High-performance mid-range laptops are a rare breed. Most low-cost mid-range laptops place some vital features on the sacrificial altar in order to cut down on their price tags. And the result is a low-performance laptop. The Asus X540UA-AB31-CA Laptop meets our definition of a true low budget midrange laptop. It isn’t our Editor’s Choice but thanks to a remarkable assembly of features (Intel i3-8130u processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and 128GB SSD), it comes too close to call it anything else. We recommend it for users looking for a high-performance laptop that won’t cost them a bundle.
- Simple design
- Ample amount of ports
- Full HD display
- Good performance on regular tasks
- Decent working touchpad
- Built-in MicroSD slot
- System runs cool
- Fast loading of apps thanks to SSD
- Lightweight laptop
- Lacks USB-C port
- Not the best keyboard – feels hollow
- Poor viewing angles
- Average battery life
- Average webcam (640×480)
- Bloatware included
- Integrated graphics don’t support gaming
Not everyone wants a gaming laptop. Some, if not most, of the population just need a low-cost laptop for everyday computing. It’s great knowing that the old days that a decent laptop would cost north of $1000 are dead and gone. Nowadays, manufacturers are at each other’s necks trying to shell new ways to outsell each other. It’s an aggressive cut-throat business but the bright side is that the consumer benefits from the constant price cutting.
As a result, it is now more than possible to pick up a Windows 10 laptop for home, work or school for around $400 or $600 at most. It’s also very possible to find a Chromebook and hybrid system for nothing more than $300. That said, today we review a mainstream mid-range low-cost laptop from Asus – the Asus X540UA-AB31-CA laptop. With an 8th Gen i3-8130u processor, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD, this is a capable laptop. It can easily handle most of your web browsing and basic productivity needs without feeling sluggish. Read on to find out if this laptop is for you.
Asus X540UA-AB31-CA Specs
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Processor||2.2 GHz Intel Core i3-8130u (3.4GHz on Turbo)|
|RAM||4GB DDR4 SDRAM|
|Graphics Card||Integrated Graphics UHD 620|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|Dimensions||38.1 x 25.1 x 2.8 cm/ 15 x 9.88 x 1.1 inches|
|Weight||2kgs/ 4.41 pounds|
|Ports||Full sized HDMI, single USB 3.0, two USB 2.0s|
Design and Features
The Asus X540UA-AB31-CA has a design that we’ve seen before. It features impressively thin keyboard, well-rounded corners, and straight edges. Truth be told, it looks and feels like the VivoBook with few differences like gunmetal blue chassis. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of aesthetic inspiration was borrowed from Apple’s MacBook and VivoBook Flip 14.
Outside, the case is made of textured plastic that we found great for gripping on while carrying the laptop. The hinges are both plastic too and keep the display in position without much wobble. We noticed the lack of a CD/DVD drive means you will have to get an external drive. Users who must have an in-built optical drive on their laptops can opt for the ASUS VivoBook F510UA (but that means shelling a bit more cash – appro $100 more).
In terms of size, the Asus X540UA-AB31-CA measures 15 x 9.88 x 1.1 inches and weighs 4.41 pounds. It’s nothing as thin as the Asus ZenBook Flip 14’s (0.55 by 12.9 by 8.9 inches) but its trim and light body should be easy enough to lug through your daily work/school commute.
Plenty of Display and Full HD
With a 15.6 inch display, you’re sure to get more than plenty of screen estate for multimedia and work. Asus made the deal sweeter with a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display. The display isn’t dull, but it’s not the brightest panel I’ve encountered either. It’s bright enough for clear viewing of images. Also, the display is made of an IPS panel which means great viewing angles. The screen has a matte finish which helps reduce reflections, a great addition that most laptops in this price range don’t enjoy.
The speakers are both downward firing located under the deck with the laptop stands. Music sounds a bit tinny but that’s because of lack of bass. Nevertheless, the sound is clear, not distorted and is audible. Watching YouTube videos and high toned music with guitars and keyboards comes out clean. The sound can almost fill a room too. However, the one caveat besides from lacking bass is that downward firing speakers often sound muffled, and so do these speakers too.
The trim design of the Asus X540UA seems to be space restrictive and hinders the laptop from having a host of ports. Hence, the port system only has a couple of ports, just enough for ample connectivity. There’s a USB Type-A port and but not USB Type-C. The left houses two USB Type-A 3.0 ports and an SD card slot. The right side is home to a USB Type-A 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a headphone/mic combo and an AC power connector.
