Back in June 2020, ASUS announced a range of five new laptops. These units featured a mix of categories, from the outright powerful, the creative and even the midrange gaming unit.
A few weeks back, we featured one of the five units, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14. The unit is an ultra-portable, sleek-looking, powerful and solid gaming laptop. However, it does come at a bit of a price, especially to gamers on a budget.
Enter the second laptop we’re reviewing from the list, the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506. The unit is an upgrade of the previously review ASUS TUF Gaming FX505D.
Over the past decade, smartphones have received annual updates for their ranges. The same formula has now been applied to gaming laptops as well.
And, as always, the same questions remain, whether the update is worth any additional pricing and whether it’s worth upgrading if you already own a previous model. Let’s attempt to answer those.
ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 Design
The TUF Gaming series has had a streamlined build compared to many of the other ASUS gaming laptops. With the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506, the same trend is observed as previous units since the launch of the range of units back in 2018 – 2019 in South Africa.
On the previous model, there was an attempt to liven the design up a bit with the angled lines on the lid on what remained a largely minimalist design. On the 2020 variant, this has been streamlined even further. The unit has a predominately clean lid, with only the logo in the centre and faux screws on the corners.
The shape of the lid still remains the same, however, with the bottom, angled cut-out still there from previous models. The designers have removed some of the bezels around the screen, making it much thinner around the screen, as well as a slightly smaller dimension overall.
There is still quite a large lip beneath the screen, however, which ASUS has placed its logo and some stickers. This is most likely an attempt to reduce the negative visual effect. I can see the cut-out as well making the lip appear smaller than it actually is.
ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 Build
Being a midrange laptop, the unit still remains mostly plastic with its build. This helps to keep overall costs down. That said, the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 keeps its military-grade status, which means it’s extremely durable. To be specific, it is certified with the MIL-STD-810G standard.
The unit has a grey metal colour scheme, adding to the military look.
As with most modern laptops, especially gaming units, the distribution of ports can be a key part of the decision-making process. While it may not have an abundance of ports, the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 has many of the most used for modern gamers.
Connectivity and Ports
On the left-hand side, the unit features the power port at the back, which is followed by a Gigabit LAN port, full HDMI port, x2 USB-A ports and a single USB Type-C port. The right-hand side remains mostly empty in terms of port configuration, with only a single USB-A port towards the front. The back end has an additional vent. The unit also features Wireless 5 (Realtek 8822CE) 2×2 and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity options.
Speaking of which, the rear of the unit houses most of the ventilation ducts, with both the left and right-hand sides sporting large grilles for sufficient airflow. More on that later.
Overall, the design of the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 has been trimmed back slightly. While I can’t speak to whether this saves on costs, but it looks like a much-improved design. Well, at least in my opinion. While it remains mostly plastic, it’s not a deterrent at all, especially when you’re bringing costs into the discussion.
Screen and Display
The screen is relatively similar to that of its predecessor, apart from one significant upgrade. While there are options for 60Hz, these are not available in-country. Instead, the base model in South Africa features a 144Hz FHD IPS display.
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 is the first unit from within the TUF Gaming range to feature a higher frequency screen, which is great for the midrange gaming laptops. An indication of the affordability of the technology as ASUS aligns the range with the ROG units.
In terms of size, this remains the same at 15.6” and 1080p resolution display. The IPS panel produces reasonable brightness at about 40 nits. It isn’t the greatest in that sense and would have appreciated more given the portability elements. But that’s not too much of an issue given that I doubt there are very many gamers sitting out in the park while gaming.
Colour reproduction is very accurate and doesn’t suffer from any noticeable light-bleeding on the corners as many other midrange laptops.
When it comes to specifications on a midrange gaming unit, you’d almost immediately think about what corners have been cut to reduce costs. Thankfully, most of the cost reduction comes in the form of the build and design, with still very powerful specs behind the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506.
The sports an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H 2.90Ghz CPU paired with 16GB DDR4 RAM. It has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU for gaming and a 1TB SSD (M.2 80mm PCIe* 3.0 x4, 3D2, QLC) for fast load times. What’s great about the unit is that it offers a secondary SSD M.2 slot for expandable storage options. It’s also preloaded with Windows 10 Home 64-bit – not the Pro version, which also reduces the costs just a bit more.
The upgrade of the CPU to the Ryzen 4000 series bumps up the clock-speed performance over the previous generation TUF units. Switching to Turbo mode also provides that extra boost of power from both the CPU and GPU when needed. On this setting, the GPU is actually overclocked to allow you to run the graphics on your games a bit higher. This mode is only available when the unit is plugged in.
Real World Performance
When it comes to benchmark scores, the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 scores the highest compared to any previous models in the range. This is a great achievement, highlighting the progress made in the relatively short time the range has been around on the market.
The Ryzen 7 4800H CPU is extremely powerful and pretty much outperforms the range of Intel CPUs on benchmark scores. The benchmark scores even outscore that of the Core i9 chips, even though just slightly. Intel is set to release chipset updates on its 10th-generation CPUs, but at this stage, the Ryzen CPU comes out tops.
When it comes to gaming performances, the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505D features among the top benchmark scores for 1080p gaming across many games. At this resolution, you’re almost guaranteed frame rates above the 60fps mark even when graphics are turned up to the max. Switching to 4K gaming, the unit doesn’t perform as well, largely due to the limitations on the 2060 GPU. It’s still manageable, however.
During testing under high load, especially gaming, the unit does run just a tad hot. It’s not the hottest temperatures I’ve experienced on a gaming laptop, as it can still sit comfortably on your lap without 3rd-degree burns as a result. Some tweaking of the performance profiles using the Armoury Crate software can reduce some of these concerns. But, if you’re looking to push up the power requirement for graphics-intensive games, you’ll just have to live with it. Not a hard compromise here.
The device is fitted with a 90Wh battery. This is almost double that of the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505D. There are variants with a lower 48Wh battery, but, again, the base model in South Africa features the 90Wh battery pack.
As you’d imagine, the increased battery capacity means longer uptimes for the unit. Under normal loads and basic power testing, the unit fell just shy of 10 hours of battery life. Under load testing, which included WiFi streaming of YouTube videos at 1080p, it still managed an impressive 8 hours.
While the previous unit wasn’t able to achieve the 1-hour benchmark of gaming on battery, the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505D easily managed this. It still isn’t great, but around 90 minutes of gaming on battery should be sufficient for most users.
The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506 is a definite upgrade over the 2019 range of TUF Gaming laptops. Not only does it sport better specifications, which result in better performances across the board, the pricing relatively similar. And that’s a huge plus for gamers. The unit might be listed as a midrange gaming laptop, but it’s able to compete with the top tier on most benchmarks up to a point. When it comes to 4K gaming, you may still want to have an RTX 2080 GPU, but you’re still able enjoy great performances on the included 2060 GPU included.
Options start at R19,999 for the base unit. The configuration we received retails for R26,999, given the additional RAM, SSD storage capacity and more powerful GPU. Comparing the range of FA506 units to the previous FX505 range, the pricing has remained largely the same year-on-year, with new buyers getting a neat bump in specifications and overall performance.
ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506
In 2019 we reviewed the ASUS TUF Gaming range's first units to release in South Africa - with surprising results. With the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 FA506, it's a much improved experience.
- Great pricing
- All-round performance
- Expandable NVMe support
- 144Hz IPS panel
- Great battery life
- Better, cleaner design
- Slightly warmer than expected under load
- Screen brightness
Ease of Learning
Ease of Use
Value for Money