This entry-level laptop from Asus offers decent gaming performance, and its capabilities across the board make it a worthwhile purchase.
- Manufacturer: Asus
- Model: TUF FX505DY
- Price when reviewed: £650
- Supplied by: Asus
ASUS is widely renowned for its excellent range of high-end PC gaming systems, peripherals and components. Whether it’s the premium ROG brand or their durable TUF range, it’s likely you have seen and admired some of their products at one point or another.
While the flagship devices from manufacturers are almost invariably very high quality (with prices to match), it’s when you check out their entry-level range that you get a true idea of the quality and brand values of a company. Often, the build quality can be sub-par, or they may have included some less than stellar components.
ASUS seems to be bucking this trend, with the affordable TUF FX505DY, a durable gaming machine equipped with an AMD CPU and GPU, and a 1080p display that performs far better than its modest specs would suggest.
Design and build
The FX505 manages to maintain a small form factor despite the inclusion of a full keyboard, and the slim (6.6mm) bezels around the display give this laptop a premium feel. The narrow bezels mean this laptop is just 360mm wide, which is narrower than some 14” laptops from not so long ago. At 26mm thick, it’s considerably deeper than the slimmest laptops out there like the ROG Zephyrus, but it’s still relatively slim in gaming laptop terms, and considerably better than they were just a few years ago. Weighing in at 2.6kg, it feels robust, but won’t be uncomfortable to carry around.
ASUS TUF branded laptops have military-grade MIL-STD-810G certification, and whilst you’re not likely to be using this on top of a mountain or in a humid rainforest, it’s good to know you could if you wanted to. For most users, the shock and vibration protection will be of most use, so if you want to cart your laptop with you to work, or to LAN parties at a friends house, you can be reassured it’s TUF enough to handle any knocks or bumps you pick up on the way.
All of the casing and surfaces are plastic, but ASUS has given the FX505 a faux brushed metal appearance which looks more premium than its plastic construction would suggest. On the lid, there is a sculpted X shape, that increases structural strength, but also gives the laptop some character. It has a few other angled surfaces and a red ASUS logo on the lid that distinguish this as a gaming laptop, but aside from that, it’s quite a restrained design.
The blood-red keyboard backlight looks good, and it is essential for playing in darkened rooms as the translucent red on black keys are very hard to see otherwise. It’s bright, but not distracting. Sadly there isn’t the full RGB lighting found on the newer Nvidia GTX equipped models, but it’s still compatible with Aura Sync via the included Armoury Crate software for any other ASUS RGB peripherals you may own.
If you were to look at the specs for the display in the FX505DY, you’d be forgiven for expecting it to underperform. sRGB coverage is only around 60% and DCI P3 and Adobe RBG coverage are at the lower end of the 40% range, while max brightness is an underwhelming 244cd/m2. On paper, you would expect the image to be flat and generally pretty dull.
In actual use, it looks very respectable. It has a decent contrast ratio, and this helps to make images pop. With a little adjustment, colours can still look bright and vivid, far more than the specs would have you believe. The low brightness means it’s not ideal for using outside in bright sunlight, but in a generously lit room it is still clearly visible. With regards to the colour accuracy, though, if you do any design work that requires accurate colour grading and want to take your work on the road, then you’ll need to look elsewhere, but for gaming and watching movies it puts in a very respectable performance. (n.b. The newer version of the FX505 offers full sRGB coverage.)
The screen surface itself has a perfectly judged light-matte anti-reflection coating, which allows it to look sharp, while still preventing unwanted glare and reflection. It is one of the better coatings we’ve seen, actually, and we would like to see more manufacturers get this balance as good.
Resolution is a decent 1080p. It’s only a small screen, so the lack of 1440p support isn’t as detrimental as it would be on a >27” monitor, not to mention the performance of the components would only really be capable of rendering 1440p visuals with a trade-off for very low frame rates and graphics settings. This particular model of FX505 has a refresh rate of 60Hz, and thanks to the Freesync it works very well for gaming. Again, newer models of the FX505 support up to 144Hz but the AMD pairing in this laptop isn’t really up to pumping out visuals at that rate anyway.
This version of the laptop, the TUF FX505DY, comes with an AMD pairing for the CPU and GPU. The Ryzen 5 3550H clocks in at 2.1GHz, which can be boosted up to 3.7GHz, and has onboard Vega 8 graphics. Complementing this is a Radeon RX 560 X 4Gb GPU which, if you are unfamiliar with the AMD lines, benchmarks just below the Nvidia GTX1050.
As a desktop replacement, the FX505DY performs well, and in our usage, it adequately performed everything we threw at it. If your work involves lots of high-resolution video editing it’s probably not going to be fast enough, but for general office use, or for your average home user, you will find this ASUS laptop more than adequate. We ran multiple browsers with numerous tabs open on each instance, alongside word processing software and photo editing tools while writing articles with no notable slowdown. Connected to a 4k external display via HDMI, we managed to get the FX505DY connected and enabled HDR with no issues. While you have no chance of running games at that resolution, the performance while browsing, photo editing and watching HDR content on YouTube and Netflix was excellent.
The model we have is fitted with a 512Gb M2 SSD, as well as a 1Tb HDD. It’s an excellent pairing, with the HDD providing ample space for storing videos, photos, and documents, whilst the SSD allowed us to install a sizeable amount of games. The SSD loads up games quickly, far quicker than the current generation of consoles, as well as performing desktop operations with the same level of urgency. We would always recommend adding an SSD to any laptop or PC, so having one fitted as well as an internal 2.5” HDD provides the best of both worlds, and reduces the need for carting around external drives.
