Asus VivoBook L203MA-DS04 Laptop Review

The Asus VivoBook L203MA: A Great Value and Budget Laptop Option

The 11.6-inch ASUS VIVOBOOK L203MA is a bestselling laptop that received positive reviews for its attractive style, a light build, reliable operation and a long battery life. The Asus VivoBook L203MA-DS04 is a budget device with some nice design accents, a comfortable keyboard and a very long battery life. Users will also benefit from the HD display, stylish design, and strong port selection which includes a USB-C port. It easily fits as a great everyday laptop that is essentially also a budget laptop for college students

Pros

  • • Simple easily portable design
  • Decent build quality
  • • Budget price
  • • Strong port selection including USB Type-C port
  • • Snappy performance

Cons

• Narrow viewing angles

• VGA webcam

The Asus VivoBook L203MA-DS04 is the perfect laptop for those who are looking for an affordable small laptop that they can take anywhere along with them on their daily commute to school or office. Asus claims that this Asus Vivobook boasts of a 12 hour battery life which allows users to work and play without having to worry about charging it every now and then. A student could easily spend all day in class taking notes using this Asus laptop. Asus Vivobook L203MA comes with 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard Some reviewers criticised an under-average touchpad and the lack of performance for advanced applications. Reviewers criticized both the touch pad’s limited performance and lower quality touchpad. But that’s what we’re here to find out.

Design and Features: Asus VivoBook L203MA-DS04 Review

The Asus Vivobook L203MA-DS04 is decent laptop with great build quality. It comes in 1366 by 768 (HD) HD screens. It’s not very good if you want to edit website layouts, if you do large spreadsheets or if watch HD films at native resolution. Other Windows based competitors with a similar screen resolution such as Acer Aspire 5 or Asus Chromebook also have screen resolution with a far higher.

Asus VivoBook L203MA-DS04 Laptop Review

It has pretty compact dimensions of 0.7 by 11.3 in 7.6 inches and it weighs 3.2 pounds. The screen is crisp and provides decent detail when viewed in its ideal position, but the color does get dry at the far-reverse.

For this size display, however, the image is still sharp and affords a fairly roomy workspace – nothing like the larger 14 to 15-inch 1080p displays but great nonetheless.

If anything at this size, the display consumes less battery power than on a larger display with higher resolution such as 4K. As a result, the VivoBook L203MA delivers decent battery life.

Ports

Just like the rest of the Asus VivoBook series, the port system is pretty decent. There’s a good selection of ports to go around and for the price, I feel the VivoBook should solve all basic connectivity problems we have with our ultraportables.

In addition to the usual Asus VivoBook ports, Asus has also managed to pack an extra USB 3.0 port on each side of this Asus laptop. The premium Asus Vivobook models offer USB-C which is a very welcome addition for laptops priced under $600. While it’s not the latest standard on the market, Asus made sure that its first affordable model offers something other than regular mobile hard drives and slower adapter dongles in order to reduce cost.

To be precise, the right section houses a power connector, an HDMI port, a headset jack, a USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader and a USB-C port.

Meanwhile, the left section holds a single USB 3.0 port and headphone jack. The USB port is well situated for plugging in your mouse.

Some of the other connectivity options available include the Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5. This is a good combination This is a good combination found on most budget laptops which should come in handy next time you want to use public Wi-Fi while taking your coffee.

Preinstalled software

The L203MA DS04 Ultrathin laptop comes with a decent amount of Asus software to enhance your Asus L203MA-DS04. Asus Splendid and Asus Wireless Switch are just some of the pre-installed apps that come with this Asus ultrabook. You also get a pre-installed Windows 10.

Keyboard and trackpad

When you’re looking for a laptop, the keyboard and trackpad might not be the most immediate things you might look for. For most people, price and performance come first.

While the L203MA DS04’s keyboard isn’t the highlight, it’s chiclet design is still a great layout for everyday use. The L203MA DS04 neither has a backlit keyboard nor including numeric but the ergonomic keyboard is nonetheless comfortable to type on. The keys come with 1.6mm key travel which ensures supreme typing comfort.

Touchpad

The touch pad has been designed to be highly accurate, so that gestures, swipes and taps are recognized precisely and instantly every time you use them. As far as multi-touch gestures go we found out that they worked well such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe for going back. Asus laptops have perfectly sized touch pads which are not too small nor too big.

Audio Quality

The Asus VivoBook L203MA speakers sound clear and loud enough to watch a movie or some video series on Netflix with friends or family. Asus also preinstalled SonicMaster Technology in the Asus VivoBook range of multimedia laptops to give users the best audio experience possible either you’re playing your favorite game, watching dvd/bluray movies (you can even connect your laptop to your home theater system via an HDMI cable) or just lounging around on Youtube, Spotify, Deezer or any other music streaming service out there in the world.

Performance: Is the Asus VivoBook L203MA any good?

Is the Asus VivoBook any good? Is the Asus VivoBook worth it?

Well, it all depends on the context. If you’re looking for an everyday laptop and are not looking to spend a bucket load of cash then this Asus VivoBook is definitely worth it. And I’ll explain why.

Thanks to an Intel Celeron N4000 processor (with Intel HD Graphics), the VivoBook L203MA can handle most run-to-the-mill everyday tasks. Obviously, this does not include heavy video editing, photoshop, or gaming. If you’re looking for that, a higher end laptop with recent CPU/GPU should be on the cards.

In real-world usage, the processor enables the laptop to handle a bunch of tasks simultaneously. You can run 5 Google Chrome tabs with 2 playing 1080p YouTube videos without breaking a sweat.

Storage

As far as storage goes, there is 6GB memory soldered to the motherboard. You also get 64GB of eMMC storage which is a nice trade off for Asus to optimize price.

