Ease of Learning: / 5
Ease of Learning: 4 / 5
Ease of Use: 3.5 / 5
Ease of Use: / 5
Enjoyment: / 5
Design: / 5
Value for Money: 3.5 / 5
Value for Money: / 5
A short while back we featured the popular Asus X-Series X540SA-XX034T on the site, which delivered quite a good all-around performance at a fairly reasonable cost as well. Fast-forward a few months and Asus has updated the X-series range with the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA-XX272T and the X541UA-XX098T.
The review today features the latter unit, which has a slightly better specification, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a better purchase. We take a closer look at the Asus VivoBook Max X541UA, with the comparison review to follow in the coming weeks.
Build and Design
The Asus VivoBook Max X541UA has an elegant glossy finish with a brushed-metal texture, which gives the unit a premium look and feel. The laptop is lightweight enough for your daily mobile needs fitting into most laptop bags, and weighing in at just a fraction under 2KG. The unit isn’t the thinnest around measure 28mm in thickness and overall 28x381x252mm. The X540SA in comparison weighs 1.9KG and has a thickness of 25.4mm. Not any major difference in the end, but worth noting.
Unlike the X540SA, which was prone to fingerprints on the lid, the X541UA isn’t as bad. You will still experience some smudging here and there, but nothing too serious. Asus continues its theme with the Chocolate Black IMR colour palette. The unit features the same chiclet keyboard, which, as stated previously, doesn’t feel as cheap and cumbersome as your average budget laptop. Again, there’s no backlighting.
As with most Asus laptops, the X541UA is future proof in terms of its USB ports, offering three different ports, a USB2.0, USB3.0, and USB3.1 (Type C), along with an HDMI port, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, auxiliary 3.5mm jack, and SD card reader.
Overall then, the Asus X541UA has a beautifully, minimalist design.
Display and Sound
One improvement Asus has made is in the display department. While the resolution is still your average 1366x768px resolution. The 15.6″ screen has a matte finish and is LED-backlit. Asus uses their Tru2Life Video and Asus Splendid technologies for brilliant and bright colours. Images and movies are impressive and good colour reproduction.
I’m never overly hyped about laptop speaker quality, but the Asus VivoBook Max X541UA isn’t all that bad. With its powerful Asus SonicMaster audio technology, the unit reaches some good levels of bass on lower volumes but isn’t quite as good as the volume is turned up.
Performance and Battery Life
As for the performance, the Asus VivoBook Max X541UA doesn’t quite deliver as much oomph as I would have hoped from the Intel® Core™ i5-6200U CPU, which has a 2.3GHz clockspeed with 3M Cache, and up to 2.8GHz. This is coupled with DDR4 4GB RAM (upgradable to 16GB), Intel® HD graphics 520, and 1TB HDD. These specifications are quite a bit higher than the previously reviewed X540SA, but it seems a bit heavier when in use. While the unit does well with most apps, even when multitasking, it doesn’t feel a whole lot faster than Celeron-powered X540SA. It is worth noting that many of the software I installed had some updates and performance tweaks since the April review, but nothing that should equate to performance that’s almost on par.
Note: Asus has informed us that the i5-6200U is no longer being used, but the newer i5-7200U will be available for this model.
The unit has a slightly improved battery, now sporting a 36WHrs, 3S1P, 3-cell Li-ion Battery Pack, which is expected to last slightly more than 5 hours, compared to the 4-5 hours of the X540SA. That said, the CPU will draw quite a lot more power, so the battery life is to be expected. The unit also doesn’t operate at the most optimum cooling temperatures, which doesn’t help, although there are a few steps in place to maximise the battery performance, irrespective.
The unit does have some bloatware that may annoy some users, but nothing major, and nothing that can’t be uninstalled, or disabled in the startup settings.
Overall then, and as a direct comparison to the X540SA, the Asus VivoBook Max X541UA has a number of improvements over the former, but it’s hard to decide whether it’s enough of an upgrade. The X541UA isn’t a direct upgrade of the X540SA. The X541SA, however, is the direct upgrade, which we’ll review in the near future for a better comparison of the two.
At a cost of R 8,599, the X541UA is only a tad more, but with performances very similar overall, your best bet here is to stick with the X540SA, even as a lower-powered alternative. It is worth wondering, however, if the updated i5-7200U processor would make some differences to the overall computing performance of the X541UA.