Gaming performance is more than adequate considering this is at the budget end of the price range for a gaming laptop. Many games can be run at high graphics settings and still turn in a decent performance. The newest, most graphically intensive games can still be played, albeit at reduced settings and lower frame rates, but the Freesync display really helps keep everything super smooth.
Notable examples were Forza Horizon 4, which we ran on high settings and it turned in a very playable 55 FPS average after some tweaks (far better than the 1080p/30 on the Xbox One S), while The Outer Worlds clocked in with a stable 60 FPS with a mixture of medium and high settings and a little resolution scaling.
Gears 5 took a lot of effort to get to 60 FPS, with a mixture of medium and low settings, and it looked distinctly last-gen, however, cranking up to mostly ultra settings gave us gorgeous visuals while still allowing us to hit a stable 30 FPS. Likewise, Metro Exodus also put in a good performance at nearly ultra settings, maxing out at 50 FPS and averaging 42 FPS, although we did have to drop the resolution to 720p to achieve this.
For the price point, the FX505DY provides very playable and in some cases excellent performance, so unless you are a hardcore gamer looking for the best frame rates and graphics, you’ll likely be pleased with its capabilities. A mixture of high and very high graphics settings can be used in most games if you sacrifice a little resolution and settle for 30 FPS, which is fine for single player cinematic titles, and dropping to a mixture of medium and low settings means you can hit 60 FPS or close to it for demanding and fast-paced multiplayer games.
Heat build-up is moderate on the FX505DY, but running with the Turbo mode activated (accessed with a convenient keyboard shortcut) kicks the fan into overdrive, and even though it does warm up quite a bit we never found the laptop got too hot for comfort. There is, based on the sound of it, a sizeable fan inside the FX505DY, and there’s no way to sugar coat it, it’s loud. It is effective though, so functionally it is good, but if you game using the internal speakers, or have others around you who may be annoyed by the noise, it’s a bit distracting. As headphone users, however, we didn’t have any issues with it.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on the FX505DY is a full qwerty setup, with a number pad alongside. ASUS dub this ‘desktop inspired’, and while it’s not really the same as using a full-size keyboard, it is still very good. 1.8mm key travel offers a satisfying typing experience, with keys having a responsive feel. They are quite soft, which actually made me type a little gentler than usual, but, as a result, I did end up with a few unregistered keystrokes to begin with. It doesn’t take long to adapt to though.
Key placement is well thought out, and it serves well for gaming, especially with the extended, deeper spacebar. The highlighted WASD keys aren’t as prominently coloured as they are on other models of the FX505, but they are still distinctive enough to view at a glance. It’s a carefully considered design, right down to the multitude of shortcuts for volume, brightness and keyboard backlight dimming, and it all becomes intuitive very quickly.
As mentioned previously, the keyboard has a red backlight that really helps for night-time gaming, as well as looking pretty cool. While you may prefer full RGB, the red is still a good choice as it isn’t doesn’t cast a distracting glare.
The trackpad is ok, and it has a very smooth and moderately responsive surface. The under surface mouse button response is quite poor, although in the age of touch screen mobiles you are more likely to be single or double finger tapping for left and right clicks anyway. For light use, the trackpad is acceptable, and let’s be honest, this is a gaming laptop so you should ideally have a gaming mouse connected anyway.
ASUS has chosen to put all of the ports down the left-hand side of the FX505, and as a right-handed gamer, I approve of this (sorry lefties). Not having any cables running from the right side of the laptop allows you to bring the mouse closer or game in a more confined space than you normally would. It’s a bit different, but I like it.
Down the left, you’ll find an RJ45 Ethernet port, a full-size HDMI port, a single USB 2.0 for your mouse, two high-speed USB 3.1 ports and a 3.5mm combi-port for headsets. There’s no USB-C here, so if you have anything that uses it you’ll be reliant on an adapter.
In addition to the physical ports, the FX505DY has a decent 5Ghz WiFi adapter (802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 4.2. Transfer rates and range were good over WiFi, and we experienced little to no interference and no dropouts, while the Bluetooth worked great for connecting Xbox controllers and Bluetooth equipped headsets.
Gaming laptops aren’t really known for providing amazing battery life, and the FX505DY is no exception. Battery performance is pretty weak, especially while gaming. If you try to run it at full power, with maximum brightness, you can drain the battery in under an hour. For general light duties and video watching, you can expect up to 6 hours of battery life. It will suffice for short journeys or for a quick game, but it’s best left plugged in.
Starting at around £650 for the 8Gb version with a 1Tb SSHD, the FX505DY is an excellent option if you are looking for a new laptop. The spec we had with an SSD and an HDD, as well as the upgrade to 16Gb RAM, will set you back £750 or a little less if you shop around. It’s definitely worth opting for the higher-spec package though, as gaming performance is significantly improved with the extra RAM and speed of the SSD.
The ASUS TUF FX505DY is an excellent laptop for the price, especially following the reduction in price from when it first released. A competent performer, it handles multitasking with ease, as well as putting in a solid performance while gaming. Good connectivity, stylish design and a decent screen all contribute to a package that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
If you want to play the newest releases at the highest graphical settings, we’d recommend stumping up a little extra cash for the newer version of the FX505 with the Nvidia GTX1060 GPU, faster refresh rates and improved colour reproduction, but for those on a budget, or just looking for a cheap and capable gaming laptop to travel with, then the FX505DY is a worthy contender for your hard-earned cash.