If you're due for an upgrade, the Vivobook Pro 15 for 2023, with its AMD innards and typically-excellent screen, is in the business of converting the creatively-minded market to a Windows environment. If you're a dedicated Mac fan, you might not be tempted but if you've ever wondered how the other half lives, this is a great way to find out.
Asus occasionally exhibits scattered energy, releasing products that are aimed at an uncertain or highly specific audience. Other times, like now, its targeting system is spot-on. The Asus Vivobook Pro 15 (M6500 — the designation is for 2023) is for creative types who need power but don’t want to rely on Apple to provide it.
That’s not just Asus’ assessment, though it is rather prominent in the Vivobook Pro 15‘s marketing literature. The notebook itself has the stats and skills to back up its stated aim, providing a Mac-bothering machine for a fairly reasonable sum, ‘reasonable’ being a relative term in the waning days of 2023. R35,000 looks like a rather sensible number right now.
Minor metal makeup
The Vivobook Pro 15 for 2023 is as fully loaded as it gets in the third decade of the 21st century. The compact body is ringed with ports ideally suited to a modern accessory loadout. Dual USB-A ports live along the left edge. The right hosts a single USB-C, a full-sized HDMI, a charge port, a 3.5mm input, and a microSD card slot. There’s also a multifunction USB-C, useful as a peripheral host or as a second charge port. Connecting a MacBook Air charger won’t top the Pro 15 up as quickly as the included 150W charger but it’ll keep you from missing out on that urgent meeting you forgot about.
The chiclet-style keyboard lives in a plastic island that sheathes all of the main components. A broad trackpad sits just below it, similarly surrounded by high-quality plastic. The 15.5in OLED display has a slightly better time of it — the lid is all metal, offering more solid protection for the always-stunning display and contributing a bit to the 1.8kg weight of the whole. There are a couple of raised sections on the lid that tastefully present the Asus Vivobook branding to the eye. You know, for aesthetic (and advertising) reasons.
The notebook’s display forms part of the main attraction but the Vivobook Pro 15 can’t claim too much credit here. Just about every Asus notebook in recent months has shipped with an excellent OLED. There’s no difference here — bright colours and deep blacks mean that the Pro 15 is an excellent machine whether you’re soaking up Netflix, playing games (more on that in a sec), or, as your boss is probably insisting, doing your damned job. VESA certified, Pantone validated, blah, blah, you’ll have heard this spiel loads of times from Asus. It was true then, it’s true now. One day the company will come up with something better but it’ll take some doing. The screen is nigh-perfect already.
If we were going to nitpick, the peak brightness of 600 nits could stand to be a little brighter and the 2,880 x 1,620 display, while undoubtedly attractive, is only 16:9. If this were an office-focused machine, a 16:10 aspect ratio is considered the new sweet spot. But this is for creatives and we all know that they’re more interested in horizontal space. Right?
And something left over
You won’t snag the perfect notebook for R35,000. Hell, you won’t snag it for R150,000. But you’ll do pretty well for yourself at this price point if you’re looking at the Vivobook Pro 15. The review model we were supplied with included one of AMD’s Ryzen 9 7940HS chipsets, which is also backed by a Radeon 780M GPU.
On its own, it’d be enough to get you to the office and back with no complaints but this is supposed to perform better than that. Asus included 32GB of RAM and an Nvidia GPU, the RTX 4060, to add enough grunt to get you through heftier editing tasks. Performance is no issue, though you’ll find a way to crush it if you’re feeling ridiculous.
This Vivobook Pro 15 (and several older models) ships with a three-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’re in doubt about its capabilities in that line, just redeem the sub and you’ll be able to give it a proper test without risking further financial commitment but you’ll find no cause for complaint from the hardware performance. We can’t speak for Windows 11. Microsoft’s OS does what it wants to when it wants to.
In operation, the Vivobook Pro 15 ranges from silent as the grave to noticeably loud. The ProArt Creator Hub, a cut-back version of Asus’ gaming setup software, is how you’ll determine just how much heat and noise you’ll put up with.
It’s possible to cut the internal fans back to literally nothing. They’ll stay there until you add some sort of load so don’t worry about thermal issues too much. It’s also possible to crank the fans so you can bang the processor and GPU as hard as you like. Honestly, we were expecting more noise under load but the Pro 15 doesn’t attempt to deafen you. Even when it’s going hard.
Asus Vivobook Pro 15 verdict
The Asus Vivobook Pro 15 isn’t ridiculously finely tuned. It’s aimed at creatives, sure, but it’ll handle its part in multiple roles. Want to play games without all that RGB? This’ll do the job but you’ll have to be prepared for fan noise. Thankfully, it’s not overbearing. Just after an office machine with a little something extra under the hood? This’ll perform admirably. Handling all of your company’s social media and video creation duties? You’ll also be well served here. Even better, you’ll find that battery performance matches the speed the Ryzen 9 processor brings to the table. It’s not perfect but the Vivobook Pro 15 will do what you want it to without complaint or failure.