If you are looking for a budget laptop right away, you will be shown a slew of plastic shells with uninspiring designs, outdated specifications and below average performance boxes. Additionally, you will also be offered a lot of freebies with these machines to help make way for newer models. The issue with these laptops is the overall experience – not satisfying enough.
If you spend less than Rs 35,000 on a laptop, expect your computer to compromise on certain parameters — which is completely acceptable. However, you don’t want an experience from a laptop that leads you to avoid using it and throw it in the trunk. This is something that manufacturers probably don’t understand, or maybe they don’t want to — making up profits could be on their high agenda.
ASUS brings in a new contender in this category, the VivoBook Max X541UA. With a price tag of Rs 31,990, it is pretty affordable and seems to be a good proposition to a budget laptop buyer. We had the VivoBook on our playground for a short while and have a lot of good things to say about it.
Any consumer seeking a budget category laptop prefers a device that looks decent and is easier to tag around. The VivoBook Max fits the criteria perfectly. The device catches attention from the surroundings, especially with the brushed aluminium finish on the plastic lid.
Open the lid and you will find that brushed aluminium finish carried further onto the palm rests, excluding the matte-finished trackpad. The keyboard's Chicklet keys sport a good tactility, providing a comfortable typing experience. The speakers are housed well above the keyboard, giving the laptop a look and feel of the multimedia-focused computer. Overall, the VivoBook looks good for a budget laptop.
However, the same cannot be said for certain areas in the overall build quality. The keyboard keys don’t feel as great as the ones you witness around other laptops. They also lack LED indicators for Caps Lock, something that is a basic standard.
The laptop's underside plastics and the display bezel seem to have a below-average build quality. The display lid is pretty feeble and slim — subjecting it to additional strength could crack the screen, so you better be careful while handling the same.
ASUS claims the VivoBook Max to be a performance-focused laptop and we definitely agree with that. The laptop has a 7th Gen Intel Core i3-7100U CPU clocked at 2.40GHz. To assist it, ASUS provides 4GB of DDR4 SD RAM, which is expandable up to 12GB. There’s a 1TB, 5400RPM SATA HDD available for storage. An integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 does the graphics duties on the laptop. Lastly, it runs on Windows 10 Home, that is pre-installed out of the box.
All of this translates into an average performance on paper. However, the performance is pretty different in the real-world scenarios. The VivoBook Max handles general everyday tasks with great ease. Programs open fast and loading times are not as disturbing. The Core i3 processor shows no signs of struggle in handling the operating system.
However, ask the VivoBook Max to do some gaming and it will be comfortable with the casual ones available on the Windows Store. You can also play older titles like Counter Strike 1.6 and Need For Speed Underground 2 with ease. The notable advantage here is that the laptop doesn’t show any signs of warming up in these scenarios, which is good if you prefer to use it on your lap.
ASUS also needs to be complimented on the display front. The VivoBook Max uses a full HD 1920x1080p LED-backlit display with a refresh rate of 60Hz. The display sports an anti-glare surface and produces 45 per cent NTSC colours. The non-reflective surface makes it ideal for outdoor use. The display produces crisp images with vibrant colours and has wide viewing angles.
There’s an ASUS Splendid Utility software on board that has three preset colour profiles and one manual setting. You also get a Tru2Life feature for enhancing video clarity. We particularly loved the Eye Care mode that provides a blue light filter for reducing strain on the eyes, eradicating the need to download third-party software.
One of the best features of this laptop is the pair of Bang & Olufsen speakers. These 3W speakers produce good sound and have the ability to play the highs, mids and lows with ease. The bass is clear and does not distort. ASUS’ AudioWizard application also provides six different audio profiles to suit individual taste. We haven’t experienced a better audio experience than the ASUS VivoBook Max on any other budget laptop, as yet.
As for connectivity, you get 1 x VGA port/D-sub 15-pin for an external monitor/projector, 1 x Type-C USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot, 1 x RJ45 LAN Jack and 1 x HDMI port along with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
And now — the most important parameter that decides a laptop's fate – battery. There’s a non-removable 3-Cell 36Whrs battery that powers the VivoBook Max. On ideal usages — such as web browsing and office documentation, the laptop will last you around six hours. When it comes to watching movies and playing games, the battery life drops to around four hours.
We would highly recommend the ASUS VivoBook Max X541UA. It has a great display, amazing sound quality and a respectable performance. Sure, the build quality leaves a lot to be desired, especially the below-average plastics in some areas and the feeble lid. However, the price tag of Rs 31,990 and the amazing performance overshadows everything else and makes it a recommended buy in the budget laptop category.
Processor: Intel Core i3 7100U Processor,
Operating System: Windows 10 Home
Memory: 4GB DDR4 2133MHz SDRAM, upgradeable up to 12GB SDRAM
Display: 15.6-inch ﴾16:9﴿ LED-backlit FHD ﴾1920x1080﴿ 60Hz Glare Panel with 45 percent NTSC
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620
Hard Drives: 1TB 5400RPM SATA HDD
Connectivity: Wi‐Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac, 10/100 Ethernet LAN, Bluetooth V4.0
Other features: DVD writer, card reader ﴾SD/SDHC/SDXC﴿, VGA Camera.
I/O ports: 1 x Microphone‐in/Headphone‐out jack, 1 x VGA port/D‐sub 15‐pin, 1 x Type A USB3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 port﴾s﴿ 1 x USB 2.0 port﴾s﴿, 1 x RJ45 LAN, 1 x HDMI
Speaker: Stereo 3W speakers and microphone, Bang & Olufsen, ASUS SonicMaster Technology
Battery: 3-Cell 36Whrs battery
Dimension: 381.4 x 251.5 x 27.6 ﴾WxDxH﴿
Weight: 1.9kg with battery...