook, the first thing I did was open Chrome and start browsing the web. The websites load quickly and so do hundreds of unread emails. I also tried rendering a 4-minute video on this machine, and it took about seconds.
This notebook isn’t about compromises at all. In fact, it is packing some serious horsepower. The model I tested had an 11th generation Intel Core i9-11900H processor clocked at 2.5GHz, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD. And yes, there’s also the powerful CPU inside — Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 with 8GB of VRAM.
Thanks to the 1080p display and 144Hz refresh rate, every game I tried felt really good. I played Forza Horizon 4 and first-person shooter Quake remaster, and performance was above my expectations, though it is a challenge to meet smooth 60 frame-per-second gameplay. The fans do get loud and the chassis warmed up during my gaming sessions.
As for battery life, the TUF Gaming F15 lasted between four to five hours, which isn’t terrible. Suffice to say, this notebook has decent battery life.
The TUF Gaming F15 is a versatile notebook. Given the hardware it comes in, it isn’t much of a surprise to see the Gaming F15 is pretty good at handling most tasks I threw at during my testing. After installing Windows 11 (it’s still in beta right now), the performance seemed to have improved a bit. Of course, the TUF Gaming F15 is all about playing AAA PC games you wanted to play. Sure, it is still a mid-tier gaming notebook but has the heart at the right place.