The VivoBook Pro is Asus’s line of full-size multimedia laptops.
The computers in this series are nor as compact or as light as those in the VivoBook Slim or Zenbook Pro line, but not far off. They are however good multimedia options built on modern HQ platforms with dedicated graphics, capable of handling multitasking, demanding loads and even gaming to some extent. The bundle also includes matte screens, a backlit keyboard, a full-set of ports and an overall price tag that won’t break the bank for you.
We’ve spent a few days with the VivoBook Pro N580VD model, the highest end configuration in the VivoBook Pro family, and gathered all our impressions below, with the pros and those parts that could be improved.
With a starting price of as low as $800, the N580VD is a solid all-round laptop with good specs and features, but also simple and nice looking aesthetics, unlike most other devices in the segment. In fact, this particular aspect is its main selling point in its otherwise very competitive niche, but you’re not just getting the looks here, you’re getting a good overall package. It has its share of flaws of course, as you’ll find in the detailed article below, but I think most potential buyers will be able to live with them as long as Asus doesn’t skim on quality control. Read on for the whole story.
Note: You should know that for reasons I don’t understand, Asus sells this laptop as the VivoBook Pro M580VD series in some regions, including North America, and N580VD in most others. That’s highly confusing, but it’s just something Asus does sometime.
Update: As of more recently Asus also offers a VivoBook N580GD update of this laptop, similar to the unit reviewed here, but with Coffee Lake processors, GTX 1050 graphics and a FHD screen.
Specs as reviewed
||Asus VivoBook Pro N580VD / M580VD
||15.6 inch, 3840 x 2160 px, IPS, matte, non-touch
||Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ CPU
||Intel HD 620 + Nividia GTX 1050 4 GB GDDR5
||16 GB DDR4 (2x DIMMs, up to 32 GB)
||256 M.2 SATA SSD (80 mm) + 2 TB 5400 rpm HDD (2.5″ bay)
||Wireless AC (tri-band Intel AC 8265), Bluetooth 4.2
||1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x USB Type-C gen 1, HDMI, LAN, mic/headphone, microSD card reader
||47 Wh, 120 Wh charger
||380 mm or 14.96” (w) x 256 mm or 10.07” (d) x 19.2 mm or 0.75” (h)
||4.21 lbs (1.91 kg) + 1.91 lbs (.54 kg) for the charger
||backlit keyboard, HD camera, stereo-speakers
The VivoBook N580 series is available in two different lines as of August 2017, each with multiple hardware (CPUs, RAM, storage and screens) configurations. The N580VD/M580VD is the top line, the one we have here, with Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, while the N580VN/M580VN is the entry-level series with Nvidia MX150 graphics. You can find more about the MX150 chip from this dedicated article, as well as in the performance section of this review, where we compare it to the GTX 1050 so you know what to expect from each option.
Update: Our review of the more recent Asus VivoBook Pro 15 is available over here.
Design and first look
The VivoBook N580 is not one of the new breed of laptops with a compact footprint and thin bezels around the screen, and given how there are more and more such options out there, you’ll have to decide if this particular aspect is something you’re interested in or you can live with a more classic design.
If you can’t, then this laptop is not for you, but keep in mind as well that most computers with similar hardware and more compact builds are also more expensive, like the Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 and the Dell XPS 15. If you can, then proceed to the next part where we talk about this laptop’s build and the choice in materials.
Asus advertises an “aluminum design” on their website, but the Vivobook N580 is not entirely made out of aluminum. The lid cover, interior and edges are metallic, all with a brushed texture, both the underbelly is made from a smooth piece of plastic. I don’t see why that would be an issue for any of you, just don’t have false-expectations.
All the metallic surfaces feel different than on most other metallic laptops I’ve seen though, somehow cheap to the touch. In fact, it’s pretty hard to tell if they are made from aluminum or plastic without a classic teeth test (put your teeth on the surfaces). So the first impression can be a little misleading and some might not like how this Vivobook Pro feels.
