Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 Review: Hardcore Quad-Core

Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 Review Gaming Laptop
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Asus has a wide range of gaming laptops catering to different market needs. The company’s TUF lineup brings powerful and durable hardware—at a relatively digestible price. Today, I have the Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 in for review which boasts the latest Intel 11th gen Tiger Lake-H processor and NVIDIA’s RTX 30-series graphics. Having used it for about a month or so, here’s what I have to say about this gaming laptop.

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Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 Specifications:

  • Design & Build: Plastic + metal build, 14.17W x 9.92D x 0.78H-inches, 2.0 kg, MIL-STD-810H certification
  • Color Options: Moonlight White, Eclipse Grey
  • Display: 15.6″ matte IPS panel, 144Hz refresh rate, 62.5% NTSC color space
  • Resolution: FHD (1920×1080) resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Keyboard: Chiclet-style backlit keyboard (Lime Green)
  • Trackpad: Plastic multi-touch trackpad, Windows Precision drivers
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-11370H CPU (Tiger Lake), 4C/8T, 4.8GHz Max Turbo Frequency, 12MB Intel Smart Cache, 10nm process, 35W TDP-up
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM (3200MHz) (Up to 32GB)
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (expandable)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 80W (6GB GDDR6, discrete)
  • Audio: 2x 2W bottom-firing speakers with DTS:X Ultra
  • Battery: 76 Watt-hours 4-cell Li-Ion battery
  • Power Supply: 200W AC power adapter
  • Webcam: Unavailable
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 6 (ax), Bluetooth 5.1
  • I/O Ports: 1x LAN (RJ45), 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x 3.5mm headphone combo jack, 1x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x Kensington Lock
  • Price in Nepal: Rs. 205,000
  • What’s inside the box: Laptop, power adapter, Asus TUF backpack, Asus TUF gaming mouse, quick start guide

Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 Review:

Design

  • Plastic + metal build quality
  • MIL-STD-810H certified design

Starting with the design—as you could already tell—the Moonlight White color option that I have with me is sort of a bold statement. And a bit of a gamble. While it looks quite breathtaking and all, the eventual downfall of this snowy finish might’ve already triggered OCD to some cleanliness freaks “Monica Gellers” out there.

TUF Dash F15 - Lid

For some consolation, Asus says this paint job has been designed to last for a pretty long time so I don’t expect it to wash out anytime soon. Plus, throughout my usage, this variant has done a surprisingly impressive job of keeping things intact as a couple of wipes with a dry cloth is all it takes to take this Dash F15 back to its original glory.

But if you want something way more subtle and traditional-looking, there is also an “Eclipse Grey” finish of this laptop available. Moving on, compared to the TUF A15 that we reviewed last year, this machine is respectably thinner and lighter as well. To compare, the TUF Dash F15 measures 19.9m and maxes out at 2kg—while its predecessor was 24.7mm thick and weighed 2.3kg.

A TUF machine

Even though this is far from what other thin-and-light gaming laptops manage to achieve, Asus deserves a pat on the back for this enhanced design. Moreover, since it falls under the company’s TUF lineup, the Dash F15 is MIL-STD-810H certified too.

This ensures durability against drops, vibrations, extreme temperatures, and such—although I haven’t gotten around to verify any of those claims. Anyway, the plastic-build keyboard chassis has ridged lines on either side resembling a sideways mesa, whereas the front-facing exhaust vent features a funky angled layout to deliver the “gamer” aesthetics.

Completing the gaming vibe is the big (yet subtle) TUF branding on the metallic lid. You can notice an Asus TUF logo on the top right as well. Also, the hinge is quite solid—but I still wished it could lay flat 180º. Port selection on this laptop leaves no room for complaint either.

Port selection

Here, one Ethernet, one HDMI 2.0b, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB-C Thunderbolt 4, and one 3.5mm combo audio jack can be found on the left frame alongside the barrel pin charging connector. On the opposite side, you get two more USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a Kensington lock slot.

With the Thunderbolt 4 connection, Asus even lets you juice up this laptop using a 100W PD-compatible charger. Another neat design trick of this laptop is the front-facing LED indicators for power and battery status. There’s also a hard drive LED—which in this case indicates whenever the onboard SSD is being read from or written to.

