balance of power / Laptops and PCs

balance of power / Laptops and PCs


ASUS ‘The Ultimate Force, or TUF series of ruggedized notebooks is currently represented by ten current models. Of the key characteristics, they differ in diagonal and screen frequency, type of processors and video cards. Moreover, each of these models can be equipped with several options for processors and video cards, not to mention different amounts of RAM and drives. This allows the user to choose the configuration he needs as much as possible without overpaying for unnecessary options or excessive performance.

The most interesting and modern in this series is the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 model, which can be equipped with AMD Ryzen 9 4900H, Ryzen 7 4800H or Ryzen 5 4600H processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, GeForce GTX 1650 Ti or GeForce GTX 1650 video cards, and also memory of 16 or 32 GB and various drives. In this laptop model, the emphasis is placed not only on the traditionally increased reliability of TUF, but also on convenient access to components for upgrading, which is also important in the long term of using the laptop.

Let’s take a closer look at the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 and compare its performance to two other ASUS notebooks.

⇡ #Completion and packaging

The laptop comes in a large cardboard box, decorated in the style of the TUF series. A plastic carrying handle comes in handy, since it is not very convenient to carry a box of such dimensions in your hands.

At the end of the box is a sticker with an indication of a specific model and a detailed description of the laptop configuration. This is convenient, since few people will understand all the details only by the FX706 index.

When you open the box, the laptop rises slightly to make it easier to get it out of the notch in which it is fixed.

In addition to the laptop itself, the box contains a power adapter with cables, a quick guide, a warranty card and a set of TUF stickers.

ASUS TUF Gaming A17 is manufactured in China and is backed by a one-year warranty. The cost of the 17.3-inch model starts at 77,990 rubles. The configuration provided to us for testing costs about 95,000 rubles.

⇡ #Specifications

ASUS TUF Gaming A17 (FX706)
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 4800H (7 nm, 8 cores / 16 threads, 2.9-4.2 GHz, L3 cache 2 × 4 MB, TDP up to 54 W)
Possible options:
– AMD Ryzen 9 4900H;
– AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
Chipset Ryzen SOC
RAM 16GB (2x8GB DDR4-3200 Dual Channel 22-22-22-52 CR1)
Possible options:
– 2 × 16 GB DDR4-3200
Video subsystem Integrated into AMD Radeon Graphics processor;
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (GDDR6 6GB / 192-bit).
Possible options:
– NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4 GB;
– NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Storage devices SSD Kingston OM8PCP3512F-AB 512.1 GB.
Possible options:
– 256 GB SSD;
– 1024 GB SSD;
– 1024 GB HDD (only in the version with reduced battery)
Display 17.3-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1080) 120Hz, 45% NTSC, LED-backlit, matte.
Possible options:
17.3-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1080) 60Hz, 45% NTSC LED-backlit, matte
Sound subsystem 2 x 4W speakers, DTS: X Ultra
Optical drive No
Card reader No
Network interfaces Wired network Yes, 1 Gbps
Wireless network AzureWave AW-CB375NF 802.11ac, MIMO 2×2, 2.4GHz & 5.0GHz (160MHz)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0
NFC No
Interfaces and ports USB 2.0 1
USB 3.2 Gen1 2 (Type-A)
USB 3.2 Gen2 1 (Type-C / DisplayPort)
HDMI 2.0b Yes (with 4K HDR support, HDCP SPEC 2.2)
VGA No
DisplayPort 1.4 Yes (combo over USB 3.2 Gen2)
RJ-45 there is
Microphone input Yes (combined)
Headphone out Yes (combined)
Input Devices Keyboard Aura RGB backlit membrane with hotkeys, ~ 1.4mm key travel, Overstroke technology
Touchpad Yes, two-button
IP telephony Webcam Yes, HD 1 MP
Microphone Yes, 2 pcs.
Battery 90 Wh (5675 mAh) Lithium Polymer
Power adapter ADP-180TB (180W, 20.0V, 9.0A) 351g with 3.45m Cables
Overall dimensions 399.2 x 268.9 x 26.0 mm (23.5 mm front thickness)
Weight without power adapter: declared / measured 2600/2623 g
Laptop case color “Secretive gray”
Possible options:
– “aggressive black”
Other features Kensington lock loop;
fTPM (Firmware-based Trusted Platform Module)
operating system Windows 10 Pro / Home
Warranty 1 year
Retail value ~95,000 rubles