It is otherwise fairly well built, although not on par with the sturdier computers in the higher tier class. It’s on par with the Zenbook Pro UX550 and sturdier than the VivoBook Slims though. There’s some flex in the main-deck, especially towards the top-side of the keyboard, but not as much that it would be obvious in daily use. The screen is also rather bendy and the metallic lid warps when pressed, yet I could only see an impact on the panel when pressing very hard, so I don’t think you’ll run into any problems carrying this laptop in your bag or backpack. Overall, there are better made computers in the class, but this one is decent as well.
I was mentioning earlier that the looks put this computer on the map, and that’s because there aren’t any other laptops with a silver aluminum case in its niche, at least none than I can think off, as most alternatives with the same hardware and features come in a mix of black and red, with more or less obvious “gaming” lines. If you’re not into those, this Zenbook is a welcomed breath of something else.
Design and looks aside, the N580 is also quite practical in everyday use. It’s lighter than most other 15-inchers, at 4.2 lbs for the reviewed configuration, and fairly grippy, so easy to put into and take out of your bag or move from a place to another. The silver color helps hiding smudges and fingerprints too. Four rubber feet keep it well anchored on a desk, while the ports are all lined on the sides and the screen is hold in place by one big solid hinge. It works smoothly, allows one hand use and allows the screen to go back to about 150 degrees, which is enough for desk use. Asus also made it easy to pop-up the display, creating a small crease on the laptop’s front edge for your finger to grab on.
The underbelly includes those rubber feet mentioned earlier, the speakers and some cuts for air-intake. I’m glad to see those, given how the cooling was subsized on the Zenbook Pro. Based on a first look this is no longer the case here, as the VivoBook N580 gets more intake cuts on the bottom, as well as enough space between the hinge and the main-body for the hot air to go though. We’ll talk more about the cooling solution and its performance in a further section.
I must also add that the plastic bottom panel attaches well to the metallic edges, leaving no gaps or sharp bits, like on many other Asus laptops.
As far as the IO goes there’s everything you’ll want on this computer, with the exception of a Thunderbolt 3 port. There’s an USB Type-C slot, but only supports 1st gen up to 10 Gbps speeds, so no Thunderbolt 3. On top of it, you’ll also find one USB 3.1 Type-A and two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, full-size HDMI, a card-reader, LAN, a Kensington lock and a mic/headphone jack on the edges. Most of them placed on the left, where you’ll also find the PSU, which leads to a less cluttered right side. The status LEDs are also placed on the side, so there are no LEDs or lights that would bother you in any way when using the computer in a dark room, unlike on the Zenbook Pro.
All in all, the VivoBook Pro N580 doesn’t feel as premium as the Zenbook Pro UX550 and is also a little bigger, but is overall a more practical laptop. It gets more ports on the sides, smoother edges, improved intake and output cuts, and no annoying lights. Potential users would have to accept the slight amount of flex in the main-deck and lid-cover, as well as the larger footprint and the fact that the metal case feels somewhat cheap, different from I would normally expect from an aluminum finishing.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is pretty standard for an Asus multimedia laptop, with full-size main keys and some narrower directional keys and NumPad section. The arrow keys are hard to accept and the Power button is part of the keyboard, so you should make sure to disable it from the settings, but otherwise I can’t complain much.
The keys have a soft rubbery feeling and as far as I can tell, are a lot like the keys on the older 15-inch Zenbooks and Asus N class of multimedia laptops. In other words, the typing experience is pretty good, despite the rather short stroke of 1.4 mm according to Asus’s website. The keys are firmer than on the Zenbook UX550, yet still a little spongy, but I was able to type accurately after just a couple of minutes of getting accustomed to their response. I couldn’t get my typing speed as high as with other laptops, and I think that’s because I had to make sure to hit the keys hard and in the middle for them to register properly.
