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When we talk about Asus gaming laptops we particularly associate ourselves with one title "Asus ROG series." Well, it is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to gaming laptops. However, the ROG series laptops have more or less been on the expensive side and not all can afford to dole out huge cash for a high-performance device. But again times are changing and the gaming scene in India has grown significantly in the past few years. As a result, a lot of manufacturers, in fact, are now shifting their focus to more affordable gaming laptops.
And Asus also seems to be working in that field to cater to a more niche market. As such, the company has unveiled a mid-range gaming laptop dubbed as Asus FX503 in the Indian market with a promise of power-packed performance at a budget-friendly price.
Asus FX503 comes in different configurations and the starting variant is priced at Rs 69,990 which comes with an Intel Core i5 processor and no SSD storage. The top-end variant though is priced at Rs. 87,990 and features Core i7 processor and 128GB SSD storage alongside the 1TB SATA storage. 8GB of DDR4 RAM and the NVIDIA GTX 1050 are standard across variants, but the entry-level variant does come with 2GB of graphics memory while the higher spec ones come with 4GB.
In any case, now that we have introduced the latest gaming laptop from Asus, we did manage to get our hands on the device. Our review unit came with pre-installed Windows 10 Home (64-bit), Intel Core i7-7700 HQ Kaby Lake processor along with the Geforce GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB VRAM. It also had 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and 128 GB SSD for loading and booting up the OS as well as a secondary 1 TB hard disk drive.
Having said that, we did spend some time with the device and here is what we think about Asus FX503.
Design and Build
Well at first glance, Asus FX503 might look like a classic understated laptop, but in no sense, it portrays what it really packs under the hood which are the features of a mid-range gaming laptop. So basically with the new FX503, Asus compared to the other brands, has gone on with a much- streamlined design. Nothing fancy though but it won't embarrass you in front of your friends either. The color scheme on the laptops is the traditional black-and-red design combination.
Our review unit came with a brushed metal finish, with a textured lid bearing Asus' logo in a glossy finish and 4 slanting streaks which we thought made it stand out. The rear features series of vents and comes in straight, gray plastic lines. Asus has gone on to make the ventilation look less sophisticated. The company seems to have kept the design simple and minimalistic.
The inside of the laptop features a similar design language with the keyboard using a combination of red backlights and lettering. The illumination of the keyboard and the highlighted WASD keys are discreet. The touchpad has also been marked by red around the perimeter. Asus has also done a good job on the overall design of its entry-level gaming laptop and it does feel sturdy. Measuring 384 x 262 x 24 mm and weighing 2.5 kg, the laptop is also quite portable.
Moving on, the display is held by a hinge on the two sides of the laptop's body which snaps across the width of the housing. The full-sized keyboard along with a number pad fits perfectly inside the body of the laptop. The keyboard and the touchpad felt responsive and keystrokes as well as multi-touch gestures, were detected quite well.
Apart from that, in the top-right corner, the power button is placed and it is also painted in Red color and it looks quite edgy. Coming to the right side of the laptop you'll find USB 3.0 port along with the SD Card reader. On the left side, there's the Ethernet and the HDMI ports, a MiniDisplay Port, two USB 3.0 ports, the audio port and the charging port.
There is also a web-cam added at the top center of the screen with noise cancellation array microphones and camera light indicator. Below the screen there are four status indicators on the right end. Interestingly, FX503 offers a quick and easy way to access and upgrade your storage - it's as simple as removing a single screw at the back of the laptop.
Display, Battery and Audio Performance
Asus FX503 features a 15.6-inch, LED backlit FHD anti-glare screen and it does a quite good job. The display on the FX503 seemed bright but the viewing angles and contrast was a bit below our expectations. Do note that the laptop comes either with an IPS or a TN display. However, the good thing that we liked was that it was not glossy meaning we didn't have to worry about annoying reflections even when using the laptop in brightly lit rooms.
Coming to the audio department, the speakers are placed above the keyboard. As for the output quality, we were surprised at how loud the speakers could get and they sounded impressive. They further provided a balanced output and the sound was stable at high volumes and no details were lost at low volumes. Asus FX503 does miss out on the dedicated application for sound modes that are found on the ROG laptops. The laptop comes with generic sound drivers and speakers.
Well, as for the battery backup, when it comes to gaming laptops we don't generally expect more. And as such, well it might be due to the presence of an i7 processor and GTX 1050Ti graphics card, the 64Wh 4-cell battery delivered around 3-4 hours of battery backup on general usage. However, if you are familiar with gaming laptops, gamers tend to keep their chargers plugged in most of the time.
Overall, Asus FX503 since it is a budget laptop and going by those standard it is an impressive device in the above-mentioned aspects.