⇡ #Case design and ergonomics

ASUS TUF Gaming A17 is available in two colors – “aggressive black” and “hidden gray”. We tested the laptop in the latest color scheme, but it seems that under different light sources, the laptop case also changes slightly. If in daylight it is dark gray, then in the warm light of the lamps it becomes darker and even somewhat green. That’s really really “secretive”.

The upper panel of the case, made of metal (there are also versions with a plastic cover), bears the TUF series logo, and the lower edge has a honeycomb structure, which provides ventilation and at the same time increases the rigidity of the case.

The dimensions of ASUS TUF Gaming A17 are 399.2 × 268.9 × 26.0 mm, while the front thickness is less – 23.5 mm. This version weighs 2.6 kg.

When opening the display, you do not need to hold the base of the laptop, and for a more comfortable grip there is a small protrusion at the front.

On the back of the case you can find only ventilation grilles through which the copper radiators of the cooling system are visible.

All connectors and ports are brought out to the sides of the laptop case.

Among them, you can find three USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A (5 Gb / s) and one USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C (10 Gb / s), 8P8C network connector, HDMI 2.0b video output, combined audio jack for headphones or microphone, and See also the power adapter connector.

ASUS TUF Gaming A17 does not have a card reader, but there is a Kensington Lock loop.

The build quality of the laptop case raises no questions. No creaks or backlashes were found. In general, when working with ASUS TUF Gaming A17, you get the feeling of a high-quality and attentive approach to assembly, which is not always the case in laptops.

Unlike the cyber-gaming ASUS ROG Strix G17, this model does not have a case backlight, but, in our opinion, the keyboard backlight is enough. But, like all ASUS TUF series models, the Gaming A17 boasts compliance with the American military-industrial standard MIL-STD-810H, which guarantees increased laptop reliability and the ability to continue to work when dropped from a low height.

⇡ #Input Devices

The laptop uses a membrane-type keyboard optimized for gaming with a numeric keypad. Russian and English layouts are applied in the same color.

Just like in the ROG series, ROG Overstroke technology is used to make keystrokes respond faster, which is what gamers want. At the same time, an impressive 20 million keystroke life is guaranteed.

The dimensions of the main keys are 14.5 x 14.5 mm, the functional keys are 14.5 x 8.5 mm, the “arrows” are very small and uncomfortable. The four WASD gaming keys are highlighted in white.

Typing is convenient, but it takes a little skill and habit to use just this type of keyboard. The keys are backlit, you can customize the backlight as you like through the ASUS Aura application.

It is comfortable to work at the keyboard, the keys practically do not emit noise, and the surface under them does not heat up even with prolonged gaming load (about half an hour).

The two-button touchpad measures 108 × 59.5 mm.

It would seem that this is a completely standard device, it works as always. However, I have the opportunity to compare this touchpad with the touchpad of an ASUS laptop of the same series, TUF Gaming FX705GD two years ago, and here the difference is simply cosmic, and in favor of the fresh Gaming A17 – its touchpad is not only more sensitive and convenient, but also works without squeaks and backlashes. Moreover, the TUF Gaming FX705GD was practically not used, so it is impossible to say that its touchpad was simply “killed” over the past two years, and therefore it is so flimsy.

Also, the laptop has an HD camera with microphones located in a slightly extended part in the middle of the upper frame, above the display.

In the upper right corner of the operating panel there is a laptop power button equipped with an LED indicator.

The top panel also has indicators – power, battery charge, drive activity and airplane mode.