Overall though, I’m quite happy with the keyboard on this VivoBook Pro and I believe most of you will as well. You should also know that it’s quiet (with the exception of the space key) and backlit, with three brightness levels to choose from. The illumination is activated by swiping your fingers across the trackpad, but it’s a bit uneven towards the middle of the keyboard, at least on our sample.
For mouse Asus went with one of their standard plastic made Asus Touchpads, which means there are very limited ways to customize its response and speed, so you either like out of the box or there’s nothing to do about it.
Luckily, I mostly liked it. The surface is smooth and allows the fingers to glide easily on top. It’s also fairly large and nicely cut into the main-deck and separated by shinny beveled edges.
As far as the experience goes, I didn’t run into any issues with swipes, gestures or taps, but I did notice that the surface rattles when tapping a little harder towards the lower half and I also noticed that it sometimes interprets a single tap as a double tap, but that doesn’t happen often. For physical clicks you can press on the entire surface, but the response gets smoother towards the lower corners. The clicks are pretty quiet.
A fingerprint sensor is integrated withing the trackpad, like on most modern Asus laptops, which works well with Windows Hello.
There’s a matte 15.6-inch screen on the VivoBook Pro line with a choice of a few different panels. We got to test the highest option with the UHD 3840 x 2160 px IPS panel, but there are also two FHD IPS panels and a FHD TN screen listed on Asus’s website. Details below:
- UHD IPS – LG Philips LP156UD1-SPB2 panel (~300 nits, ~70% NTSC);
- FHD AH-IPS – LG Philips LP156WF6-SPP2 AH-IPS (~280 nits, ~70% NTSC);
- FHD IPS – AU Optronics B156HAN06.1 panel ( ~250 nits, ~45% NTSC);
- FHD TN – AU Optronics B156HTN03.8 panel ( ~220 nits, ~45% NTSC).
That can get misleading when trying to figure out which panel is on the configuration you’re interested in. As a general rule, Asus advertises their IPS panels as 178˚ wide-viewing angle displays, so you should steer away if that’s not mentioned, as the TN panel is definitely not an option to consider at this point in this segment. Unfortunately it’s paired with many of the configurations available at the time of this reviews, and some people even complain about dead-pixels and bright spots on this variant, on top of the terrible viewing angles, poor brightness and all the other common flaws of a TN screen.
There’s no easy way to tell the two FHD IPS options apart, unless the store specifically states which one is used in their configuration. It’s safe to assume that the entry level models will get the lower-end version, but I can’t tell which one you’ll get on the higher-specked FHD configurations. So make sure to read user reviews if possible, and buy from a place that allows easy returns in case you end up with something unsatisfying.
Back to the UHD panel on our test unit, it’s an LG Philips LP156UD1-SPB2 panel very similar to the UHD panels on the Zenbook UX501VW and MSI GS63 Stealth Pro. That means this is not a true-4K screen, but a RGBW panel with a pentile matrix, which takes a toll on color reproduction and accuracy. It’s on the other hand a more affordable and more efficient implementation than a true-4K UHD panel, which is hardly a consolation, but mostly understandable in this price segment. The whole RGBW vs RGB topic is a little confusing, but these two articles (one, two) explain well how the RGBW matrix differs from the standard RGB matrix used in most LCD screens.
Overall I find this screen alright for everyday use, for multimedia, browsing and gaming. However, the average color accuracy and contrast make it less vibrant than some of the true-4K panels out there, so not necessarily the best option for the pickier among you, for graphics work or any task that would require a wide color gamut coverage. More details below, taken with a Spyder 4 sensor.
- Panel HardwareID: LG Philips LGD04D4 (LP156UD1-SPB2);
- Coverage: 98% sRGB, 69% NTSC, 74% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.3;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 304 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 420:1;
- White point: 7000 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.73 cd/m2.
You can use our calibrated profile to slightly address the colors and gray levels, but don’t expect wonders.
