Asus VivoBook Pro N580 review

The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 is a high-performance machine that needs to go on a diet

The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 is a powerhouse that sucks down its battery.
The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 is a powerhouse that sucks down its battery.
The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 is a powerhouse that sucks down its battery.

Highs

  • Solid overall performance
  • Competitive 1080p gaming at moderate settings
  • Accurate color support
  • Excellent audio quality

Lows

  • Thick bezels, chunky chassis
  • Display is too dim
  • Battery life is atrocious

DT Editors' Rating

Although the Windows PC market is full of new kinds of machines like tablets, convertible 2-in-1s, and ultrathin machines, there are still plenty of full-size, traditional notebooks to choose from. They come in at all price points, from $500 budget laptops, to high-end performance machines costing over $2,000. In our Asus VivoBook Pro N580 review, we took a look at a reasonably priced machine that offers high-end components.

Our review unit was equipped with a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core CPU, 16GB of DDR-2400MHz RAM, a 512GB SATA solid-state drive (SSD), and the popular Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, which promises decent 1080p gaming. Asus has priced that configuration at $1,300, which is a solid price for a 15.6-inch machine with a touch display.

Has Asus managed to provide a high-performance machine, at a reasonable price, without any compromises?

Retro, for better or worse

The VivoBook Pro N580 is something of a throwback. It’s a full-size notebook with a large 15.6-inch display, and its large bezels dictate a larger chassis than you’ll find on many contemporary machines over $1,000. In fact, it feels downright chunky compared to other modern notebooks with more minimal bezels. Compared to the Dell XPS 15, for example, the VivoBook Pro N580 is almost an inch wider, half an inch deeper, and thicker, at 0.81 inches versus 0.66 inches.

While it’s larger in overall dimensions, it’s not terribly heavy at 4.8 pounds. That’s due primarily to its materials, which are a combination of an aluminum lid, keyboard deck, and plastic bottom. Its rather small 47 watt-hour battery likely shaves off some weight as well, but the XPS 15 comes in at 4.5 pounds, when configured with a 97 watt-hour battery – over twice the size.

The VivoBook Pro N580 is something of a throwback, with its huge bezels and chunky chassis.

Those materials combine with a solid build to make a machine that feels robust, and doesn’t suffer from any significant creaking or flexing. The one exception is the keyboard deck, which gives with a bit of slight pressure during heavy typing sessions. The hinge holds the display firmly in place, but it’s a bit too tight and requires two hands to open.

The VivoBook Pro N580 looks modern thanks to its attractive “Icicle Gold” color scheme and brushed hairline finish. Diamond cut edges around the touchpad add a little flair, and the tapering keyboard gives the illusion of a thinner chassis. One of the benefits of the materials is that the machine isn’t a fingerprint magnet.

The larger chassis have one big advantage. Thermal management. Asus engineered in two fans that vent hot air out the back, and they manage to keep the chassis cool during heavy use. Noise is a factor, however, when the fans are working their hardest.

The right amount of connectivity for such a large chassis

Another advantage of the VivoBook Pro N580’s bulk is that there’s plenty of room for connectivity options, and Asus took good advantage of it. On the left hand side there’s a proprietary power connector, a gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 Type-A port, a full-size HDMI port, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. On the right side, there’s a Kensington lock slot, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, a 3.5mm headset port, and an SD card reader.

Asus VivoBook Pro N580 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Wireless connectivity is provided by 802.11ac Wi-Fi with 2×2 MU-MIMO support and Bluetooth 4.2. Regardless of what you need to connect, the VivoBook Pro N580 has you covered.

Input options are solid, but don’t stand out

The VivoBook Pro N580’s keyboard is now recessed into the keyboard deck, a change from the previous model, and it provides plenty of spacing between individual keys. In fact, it may provide too much space. While there’s plenty of room in the expansive deck, the 10-key numeric keypad is squished on the right-hand side. All the important keys, such as Shift and Enter, are the right sizes, and the Ctrl and Alt keys are in the right places, but the arrow keys are small, and mixed in with the lower row of the keypad.

The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 was a strong 1080p performer in our benchmark games.

The keyboard’s feel is…okay. Key travel is surprisingly shallow, with keystrokes bottoming out before you’d expect, but the action is nevertheless crisp with nice feedback.

Touch typists will get up to speed quickly enough, but it’s still not the most comfortable typing experience we’ve experienced — particularly given all the space that Asus had to work with. While the keyboard is backlit with three brightness levels, it never gets bright enough to overcome ambient lighting, and so is only useful in truly dark environments.

We also think the touchpad is on the small side, given the size of the keyboard deck. Even so, the surface is pleasantly smooth, with just a hint of helpful friction. It’s Microsoft Precision Touchpad, so all the usual Windows 10 gestures work as expected. The buttons have just the right amount of clickiness, and are nicely differentiated.

Finally, the 15.6-inch display supports 10-point multitouch. It’s responsive, and provides another convenient mechanism for scrolling and hitting on-screen buttons.

Windows 10 Hello support is provided by a fingerprint scanner that’s unfortunately located in the upper right portion of the touchpad. That takes away usable space, but it didn’t get in the way of precisely controlling the mouse. Fingerprint login is fast and reliable.