We add here that, due to the polished texture of the surface of the laptop case, practically no prints remain on it, and if they managed to somehow remain, then they can be easily removed with a damp cloth.

⇡ #Display

The display in the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 laptop has a 17.3-inch diagonal and a classic resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels for such a diagonal. The specifications indicate that the color gamut of the display does not exceed 45% of the area of ​​the NTSC standard, but the response time of the matrix for some reason is not given. The side display bezels are 7.5mm wide, the top 10.5mm and the bottom 29mm minimum.

The opening angle of the laptop display is about 140 degrees.

The ASUS TUF Gaming A17 uses a 120Hz matte IPS matrix with Adaptive-Sync technology that synchronizes the screen refresh rate with the frame rate of the GPU. Matrix marking – NV173FHM-NX1.

We tested the display parameters using the X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibrator and Argyll CMS software with the DispcalGUI graphical interface. All measurements were taken prior to display calibration. Let’s see the results.

From 25% brightness (72 cd / m22) the color temperature is close to the reference value of 6500 K, that is, the display is already sufficiently well calibrated at the factory.

The situation with the gamma curve is not so good, but without critical deviations.

The deviations of the color balance in the gray gradient are minimal.

The maximum display brightness at 100% in the settings menu is average – only 278 cd / m22… The brightness measurement in the entire range in 10% steps is shown in the following diagram – in comparison with the brightness of the ASUS ROG Strix G17 display.

As you can see, the brightness level curve of the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 display has a smoother profile, and in the range from 30 to 85% this display is even brighter than the matrix of the higher-end ASUS ROG Strix G17 laptop. However, in terms of maximum brightness, it is still inferior. On a sunny day, 278 nits of brightness may not be enough for comfortable work or play.

When measuring the uniformity of the backlight of the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 display, no serious deviations were found.

In conclusion, we add that according to the results of display calibration, the volume of the color range was 57.7% sRGB.

Most likely, this display will not be the ideal choice for working with color, but it copes well enough with games.

⇡ #Internal structure and accessories

The bottom panel of the laptop is made of plastic, but it can be removed quite simply – you just need to unscrew a few screws around the perimeter.

After that, access to all components of the laptop is opened, not including those located under the cooling system.

We will first give a brief summary of the hardware configuration from the AIDA64 Extreme utility, and then we will analyze each component separately.

The motherboard BIOS is dated July 2, 2020 and refers to version 309.

After the completion of the tests and the return of the laptop, version 311 of September 22 was released with a laconic log of changes: “Improved System Stability”. But we tested the laptop with BIOS 309.

As we mentioned, the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 can be based on one of three different AMD 7nm FinFET processors – Ryzen 9 4900H, Ryzen 7 4800H, or Ryzen 5 4600H. Our version uses a medium version with eight cores and sixteen threads.

The processor frequency can vary from 2.9 to 4.2 GHz, and the nominal TDP level is 45 watts (peak – 54 watts). The flagship (for laptops) Ryzen 9 4900H differs from it in slightly higher frequencies, but the younger Ryzen 5 4600H has only six cores and twelve threads, and also operates at frequencies up to 4.0 GHz. Basically, for ASUS TUF Gaming A17, in which the most powerful video card is just a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, a junior processor will be enough, which will not only save on the cost of a laptop, but also improve its autonomy.

The maximum amount of DDR4 RAM in ASUS TUF Gaming A17 can reach 32 GB, but our version has 16 GB, recruited by two identical SO-DIMMs with heat distribution plates on both sides.

According to CPU-Z, the modules and chips are produced by Micron and operate in dual-channel mode at 3.2 GHz with 22-22-22-52_1T timings at 1.2 V.

This, incidentally, is higher than the memory of the recently tested ASUS ROG Strix G17 with 2.933 GHz. A trifle, but nice.

In 2D modes of the laptop, the graphics core AMD Radeon Graphics integrated into the central processor is used, but when 3D applications are launched, a discrete graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with a volume of 6 GB GDDR6 is activated.

