Some are Team Red inside out, but when it comes to squeezing out the most performance for the dollar, alliances must be formed. The Asus TUF Gaming A15 ($929 to start / $1,200 as tested) unites AMD’s Zen 2-based Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs with Nvidia RTX graphics for just enough power to edge out rivals, especially when it comes to gaming. But if you’re looking for a vivid and vibrant screen to watch all those frames on, this Renoir system isn’t the best gaming laptop.
Asus TUF Gaming A15 Specs
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 4800H|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6) integrated Radeon Graphics|
|Storage||1TB PCIe-NVMe M.2 SSD|
|Display||15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144 Hz, G-Sync|
|Networking||802.11ac (2x2), Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, USB 2.0 (Type-A), USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (supports DisplayPort 1.4), HDMI 2.0b, 3.5mm headphone/mic jack|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||14.5 x 10.1 x 1 inches (368 x 254 x 25.4mm)|
|Weight||5.1 pounds (2.3 kg)|
|Price (as configured)||$1,200|
Design of Asus TUF Gaming A15
Unless you’re an angel, or a biker or a Hells Angels biker, the massive logo on the TUF Gaming A15’s lid is polarizing. If you’re bringing the Asus TUF Gaming A15 to work, the stamp will clash with buttoned-up office culture. But the lid’s generally-muted color scheme makes the branding as digestible as possible.
Gaming laptops have a reputation as giant clunkers that are as chunky as they are heavy. At 14.5 x 10.1 x 1 inches, the TUF Gaming A15 is sized like similarly-priced 15-inch gaming clam shells such as the Dell G5 15 SE (14.4 x 10 x 0.9 inches) and XPG Xenia 15 (14.03 x 9.2 x 0.79 inches). Our review unit and the Dell are also in the same weight class (5.1 and 5.5 pounds, respectively), but the Xenia 15 is trimmer (4.2 pounds).
The Asus TUF Gaming A15 still looks more polished than either of those machines. Asus paid attention to design, trimming down from the size of the TUF Gaming A15’s predecessor while incorporating a larger battery (for longer claimed battery life).
Angles are woven throughout the design. The lid doesn’t cover the entire top of the laptop and instead leaves space to show off the deck’s TUF Gaming logo, surrounded by decorative textures. Vertical lines start at the spine and travel around to the laptop’s underside before exploding into a honeycomb pattern that’s supposed to help with gripping. Copper-orange bursts pop out of the spine’s vents for a welcome hint of color.
The left side of the TUF Gaming A15’s deck features the AC connector, Ethernet jack, HDMI 2.0b output, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a USB-C port. That’s a decent port party, but one might feel left out: The left deck is barren except for a USB 2.0 port. On one hand, this makes it easy to remember where the fastest ports are. But the layout’s unbalanced, and the right side is more crowded when all ports are occupied.
When the TUF Gaming A15’s lid is open, the screen almost looks like it’s floating. The panel sits on a thick border with a brushed finish and Asus logo that’s big but blends into the dark bezel a bit. There’s a lot of space between the top of the deck and the function row, but diagonal lines and power button that reminds me of a spaceship keep it from looking empty.
Speaking of interesting input, the spacebar has a unique shape that makes it easier for your thumb to find. It also spices up the design, along with the more aggressive font. The deck’s brushed finish also offered resistance that stopped my wrists from slipping.
I nearly forgot the keyboard’s single-zone (one color at a time) RGB lighting. That’s because, even as an RGB fan, I have to admit the keyboard looks better with it off. The contrast of the white keys is enough pop. The W also has a mark like the F and J to help prevent your gaming fingers from getting lost.
From the rugged plastic base to the deck’s visible and tangible brushed finishes, the TUF Gaming A15’s far from feeling cheap. But I’d prefer the screen to have less wobble to it. Asus put the PC through military-grade durability testing (MIL-STD-810H), including drops, extreme temperatures, vibration and humidity.