A colorful display that’s just not bright enough

The VivoBook Pro N580 is fitted with a 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080, or 141 pixels per inch) display that’s likely sharp enough for most people, but could be better. A close look will reveal jagged edges along fine details, such as small fonts. We don’t have a major problem with it, however, and think many of our readers won’t see the problem.

Testing with our colorimeter found both strengths and weaknesses in the VivoBook Pro N580’s display. First up are the positives. Color gamut was wider than many competitive systems, at 76 percent of AdobeRGB and 98 percent of sRGB. Only the Dell XPS 15’s excellent display was better. Color accuracy was also good at 1.65 – lower is better in this test, and anything below one indicates near-perfect color.  Finally, gamma was just slightly dark at a reading of 2.3 (2.2 is ideal), so the perceived brightness of content is close to what was intended.

On the other hand, contrast was a bit low, hitting a ratio of 620:1 at full brightness, and the display was dim at 240 nits. That’s helped by the anti-glare coating, but it still means the display is going to be harder to see than it should be in bright environments.

Asus VivoBook Pro N580 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Even with that issue, we were happy with the display in day-to-day use. 1080p video was a pleasure to watch, and the strong color support meant that viewing images was better than usual for this class of machine. However, we could see that contrast was a bit lower than we like. Dark scenes in movies often looked too grey, and bright scenes didn’t look vibrant due to the panel’s low maximum brightness. Overall, though, display is a real plus.

Loud and excellent audio enhances move and TV binging

Asus touts its usual Harman Kardon partnership, with some special attention paid to the dual speakers on the front underside of the chassis. We found that in this instance, Asus’s efforts paid off. Audio was loud thanks to the “Smart Amp,” and we could crank the speakers to 100 percent volume without distortion. Bass was more pronounced than usual, and that carried over from movie trailers to music. There’s even some stereo separation, if you listen closely.

The usual strong performance from the Core i7-7700HQ

The VivoBook Pro N580 is built around a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a quad-core CPU that’s become ubiquitous in machines meant for more than just basic tasks. This processor choice promises strong multitasking performance for tasks like video editing, and certain gaming titles that can make use of the extra cores.

Not surprisingly, our processor benchmarks bear out the machine’s pedigree. The VivoBook Pro N580 performed right in line with other machines equipped with the same processor, including the Dell XPS 15 and the Lenovo Yoga 720 15 2-in-1. In Geekbench 4, the Asus scored 4,228 in the single-core test, and 12,703 in the multi-core test, scores that fall just where they should when compared with our comparison group.

The good thermal management we mentioned earlier came into play in our Handbrake test, which encodes a 420GB video to H.265 format. This test pushes the CPU, and machines that get too hot tend to throttle back performance. The VivoBook Pro N580 finished the task in 485 seconds, which is a solid score for this class of processor, and proves this laptop can handle serious work.

Storage performance disappoints

While Asus picked solid components in its CPU, DDR4-2400MHz RAM, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, the company scaled back a bit in its choice of storage device. The VivoBook Pro N580 uses a SATA SSD, which is slower than the PCIe SSDs you’ll find in many competitive systems.

Our storage benchmark test turned out exactly as we expected. The Asus scored 452 megabytes per second (MB/s) in the CrystalDiskMark read test, and 456 MB/s in the write test. That’s significantly slower than the speedy PCIe SSDs in the Dell XPS 15 (1,594 MB/s read, 1,105 MB/s write) and Lenovo Yoga 720 15 (1,878 MB/s read,1,206 MB/s write).

If you’re going to be using the VivoBook Pro N580 for gaming and typical productivity tasks, then these slower storage speeds won’t matter. However, if you’re using the machine with extremely large files, and for high-end creative work like video editing, then you might regret the use of SATA SSDs. While the machine boots quickly and generally didn’t feel slow to us, a machine with such high-end components would have benefitted from faster storage.

Yes, it can game

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 is becoming a very popular GPU for powerful laptops aimed at users who want to play the occasional modern titles at 1080p, but don’t mind turning down the details.

We weren’t surprised, then, to see solid performance in the 3DMark suite of gaming benchmarks. In the Fire Strike benchmark, for example, the VivoBook Pro N580 scored 5,461, which is just what you would expect from a GTX 1050. It’s competitive with both the Dell XPS 15 and the Lenovo Yoga 720, but falls short of the GTX 1050 Ti in the Origin EON-15 S gaming notebook.

We also ran the VivoBook Pro N580 through a few popular titles at two detail levels to see how well the machine held up in actual gaming. The machine did well, scoring strongly compared to its GTX 1050 competition, in some cases even matching the Origin EON-15 S.

Not only is the VivoBook Pro N580 a large notebook, it suffers from terrible battery life.

In Civilization VI at 1080p and medium detail, the Asus managed 51 frames per second (FPS). That actually beat out the Origin, and the rest of the comparison field. That dropped to 35 FPS at ultra detail, and the Origin pulled ahead.