The inside components of the Asus X540UA include an Intel Core i3-8130u processor, 8GB of memory and a 128GB solid-state drive. The processor is a direct predecessor of the i3-7130U and the lowest of the 8th Gen Intel i3 processor. It has a 2.2 GHz base clock speed and 3.4 GHz clock speed on Turbo. The Core i3-8130U offers a much better single core performance than its predecessor. Additionally, it comes with four cores and therefore a much better handle for multi-threaded performance.
For the most part, it shares similar features with its sister the Asus VivoBook F510UA-AH55. The VivoBook brags of an Intel Core i3-8250U processor, 8GB DDR4 memory, 128GB SSD and 1TB Hard drive. The two have a few features in common but the Vivobook strides ahead for a higher hierarchy i5-8250U processor, a USB Type-C port and extra 1TB hard drive that our unit lacks. As a result, the VivoBook costs more and performs better.
Nonetheless, even with this processor, the system is fast and efficient. It definitely is faster than what other budget mid-range laptops with Atom, Celeron and Pentium processors offer. The system can handle most Windows tasks with flair. You can easily run a couple of tabs on Chrome, run multiple apps while simultaneously playing some music.
Memory and Storage
Processor aside, the Asus X540UA-AB31-CA packs an 8GB DDR4 memory. Nowadays, 8GB is considered the standard amount of memory for a good budget laptop. The 8GB can handle a good mix of tasks including office productivity such as basic document work, large documents, multitasking, web browsing (heavy 30+ tabs open), media streaming (audio and video), photo editing (10+ photos) and low and mid-range gaming. The latter would be possible for this laptop if there was a dedicated graphics card installed. The system handles most of these tasks without breaking a sweat. The system kicks in when the load start building up, but you don’t need to worry about the sound being overly loud.
Moving on, the other available feature is the 128GB solid-state drive storage. Considering the operating system loads up from the SSD, the system boots up in seconds. Also, the apps and software load fast and stored content is retrieved in seconds.
As for graphics and gaming goes, the integrated UHD 620 graphics card available makes this laptop a non-gaming laptop. Generally speaking, the UHD 620 card is built for budget notebooks, entry-level casual gaming laptops, multimedia handling, and Ultra high-Definition videos. If you really have to game, the UHD 620 can handle some less demanding titles (on lowest settings) such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Minecraft, Counter-Strike – Global Offensive, GTA 5, FIFA 2018, Fortnite, and Realm Royale. Otherwise, if you want better gaming and media creation performance, we recommend the Acer Predator Helios 300 or the MSI GV62 8RD-200.
Keyboard and Keypad
Like the Asus VivoBook F510UA-AH55 laptop, the keyboard is thin and comfortable to type on. Of course, there is a noticeable difference compared to what you’d find on a Google Pixelbook or MacBook so it’s not as good as you’d want it to be. The great thing about it is it doesn’t feel cheap as most low to mid-range laptops do. There’s a bit of flex at the center of the keyboard but nothing to bad to make it a glaring trade-off. One other thing you’ll have to contend with it the lack of a backlight, which isn’t common for this price point.
A few inches below the keyboard is the left-aligned trackpad. It is a 4.1 x 2.9-inches touchpad that offers great gesture control and responsiveness. There is no fingerprint reader but that’s no surprise for a laptop on this price range. Just so you know, there’s not much done for security on this laptop. Again, that is because of the price point. If you want one with a biometric sign in and Windows Hello interaction, the Asus F510UA is a great fit. Also, most business laptops have this option for those who must have it.
Battery life for low to mid-range laptops typically stands at a minimum of five hours but others can go beyond that. A lower-resolution screen can consume less power compared to a high-resolution one. Our unit has a fairly average resolution (Full HD 1920 x 1080) so it should last somewhat averagely. The Asus X540UA lasts for 6 hours 31 minutes but the can be slightly different depending on usage. With moderate use, you can have a full day’s use in school or work.
The Asus X540UA-AB31-CA Laptop might not be the golden egg-laying goose for some but it sure does have more than a few great things going for it. Aside from an awesome price point, it comes with a roomy 15.6-inch screen, Full HD display, and a stylishly sleek and lightweight body. Inside, it flaunts a modern i3-813U processor from Intel’s latest family of 8th Gen chips, along with 8GB of memory and a speedy 128GB solid-state drive.
There are a few wrinkles you will have to contend with, for instance, a short life battery and lack of the futuristic USB Type-C port. Also, it goes without saying that this is not a gaming laptop because it lacks a dedicated graphics card. Finally, issues like Bloatware available can easily be contained by deleting and uninstalling.
Bottom line, if you can live with the few shortfalls the Asus X540UA-AB31-CA Laptop comes with, you’ll find it a well-packaged, budget laptop to own. The Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H) retains our Editor’s Choice for best low to mid-range casual laptops.
See the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H at Amazon