Note that the laptop can also be equipped with discrete graphics cards NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti or GeForce GTX 1650. In these cases, the amount of video memory will be 4 GB.

For drives in ASUS TUF Gaming A17, there are two M.2 ports, one of which has a 512 GB Kingston OM8PCP3512F-AB SSD. It is also sealed with a heat-distributing plate and inserted into a makeshift casing of thick foil paper.

The declared resource of the drive is 1.8 million hours.

The speed characteristics of this SSD model can be called average, but it should be noted that its performance on battery operation does not significantly decrease – not as often happens in more expensive laptop models. Below we present some test results of the drive when operating on AC power (left) and when operating on battery power (right).

In the AIDA64 Extreme stress test, the SSD reached 68 degrees Celsius on AC power and 60 degrees Celsius on battery power.

SSD stress test on mains power

SSD stress test on mains power

SSD stress test on battery power

SSD stress test on battery power

Both values ​​can be called high, especially when compared with the faster drives of the ASUS ROG Strix G17 laptop, where their temperatures did not exceed 52 degrees Celsius. And yet, the temperature regime of the SSD in ASUS TUF Gaming A17 did not cause us much concern, since during normal work or in games its temperatures did not exceed 54 degrees Celsius. We add that at the same time the ASUS TUF Gaming A17 version was announced, in which there is a seat for a third, 2.5-inch drive, but such a laptop uses a short battery with a smaller capacity (48 Wh versus 90 Wh).

The laptop is equipped with a Realtek RTL8168 / 8111 gigabit network controller and an AzureWave AW-CB375NF wireless communication module.

The latter does not support the newfangled Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and is content with only Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), but it can operate in the frequency ranges of 2.5 and 5.0 GHz (160 MHz bandwidth).

The laptop’s audio system is based on the Realtek codec, and the sound is output through two multidirectional speakers with a power of 4 watts each.

Supports DTS: X Ultra surround sound technology.

The sound is quite loud and clear even at the maximum level, but it does not make any special and exceptional impression.

⇡ #Cooling system, efficiency and noise level

The cooling system of ASUS TUF Gaming A17 is implemented with three radiators, three heat pipes and two fans with a dust cleaning system (there are special tunnels through which dust particles are removed).

Cool air enters the laptop from below and is thrown back and sideways through thin copper ribs.

Even at the maximum fan speed, the laptop runs strikingly quieter than the ASUS ROG Strix G17, which is due not only to an energy efficient processor, but also a less resource-intensive video card.

Through the Armory Crate app, you can activate one of the three preset laptop modes – Turbo, Performance or Silent – or manually set the parameters and save them.

To assess the efficiency of cooling the central processor in a laptop, we used the powerMAX utility (in AVX mode), and the monitoring parameters were read and displayed by HWiNFO64. Testing conducted in an indoor temperature of approximately 25.5 degrees Celsius, running Windows 10 Pro x64, with the latest available drivers and updates.

First, we tested ASUS TUF Gaming A17 using the AC adapter and mains in these three modes.

There is a difference between them, and quite significant. In the fastest and noisiest Turbo, the laptop processor first briefly runs at 3.5 GHz, then lowers it to 3.25 GHz and after that stabilizes at about 3.1 GHz. The maximum recorded temperature reached 82 degrees Celsius, and after stabilization did not exceed 70 degrees. In Performance mode, the laptop tries to balance frequencies, temperatures and noise levels. As a result, it turns out that the CPU frequency stabilizes at 2.85 GHz at the same temperatures as in Turbo mode, but the laptop is really less noisy. However, it becomes comfortable in terms of noise level only in the Silent settings mode, where the processor operates at 2.35 GHz, and its temperature does not exceed 53 degrees Celsius.

Turbo settings are not available on battery power, and the following monitoring data were obtained in Performance and Silent.

Performance mode

Silent mode

Only 1.4 GHz frequency for the first case at 45.5 degrees Celsius and only 1.0 GHz at 40.5 degrees Celsius for the second. But in both variations, the laptop runs very quietly, if not quietly.

