Is it more than just a “TUF” Cookie?
ASUS became a mainstay in the mid-range gaming laptop market with their FX-series. Then in the past year or two, we saw the company redefine their laptop gaming lines, giving birth to the Strix and Zephyrus families. However, the FX-series wasn’t left behind either and in 2018 we saw its rebirth into the TUF (The Ultimate Force) Gaming family. Fast forward to 2019, the TUF series is now ASUS’ leading line of mid-range gaming laptops, providing power and toughness in one package. This year’s newcomer aims to further solidify the position of TUF in the gaming market. Let’s find out if it can in our ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DV Review.
Design and Build Quality
While the Strix and Zephyrus lines bring elegance, sophistication, and flashiness with lights, the TUF series takes on a more simplistic yet aggressive design approach. The FX505DV has intricate linings on its lid and some noticeable cut-outs all over its chassis. The most aggressively designed variant is the Red Matter edition. What we have right here though is the Gold Steel, which is one of the more discreet editions. It’ll still catch attention in public, but not as much as the Scar III we previously reviewed.
At first glance, you’ll feel that this laptop is built to take a beating, which is what the TUF series is best known and advertised for. Despite all its looks and the military-grade tests ASUS’ advertised this laptop went through, we did notice a build mishap. We’re unsure if this is an isolated case, but the keyboard has noticeable flex even in just simple typing. The display though has no noticeable flex and the rest of the chassis is well built. The hinge is also sturdy enough to allow one-handed lid opening.
Display and Audio
High refresh rate displays are becoming a norm nowadays even in the mid-range gaming laptop market. The FX505DV wasn’t left out in this regard as we have variants that can be outfitted with 120 or 144Hz panels. The one we have here has the 120Hz display. All variants though only have FHD IPS-level displays. Viewing angles are still above average but color reproduction and accuracy aren’t as amazing. So, content creation maybe a bit of a challenge. Although, we do get a bit more screen real estate thanks to the narrow display bezels.
If there’s something the TUF gaming is lacking the most is in the audio department. This time around we got lack-luster speakers, though they do get pretty loud. Other than that though, we have only average highs and mids and lows are virtually non-existent. It does have DTS Headphone: X, which increases overall experience when on headphones. So, we highly recommend you plug-in your favorite audio gear for better gaming and multimedia consumption.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard we have here is close to what we have with the Scar III, good tactility but quite long key travel. We still get RGB lighting zones here, so those who want a more colorful keyboard, the FX505DV’s got you covered. We do, however, have a pretty weird arrow key layout. The left, down, and right keys are outside the keyboard layout, only the up arrow fits with the rest of the board. So, if you’re coming from a more standard keyboard layout, you’re gonna need some adjustment. We do have a trackpad now, so those who use it for work need not worry too much.
Unlike the Scar III and Zephyrus babies, the FX505DV doesn’t have that transforming trackpad. Although, we don’t necessarily need it as we have a dedicated trackpad now. The surface is smooth and the entire pad is clickable. Although, we still have separators for the left and right clicks. The pad’s tactility is also nice and you won’t have any problems gliding through it and registering gestures.
Connectivity and I/O
Connectivity-wise we got Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 5, so the bases are covered. Over at the input/output-side, we have a bit of a clustered party on the left as the right is made bare for the Kensington lock and exhaust vents. Meaning all the USB ports (two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A and USB 2.0 Type-A), the HMDI port, the RJ45 Ethernet port, and the Combo Audio jack are grouped at one side. This will prove to be troublesome not only in cable management but also when plugging in multiple USB-powered devices. We’re also absent an SD card reader and USB Type-C port, which may be a bummer to some.
On the software side of things, we still have Armoury Crate though skinned to match the TUF’s color scheme for all our monitoring needs. Then the aforementioned DTS Headphone: X program for your Audio adjustments when using headphones as well as 7.1 surround sound support. Lastly, and as always, we have Windows 10 pre-installed along with ASUS bloatware and the ever irritating McAfee anti-virus.
The FX505DV is one of the few laptop’s rocking a Ryzen 7 3750H CPU. To aid in the heavy lifting on the GPU-side, we have Nvidia’s RTX 2060. A combo closely rivaling that of the Zephyrus G, which has a 1660 Ti instead of the 2060. Then we are treated with 8GB of RAM and dual storage (512GB SSD + 1TB HDD).
Cinebench R15 & CrystalDiskMark
Similar to the Zephyrus G, we only got underwhelming benchmark scores for the Ryzen 7 3750H. Scoring only as high as 753 in Cinebench R15, positioning it between 3rd and 4th gen intel desktop processors. It does provide enough oomph for heavy tasks but we already saw it struggle with the 1660 Ti, what more with a 2060. As for drive speeds, the 512GB SSD pumped out sequential read and write speeds of 1,796mb/s and 983mb/s, respectively. The speed range is just about right for an average performing SSD.
Just like with the Zephyrus G, we saw slightly lower numbers for the 2060. Yet, we do have overall better scores here than with the budget thin & light. So, at least the 2060 can still push numbers despite the slight bottleneck of its partner.
Sadly for 3DMark we were only able to run Port Royal, Time Spy, and Sky Diver. Firestrike encountered problems and Time Spy Extreme can’t be used. Either way, we got acceptable numbers here for the configuration we have. Although, the FX505DV has a slightly lower Sky Diver score than the Zephy G, which is quite odd. In any case, we also tested the 2060’s Ray Tracing capabilities and it managed to get a respectable score on Port Royal. As for DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling), we only got a small increase in FPS when it’s in effect. Although, it still provides a little extra oomph, so no complaints here.