I’ll also add that I haven’t noticed any obvious light bleeding around the edges, and the display can lean back to about 150 degrees, which is good enough for desk use.
The UHD screen is an expensive option and will cost you several hundreds on top of the FHD panels, and given the pentile matrix and the hardware on this laptop, I don’t think it’s worth it.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
As mentioned earlier, the VivoBook N580 is available in a multitude of configurations and our test unit is the highest end version available in stores, which comes with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512 GB M.2 SATA SSD and a 2 TB 2.5″ HDD.
The CPU and GPU are soldered on the motherboard, but the RAM, storage, Wi-Fi chip and battery are accessible inside. For that you’ll need to get past the entire back panel, which is a fairly simple job as it’s hold in place by a handful of Philips screws, all visible around the edges. Just be careful they’re not the same size, so make sure to note where each came from.
There are two DIMM slots on this laptop, so it can take a total of up to 32 GB of RAM. Out unit came with an M.2 SATA SSD, but some shops list this with NVMe drives, so those might me compatible. I haven’t checked, so take this with a grain of salt.
This particular aspect, as well as the pentile screen, might steer some of the power users away from this laptop, but SATA speeds aren’t that bad and you can always opt for the higher-end FHD panel option with an RGB matrix, which in fact is better match for the hardware on this notebook anyway.
As far as performance goes, the VivoBook N580 can handle casual activities smoothly and can tackle demanding loads and games. You should get rid of all the bloatware that comes preinstalled, or better yet put a clean version of Windows on your unit. You’ll find details on temperatures and CPU/GPU speeds with daily tasks below.
If you plan to get the laptop for such activities you’re not necessarily going to need the Core i7 configuration, Asus offers a cheaper Core i5-7300HQ model with 8 GB of RAM and hybrid storage that will do just fine. There are two catches though: the cheaper models usually get an Nvidia GTX 1050 chip with only 2 GB of video memory, while the Core i7 configurations get the Nvidia chip with 4 GB of memory, and there’s also a fair chance you’ll end up with the crappy TN screen on the entry level models. More about that in a further section.
Our test unit handled demanding loads smoothly as well, with no traces of hardware throttling and no performance drops, as long as it was hooked to the wall. Performance on battery was problematic though, with the CPU quickly dropping to 800 MHz both in tests and in actual loads. More details in the pictures below, but keep in mind our unit is a pre-production sample, so take this finding with a grain of salt.
Benchmark results are very solid though, again, as long as the laptop is plugged in.
- 3DMark 11: P7778;
- 3DMark 13: Sky Driver – 16857, Fire Strike – 5468, Time Spy – 1838;
- 3DMark 13 Graphics: Sky Driver – 19641, Fire Strike – 5992, Time Spy – 1690;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3384;
- PCMark 10: 4191;
- GeekBench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3479, Multi-core: 12662;
- GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4206, Multi-core: 12327;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 61.15 fps, CPU 8.12 pts, CPU Single Core 1.75 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 83.80 fps, CPU 711 cb, CPU Single Core 140 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 161.37 fps, Pass 2 – 45.12 fps.
Gaming results are pretty good as well, and we’ve also added the Nvidia MX150 chip in the table below, so you’ll know how the N580VD and N580VN compare and what you’ll loose by picking the lower-end version. You’ll find more about the MX150 chip from this dedicated article, as well as from this review of the Acer Swift 3.
The 1050 graphics can’t handle UHD gaming in most recent titles, so if you’re interested in gaming you should look at one of the FHD models.