Display

  • 15.6″ matte non-touch IPS LCD panel
  • 144Hz refresh rate, 62.5% sRGB gamut

By now, it’s pretty common knowledge that one key area where inexpensive gaming laptops compromise is the display. And the Asus TUF Dash F15 that we have in for review is no exception to this tradition either. Here, the pick of the litter is a 15.6” WQHD panel with 100% DCI-P3 color space, a 165Hz refresh rate, and a 3ms response time.

On the other hand, our review unit is the base model with a 15.6” FHD screen with 62.5% sRGB color coverage and a 144Hz refresh rate. To note, there is a 240Hz variant as well but I’d advise against it. See the thing is, to build a thin chassis, Asus has had to install a Max-Q design GPU here.

As a result, this laptop won’t be able to hit the 240fps mark in most competitive AAA or eSports titles—even under low graphics settings. While this configuration does introduce superior colors with a 100% sRGB gamut, the added cost doesn’t add a significant enough value I think.

TUF Dash F15 - Display 1

In all fairness, this is an average yet acceptable screen—considering its mediocre color coverage. Obviously, things don’t look nearly as vibrant as they should but for a relatively affordable gaming laptop, it’s hard to complain. Looking up the hardware ID under Device Manager reveals that Asus has used the CMN1521 panel here, which is the same one found in a few 2020 models of Acer’s Predator Helios series.

Expectedly mediocre display

Regardless, the saturation level here is mediocre compared to other high-end laptops I’ve tested so far. Under factory color calibration, this screen tends to look slightly bluish with low black levels too. Using our trusty SpyderX Pro, we calibrated this display and it now delivers comparatively punchier colors.

Additionally, we measured that this display covers 67% sRGB, 50% AdobeRGB, 50% DCI-P3, and 48% NTSC gamut. Likewise, I noticed that the screen looked significantly worse with overblown highlights when the laptop was running on battery. To solve this, I had to disable “Display Power Savings” under Intel Graphics Command Center.

In terms of brightness, Asus hasn’t revealed any numbers on its official site but our test concludes that TUF Dash F15’s screen has a peak brightness of 297.8 cd/m2 (nits) and a 1030:1 contrast ratio. This is pretty much in line with what you get from similar gaming laptops so no complaints here.

Sufficiently bright indoors

For indoor usage, I had no problem with visibility here when setting its brightness to 50-60%. The anti-glare coating helps with the ambient lighting reflections as well. However, it’s not the best companion to have with you outdoors. Besides the subpar brightness, its viewing angle is okay-ish only.

TUF Dash F15 - LED Indicator
LED indicator

There’s an observable drop in saturation level when looking at the display from extreme angles—although this is almost dismissable under everyday usage. I also noticed mild IPS glow near the mid-left corner of the screen, but that’s unnoticeable when you’re in a fairly well-lit room.

Apart from the average colors, brightness, and viewing angles, I’m kinda let down by the fact that Asus decided to stick to the 16:9 aspect ratio on this laptop. While the side bezels on the TUF Dash F15 are pretty minimal, it’s got quite a pronounced chin with a minimalistic “Asus” branding.

I strongly believe the visual flair of this device would’ve shot up if only the company had opted for the taller 16:10 aspect ratio. Anyway, you can also notice rubber paddings on the side and top bezel (notice the lacking webcam here)—which are there to absorb pressure away from the panel when you shut down the lid.

Keyboard

  • Backlit chiclet-style keyboard (single-color)

Let’s now talk about its keyboard. Despite featuring a 15.6” chassis, the Dash F15 misses out on a Numpad. Right off the bat, our eyes catch the attention of the out-of-ordinary WASD keys. Even though it’s been meticulously disguised to give an optical-switch mechanical vibe, this laptop wholly employs island-style keys.

TUF Dash F15 - Hotkeys

Instead, the translucent finish of the WASD keys is simply there to help you distinguish them apart. Plus, the ‘W’ key also has a small circular ridge to help you quickly position your fingers. About their quality, I’m quite satisfied with the typing experience on this thing.

