Budget laptops and plastic parts go together like peanut butter and jelly, but Asus’ new VivoBook lineup looks to add some premium finish to its new machines.
The first of two new VivoBooks unleashed Monday is the VivoBook S15. Featuring a 15.6-inch screen, GeForce 940MX graphics and dual-core Kaby Lake CPUs ranging from from Core i3 to Core i7, the VivoBook S15 gives you something the vast majority of budget laptops don’t: aluminum.
To wit: Unlike other $499 laptops, the VivoBook S15 includes an aluminum lid and aluminum top deck. You can’t get everything you want, though, as Asus resorts to a plastic bottom.
Asus also unveiled the VivoBook Pro 15, which adds a second feature that sets it apart from the crowd: Intel’s superfast Optane Memory.
Like the VivoBook S15, the VivoBook Pro S caters to the more budget-sensitive crowd, but still gives you an aluminum lid and keyboard deck while not skimping on internals. The VivoBook Pro S is spec’d with a range of CPUs from Kaby Lake Core i5 quad cores to Core i7 quad cores, and you can opt for as much as 16GB of DDR4 RAM and GeForce GTX 1050 graphics.
Asus said the VivoBook Pro S’s 4K UHD screen will include support for the Asus pen. Storage options will range from a hard drive-only model, to one with a hard drive and 512GB SSD. Asus said it will also offer a laptop with Intel’s new Optane Memory, and this is where the story gets interesting.
While the version of the VivoBook Pro 15 with the 512GB SSD would be your preferred option, it will also be much more expensive. Enter Asus’ Optane option: Intel’s new tech uses Optane Memory to operate as a cache for a traditional hard drive. Systems won’t be as fast as those running on SSDs, but they’ll be better than regular old laptops as far as storage performance.
You can read our review of Optane right here, but the upshot is that under some circumstances, Optane makes a lot of sense. The VivoBook Pro 15 will start at $799, and will include a quad-core CPU and GeForce GTX 1050.
Asus did not disclose when the new laptops would be available.