Unlike 2010, a proper gaming-capable PC doesn’t have to cost the same amount as a new car. Priced at R16,000, the Asus TUF Gaming FX505 puts Asus on track to make all gamers feel welcome. Even if your bank account doesn’t cater for top-of-the-range gaming equipment.
The Taiwanese brand offers its flagship Republic of Gamers (ROG) range of gaming laptops to those who look for style and performance without fussing over the budget. But the company has launched its TUF (short for The Ultimate Force) series to take care of more budget-conscious consumers. Asus introduced the TUF Gaming FX505 in South Africa in November 2018, and Stuff finally got its hands on one.
The machine next door
Unlike the ROG range, the TUF Gaming FX505 doesn’t necessarily scream out ‘gaming machine’. The exterior could pass as a normal professional laptop, with the lid bearing the Asus logo along with more subtle line detail. You could probably sneak this into a boardroom and, if you have the sound off, nobody’s gonna notice you playing Overwatch unless you start flinching in your seat.
The TUF Gaming FX505 features a plastic lid that has a slight bit of flex when pressure is applied. This element is likely thanks to minimised build costs — gotta keep that price down. The bottom half, however, is constructed from metal which gives it ample weight and a sturdy AF keyboard. The keys are slightly wider than we would’ve liked (it took some practice to change muscle memory and stop hitting the wrong keys) but they’ve got a fair amount of travel. The RGB backlight also scores points, obviously.
What’s in the details?
If you’ve ever tried out PC gaming, you’ll know that the WASD keys are pretty integral to many games. Here they stand out, as they are translucent and not boring ol’ black like the rest of the chiclet keyboard.
Up to the display, you’ll notice a considerable chin at the bottom bezel. The size of the chin is just too big for comfort. It is nice to have your logo below the display, but we would’ve liked to see less border around the brilliant screen. More specifically, it’s a brilliant HD+ 15.4in panel with a… wait for it… 144Hz refresh rate. It’s one of the standout features of this budget gaming machine, and one that makes playing action-packed games (we got a bit hooked on Paladins — soz Overwatch) an awesome experience.
The TUF Gaming FX505 features a charging port, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, three USB ports (two of which are super-speedy), and a 3.5mm audio socket. That’s all on the left-hand side of the machine, while the right side is almost empty with just the lock port, cooling vent and a speaker grille further below.
It’d be Krillin
Let’s get to the part you’ve actually been reading for: what juicy insides does the Asus TUF Gaming FX505 sport? Well, under the hood you’ll find an 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H chipset, which has a hexacore processor with a clock speed of 2.2GHz. This monster processor, coupled with 16GB of RAM, makes this one hard to beat in its price bracket.
This configuration didn’t disappoint, as, during this review, we couldn’t bring the FX505 to its knees. It handled everything we could throw at it well, even a plethora of Chrome tabs running in the background whilst gaming for long periods. Granted, the fans weren’t too happy with us for the duration of this review. Fans almost never are. But to be fair, a good set of headphones shut those fans up pretty well.
If this laptop was a Dragon Ball Z character, it would be Krillin. It’s not powerful enough to justify being Goku, or vicious enough to be Vegeta. It’s powerful, but just human enough to make you love it. Like Krillin.
Not the graphics king
But it’s not quite a gaming monster for R16k. Calm yourself. The FX505 comes fitted with the Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 GPU and, thanks to dedicated 6GB memory, it makes sure that gaming remains incredibly smooth. Playing Metro Exodus produced mesmerising Russian scenery and more-than satisfying dark fight-scenes. Yes, it’s not the best-top of the line GPU, but flesh out R40k more and get yourself a dedicated Nvidia RTX GPU, capiche?
Even though the fans sounded like a choir with bronchitis warming up, the machine never really heated up too much. Included HyperCool Tech also allows you to use OverBoost mode, which you activate by pressing the Fn+F5 combination. We never used it though — never had to, to be honest. We never had to crank the fans up to afterburner levels of cooling.
*Announcer’s voice* “And that’s not all”
When it comes to sound, the FX505 comes with DTS 7.1-channel surround sound, which is… okay. But no-one really games with the system sound on a gaming notebook. And this isn’t an audio entertainment system. It’s a gaming machine made for… you guessed it. Gaming.
It’s also fitted with a 256GB SSD boot drive supported by a 1TB SSHD (solid state hybrid drive) — both from Seagate. The hybrid storage system helps with speedy booting and gives you ample space for the massive games developers release without ever thinking about storage capacity.
If you want to use the machine on the go, even for casual work, make sure to sit next to the power socket. The FX505 will stand about two hours of light usage on battery power. If you are gaming or doing performance-intensive tasks, then the three-cell 48Wh battery drains even faster. It does come with a bulky charger that can top-up its juice from 10% to 100% in about two hours.
The laptop is also MIL-STD 810G certified, which means it’ll probably survive a few drops. We didn’t have the heart to test this out though. But it’s a good note to have on the side of the box we feel.
Getting a gaming laptop means that you have to forgo the ultraportable form factor, and the FX505 doesn’t change that. This one weighs in at 2.2kg, which is rather heavy. It’s also quite thick measuring 26.8mm. Expect to take a little strain if you’re lugging it around everywhere. Worth it for some coffee-shop gaming? We’ll let you decide that.
Asus TUF Gaming FX505 Verdict
Sometimes it feels like gaming components get more and more expensive by the day. Many folks cannot afford to build an R80k rig (nevermind a R250k Thronos). The TUF gaming range is a perfect entry-level gaming machine that’ll handle pretty much anything you can throw at it, gaming-wise. And what more do you need? Beefier specs, a more solid design, and Cherry MX mechanical switches on your keyboard? That’ll be an extra R30k, thanks.
Overall, including its minor annoyances, the fact that the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505 is one of the most affordable laptops with a 144Hz display refresh rate already tickles our fancy. The only spec we’d love to improve on is the GPU, but at R16,000, you could easily buy a proprietary GPU if needed. This is defs a worthy consideration for anyone looking for a more-than-capable gaming laptop.
Please excuse us while we break our brain to get through another level of World of Goo (which is this month’s free game on the Epic Store). Yeah, that’s why this review took as long as it did.
Priced at R16,000, the Asus TUF Gaming FX505 puts Asus on a track to make all gamers feel welcome. Even if your bank account doesn’t cater for top of the range gaming equipment.