Their 1.7mm key travel distance is right up my wheelhouse and I had no trouble maintaining my 70-80 WPM typing speed here. The keys are well spaced out and have a fairly quiet sound profile. To be precise, Asus benchmarks it as less than 30dB. They don’t rattle much either—although I can’t say the same for Tab, Backspace, Enter, and the right Shift key.

Single-zone RGB lighting

There are also 4 hotkeys on the top for quick access to volume, mic control, and Armoury Crate. Anyhow, this keyboard is backlit as well and you can play around with a total of three lighting modes. However, it doesn’t enjoy multi-zone RGB lighting and Asus has gone with a mint green backlight here.

I must say it looks pretty unique. Still and all, TUF Dash F15’s keyboard backlighting is pretty weak even under 100% brightness. You can clearly notice the uneven illumination in most of the keys—especially the ones with smaller etchings like colon and apostrophe. Another weird issue I noticed on this keyboard is ghosting.

TUF Dash F15 - Keyboard

Granted it doesn’t happen with most of the keys, it was still a bit of a nuisance for me. You see, when writing a tech article or editing one, I often come across using the word “GB”. And when typing it up with the left Shift acting as the Caps Lock substitute, the keyboard registers my input as “G B” instead of “GB ”. Surprisingly, this issue is non-existent when using the right Shift key.

Trackpad

  • Plastic trackpad with integrated left/right keys

On the other hand, Asus TUF Dash F15’s trackpad is acceptably average. It’s plastic-made so you’re not getting the most premium feel when sliding your fingers through its surface but I do appreciate the centered layout. Unlike the ones on the company’s ZenBook or ROG series, this doesn’t double as a Numpad either.

Its relatively compact form factor is not the best choice for efficient drag-and-drop exercises either. Regardless, none of this matters much considering the laptop’s gaming origins. I mean, you are going to use a reliable mouse for your gaming sessions—thereby rendering this touchpad useless.

TUFDashF15 - Trackpad

There’s even the option to switch it off under the Armoury Crate. Here, you can notice the mint green theme across the trackpad as well. The integrated left/right keys click fine, whereas I had no trouble operating multi-finger gestures either—thanks to the Windows Precision drivers.

Audio

  • 2x 2W bottom-firing speaker setup
  • DTS:X Ultra, Built-in array microphone

When it comes to the audio, the TUF Dash F15 enjoys a dual bottom-firing speaker setup with 4W of total output. The rubber feet on the bottom chassis elevate to minimize the extent of audio muffle but I feel like Asus could’ve done a better job with one simple design tweak.

Here, the rubber feet on the lower portion near the speakers are significantly shorter than the ones on the top. If only they were on a level with one another, the speaker grille could get a reasonably wider room to breathe. At any rate, its sound quality isn’t half bad.

TUFDashF15 - Display 2

Things can get loud enough for an average-sized room while there’s plenty of detail in mids and highs to enjoy as well. You can even customize the sound profile with the DTS:X Ultra app depending on the task at hand like listening to music or playing games. Moreover, the built-in array microphone on this thing also supports AI noise cancellation.

Performance

  • Intel 11th-gen Core i7-11370H CPU (35W TDP)
  • NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU (80W, 6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Okay, let’s now get into the performance side of things. You can configure the Asus TUF Dash F15 with up to Intel Core i7-11375H CPU and RTX 3070 GPU. Our review unit ships with one tier lower i7-11370H processor and RTX 3060 graphics with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM.

This has been paired with 16GB of single-channel DDR4 RAM and 512GB of NVMe PCIe Gen 3 SSD. Unlike most Ultrabooks these days, you can upgrade both RAM and SSD here. At any rate, this configuration costs NPR 215,000 (~ USD 1,800) in Nepal. The same model retails for some INR 125,000 in India or around USD 1,360 in the US.