||MX150 – FHD Ultra
||MX150 – FHD High
||1050 4GB – FHD Ultra
||1050 4GB – FHD High
||1050 4GB – UHD High
|Far Cry 4
|Shadow of Mordor
|Total War: Atilla
One last aspect to cover here is performance in stress tests, albeit these are not realistic with everyday use. With Prime 95 the CPU shows no traces of throttling and doesn’t go above 80 degrees Celsius, backing up the solid results in benchmarks and everyday use. With Prime and Furmark running simultaneously the CPU still maintains high speeds, dropping marginally below the maximum Turbo Boost frequency to 3.1-3.2 GHz, but the GPU clocks down under 1.1 GHz after a few minutes of stress. Details below.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers and others
I’e mentioned earlier that the VivoBook N580 gets a better designed air intake and output then the Zenbook UX550. The intake is still not ideal imo, I would have preferred to see a larger grill on top of the heatpipes and the fans, but this implementation does the job, with the CPU averaging 85 C in continuous demanding loads and the GPU not going over 80 C, so there’s a headroom even on this top-end configuration.
Internally, the cooling uses a classic implementation with two fans and two long heatpipes that go over both the CPU and the GPU. The fans are not individually controlled and both spin at the same time. They’re also constantly active, even with the most basic of activities or when the laptop sits idle. That’s no surprise on an Asus laptop, but they could be tamed down, as other laptops in this niche are capable of a fanless and quieter daily use experience.
The fans are not very noisy with daily use (about 38 dB at head level, in a quiet room – 33 dB room noise), but you’ll still hear them in a quiet place, where you’ll also notice the HDD when active and some slight and only occasional electrical noise. It’s definitely not as obvious on this sample as on the Zenbook UX550 or Dell XPS 15, and I’d reckon most of you won’t even notice it unless you’ll pay close attention in a very quiet environment.
The fans spin faster and louder with multitasking and gaming, up to 46-47 dB at head level, which is actually a little louder than on most other laptops with similar hardware. Temperatures on the other hand are pretty much what expected, as you can see below. The fact that the interior gets hotter than the bottom can make this laptop a little uncomfortable for long-time gaming.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Far Cry 4 for 30 minutes
For radios you’ll find Gigabit LAN, Wireless AC and Bluetooth on this laptop. Asus went with an Intel 8265 wireless chip which is usually a solid performer, but we ran into some issues with it on this particular sample. It was able to max-out my Internet connection near the router and it was still usable at 30 feet with two walls in between, however it occasionally dropped the connection at this range. I’m seeing a few other complains on Amazon regarding the wireless performance of this laptop, so make sure to double check your unit, just to make sure there are not surprises.
The audio system includes a set of stereo Harman Kardon speakers and they sound nice. They’re loud (up to 82 dB at head level), clear and fairly rich, with low-end starting at around 65 Hz. I haven’t noticed any obvious distortions at max-volumes, but I felt vibrations in the palm-rest above 70%. I’ll also add that you shouldn’t cover the speaker cuts on the belly, otherwise you’ll notice quality losses.
For the webcam Asus went with a decent HD camera, flanked by a set of microphones. They’re nothing to brag about, but do a fine job in occasional calls.
There’s only a 47 Wh battery inside the VivoBook N580, which is actually pretty small for the class. Corroborated with the Core i7 CPU and UHD screen on this configuration, you’re not going to get much in terms of battery life. Here’s what to expect (we set the screen’s brightness at 40%, roughly 120 nits):
- 12 W (~4 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~4 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 8.5 W (~5 h 30 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.2 W (~4 h 15 min of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 18 W (~2 h 40 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 34 W (~1 h 30 min of use) – gaming on battery, High Performance Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON.
You’ll get longer times with the FHD screens, but even with those you should not expect more than 4 hours of real-life use and about 6 hours of video.
That aside, Asus pairs the VivoBook N580 with a fairly chunky and heavy 120 Wh power brick that weighs .54 kg with the included cables (European version). It’s the same one as on the Zenbook UX550 and includes fast charging, so the smaller battery fully charges from 10 to 100% in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Price and availability
The VivoBook Pro series is available in most regions of the world, with a starting price of $799 in the US and around 900 EUR in Europe as of early August. The 580VN with MX150 graphics will sell for less when available.