Gaming Performance of Asus TUF Gaming A15
With an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card and octa-core AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU, our review configuration of the TUF Gaming A15 can handle most games at high settings, and can even do ray tracing in supported titles. When I played Battlefield V with ultra settings and ray tracing off, frame rates typically hovered around 63 frames per second (fps), sometimes dropping to 53 fps during intense action and peaking at 79 fps. With ray tracing on, the framerate dropped to the 45 fps range. That dropped to as low as 37 fps during big explosions and went as high as 52 fps.
When it came to our benchmark suite, this configuration of the Gaming A15 ran Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1920 x 1080, highest settings) at 77 fps. That’s way ahead of the Dell G5 15 SE with its AMD Radeon RX 5600M graphics card, Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (RTX 2060) and Xenia 15 (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti).
Grand Theft Auto V (1920 x 1080, very high) also ran very smoothly at 65 fps. That’s a sliver better than the Xenia 15’s framerate and better than the G5 15 SE. However, the Zephyrus G14 blew this benchmark -- and, therefore, the TUF Gaming A15 -- out of the park.
Far Cry New Dawn (1920 x 1080, ultra), meanwhile, ran at a solid 75 fps, but the Xenia 15 managed to do better.
The TUF Gaming A15 ran the Red Dead Redemption 2 (1920 x 1080, medium) benchmark at 38.5 fps. That’s better than the Dell and Zephyrus and a tie with the Xenia.
We also ran the TUF Gaming A15 through our gaming stress test. It runs the Metro Exodus 1080p RTX benchmark on a loop 15 times in order to simulate 30 minutes of gaming. Here, the laptop averaged 44.2 fps. During that time, the machine’s RTX 2060 ran at an average clock speed of 1.5 GHz and at an average temperature of 74.4 degrees Celsius (165.9 degrees Fahrenheit). The Ryzen 7 4800H hit an average clock speed of 3.6 GHz at an average temperature of 92.4 degrees Celsius (198.3 degrees Fahrenheit).
Productivity Performance of Asus TUF Gaming A15
The Asus TUF Gaming A15 configuration we tested runs on an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU with eight CPU cores and 16 threads, along with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a 1TB PCIe-NVMe SSD. That was enough to handle 20 Google Chrome tabs, including one playing “The Office” on Netflix, a spreadsheet and Slack. The video never stuttered, but fast forwarding and rewinding resulted in 3 second delay. When I toggled through Chrome tabs there was occasionally a 1 second delay, but I could smoothly scroll through pages.
When it came to the Geekbench 5.1 overall productivity performance test, our configuration of the TUF Gaming A15 scored 7,731 on all 8 cores. That’s better than the Xenia 15 fared with a hexa-core Intel Core i7-9750H and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, but not quite enough to best the Dell G5 15 SE with the same CPU and RAM specs as our review unit. The TUF Gaming A15 fell more notably behind the Zephyrus G14, which also packs DDR4-3200 RAM but a more premium CPU in the octa-core AMD Ryzen 4900HS.
We tested how speedy the Asus TUF Gaming A15’s storage was with our file transfer test that has each system copy 4.97GB of files. Our review unit got the job done at a rate of 508.9 MBps, which is 84.8 MBps quicker than what the G5 15 SE. However, both the Zephyrus G12 and Xenia 15 had the TUF Gaming A15 beat.
In the Handbrake video editing benchmark, each system transcodes a video from 4K resolution to 1080p. Asus’ TUF Gaming A15 was done in 6 minutes and 44 seconds. That’s comparable to the G5 15 SE’s time and even slightly faster than the ROG Zephyrus G14. The Xenia 15 struggled to keep up with the rest of the sample pool.
Display of TUF Gaming A15
All the action happens on the TUF Gaming A15’s 15-inch IPS screen that boasts a 144 Hz refresh rate. That refresh rate is fast enough to compete with some of the best gaming monitors. Plus the display uses G-Sync to prevent screen tears. With the demanding Battlefield V title set to ultra settings with ray tracing on, choppiness was very rare, and I didn’t encounter any screen tears with Battlefield V or during chaotic moments in Overwatch.
But as anyone who gets a new PC does, the first thing I did with the TUF Gaming A15 was visit TomsHardware.com. Quickly, I noticed how bland the site’s red menu bars and logo looked.