CrystalDiskMark
Read (MB/s) Write (MB/s)
SEQ1M Q8T1 3490.34 2784.50
SEQ1M Q1T1 2115.10 1514.04
RND4K Q32T1 403.19 427.03
RNK4K Q1T1 64.30 136.78
Unigine Heaven

(FPS: 111.5, Score: 2809, Min FPS: 9.9, Max FPS: 228.3)

API: OpenGL Multi-monitor: Disabled
Quality: High Anti-aliasing: x2
Tessellation: Extreme Fullscreen: Yes
Stereo 3D: Disabled Resolution: System
GFXBench
1440p Aztec Ruins OpenGL (High Tier) Offscreen 150.678 fps
1080p Car Chase Offscreen 348.935 fps
1080p Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen 481.131 fps
1080p ALU 2 Offscreen 2029.71 fps
1080p Driver Overhead 2 Offscreen 200.117 fps
1080p Texturing Offscreen 204.605 fps
3DMark
Overall Graphics Physics Combined
Fire Strike Extreme v1.1 8377 8845 13499 4261
Total Graphics CPU
Time Spy v1.2 6718 7211 4843

Like I mentioned in the beginning, Asus has had to use a Max-Q GPU to maintain the thin form-factor of this laptop. This RTX 3060 draws up to 80W of power or up to 85W with Dynamic Boost. To compare, you can find much more powerful RTX 3060-powered laptops with up to 130W TGP as well.

Ultraportable gaming CPU

Additionally, even though the i7-11370H is a Tiger Lake-H series CPU, this processor has been designed for ultraportable gaming laptops. What this translates to is the fact that unlike the traditional ‘H’ series processors with up to 45W of configurable TDP, this silicon can’t draw the same level of power for optimum performance.

TUFDashF15 - Gaming 2

Instead, the i7-11370H falls under Intel’s entirely new H35 series of CPUs with cTDP capped at 35W. What’s more—all the processors under the H35 lineup are quad-core, which is quite unorthodox for a typical gaming laptop.

Despite all this, the Asus TUF Dash F15 hasn’t let me down throughout all my workloads. Keeping 10-12 Chrome tabs open alongside typing up word documents, listening to music on Spotify, editing images on Photoshop results in zero hiccups to this beast.

Intel especially pointed out the stellar single-threaded performance of this CPU and that’s mirrored in real-life usage as well. Looking at the single-core benchmarks scores, we can see some impressive results.

However, its quad-core design means if your use case involved 3D rendering, video editing, and such, the i7-11370H shouldn’t be your biggest bet.

Sub-par multi-core performance

In fact, Asus TUF Dash F15 posted worse multi-core benchmark results compared to the 25W hexa-core Ryzen 5 5500U on the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 that I had a chance to review recently. But since multi-core performance isn’t of much importance to a gaming laptop, I can sweep this one under the rug.

Cinebench R23
Asus TUF Dash F15 Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5
CPU: Multi-Core 6605 7238
CPU: Single Core 1455 1164
MP Ratio 4.54x 6.22x
Geekbench 5
Asus TUF Dash F15 Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5
CPU: Multi-Core 4809 5505
CPU: Single Core 1503 1094
Compute (OpenCL) 94455 13296

Before getting into gaming, I’d like to quickly discuss different performance profiles under Armoury Crate. Here, the Turbo profile maxes out CPU, GPU, and cooling trifecta while the Silent mode does the opposite in pursuit of a quieter performance. To note, I ran all the benchmarks and gaming tests under the Turbo profile for the best output.

Gaming experience

In graphically lax games like CS: GO, the TUF Dash F15 delivers 126fps on average under High settings whereas that number bumps to 168fps when dialing down the graphics to Low. Similarly, I got 97fps on average in Valorant with the graphics set to High while it averages at 102 and 106fps under Medium and Low settings, respectively.

TUFDashF15 - Gaming 1

This result is a tad bit underwhelming compared to other RTX 3060-powered laptops I’ve tested so far like the MSI GF65 Thin 10UE. There’s no noticeable frame drop with a couple of hours of continuous gaming so I’m left to blame the low-TDP CPU for this.

In terms of thermals, Asus has fitted in four exhaust vents in total: two on the side and two at the back. Likewise, its dual-fan configuration has been complemented by five heatpipes in total, connecting to the CPU, GPU, VRM, and VRAM. Under Turbo mode, the fan noise is pretty loud—with an almost whistling effect to it.