In Battlefield 1 at 1080p and medium detail, the VivoBook Pro N580 hit 63 FPS, which beat out the Yoga 720 15 but couldn’t best the Origin gaming machine. At ultra detail, the Asus dropped to 48 FPS, which a bit better than the Origin managed, and a much better score than the Yoga 720 15.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided posed more of a challenge for the VivoBook Pro N580. At 1080p and high detail, the machine could only score 32 FPS, although the Origin barely did better and the XPS 15 and Yoga 720 15 failed to cross the 30 FPS barrier. None of the comparison machines were able to perform acceptably at the ultra detail setting.

Finally, the Asus once again beat out the Yoga 720 15 at 1080p and medium detail in For Honor, scoring 59 FPS. That’s short of the Origin EON15-S. Both the Asus and the Lenovo dropped to 39 FPS at the extreme detail setting, while the Origin managed to maintain smoother framerates.

Overall, the Asus VivoBook Pro N580 was a strong performer in our benchmark titles, making it a great choice for anyone who wants to game at 1080p and medium detail settings.

Tiny battery sinks portability

The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 doesn’t even try to be thin, light, or tiny. It’s not a small machine in any dimension. Yet despite that, it’s equipped with a surprisingly small 47 watt-hour battery. None of that bodes well for portability.

If our suite of benchmarks gave any surprises regarding battery life, it’s that things were worse than we expected. Asus skimped out on the battery capacity, and it shows.

Basemark is our most aggressive battery test. A series of web pages with intensive CPU and CPU operations is run over and over until the battery dies. In the case of the VivoBook Pro N580, that occurred after a scant one hour and 58 minutes. That’s much less than any similar machine. Only gaming laptops with more powerful GPUs, like the GTX 1060, perform worse.

On our test that repeats a series of popular web sites until the battery runs out, the Asus lasted for just over three and a half hours. Again, that’s a score that’s bested by just about every other machine except for gaming notebooks. Consider the Dell XPS 15, for example, which is similarly equipped to the VivoBook Pro N580, but lasted for a full three hours longer. The Yoga 720 15 lasted twice as long.

Asus VivoBook Pro N580 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Even our simple video looping test, which plays an “Avengers” Trailer from the local SSD, was too much for the VivoBook Pro N580. It lasted for only five and a half hours. Many competitive systems approach 10 hours of life, and the XPS 15 lasted for a full two hours longer.

The bottom line is simple. The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 isn’t a portable machine. It’s large, and it suffers poor battery life. You’ll want to carry the charger around with you, and it’s a rather large and heavy brick. This laptop is only suited for occasional travel.

Software

Asus loaded up the VivoBook Pro N580 with its usual software utilities, such as the IcePower AudioWizard app, the Tru2Life video optimization utility, and the Splendid Technology app, which allows the display to be adjusted for personal preference. There’s also some bloatware to wade through, including the McAfee virus suite that’s so often included.

Warranty information

The VivoBook Pro N580 is covered by the usual one-year parts and service warranty, along with Asus’s unusual one year of accidental damage protection. That’s adds some real value, and we always like to see a warranty go beyond the basics.

Our Take

The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 offers powerful components including a fast CPU, a solid GPU, and quick RAM, but it does skimp on the SSD. The machine can power through just about any productivity task that you’ll want to throw at it. However, it’s larger than it needs to be, and its battery life is dismal.

That makes the VivoBook Pro N580 a real throwback in today’s world of thin, portable laptops.

Is there a better alternative?

As mentioned earlier in this review, there are a slew of 15-inch notebooks on the market ranging in price from $500 to over $2,000. There are fewer, however, that offer the potent combination of Core i7-7700HQ CPU and GTX 1050 GPU.

One alternative is the Dell XPS 15, an incredibly well-built machine that uses thin bezels to fix a full 15.6-inch display into a smaller and lighter chassis. We reviewed it with the Core i7-7700HQ CPU and GTX 1050 GPU, and found that configuration’s performance is a match for the Asus VivoBook Pro N580.

When configured with a non-touch Full HD display, 16GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, and a faster 512GB PCId SSD, the XPS 15 is priced at $1,725, or $425 more than the Asus. However, it also comes with a much larger battery that greatly extends is time away from A/C power, and in our book, you’re better off saving up the extra money rather than compromising quite so much. Dell also frequently runs sells that can cut into that price gap, or you can drop down to a slightly less powerful configuration to save some scratch.

Another option is the Lenovo Yoga 720 15, a far more portable PC that offers the flexibility of the convertible 2-in-1 format. It’s equipped with equally powerful CPU and GPU, and performs similarly to the VivoBook Pro N580. With a 15.6-inch Full HD display, 16GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, and a faster 512GB PCIe SSD, it’s currently on sale for $1,300.

How long will it last?

The Asus VivoBook Pro N580 offers a current CPU, and GPU, and wide range of connectivity options. It’s built well enough that it should last more than a couple of years of solid productivity use.

Should you buy it?

No. While the Asus VivoBook Pro N580 brings great performance, it’s way too chunky to compete in today’s far more svelte market, and its battery life is too poor to recommend. Grab a Lenovo Yoga 720 15 instead, as it costs the same when you can grab it at a discount, and is much more versatile.

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