Now, talking about the main aspect, the gaming performance. Well, the laptop performed quite well and we did not come across any noticeable hiccups as such. Beyond slow loading times for games, we did not experience any performance lags or problems during our testing. However, on playing some of the games at higher settings we found that the system can struggle to give you stability.
We tried out some game titles like PlayerUnknown's Battle Grounds, Fifa 2018, GTA V and Counter Strike Global Offensive during our time with the laptop, and the FX503 was able to cope fairly well thanks to the quality of the hardware under the hood.
We managed to hit between 60-90 fps on most of the games with relative ease, although some games the laptop did struggle for a bit during graphic-intensive scenes. On higher settings, PUBG functioned with a few dropped frames and hiccups but reducing the performance settings solved the issues. With Fifa 2018 and CS:GO, we were able to play at the highest graphics and performance settings without any issues. Playing GTA V with settings on high, the laptop performed quite well here too. The laptop achieved a frame rate of 67.8 FPS in the in-game benchmarks.
All in all, the gaming experience with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics and 4 GB GDDR5 video memory was quite good. The 7th Gen 45W Intel quad-core HQ Series CPUs delivered fast processing functions when needed and the SATA3 M.2 SSD ran quicker than expected. The system also tackled various tasks, from office chores to high-end image or video editing, to running the latest game titles. But again, this could depend from user to user.
In any case, the general performance of the laptop at such range has been impressive and it can be a good choice for students and casual gamers who need devices both for work and some gaming.
Coming to the benchmarks tests as it is a standard procedure, we put Asus FX503 through a series of benchmarks to demonstrate its performance when confronted with resource-intensive workloads and examine the performance of its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics and 4GB GDDR5 graphics card.
The tests that we carried out measured the performance of a system's specific components-especially the CPU or graphics card/subsystem and we have also taken a holistic approach, running several sub-tests and delivering a single score designed to give a general sense of how capable a system is compared to others.
The first test we carried out was using Unigine Heaven Benchmark which is a GPU-intensive benchmark that hammers graphics cards to the limits. This powerful tool can be effectively used to determine the stability of a GPU under extremely stressful conditions. After carrying out the tests Asus FX503 gaming performance seems to be on par with its competitors with frame rates easily conducive to smooth gaming at maximum quality settings.
On our Heaven benchmarks the device scored Max 96 frames per second while minimum was 8.5 FPS. With such scores we can see that this machine is capable and it still packs enough power to run games at a decent level.
GFXBench includes sustained performance test, iterating for 30 test runs to stress test the hardware and look at how performance changes over test runs. As such we tested desktop performance with advanced graphics effects and increased workloads and the results were okay.
Following our standard practice of using the benchmarking tool, Asus FX503 managed to get some decent scores. In the high-level tests with settings at maximum, got a score of 5193.28 (87 FPS) in 1080p Car Chase test, in 1440p Manhattan 3.1.1 test it scored 3741 (60 FPS) and in 1080p T-Rex test it has got a score of 7286 (130 FPS).
In low- level tests, Asus FX503 managed to score 2268 (75 FPS). As for special test which includes the Render Quality (high precision) test the laptop has managed to score 4501 (1129 FPS).
But again, we can't expect a very high-end performance from this entry level gaming device. Overall, Asus FX503 gaming's benchmarks are quite respectable and are ideal for mid-range gaming. However, the only suggestion we would like to make here is that if you are interested in buying this device then pick up a unit with an SSD and a 1TB HDD so you won't have to run out of space on the SSD.
The laptop manages to stay nice and cool under normal usage. Generally, the laptop measured 81 degrees Fahrenheit on the bottom, 83 degrees at the center of the keyboard and just 75 degrees on the touchpad after running back-to-back high-intensity applications. The maximum temperature we could record was a little over 80 degrees Centigrade.
But the cooling system that the laptop uses does a pretty good job of keeping the temperatures under control. Even while playing continuously for long hours the fan noise does become noticeable but it's not loud enough to cause any disturbance or distractions. We never experienced thermal throttling as well. So this is a positive aspect of the laptop.
Well, from the time we got our hands on Asus FX503 gaming laptop it has been nothing but pleasant experience. As far as the use case goes, this laptop provides an ideal mix of gaming, productivity, and everyday functionality. The sheer hardware power in the laptop makes it more than capable to run regular tasks, including video and photo editing and regular use. This laptop's performance is also on par with other gaming laptops like Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming laptop amongst others.
There are some areas that could use improvements like having a better graphics card or providing IPS panels for all variants. But Asus FX503 shortcoming can be forgiven considering it is a budget gaming laptop. Some compromises will be there between performance and build quality. All in all, this laptop is definitely enough to keep many people happy and for its price, it's definitely worth a look. It can be an option worth considering for casual gamers.