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Asus TUF Dash F15 Review 2021

Asus’ new TUF Dash F15 has 2021 off to a good start for watchers of mobile gaming hardware. For $1,699 as tested (models start at $1,099), this 15.6-inch gaming laptop performs on par with systems from last year that were much higher-priced. Its pairing of Intel Core i7 “Tiger Lake-H” silicon—the company’s newest mobile CPUs for power laptops—and a brand-new 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 mobile GPU produced triple-digit frame rates in our testing, with its 240Hz-refresh-rate screen more than keeping pace. It also isn’t lacking for practicality with its quiet fans, comfortable keyboard, and lengthy-for-its-class battery life. Its most glaring omission is a webcam, though its gaming performance is not necessarily better than that of last-generation laptops. Still, the TUF Dash F15 is still a respectable pick, especially in its lesser-priced Best Buy configurations.


The Design: A New Take on TUF

Though Asus’ TUF (“The Ultimate Force”) brand prioritizes performance and value over flashy design, the Dash F15 delivers a premium look and feel. The smooth plastics making up its base are reassuringly thick and strong. The metal lid backing is another nice touch; it, too, is impressively rigid. The TUF logos that decorate the lid are showy and bold without being polarizing. 

This laptop has no external lighting, unlike some of Asus’ more upscale Republic of Gamers (ROG) laptops. My review model from the Asus webstore is white, but Best Buy offers several models in dark gray. (More on those later.)

The TUF Dash F15 is of average size and weight at 0.78 by 14.2 by 9.9 inches (HWD) and 4.4 pounds. Its side and top screen bezels are appreciably minimal, though the bottom one could be thinner. Strangely, Asus didn’t make accommodations for a webcam, though there is a dual microphone array for voice chats. A fingerprint reader is also missing.

In better news, the island-style keyboard has ample key travel and satisfying feedback. Its turquoise-only backlighting shows nicely through the clear WASD cluster. 

Asus TUF Dash F15 keyboardAsus TUF Dash F15 key cluster

A quartet of shortcut buttons at top left includes volume up and down, microphone off, and one to launch Asus’ Armoury Crate control panel. The latter provides system monitoring, keyboard controls (such as the ability to disable the Windows key), and display color settings.

Asus TUF Dash F15 Armoury Crate

The app also lets you disable the buttonless touchpad, but anyone who does that is missing out. The pad’s ample size, smooth surface, and communicative clicking action make using it a pleasure.

Asus TUF Dash F15 touchpad


Topping Out at 240Hz

The TUF’s screen checks all the boxes for competitive gaming: full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) native resolution, a 240Hz refresh rate, a rated 3-millisecond response time, and adaptive sync technology to eliminate frame tearing.

Asus TUF Dash F15 front view

The IPS panel has wide viewing angles and a glare-killing matte surface. Though its brightness is only average, its good contrast and rated 100 percent coverage of the sRGB gamut make for a colorful, engaging picture. 

Asus TUF Dash F15 left angle

My only wish-list item is that the lid tilted back more, but its maximum angle is fine for desktop use.


Improved Connectivity With Thunderbolt 4

The TUF Dash F15’s port selection is above average thanks to the Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port on its left side. You can use the port to charge the notebook, though Asus’ proprietary AC adapter must be connected for full performance. The plug for the latter is somewhat awkwardly located in the middle of the laptop’s left edge.

Asus TUF Dash F15 left ports

Other connectivity includes three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, headset and Ethernet jacks, and a full-size HDMI 2.0b video output (which is good for 4K on an external monitor at 60Hz). The left-side ports are bunched up against the front of the chassis, though this appears to have been unavoidable since a cooling vent occupies the rear half. Inside, the TUF Dash F15 has an Intel AX201 card that supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.

Asus TUF Dash F15 right ports

This notebook’s speakers project respectably loud and clear (if bass-shy) sound from under the palm rest. I had no trouble using them for casual gaming since the TUF’s fan noise is well controlled. Silent it isn’t, but the noise is unlikely to attract glances from those around you. 

Asus TUF Dash F15 underside

The TUF Dash F15 also keeps its temperatures in check; the chassis warmed up but was always cool enough to touch during my gaming sessions. The air intakes for its twin cooling fans are visible under the bottom panel.