Дискретную видеокарту NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti мы протестировали девятнадцатью последовательными циклами бенчмарка Fire Strike Extreme из пакета 3DMark.

Получилась практически калька с режимов работы процессора, только в других цифрах, — как при работе от электросети, так и от аккумулятора.

Режим «Performance»

Режим «Silent»

У видеокарт NVIDIA серии GTX в современных ноутбуках есть особенность — при отключении адаптера питания они теряют в производительности меньше, чем мощнейшие RTX-версии. И пусть в конечном итоге высокий фреймрейт на них не увидеть, совсем уж в «тыкву» они точно не превращаются. Добавим, что из обсуждения данной модели ноутбука в форумах известно, что при замене термоинтерфейса на процессоре и GPU видеокарты можно добиться снижения температур на 5-7 градусов Цельсия и уменьшения уровня шума. Правда, с гарантией на ноутбук при этом придётся расстаться.

⇡#Тестирование производительности

В данном разделе мы приведём сразу три блока оценки производительности ноутбука ASUS TUF Gaming A17. В первом сравним показатели бенчмарков центрального процессора и оперативной памяти при работе ноутбука от электросети и от аккумулятора.

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (электросеть)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (электросеть)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (аккумулятор)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (аккумулятор)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (электросеть)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (электросеть)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (аккумулятор)

Тест памяти AIDA64 Extreme (аккумулятор)

Тест WinRAR (электросеть)

Тест WinRAR (электросеть)

Тест WinRAR (аккумулятор)

Тест WinRAR (аккумулятор)

Тест 7-Zip (электросеть)

Тест 7-Zip (электросеть)

Тест 7-Zip (аккумулятор)

Тест 7-Zip (аккумулятор)

Тест HandBrake (электросеть)

Тест HandBrake (электросеть)

Тест HandBrake (аккумулятор)

Тест HandBrake (аккумулятор)

Тест Cinebench R20 (электросеть)

Тест Cinebench R20 (электросеть)

Тест Cinebench R20 (аккумулятор)

Тест Cinebench R20 (аккумулятор)

Тест Blender 2.90 classroom (электросеть)

Тест Blender 2.90 classroom (электросеть)

Тест Blender 2.90 classroom (аккумулятор)

Тест Blender 2.90 classroom (аккумулятор)

Тест Geekbench 5 (электросеть)

Тест Geekbench 5 (электросеть)

Тест Geekbench 5 (аккумулятор)

Тест Geekbench 5 (аккумулятор)

Тест PCMark’10 (электросеть)

Тест PCMark’10 (электросеть)

Тест PCMark’10 (аккумулятор)

Тест PCMark’10 (аккумулятор)

Тест CompuBench 2.0 (электросеть)

Тест CompuBench 2.0 (электросеть)

Тест CompuBench 2.0 (аккумулятор)

Тест CompuBench 2.0 (аккумулятор)

Второй блок тестирования ASUS TUF Gaming A17 отведён под сравнение полученных в вышеприведённых бенчмарках показателей с показателями тестирования двух других ноутбуков. Одним из них будет более дорогой и недавно протестированный ASUS ROG Strix G17, а вот вторым – фактически предшественник TUF Gaming A17 из предыдущего поколения процессоров и видеокарт, ASUS TUF Gaming FX705GD с дискретной видеокартой NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050. Именно второй ноутбук позволит нам оценить, как всего за 1,5-2 года изменилась производительность ноутбуков серии TUF. Результаты мы приведём в виде таблицы.

Благодаря современному и наиболее удачному для ноутбуков процессору AMD Ryzen 7 4800H, новый ASUS TUF Gaming A17 не только демонстрирует существенный прогресс на фоне ноутбука предыдущего поколения, но и уверенно опережает более дорогой ASUS ROG Strix G17. Особенно ярко заметно его преимущество в тестах, использующих столько ядер процессора, сколько есть (мультипоточных).

