When the going gets TUF...
ASUS have been in the gaming laptop market for many years, competing with the likes of Alienware and MSI for the crown of best gaming laptop maker. The ASUS TUF Gaming FX505G may not be the flagship model in the ASUS Gaming department, it is still a more-than-capable machine with the added bonus of increased durability thanks to its rugged design. It also has most of the features desired by gamers in a somewhat no-fuss chassis.
The FX505 isn’t the sleekest of gaming laptops, but several things stood out to me when I opened the box. It has more of an edgier look thanks largely to cut-off corners and an open-hinge style for the screen. The black plastic lid sports some cool looking grooves towards each of the cut-off edges and the signature red ASUS motif in the centre. The FX505 is around an inch narrower in size than my current 15.6” gaming laptop, yet the screen is the same size. You get the impression that the laptop is smaller than it actually is, but this is somewhat deceiving due to the thin bezel surrounding the screen. Still, this narrower design and the 2.2kg weight make the FX505 much more portable than my current behemoth (which weighs in at 2.7kg). Also, because of the open-style hinges, the status lights (power, battery etc) are still clearly visible when the screen is closed. A minor feature, but one I was impressed with nonetheless.
The FX505 comes in three styles, of which two have the signature ASUS Red (Red Matter and Red Fusion), whilst the Gold Steel model changes this up a bit with a golden yellow style. Certain models come complete with a full RGB keyboard, although the Red Matter model I had for testing did not appear to have the functionality built in. Instead, the WASD keys had a highlight which set them apart from the rest of the keyboard. This is adequate, but for those who like to customise their keys for certain games, this may not offer enough appeal.
The screen feels a little on the flimsy side but the laptop remains one of the more durable on the market. I didn’t want to drop it myself to find out just how rugged it is, but it has been tested to take a bit of a beating. It passed military grade testing and is certified to endure day-to-day use, from accidental knocks to sudden drops on a desk.
The FX505 comes equipped with three USB ports (of which two are USB 3.1), a HDMI outlet, an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm Audio Jack. All these ports, as well as the power adapter port, are located along the left side of the laptop. As a right-handed person, this suits me perfectly, as it frees up the right side of my desk for freer mouse movement. I’m not sure the lefties among us would have the same impression though. Having all the outlets on the left does allow the rear and right-hand side of the FX505 to be freed up for the fans. Most of the heat spits out through the rear which I feel is the optimal placement for air dispersion. One notable omission for the FX505, particularly for gamers with hard-copy collections, is the lack of an optical drive. I have a heap of older boxed titles that I do like to go back to from time to time, but a lack of a DVD drive would prevent me from playing these without purchasing an external drive.
As mentioned earlier, the laptop is narrower than my existing 15.6” laptop, mainly due to the thinner bezel. The FX505 has a full keyboard with numpad and feels a little cramped because of it, especially when it comes to the arrow keys. The Up arrow is nestled between the main keyboard and the numpad, and I occasionally found myself slipping onto the 0 (zero) key on the numpad.
Although the FX505 isn’t ASUS’ top of the range gaming laptop, it does have some decent specs. The Intel Core i7-1850 and the Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 are certainly capable enough for most games currently on the market. With that in mind, I put it to the test with a couple of my favourite games – The Witcher III and Overwatch. Overwatch isn’t overly stressful for a decent laptop and ran without any issues averaging around 100FPS during my play time with the game. The colours within the fast-paced online multiplayer game displayed wonderfully vibrant. The laptop came into its own when handed The Witcher III. The FX505 was able to output well above 30FPS without any problem at all, even on the higher graphic settings. The FX505 also has VR capabilities but not having a VR device myself I was left to simply run the Steam VR Performance Test, which the FX505 passed with flying colours.
The speakers work rather well, with left and right speakers giving clear audio, though the bass was a little on the weak side. As has been the case of most laptops I’ve used, 7.1 channel surround sound comes into full effect with the headphones, which give a much clearer sound quality. This is probably due to the sound being directly where required within the headphones. Sound effects in both Overwatch and The Witcher III were crisp and clear, as too was audio streamed from my music collection.
When the FX505 wasn’t tethered to the brick that is the AC adapter, it kept going for a decent length of time. Playing The Witcher III got me to around 1.5 hours before seeing the warning that the battery was low. Doing normal workday activities got me through short of a full working day, clocking in around 6 hours before the battery turned off.
TUF by name - Tough by Nature
The relatively low price (RRP $1999 AUD) combined with the decent specs make the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505GM a worthy gaming laptop for those looking for something mid-range. The thin bezel and associated smaller footprint and weight make it great for portability, although the cramped arrow keys may detract from this. The brick that is the AC Adapter certainly adds some weight to the overall package but is still reasonably light for a full featured gaming notebook. As well as running games at more-than-reasonable frame rates on high settings, the FX505 is a decent allrounder for those on a budget.
1TB SSH 8G + 128GB PCIE
16GB DDR4 RAM
Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 6GB
15.6” FHD LCD screen
3Cell 48WH battery