Testing the TUF Dash F15: Only the Latest Silicon Need Apply

The quad-core, eight-thread “Tiger Lake” Core i7-11375H in our Dash F15 test unit may seem like an odd choice for a gaming laptop when six-core chips like Intel’s familiar 10th Generation “Comet Lake-H” Core i7-10750H are common in its price range. But 11th Generation “Tiger Lake” is a new page for Intel, an improved architecture built on a smaller 10nm process. The chip here is part of a small set introduced at CES 2021, dubbed the “Tiger Lake H35” family, with the “H” indicating it is classified as one of Intel’s high-performance laptop chips (in contrast to typical lower-wattage U-series silicon for ultramobile laptops).

The Core i7-11375H has a high 3.3GHz base clock (versus 2.6GHz for the Core i7-10750H) and an impressive Turbo Boost speed of 5.0GHz, making it fully capable for high-performance tasks. Its thermal design power (TDP) rating is just 35 watts, 10 watts lower than the older chip’s, so it should run cooler. Last, it features Intel’s better-performing Iris Xe integrated graphics instead of the aged UHD Graphics silicon. (More on this in the battery life section.)

The GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU is also new. Nvidia added the “Laptop GPU” suffix to differentiate this RTX 3070 from the desktop RTX 3070 card. By comparison, it has fewer processing cores (5,120 versus 5,888) and a lower boost clock; according to GPU-Z, my review sample fluctuated between 1,300MHz and 1,400MHz, while gaming with the desktop card is rated for 1,730MHz. It also seemed to pull only around 80 watts of power, which is limiting for a card of this class; two other (admittedly pricier) laptops we tested with the same RTX 3070 GPU performed much better in our real-world gaming benchmarks. (See our parallel “Ampere”-launch reviews of the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XC and the Alienware m15 R4.) Nonetheless, you can still look forward to fluid gaming performance on the TUF Dash F15.

My $1,699 TUF Dash F15 test configuration, an Asus web store exclusive, also sports 16GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory and a 1TB NVMe solid-state drive holding the Windows 10 Home operating system. Both the memory and the storage are upgradable under the notebook’s bottom panel. My unit had an 8GB module in the sole SO-DIMM slot; the other 8GB is onboard (soldered and non-replaceable). There are also two M.2 Type-2280 slots for SSD storage.

Best Buy will be offering a $1,449 TUF Dash F15 starting February 15, 2021, that is almost identical to my unit, only stepping down to a slightly slower Core i7-11370H processor. (That one tops out at 4.8GHz.) It’s almost certainly a better value. Best Buy will also offer a $1,099 model starting March 8 with a 144Hz screen, a 512GB SSD, and a GeForce RTX 3060. It’s likely to be the best value of the bunch.

For our benchmarking comparisons, I pitted the TUF Dash F15 against the following gaming notebooks…

Asus TUF Dash F15 comparison chart

Except for the $2,999 Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition, the competitors were fairly close to the TUF’s price point, including the Lenovo Legion 5i and the Acer Predator Helios 300. The MSI Alpha 15 is the only one to use an AMD CPU and GPU rather than Intel and Nvidia parts.

Storage, Media, and CPU Tests

Our first test is UL’s PCMark 10, a holistic performance suite that simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. The older PCMark 8 has a storage subtest that we use to assess the speed of the system’s boot drive. Higher scores are better in both tests.

Asus TUF Dash F15 PCMark

The TUF Dash F15 distinguished itself in PCMark 10, even outscoring the eight-core MSI. All five laptops’ speedy SSDs performed well in PCMark 8.

Next up are two CPU-crunching tests: Cinebench R15 stresses all available processor cores and threads while rendering a complex image, while in our Handbrake video editing test we put the stopwatch on systems while transcoding a 12-minute clip from 4K to 1080p resolution.

Asus TUF Dash F15 CinebenchAsus TUF Dash F15 Handbrake

The TUF Dash F15 performed surprisingly well in both tests given its quad-core CPU. Though the eight-core MSI did well, on the Intel side of things the six-core Acer and eight-core Razer didn’t impress.

