It’s true! You can have a respectable gaming experience from a $900 laptop with 17.3-inch screen, so long as it is this new model from ASUS. Powered by an 11th gen Intel Core i5-11260H processor, with 8GB RAM and a half terabyte SSD, a good NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, this laptop scoots along speedily!
To be clear, this is an entry-level gaming computer available now, only at Best Buy for $900. It is also a respectable everyday laptop for anyone wanting a big screen. Yes, there are compromises along the way, but don’t poo poo this rig without reading the review. That would be a mistake.
This is the newest NVIDIA graphics card targeting mainstream gamers. Also of note is the Intel i5 processor, that, while new, is not the higher end i7, but, the i7 is not necessary for this application in this laptop as you will read.
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- ASUS TUF Gaming F17 laptop model FX706HE-211.TM17
- 180 Watt Power supply
- Documentation, including two bonus items – Trend Micro Internet Security 3-device/3-month Subscription and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 1 month token valid for new Game Pass Members Only.
Unbox, plug in and start the new-PC setup experience, as with any new PC.
Ports include a full complement, including Ethernet, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI and a single USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port, all with the latest technology.
It is customary that there are many updates available and recommended on a newly-lit PC. I always do as suggested! Once completed, I did as I always do on a Windows 10 Home PC. I upgraded to Windows Pro. I like the added features and capabilities this upgrade affords.
My fingers immediately felt at home on the full-size keyboard with a nice pitch and all around ease of keyboarding. It is backlit with AURA RGB colorful eye candy I thought would be annoying. To the contrary, it is not! Notice the colorful keyboard backlighting above, designed to entertain and aid game play with marked keys. The 144Hz variable refresh rate 1080 screen works well for gaming as does the 720P webcam, a welcome addition not included on all gaming rigs.
A pleasant surprise is the up-to-date Wi-Fi 6 support and the latest Bluetooth 5.0. This laptop’s wireless and other internal technology is not going out of style any time soon. Another reason for this is its uncustomary expandability. Upgrade memory (RAM) into an empty and waiting slot or remove the single 8GB stick and get a pair of 16GB sticks to max out RAM to 32GB! Upgrade storage into a second SSD slot! Sweet, indeed.
The included Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 1-month token is the best way to try an unlimited variety of games before committing to a monthly subscription after the trial ends. With this pass, users can play many Xbox titles that are also compatible with PC gaming, Many other options are available, to be mentioned later.
The laptop feels sturdily built, too, not that I will be less than careful to not drop it. Battery life is not expected to be exemplary. I would expect that users would typically push the gaming limits of this laptop while externally powered, through it should not be unusual to get shy of about two hours on battery while gaming and significantly more while doing more mundane, everyday tasks.
Delving into settings in ASUS’ ARMOURY CRATE software, users can trick out sessions for maximum performance, pushing the processor and memory to speedier heights than needed when not gaming. The harder it’s pushed, the harder the efficient dual 83-blade fans work to keep the innards cool. Still the noise is not overly loud. Equipped with DTX Ultra sound, the virtual surround when very close is effective.
Time to dive in!
**PUT TO THE TEST**
Using the Xbox Game Pass, I tried several favorites from series including a choice of standard bearers under the Halo umbrella, Final Fantasy, Streets of Rage, Forza, the newer Doom Eternal, and, of course, World of Warcraft, to name just a few. Experienced gamers have their faves. Newbies will find what they like. There is something for everyone. Just remember, game choices are very personal. With such a treasure trove of titles from which to choose, just go for it!
Nothing disappointed me. Be sure to learn the best ARMOURY CRATE performance settings and sound settings for maximum gaming enjoyment.
Heat management is excellent. Even on my lap, the ASUS did not get burning hot owing to ASUS’ heritage and reputation in gaming laptops.
Adding RAM will allow for a better multitasking experience, but it is likely to not improve the gaming experience because the powerful GeForce graphics card does the graphics intensive heavy lifting during play.
This ASUS is capable beyond gaming for everyday use. You know, work and play from Zoom meetings to streaming, email and all the rest. Into the ARMORY CRATE app to reduce performance from the max, this laptop loafs along, happily doing as asked. No, it is not going to win at video editing or graphics production, but short of these, the Intel Core i5 is perfectly competent and should be a pleaser for any student or low-demand gamer, as well as for their parents!
**ON MY WISH LIST**
I wish the laptop supported Windows Hello facial recognition for sign on, but it does not. This is because there is no infrared sensor embedded next to the camera. Not a deal breaker. The webcam does a fine job otherwise.
With its large screen, powerful gaming performance and smooth graphics, this ASUS TUF Gaming F17 is a good dual-purpose laptop ready for pure fun and just about anything else. On that basis, it’s a $900 bargain!
Manufacturer’s one year parts and labor with paid extension available.