But unlike what MSI does with its fan settings, turning Turbo mode on the TUF Dash F15 only cranks the fan speed when you’re running CPU/GPU intensive tasks. Moving on, under heavy load, almost the entire keyboard chassis gets quite warm—whereas the Tab and Caps Lock row enjoy fairly respectable temperatures.

Fairly ineffective thermal solution

You could feel hot air blowing out of all four sides but it simply couldn’t keep up with the workload. Anyway, GPU-intensive titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Star Wars Battlefront II are complemented with smooth gameplay too. With DX12 and DLSS turned on, the former manages 64fps on average under High graphics preset.

TUFDashF15 - Internals

Comparably, that number climbs to 65 and 69fps with Low and Normal settings, respectively. On the other hand, turning on DX12 raytracing on Star Wars Battlefront II results in a pretty stuttery experience. At High graphics quality, I got just 29fps on average whereas it jumps to 34 and 36fps under Medium and Low settings.

But with raytracing turned off, you can get more than smooth gameplay here. To compare, it can hit 69, 76, and 88fps on average under High, Medium, and Low graphics, respectively. I also noticed Asus TUF Dash F15 2021’s gaming performance to be a tad bit underwhelming compared to the MSI GF65 Thin 10UE I got to review recently.

35W vs 45W CPU

This gaming laptop features a last-gen Core i7 10th gen CPU and RTX 3060 GPU with 75W power. Comparatively, it delivers at least 10-20% better FPS results on average than the TUF Dash F15.

Overall, if you mostly play games like CS: GO, Valorant, or FIFA with relatively low TGP demand, this setup is more than fine. However, if you are a serious AAA gamer, you’ll want to get the one with RTX 3070 GPU and an octa-core CPU for better gaming performance.

Battery

  • 76 Watt-hour 4-cell battery
  • 200W AC power adapter

With that out of the way, allow me to discuss its battery life. The TUF Dash F15 packs a sizeable 76 Watt-hour and Asus claims that it can deliver up to 16.6 hours of battery life on a single charge. While that was never going to reciprocate in terms of real-life usage, I managed to get acceptable screen-on time here—considering it’s a gaming laptop and all.

TUFDashF15 - Charger

With iGPU and Panel Power Saver mode turned off, brightness set to 50-60%, and keyboard backlight set to 67%, I managed to get 3-3.5 hours of SOT. On the contrary, turning on iGPU, Panel Power Save, and Silent mode can yield 7-8 hours of battery endurance.

Pretty respectable battery endurance

Both these numbers sure sound spectacular but they obviously don’t include any gaming. Here, iGPU mode disables the discrete RTX 3060 graphics in favor of the integrated Iris Xe graphics. In addition, the Panel Power Save feature dials the refresh rate from 144Hz to 60Hz for battery-saving reasons.

On the charging front, the onboard 200W AC power adapter takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully juice up this battery. As aforementioned, you can hook up a 100W USB-C power connector into this laptop too.

Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 Review: Conclusion

To sum up this review, the Asus TUF Dash F15 makes quite the statement for itself. This gaming laptop arrives in a relatively lightweight body and offers an impressive battery life. Also, its military-grade durability, well-spaced keys, and gaming performance are pretty decent for the price as well.

Having said that, Asus has used a literally underpowered GPU here—whereas the quad-core CPU powering the laptop isn’t the most powerful choice for a gaming laptop either. So, if you can sacrifice portability for sheer power, then there are better options to shop for. On the flip side, if you’re indifferent to the minor dip in performance, then this is still a decent gaming laptop for its price.

Asus TUF Dash F15 2021 Review: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Attractive, durable design
  • Smooth 144Hz refresh rate
  • Respectable key-travel distance
  • Fairly impressive audio quality
  • Decent gaming performance
  • Excellent battery endurance

Cons:

  • Underwhelming quad-core CPU
  • Sub-par color reproduction
  • Keyboard prone to ghosting
  • Doesn’t include a webcam
  • Pretty average trackpad
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Build
Display
Keyboard
Trackpad
Performance
Audio
Battery
Value for Money