The number of laptops Asus has launched in the past three months could surpass the number of rainy days my hometown of Bangalore has seen in October, and that’s saying something. On the heels of the VivoBook 14X412/X512 and VivoBook 14X403/X409/X509 comes the similarly priced but more stylish VivoBook S431. Unlike the one we saw at Computex 2019 earlier this year, this one doesn’t get ScreenPad 2.0. However, it comes in some funky colors.
Enter the VivoBook S431
In the last two VivoBook models (VivoBook X412 and VivoBook X403) that we reviewed, we generally noticed many improvements in the construction and configuration of the laptop. The bezels around the screen are indeed slimmer this time around, the keys have more freedom of movement and many variants now have a solid-state drive instead of a deadly slow hard drive. Do all those improvements also reach the new entrant? Let’s try the Asus VivoBook S431 to find out.
Around the same time that Dell launched its refreshed XPS and Inspiron models with Intel’s 10th-generation chips, we received our test unit of the VivoBook S431, which was powered by an Intel 8th-generation Core i5 (Whiskey Lake refresh) CPU together. with 8GB RAM. Storage came in the form of an Intel 512 GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. To our dismay, the review unit had no discrete graphics card and only an Intel integrated UHD Graphics 620 GPU. To add to our dismay, the review unit didn’t seem to have an empty SO-DIMM socket, meaning RAM was limited to 8GB. However, it appeared to have an additional M.2 slot meaning more optional storage.
Intel Core i5-8265U inside
The VivoBook S431 scored decent on our software benchmark tests. In the Accelerated Creative test of PCMark 8, the test device scored 3551 points, which is almost 200 points less than the points scored by the VivoBook X412 and VivoBook X403 in the same test. Even on 3DMark’s Fire Strike (1147 points) and Cloud Gate (8579 points), the VivoBook S431 was not ahead of the integrated graphics VivoBook X403. It’s hard to guess how the VivoBook S431 will fall behind, even though the VivoBook X403 is practically the same device.
Fixed 8GB RAM, unfortunately
The daily performance of the VivoBook S431 was, as expected, good. I was able to run numerous applications from applications such as Chrome, File Explorer, OneNote, Word, Excel, and WhatsApp for PC simultaneously on multiple virtual desktops and browse through them at regular intervals. There was an occasional delay in response when I had more than a dozen active windows open and tried to create a new workbook in Excel, but it didn’t last more than a second or two.
In other words, the performance of the VivoBook S431 is suitable for everyday tasks like composing documents, editing spreadsheets, watching online videos, browsing with a video in the background, etc. That said, you should consider this laptop do not want to choose to game . It’s a shame the laptop doesn’t get Nvidia’s MX-series graphics like its other cousin, the Asus VivoBook X412.
The VivoBook S431 comes with a 47Wh dual-cell lithium-ion polymer non-removable battery. On our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit managed a respectable 4 hours and 15 minutes. This score is somewhere between 2 hours and 25 minutes for the VivoBook X412 and 6 hours and 16 minutes for the VivoBook X403. It is, of course, unfair to compare the battery life of the VivoBook S431 to that of the VivoBook X403, as the latter comes with an unusually large 72Wh battery pack. That said, a score of 4 hours, 15 minutes isn’t bad at all.
In everyday testing, the test device lost nearly half of its charge (from 100 to 53 percent, that is) in about half a typical work day (from 10:20 a.m. to 2:22 p.m., i.e. ). During that time, more than a dozen windows were open (mostly Chrome instances), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi were turned on, and the screen was set to about 70 percent brightness. Oh, and a USB mouse and headset were also connected to the laptop. One YouTube window was open and music was playing on and off in the background. When I played a Netflix video for about twenty minutes, I noticed a four percent decrease, which isn’t bad.
Screen, audio and IO
The screen on the VivoBook S431 is a 14-inch IPS LCD unit with a 16:9 aspect ratio and Full HD resolution. The display’s color reproduction is fairly accurate, but after a few days with the test unit, I had the feeling that everything looked a bit whitish when the brightness was increased. In other words, colors go through a noticeable fade against the screen’s fairly bright LED backlighting. Fortunately, the panel appears to be evenly lit with no uneven bleed. Plus, the screen’s matte finish is a boon for long reading under direct light. All things considered, it’s still a great panel for everyday work, watching movies, and browsing the web.
Anti-glare Full HD display is good for everyday use
The sound from the VivoBook S431’s two downward-firing speakers can be called disappointing at best, especially if you don’t have plans to use an external pair for everyday music playback. The maximum volume may prove insufficient in a typical office environment where you need to play a video or make a video call without wires. The lows sound hollow, but the mids and highs come through with a fairly decent clarity. If you’re serious about audio quality, consider investing in a good pair of headphones or PC speakers.