Наконец, третьим блоком тестирования будут 3D-бенчмарки и игры на этих же трёх ноутбуках, которые мы приведём ещё в одной таблице (результаты получены только при работе от электросети).

Интересно, что ASUS TUF Gaming A17 с дискретной GeForce GTX 1660 Ti не так уж и много уступает ASUS ROG Strix G17 с GeForce RTX 2060, но куда интереснее, что всего за 1,5-2 года ноутбук стал более чем втрое быстрее в играх, что наглядно демонстрирует разница с ASUS TUF Gaming FX705GD с видеокартой GeForce GTX 1050. На последнем вообще нельзя играть в более-менее современные игры при максимальных настройках качества. Придётся снижать их и отключать различные эффекты, чтобы получить хотя бы в 1,5 раза более высокий FPS. Ещё раз отметим – это ноутбуки одного класса и одной стоимости на момент их выхода, просто по времени их разделяют полтора-два года прогресса.

⇡#Автономность

В комплект ноутбука входит адаптер питания ADP-180TB мощностью 180 Вт (20,0 В и 9,0 А) и массой 351 грамм.

Литий-полимерный аккумулятор в ASUS TUF Gaming A17 ёмкостью 90 Вт·ч (5675 мА·ч).

Несмотря на очень приличную ёмкость, аккумулятор заряжается сравнительно быстро. Мы отслеживали продолжительность полного заряда аккумулятора с 3 до 99 или 100 % в течение пяти циклов, и среднее время составило 1 час и 45 минут

В тестах автономности ноутбука яркость дисплея вручную фиксировалась на уровне 200 кд/м2… Прежде всего мы протестировали ноутбук в PCMark’10, в режимах Modern Office, Applications, Gaming и Video. Результаты получились совершенно нетипичными для игрового ноутбука.

PCMark’10 «Modern Office»

PCMark’10 Modern Office

PCMark’10 «Applications»

PCMark’10 «Gaming»

PCMark’10 «Video»

При использовании ноутбука в режиме видеоконференции полного заряда хватит на 8 часов, а для офисной работы – на 8 часов 40 минут. Если же в качестве нагрузки будет запущен цикличный тест 3DMark, то ноутбук продержится чуть более двух часов. Наконец, при просмотре видео заряда аккумулятора хватит почти на 9 часов. Последний результат был дополнительно подтверждён обычным воспроизведением четырёх этапов «Формулы-1» через VLC media player.

⇡#Заключение

ASUS TUF Gaming A17 показал себя добротной игровой машиной среднего класса, которой будет достаточно для большинства современных игр в родном разрешении ноутбука. Если сравнивать с предыдущим поколением ноутбуков серии TUF, то производительность в играх выросла втрое и более, а отставание конкретной модели, которую мы сегодня протестировали, от ASUS ROG Strix G17 с его GeForce RTX 2060 составляет лишь 12-15 %, что при разнице в стоимости и уровне шума в пользу героя тестирования не имеет особого значения. Возможно, я могу вызвать гнев владельцев ASUS ROG Strix G17, но в целом TUF Gaming A17 выглядит более сбалансированной моделью, если не брать в расчёт дисплей, который в TUF-серии всё же заметно проще.

Из недостатков ноутбука отметим отсутствие картовода, мелкие «стрелки» на клавиатуре, дискомфортный уровень шума в режиме максимальной производительности, устаревшую HD-камеру и отсутствие Wi-Fi 6. Ну и ещё SSD в стресс-тестах требует более эффективного охлаждения. В остальном ASUS TUF Gaming A17 не вызывает нареканий, а со временем его можно легко модернизировать, добавив оперативной памяти, второй SSD или даже заменив модуль Wi-Fi. Кроме этого, компании ASUS хотелось бы пожелать наделять такие ноутбуки (повышенной надёжности) трёхлетней гарантией – это наверняка дополнительно подогрело бы интерес пользователей именно к серии TUF.

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