ASUS TUF FX504 Review: A Notebook For Keeps?

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We take a look at the new notebook line from ASUS!

ASUS’ TUF gaming motherboards has made a name for itself as a tough, durable gaming platform for overclockers and modders, and the Taiwanese company is now extending that durability promise over to a new line of notebooks. The TUF FX504 is the first of a new breed of notebooks where durability, reliability and longevity is the name of the game. The new notebook doesn’t have bleeding-edge hardware compared to its more expensive brothers, trading long-term reliability for raw number-crunching power.

ASUS TUF FX504GD-EN045T specs
  • Intel Core i5-8300H processor
  • 4GB DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM
  • NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM
  • 15.6-inch (16:9) LED backlit FHD (1920×1080) 120Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 94% NTSC
  • 1TB SATA HDD plus an 8GB SSHD storage
  • 3-cell 48Wh battery

More sedate design without a thousand LED lights

Garish designs and customizable LED lights are the first things that come to mind when you’re talking about a gaming notebook, and thankfully that’s not the case with the TUF FX504. The 15-inch notebook has a relatively sedate design, with the lid approximating the look of brushed metal. We say approximate because the lid is made out of plastic, though it does a good job of not flexing or bending too much when you’re opening and closing it.

ASUS’ logo is the only thing that lights up on the lid, emitting a nice red glow. The color can’t be customized, unfortunately, which goes for the backlit keyboard too. You’ll have to settle for the red coloration that ASUS chose for the machine.

The chassis tries to approximate the look of aluminum as well though it is made out of the same material as the lid. While an all-plastic notebook kinda goes against the whole “maximum durability” promise of the TUF line, it gives you an overall lighter package, as the notebook only weighs 2.3 kilos – not bad for a gaming machine.

The connections for the TUF FX504 are on the left side – three USB ports, Ethernet port, HDMI port, charger plug, and 3.5mm jack. There’s no fancy additions like a USB Type-C port or even a SD card reader here, unfortunately.

Most of the stuff that makes the TUF FX504 stand out are inside the chassis, out of sight. Specifically, ASUS’ patented Anti-Dust Cooling system (ADC) that keeps dust out of the system using dedicated tunnels in the design. There’s also Fan Overboost, which provides users with three different modes for the perfect balance between fan performance and noise level.

Audio is good, if a little quiet; display is good enough

The notebook is available with an array of display options, with our model sporting an 120Hz panel in addition to the standard full HD resolution. In our opinion that’s just a waste of hardware and money since the GPUs available for the notebook won’t be able to take advantage of that display anyway.

As for the actual display, it’s alright. ASUS didn’t completely nail color reproduction unfortunately but it can be fixed via color calibration if needed. Contrast is good and viewing angles are plenty.

The TUF FX504 has good speakers, with good definition for such a small unit. Volume isn’t as loud as we would have liked though unfortunately, though the notebook’s audio prowess shines when it’s connected via the 3.5mm jack, as that’s when the DTS Headphone:X feature kicks in.

Keyboard is more durable than the industry standard

ASUS promises that the keyboard on the TUF FX504 is rated to last. With a lifespan of 20 million key presses (more than double the industry standard) the scissor-switched keys are built to last. The keyboard are backlit red, but unfortunately as we mentioned earlier the color cannot be changed.

As far as typing on the keyboard goes, it’s pretty good. It’s not a mechanical keyboard, with the keys only having 1.8mm of travel but it’s good enough for typing – we’re actually typing this review on the notebook.

Not so good is the trackpad, which was very unresponsive while we were using it. We highly recommend you pairing a mouse when you use this notebook, since that trackpad is going to drive you insane.

Day-to-day is OK, heavy AAA gaming is a struggle

Just like any other notebook, the TUF FX504 is available in a number of configurations. Our review unit came equipped with an Intel Core i5 8300HQ processor, 4GB of RAM, NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM, 1TB SATA HDD plus an 8GB SSHD.

While the notebook certainly can handle normal video and photo editing work as well as day-to-day use without problems, its hardware limitations show once you start playing AAA games like Farcy 5 and Middle Earth: Shadow of War. Sure, you can crank out respectable frames above 50 in medium but the 4GB of RAM starts to bottleneck your experience with lag and sputters aplenty.

The notebook’s fans does manage to keep temperatures under control though, and our laser thermometer never registered temps above 50 celcius on the chassis of the machine while we were running benchmarks. Take note this was in room temperature in an un-airconditioned room during summer.

Stay close to a wall socket

Equipped with only a 3-cell 48Wh battery, the TUF FX504 isn’t meant to last long periods away from the socket. You’re looking at around 4 hours on a single charge with web browsing, a little less when you’re streaming video. If you dare play games away from the socket, you’re looking at no more than 1 hour and 30 minutes, give or take. Just stay close to a wall socket while you’re using this, is what we’re saying.

Verdict: a good reliable notebook for photographers and video editors, not so great as a gaming platform

ASUS’ TUF FX504 that we reviewed is a conundrum indeed. The notebook is built to last but doesn’t have that much oomph as a gaming machine as is, requiring memory upgrades to take full advantage of the GTX 1050 GPU and to prevent memory bottlenecks.

Look past that however, you’ll realize that the TUF FX504 is a good workhorse for power users that won’t necessarily use the GPU for gaming, rather for other tasks like photo and video editing. In that use case, the TUF FX504 is a good investment, as it’s meant to last longer than comparable notebooks in its class, extending your ROI.

(unbox.ph, http://bit.ly/2xtKKp2)

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