Bottom-firing speakers on the S431
The VivoBook S431 is not shy about offering connectivity to its users. On the left side of the body we see a proprietary round-pin power port, a full-size HDMI port, a USB-A 3.1 port, a USB-C 3.1 (Gen 2) port along with a number of status indicators. On the right we see a USB-A 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack for headsets and a full-sized SD card slot. The sides of the laptop lack a Kensington Lock Slot for physical desktop security.
Gates on the left…
…and gates on the right
The VivoBook S431 ditches the traditional touchpad-integrated fingerprint scanner for an IR webcam, enabling facial recognition via Windows Hello. In my experience, the face unlock only worked on the test device three times out of five, even when I was sitting at an optimal distance directly in front of the laptop screen. Unlocking the laptop from higher angles (portrait, for example) was all the more difficult, so I resorted to using the PIN-based unlock more often than I wanted to. I think a regular fingerprint scanner wouldn’t have gone awry on this device.
IR Face Unlock Camera Doesn’t Always Fail To Recognize
Keyboard and touchpad
The VivoBook S431’s keyboard is ideal for hours of typing. The keys on it have plenty of travel and just the right amount of resistance, making for very few typos or strain while working. The keycaps curve slightly toward the center, making it easier to find the center of each key on the keyboard. There are no separate keys for the Home, End, Page Up and Page Down functions, but they can be used by pressing the Fn key in combination with the arrow keys. I wish Asus hadn’t placed the power button next to the Delete key, as this can easily trigger an unintentional sleep or hibernation mode.
White backlighting against silver keycaps is a bad idea on any laptop
I also wish Asus had chosen a different color for the keys than the same silver skin seen on the bottom of the laptop. I say this because the three-stage bright white backlighting under the keys of the keyboard becomes unusable against ambient light. In other words, it’s practically impossible to read the letters on the VivoBook S431’s backlit keys unless it’s pitch dark. The touchpad, on the other hand, is a WIndows 10 recognized precision unit, which is easy to use for multi-finger clicks, taps and swipes. The left and right mouse buttons below the touchpad are quite easy to click.
Still comfortable keys on the S431
Neat touchpad response too
Build and design
The VivoBook S431 differs from its 2019 siblings in that it is more colorful and a tad more stylish. While Asus says the laptop will be offered in Gun Metal, Moss Green, Energy Orange, Punk Pink and Cobalt Blue colors, we received our review unit in the same dull transparent silver option. If it makes a difference to you, the VivoBook S431 has the company’s redesigned VivoBook logo on the top cover. Unlike previous models, the logo has now shifted to the right side of the cover, highlighting “an escape from standard laptop form,” according to the popular Taiwanese electronics manufacturer.
VivoBook S431 in transparent silver
According to Asus, the VivoBook S431 uses a metal chassis machined from a solid aluminum alloy. The base panel of the laptop is made of plastic, but the keyboard island and top cover are made of metal. If the VivoBook S431 is indeed a direct descendant of the VivoBook S14 S406UA we tested earlier this year, then the build quality of the device has received a significant boost in the right direction. The VivoBook S431 feels solidly built and grippy in the hands, while showing almost no sign of panel flexion. At 1.4 kilograms, the laptop is also quite lightweight.
Knurled bottom panel provides better grip
Thanks to Asus’ ErgoLift hinge design, opening the laptop lid tilts the base panel by 3.5 degrees toward the user, making typing that little bit easier. Opening the laptop reveals a 14-inch matte display with rather thin bezels on the top (9.95mm) and along the sides (6.3mm). An IR camera setup adorns the top edge. The keyboard island houses a clean chiclet-style keyboard and a simple touchpad with neat rounded edges. Surprisingly, the base panel sees quite a bit of serration, which is presumably present for more grip. Overall, the VivoBook S431 is an attractive laptop that appears to be built to stand the test of time. You will not be disappointed to say the least.
Considering that there are already quite a wide range of VivoBook models to choose from, it’s hard to pin down Asus’ latest entrant when the Rs 54,990 price tag is hidden. It doesn’t help that the VivoBook S431 has no distinguishing feature or feature compared to the VivoBook X412 and VivoBook X403, other than that beamed IR webcam. You should also remember that the RAM cannot be upgraded from the built-in 8 GB and there is no discrete graphics card on board.
Despite its few shortcomings, it is certainly not a bad choice. The VivoBook S431 is ideal for everyday computing, online video playback and intensive web browsing. Plus, the battery lasts quite a while too (though not as long as the VivoBook X403). Even if it suffers from a mild identity crisis, the Asus VivoBook S431 is a great choice for students and working professionals alike. Do yourself a favor and buy it in a color that isn’t as plain and boring as the transparent silver we have.