ASUS VivoBook 14 M409DA-EK147T With Ryzen 5 - Early Review

Cool Buddy

Wise Old Owl
I recently bought the ASUS VivoBook 14 M409DA-EK147T laptop. I decided to post this review after having used it for some 10 days. I'll try to update my review after a couple of months if there is any major change in my opinions.

I bought it from Amazon for 30k on a 3-month no cost EMI.

First up, config. So what does this laptop have?
Processor: AMD Quad Core Ryzen 5-3500U, 2.1 GHz (6MB Cache, up to 3.7 GHz)
Storage: PCIe Gen3x2 NVMe 256GB M.2 SSD
Graphics: AMD Integrated Radeon R5 graphics
Display: 14.0" (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920x1080) 60Hz Anti-Glare Panel
Battery: 32WHrs, 2-Cell Li-ion battery
Laptop weight: 1.60 kg

Pros and cons first.
Things I like so far:
  • It's lightweight
  • The build feels quite sturdy
  • Insane startup times. The laptop restarts, from logged in to logged in again in about 15 seconds. Keep in mind that a restart doesn't use Windows 10's fast boot.
  • Superb performance for the price. There is simply no lag anywhere. Programs open in a snap, multiple browsers and many tabs can be kept open without any issues. I haven't yet tried playing any games on it.
  • The bezels are pretty thin, makes the laptop look sleek and keeps it small in size.
  • Fingerprint reader, which makes signing in so easy.
Things I don't like:
  • Battery life is not that great. No surprises there, given the specs.
  • Doesn't support 16 GB RAM for some reason, even though there are 2 slots. Right now I don't need it, but if I want to in future, I can only upgrade it to a maximum of 12 GB
  • The power button is flush with keyboard, right beside the delete button, making accidental presses a regular occurrence.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the laptop itself. I had been thinking of buying a laptop for a while as my old laptop's display is gone and it had become a desktop, connected to external display, for last one year. While initially I was looking for a high performance laptop, I just couldn't muster the budget and ended up buying what I thought of as a short term replacement laptop. However, given my experience so far, I might very well not need to replace it for 3-4 years. So here's my review.

I always like it when products come in easy to open packages. There was just one seal. After that, it was easy to unpack. The laptop was wrapped in sleeve and the box had paper cushions to protect it during transport. There was hardly any plastic used except for the charger.

The charger itself is a nifty piece, same size as a Oneplus charger and very light. The cables are long enough for normal use.

The laptop comes withe one USB-C port, which supports USB 3.1. There is a dedicated charging port. I would have preferred a USB-C charging. I'm yet to check if the USB-C accepts charger connection.
There is one USB 3.0 port and 2 USB 2.0 ports. Again, I'd have preferred 2 USB 3, but it's not a big issue.
There's a micro-SD card reader. No SD card slot, which makes life difficult for DSLR owners like myself.
There's an HDMI port and a comb0 3.5mm jack for headphone and microphone.
There is no LAN port, meaning you'll need a USB adapter if you want to connect it to LAN.
Overall, I'm not very impressed with the connectivity options, but it's not bad either.

The display is a full-HD unit which claims to support HDR. I don't know how to verify this really. Trying to watch a movie on this didn't impress me much. The colours look washed out and the brightness is not sufficient for a good movie viewing experience. Suffice to say, if your primary purpose is watching movies, this is not the right laptop for you.
What I like about the display is the matte finish. I really dislike glossy laptop screens as they make working against the light so difficult. No such problems here, no sharp reflections.

The sound is loud enough for a small room. The audio quality is reasonable. However, the sound becomes tinny at higher volumes. Again, this also makes it not a great laptop if you want to watch movies. It's good enough for YouTube videos though. My previous laptop's volume was ridiculously low.

Keyboard and touchpad
I like the keyboard so far. And I have done quite a bit of typing on this one. The key travel and feedback feels just right. The spacing is good enough and doesn't feel cramped at all. I do dislike the removal of page up/dn and home/end keys. They are on the arrow keys, accessible via the fn key. I use those keys a lot and don't like having them in a weird position. I would have also preferred if the keys felt a bit easy on the fingers, they seem a bit hard on pressing.
The touchpad is not as good as Macbooks, but comparable to other Lenovo and HP laptops I have used. It's reasonably sensitive and while I do experience an occasional miss, it's not big enough to bother me. Multi-finger gestures also work fine and I'm happy that there's built in support for them on Windows now. No configuring Synaptics drivers.

In looks, the laptop is very plain and minimalistic. There are no flairs or additional design elements beyond the functionally required ones. This is how I like my laptops, and hence, it suits me. But you can check pictures on Amazon and Flipkart, in case you care about the looks of the product.
Build quality wise, the laptop feels sturdy. I have no complaints there. Reviews about Asus laptops are mixed on this aspect, but I don't think this one is going to suffer from any issues any time soon.

I have not run any demanding tasks on this laptop yet. However, at this price point, it is easy tell that it's not meant to be a heavy duty laptop. It's meant for day to day use, web browsing, office applications, etc. And those things work like charm. My primary usage so far has been MS Excel, Web Browsing, and Python programming on Jupyter notebook. I do not experience any lags anywhere. From laptop startup to program launches, everything is snappy. Additionally, 4K videos play smoothly, in case you want to connect it to an external display.

I would happily recommend this laptop to regular users who are on a budget. It's definitely a better option than i3 and comparable i5s will cost additional 6-7k. Additionally, the built in GPU is way more powerful than Intel's integrated graphics (it comes close to GeForce MX150 in performance, as per benchmarks) and can give a boost to video performance and enable light gaming. There's no way you will find a dedicated graphics at this budget. Overall, I would say a very good laptop for 30k and I'm really happy with my purchase.

I'm almost an AMD fanboy and every PC/Laptop I've ever owned (4 of them including this) have been AMD based. But I've used i3 and i5 based PCs at work and I find this one to be slightly faster than the i5 laptop I use at work currently.

Feel free to ask any questions if you want to know more about any specific aspect of the laptop. I'll try to update my review of the product with gaming performance later.[/spoiler]
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