The final test in this section involves photo editing. We use an early 2018 release of Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud to apply 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG image, timing each operation and adding up the totals. This test is not as CPU-focused as Cinebench or Handbrake, bringing the performance of the storage subsystem, memory, and GPU into play.

Asus TUF Dash F15 Photoshop

Again, the TUF Dash F15 impressed. Since this test isn’t heavily multithreaded, its high-clocked quad-core CPU did the trick nicely.

Graphics and Gaming Tests

Our first two benchmarks in this section measure the gaming performance potential of a PC. In UL’s 3DMark, we run the Sky Diver (lightweight, capable of running on integrated graphics) and Fire Strike (more demanding, for high-end gaming PCs) tests, both DirectX 11-based. Another gaming simulation, Unigine Corp.’s Superposition, uses a different rendering engine to produce a complex 3D scene.

Asus TUF Dash F15 3DMarkAsus TUF Dash F15 Superposition

The TUF Dash F15 was undistinguished next to the Acer and its older GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q. The Superposition results show that its GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU is even stronger than the Razer’s GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, though last generation’s flagship GPU that wouldn’t have been found in a laptop anywhere near the TUF Dash F15’s price point.

Finally, we run the built-in 1080p benchmarks of two real-world games: Far Cry 5 (at its Normal and Ultra presets) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (at its Medium and Very High presets). Far Cry 5 uses DirectX 11, while we flip the Lara Croft adventure to DirectX 12.

Asus TUF Dash F15 Far Cry 5Asus TUF Dash F15 Rise of the Tomb Raider

Though the Asus didn’t stand out in these tests, it still produced impressive frame rates for its price range. The implementation of the RTX 3070 is clearly different from that of the Alienware m15 R4, though, which scored 123fps (20fps higher) on Rise of the Tomb Raider at Very High, and 114fps (29fps higher) on Far Cry 5 at Ultra settings.

With Nvidia’s range of allowable thermal design power (TDP) ratings for each RTX 30 Series GPU and range of possible boost clocks, tests like ours will take greater precedence when sorting among RTX 30 Series laptops.

Battery Rundown Test

For our last benchmark, we measure a laptop’s unplugged runtime while playing a locally stored video with screen brightness at 50 percent and audio volume at 100 percent. We use the notebook’s energy-saving rather than balanced or other power profile where available, turn off Wi-Fi, and even disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as much life as possible out of the system.

Asus TUF Dash F15 battery life

Asus advertises that the TUF Dash F15 can get more than 16 hours of battery life, but I got just under half that. This is likely because I left the laptop in its default GPU mode that always leaves the Nvidia GeForce silicon active. The Armoury Crate app lets you enable iGPU mode, which switches to the onboard Iris Xe chip. It’s not an automatic switchover as I’d prefer. Even so, the Asus was competitive with the others.


Verdict: It Makes the Short List

The Asus TUF Dash F15 expertly balances performance, practicality, and value. Though its Intel “Tiger Lake” Core i7 has only four processing cores, it offers plenty of pep for the latest games when paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 mobile GPU. This notebook is also inherently practical with its comfortable keyboard and competitive battery life.

Asus TUF Dash F15

That said, the TUF Dash F15’s gaming performance is only status quo with last-generation gaming notebooks since its GPU is constrained to a low power level; from what we are seeing in the early going, not all RTX 3070 notebooks are created equal. At least it runs relatively cool and quiet.

Value-wise, our $1,699 test model looks great in white, but it’s pricey next to the dark gray $1,449 Best Buy model that offers nearly identical features. The entry-level $1,099 Best Buy model looks like an even better value. If you do decide to go TUF, just remember to also budget for an external webcam.

Asus TUF Dash F15 Specs

Laptop Class Gaming
Processor Intel Core i7-11375H
Processor Speed 3.3 GHz
RAM (as Tested) 16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Native Display Resolution 1,920 by 1,080
Touch Screen No
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support Adaptive Sync
Screen Refresh Rate 240 Hz
Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 8 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth
Dimensions (HWD) 0.78 by 14.17 by 9.92 inches
Weight 4.4 lbs
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 8:50

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