In the US and Canada you’ll find this as the VivoBook M580VD, in two configurations at the time of this post:
- Core i5-7300HQ CPU, Nvidia GTX 1050 2GB, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, FHD screen (TN as far as I can tell) for $799;
- Core i7-7700HQ CPU, Nvidia GTX 1050 4GB, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD, FHD screen (also TN as far as I can tell) for $1049 – $1100.
The TN screen is a deal-breaker. Hopefully Asus will get to their senses and put the IPS panels on multiple configurations, we’ll update once we know more.
In the meantime you should follow this link for up-to-date configurations and prices.
I couldn’t find a configuration with the UHD screen in the US, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Asus decides not to bring one over there at all. Time will tell. It’s available in Europe, with a Core i7/ 16 GB RAM / GTX 1050 4 GB / 256 GB SSD / 1 TB HDD + UHD screen configuration listed at 1499 EUR. That’s steep, so you’ll have to pay a hefty premium for the higher resolution panel, which given its RGBW matrix is probably not worth it.
There are a lot of laptops with 15-inch screens, Intel HQ processors and Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics out there, but most of them are marketed as mid-level gaming units and get black/red designs with all sorts of flashy gaming elements. If you don’t mind this aspect, you’ll actually find better value in some of these options, like the Acer Aspire VX15, the Acer Nitro 5, the Lenovo Legion Y520 or the Dell Inspiron Gaming 7000 (in the US, otherwise this one is expensive in other regions). They start at around $800 for Core i5 configurations with GTX 1050 4GB graphics and IPS matte screens, while configurations with an i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM and hybrid storage go for around $1000.
Your options are far more limited if you want a computer with a cleaner design. The black version of the Inspiron Gaming 5000 and the Acer Aspire 7 qualify here, but there’s no other line with the brushed-metal design of the VivoBook Pro as of right now. You should check out this detailed list of portable laptops with Nvidia GTX 1050/1050 Ti graphics for updates though.
If the budget allows, you can step up to the more premium class and consider the Asus Zenbook UX550 and Dell XPS 9560, as well as the convertible Lenovo Yoga 720 15.
Lastly, if you’re after an ultraportable for daily use and don’t need powerful Intel HQ platforms inside your computer, you can consider some of the Core U thin-and-lights instead, like the Asus VivoBook Slim S510, the Dell Inspiron 7760, the Asus Zenbook UX530 or the LG Gram 15. They sell for under $1000 and some come with Nvidia MX150 graphics.
Knowing all these, I feel that the VivoBook Pro N580 is mostly a niche product and not necessarily the go-to multimedia laptop with powerful hardware and mid level graphics that the previous N-series Asus notebooks were. It still gets the hardware, the performance and the practicality, but its main selling point is the cleaner metallic looks, as other laptops actually offer better screens and bigger batteries for a slightly lower price. But most of them come with “gaming” black and red designs.
The 47W battery inside this VivoBook is still just about average for the class and a result of Asus’s decision of including dual-storage (M.2 and 2.5″ bay), so as long as you go for one of the FHD configurations I’d reckon most of you would be satisfied with the battery life. There are however laptops with bigger batteries in the segment.
As far as the screens go on the other hand, the multitude of panel options is very confusing. The AH-IPS FHD option is solid and even the IPS FHD model is good-enough, but there’s no easy way to tell which of the two gets on a given configuration. On top of that, at the time of this review most of the available models only come with the TN screen, which pretty much breaks the laptop for me.
Down the line, if Asus actually offers configurations with IPS FHD screens for good prices, the VivoBook N580/ M580 can be a good buy. If it weren’t for the TN screens on the current configurations, it would score a 4/5 in this test, as it has its flaws, but is overall a good laptop with unique design lines in its class. The TN configurations loose at least one full-point, as there’s no way I can accept a TN panel on a $800-$1000 laptop in 2017. No way!
With that in mind we’ll wrap this up, but the comments section below is open for your feedback and questions on the Asus VivoBook Pro N580 and we’re around to help out if we can.
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