When I watched Mission: Impossible - Fallout, green poplars didn’t look as lively as I'm used to seeing. Additionally, a pink and purple sunset lost the hint of peach that made it extra dynamic. Because the film didn’t look very bright or vivid, I wouldn’t want to share the screen or do much side viewing on the TUF Gaming A15. From a perpendicular viewing angle, it wasn’t fit for movie watching, although you could get away with a 45-degree angle for shorter periods.
When I played Battlefield V, foliage in Tirailleur was less captivating and more pale than usual. Reds looked less bloody, and oranges were less saturated. The screen also washed out the yellow casting down from the sun onto the horizon.
With our light meter, the screen hit an average max brightness of 260 nits, but we like to see closer to 300 nits, like the Xenia 15 and G5 15 SE achieved. The ROG Zephyrus G14, meanwhile, is one bright laptop.
As expected, there’s not a lot of color here. The screen only covers just 44.2% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. That’s just a fraction of the color coverage the G5 15 SE (76.6%), Zephyrus G14 (82.9%) and Xenia 15 (78.5%) provide. If you want your gaming to be colorful and vibrant, there are better options.
Keyboard and Touchpad on TUF Gaming A15
The TUF Gaming A15’s chiclet keyboard is satisfying to use. There’s a good amount of travel for a keyboard -- 2mm per key -- and the arrow keys are offset, so I could find them without looking down. Asus also claims that each key will last for 20 million keypresses.
The keys are flatter than I prefer for long-term typing, but they -- especially the spacebar -- snap back into place quickly, so exhaustion isn’t an issue. Each chiclet also has a very subtle texture that doesn't get slimy during heated gaming sessions. And like the arrow keys, you can easily find the spacebar blindly, thanks to its wide shape.
On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I surpassed my typical 110 words per minute (wpm) average, hitting 121.3 wpm, likely due to those springy keys, with a 97.6% accuracy rate, which is typical for me.
The TUF A15’s touchpad is smooth without being slippery, so you get the right amount of control. More impressive are the left and right click buttons. They’re made of textured plastic and have a healthy amount of travel for a premium feel and assured input.
Audio on TUF Gaming A15
Clear and accurate audio comes out of the speakers on the deck’s left and right sides. When I turned up the volume in Battlefield V, gunshots and dialogue, including voices in the distance, were crisp and true, but gunshots didn’t bang as loudly or scarily as with other gaming laptops.
The sounds of exploding grenades had the proper crescendoing effect but lacked the hearty volume or bass to really immerse me. I tried switching to the Shooter audio profile mode in the included DTS:X Ultra software, (which has 7 premade profiles and an EQ), but there weren’t obvious gains.
I had a similar experience with music. Joyner Lucas’ “Lotto” sounded clear and accurate but wasn’t nearly loud enough for partying, despite me being in a small apartment. When I switched over to external speakers, the instruments in the background music sounded more detailed and layered.
The laptop also lets you enjoy 7.1 virtual surround sound with a stereo headset, thanks to DTS:X technology. It could be a nice way to boost audio on a cheap pair of cans, but many of the best gaming headsets come with virtual surround sound.
Upgradeability of TUF Gaming A15
Thankfully, Asus welcomes upgrades to the TUF Gaming A15. The back cover includes one pop-up screw that doesn't come all the way out and 10 additional Philips head screws. Once I unscrewed all that, I was able to pry off the backplate without any tools.
Once you get inside the machine and remove the insulation tape, you can upgrade the RAM to up 32GB. There’s also empty space for a second M.2 SSD after you remove another Phillips head screw.
Battery Life of TUF Gaming A15
For a gaming laptop, the TUF Gaming A15 has a long battery life. It can last for a full work day, posting 8 hours and 34 minutes on our battery test, which surfs the web, streams video and runs browser-based OpenGL tests while connected to Wi-Fi and with the screen at 150 nits brightness. That’s over 1 hour more than what you get with the G5 15 SE and a full two hours longer than the Xenia 15’s battery life. But the Zephyrus can help you pull all-nighters.