- DLSS Off: 14.60 fps
- DLSS On: 21.41 fps
If the Cinebench R15 showing didn’t convince you that the Ryzen 7 3750H struggles in pushing numbers, the gaming tests will. To get proper metrics we played each title for about 15-30 minutes, unless the game has its own benchmark tool. Frame recording was done via FRAPS. Despite the more powerful GPU, the FX505DV almost matched the Zephy G’s gaming benchmarks in some games. Most of the triple-A titles also didn’t reach 60fps, some didn’t even come close. However, these are at max settings, so lowering the graphics a bit will provide better performance. What’s sad is that the high refresh rate display won’t see any action unless you play at lower graphics options. Another thing to note is that the laptop is running on just a single 8GB stick, so performance is definitely hampered.
The variant of the FX505DV we have here in the Philippines is sadly not the highest one, though we still got pretty solid internals. Perhaps the most important upgrade to look for here is the addition of another stick of RAM, preferably 8GB more, for that dual-channel support. You already have an 8GB stick installed from the get-go, so just snap in another one and you’re good to go. Plus we recommend you do dual-channel as the performance gains from single-channel RAM is just so helpful. Keep in mind though that the laptop only supports up to a maximum of 32GB with its two SO-DIMM slots.
For storage options, you could look into upgrading the 512GB SSD into 1TB or swap the HDD for a faster drive. Although, storage is already pretty good out of the box. As for maintenance and access to components, you only need to put in a little effort with the screws. You have a few at the bottom panel, so sorry no easy access hatch here. However, once you pop that panel out, you are immediately greeted by your swappable parts. So, upgrading or changing parts is quite easy.
Thermals for the FX505DV are a bit on the hot side, internally. Solo tests are a bit ok, with the Ryzen 7 hitting a maximum of 79° during Prime95. The 2060, however, reached 87° in its Furmark solo test, which is already quite hot. During our combined tests where we run both Prime95 and Furmark simultaneously, the tables turned. The Ryzen 7 reached a staggering 100°, while the 2060 stopped at 84°. If you’re wondering why the 2060 has lower temps in our combined tests, that’s because it may have thermal throttled a bit.
Gaming is a bit more controlled but still on the hotter side. CPU and GPU temps reached 89° and 85°, respectively. Despite its bulkier and taller frame the FX505DV got higher temps than Zephy G, which is a thin & light. Thankfully, external temps are a bit better, with only slight warming on the upper portion of the keyboard. The bottom panel though, will still make your legs sweat. So, we don’t recommend putting this on your lap without support, like a laptop cooler, when doing heavy work.
Just like with any other laptop, this bad boy loves to make its fans roar. However, it isn’t as loud as the other laptops we reviewed this far. At max rpm, the fans only emit 46.4dBA, which can easily match or slightly go below the speaker’s output. Although, from time to time you will still notice that familiar whistling when you drop focus from your game.
The TUF Gaming FX505DV can be a hit or miss depending on your preferences. It’s sadly packed with an underwhelming CPU and a powerful GPU that doesn’t really click. There is also a mishap in build quality, despite the promise of military-grade toughness. Yet this may just be an isolated case. Then we have sub-par thermal handling as components went way above 80°. On the flip-side, we do get a high refresh rate display, great out of the box storage, and good acoustics. For Php 79,995 (~1,547) the FX505DV is on a tough spot in the competition.
For just a few more you may be able to find devices with a more balanced CPU and GPU composition. Not to mention, the Zephy G is just within striking distance, and that’s a thin & light with similar performance and surprisingly better thermals. However, the FX505DV is one of the few laptops out there with an almost complete package — you got toughness, respectable performance, a high refresh rate display, and solid out of the box storage. So, if upgrades are out of the budget and you want “TUF-ness” with a sprinkle of power, then the FX505DV will suffice.
Reasons to Get
- Great out of the box storage
- Good acoustics
- Sturdy build quality
- High refresh rate display
Reasons not to Get
- Underwhelming CPU
- Sub-par speakers
- Hot thermals
|Specifications||ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DV|
|Processor||- AMD Ryzen 5 3550H 2.1GHz Quad-core (3.7GHz Max Turbo Frequency)
- AMD Ryzen 7 3750H 2.3GHz Quad-core (4.0GHz Max Turbo Frequency)
|Display||- 15.6" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 60Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 45% NTSC
- 15.6" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 120Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 45% NTSC
- 15.6" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 144Hz Anti-Glare Panel with 72% NTSC
|GPU||- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)|
|Storage||- 1TB HDD
- 1TB HDD (FireCuda)
- 256/512/1TB SSD
|RAM||- 8GB (on board) + 1 x SO-DIMM (Max up to 32GB)|
|Connectivity||- 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5
- Bluetooth 5.0
|I/O||2x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
1x USB 2.0 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0
1x Combo audio port
1x RJ45 Ethernet Port
|Audio||- Built-in 2W Stereo Speakers with Microphone DTS Headphone: X|
|Battery||- 3-Cell, 48 Whr|
|Dimensions and weight||- 360.4 x 262.0 x 25.8 ~26.8 mm
|Price||Ryzen 7 variant w/ 120Hz display:
Php 79,995 (~$1,547)