Heat of TUF Gaming A15
The Asus TUF Gaming A15 stays comfortably cool under normal use but can get a bit toasty when you push it. After about 30 minutes of playing Battlefield V at ultra setting with ray tracing, the keyboard -- particularly the enter key was noticeably hot.
After 15 minutes of playing YouTube videos, our TUF Gaming A15’s touchpad measured 85.5 degrees Fahrenheit (29.7 degrees Celsius). The hottest point was the bottom center, which hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit (33.5 degrees Celsius), and the spot between the G and H was 93.5 degrees (34.2 degrees Celsius). This is all pretty cool for a gaming laptop, where these measurements could easily pass the 100-degrees threshold.
Asus’ cooling system has multiple heatpipes and three heatsinks. The company also claims that its updated chassis design allows for better more air vents, which helps airflow. The cooling system is also self-cleaning for greater longevity. How does this work? There are tunnels at the fans’ edges that are dedicated to catching dust. Those particles travel down the tunnels and out the back of the laptop’s chassis.
Webcam on TUF Gaming A15
The 720p shooter here is pretty average. With enough sunlight in the room, colors can be accurate. However, it’s not sharp. For example, my hairline looked fuzzy and my skin slightly grainy. The webcam did keep up with my fast movements though.
Software and Warranty on TUF Gaming A15
In addition to your standard Windows 10 bloatware, like Candy Crush Friends, Farm Heroes Saga, Groove Music and Xbox apps, Asus packs in a few helpful utilities.
MyAsus is a system diagnosis tool, and Asus Armoury Crate shows system stats, like CPU and RAM usage. Armoury Crate also has different fan settings: Windows, SIlent (noise under 35dB for light workloads and entertainment), Performance (the default, under 40dB ) or Turbo (no restrictions) settings. A graph shows gains / losses in cooling, noise reduction, et cetera. You can also set the app to allow your smartphone to control PC settings.
AMD Radeon Settings Lite offers toggles and drop-down menus for more advanced GPU settings like anti-aliasing mode and texture-filtering quality.
You also get the aforementioned DTS Headphone:X audio software (see the Audio section below) and DTS Sound Unbound for playing with virtual surround sound in connected stereo headphones.
Asus backs the TUF A15 gaming laptop with a 1-year warranty.
Configurations and Availability
You can spot our configuration of the TUF A15 by the model name FA506IV. That gets you an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU, RTX 2060 graphics, 1TB of M.2 PCIe SSD storage and 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM.
In addition to there being a 17-inch version of this laptop (Asus TUF A17 Gaming), there are four few different SKUs for the 15-inch version.
If you want to stick with the CPU we have, you can bump down to GTX 1660 TI graphics for $1,000 as of writing. RAM is still at 16GB, but storage drops to 512GB.
For $929, the machine can pack an even lesser GTX 1650 Ti with 512GB of storage and the same remaining specs as our review unit.
There’s also a version of this laptop with a lesser Ryzen R5 CPU (Model number FA506IH), but we haven’t spotted it for sale online yet.
Later this year, Asus will release the TUF Gaming F15, which is essentially the same machine but with up to a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU and GTX 1660 Ti.
The Asus TUF Gaming A15 has all the gaming and productivity performance you’d expect from a laptop at this price.
Asus’ Ryzen machine pulled ahead of the Dell G5 15 SE in all our gaming benchmarks, usually by less than 10 fps, but for hardcore gamers, every frame counts. And productivity between the two machines is comparable. However, the Dell’s screen is both more colorful and brighter than the Asus's. And if you want speedy storage and better battery life than the TUF Gaming A15’s already good battery life, the more expensive Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 awaits.
Intel-powered options in the same price range, meanwhile, are using 9th Gen Intel Core CPUs as of writing. If you want current-gen Intel chips, you’ll often have to spend a few hundred more than our review unit’s $1,200 current price point.
But with a slight lead in framerates in nearly every game and a keyboard with good travel, the Asus TUF Gaming A15 is a really strong choice.