This Asus VivoBook model uses eMMC as opposed to more expensive SSD storage. The Asus L203MA pairs the aforementioned flash drive with a surprising 5400 revolutions per minute (RPM) hard disk drive (HDD). While that’s slower than an SSD, it should still allow us to enjoy faster boot and program loading times than laptops with HDD alone.

When we benchmarked the laptop in real-world usage, we did not encounter any notable problems in terms of storage speeds here – programs opened near instantly and I never encountered any technical difficulties of slow down or frustration while using this Asus laptop. In fact, Asus has been making use of HDD+eMMC combinations for a while now. Asus calls it Hybrid Storage in this 11 inch and says the Asus L203MA offers faster than normal HDD read/write speeds thanks to its eMMC addition.

However, if you’re planning to put a hefty amount of files on your Asus laptop consider getting an external or internal hard drive for extra storage space instead. You can find affordable 1TB external hard drives under $40 these days which should be more than enough to give your Asus laptop true SSD speed.

##What is eMMC flash storage

What is eMMC flash memory you might ask? EMMC flash memory is a slower form of memory (just like SD cards) than SSD. eMMC still retrieves data faster than traditional hard disk storage and as a result, is preferred over hard disks (HDDs) for inexpensive laptops. Asus has been using eMMC flash storage in Asus laptops for a while.

Gaming

For gaming, Asus has included its own AsusVivid technology for a smoother frame rate. This Asus laptop comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB eMMC flash storage. It’s not bad for a budget Asus laptop. At times it boots faster than my Asus EeeBook X205TA. To put it into perspective, the Asus VivoBook L203MA is at least 20 to 30 percent faster compared to most 10-inch tablets on the market made by companies such as Amazon or Google.

The graphics are powered by Intel HD Graphics 500 which doesn’t get you far in terms of gaming capacity but makes this Asus notebook capable of handling some 3D modeling tasks and video rendering slightly better than

If you’re looking for a more powerful laptop, our Editor’s Choice Acer Aspire 5 is the better option at very little to none price difference. The Aspire 5 rocks a more powerful processor (AMD Ryzen 3 3200U CPU) making it a bit more of a power hub.

Asus VivoBook L203MA Battery Life

As far as battery life goes, Asus claims the Asus VivoBook L203MA can get up to 12 hours of usage on one charge. We’ll just have to see if Asus’ claims hold true but Asus promises that the Asus VivoBook is capable of handling day-to-day tasks and it also comes with Smart multitasking so that you can run multiple applications without sacrificing your battery. With that said, depending on what you do with your laptop, you should be able to surf the web for at least 8-9 hours on a full charge. In our own tests we found out that Asus’ Asus claims are not too far off from the truth. On light usage, this Asus laptop can last a full 8-9 hours on a single charge which is more than satisfactory for an inexpensive all-rounder like this Asus VivoBook model.

Conclusion

The Asus VivoBook L203MA-DS04 has what it takes to be a recommendable everyday laptop. Asus did a great job at integrating Asus innovations while not sacrificing on performance nor the design.

This Asus laptop is pretty much everything we could ask for from an Asus machine – it’s got good performance, long battery life, and it’s very affordable. Asus also added in more software goodies such as Asus SonicMaster Audio technology that claims to output high-quality sound even on entry level laptops like this one as well as Asus Splendid which helps offset screen glare by adjusting your display color temperature according to what you are doing (mostly useful when watching movies or reading images).

While I do appreciate Asus for being innovative with their products and adding features into their product that increase value without increasing retail price, I feel Asus should have used better components for this Asus laptop. For example, Asus could have used a more powerful CPU (Intel Core i3) or at least included more RAM.

However, Asus has been doing this very same thing with its Asus EeeBook lineup of laptops that we love so much – giving Asus users just enough power to perform everyday tasks and even entertain yourself while on the go without raising the price too much higher than competitors laptops in its own category such as the Acer Aspire 5 . But if you want a bit more power out of your Asus notebook, I suggest checking out our Editor’s Choice Acer Aspire 5 which uses AMD processors instead of Intel ones but is still priced very competitively against other non-Asus notebooks. Asus is Asus and we love Asus for being Asus and providing value for money laptops! That’s the bottom line folks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Asus Vivobook l203ma ram upgrade

The Asus VivoBook L203MA is a great budget laptop and as we’ve confirmed comes with an EMMC flash memory is a slower form of memory compared to other types of memory. As a result, some of the performance limitations are to be expected which is why almost everyone who’s bought it would want to upgrade its RAM. So first, is the Asus Vivobook l203ma upgradeable? Yes.

It does come with a spare memory DIMM (alongside the 4 GB of memory soldered on the motherboard) so it is possible to upgrade its RAM up to 8 GB. However, we highly recommend you use two (4GB) or more of the same type and same brand for optimum performance. Also, it’s important that before buying a new memory DIMM/s that:

If your model number starts with PQC then it does not support an upgrade. If your model number starts with RYV then it does NOT support an upgrade 2GB DIMM/s will work as long as it’s at least 1066 MHz (PC3-8500) or 1333 MHz (PC3-10600) and fast DDR2 SDRAM e.g. Crucial, Kingston. The laptop’s RAM is inter-changeable with DDR3 SDRAM (the newer type) so if you do have an extra DDR3 DIMMs then it will work BUT otherwise, it won’t have any performance gains as the motherboard was only built to support older memory. If you are buying brand new Asus VivoBook l203ma RAM, it’s recommended to pair it with memory from the same vendor or at least same series (eg. Samsung) for optimum performance.

The Asus VivoBook L203MA comes with 4 GB of DDR3L SDRAM which is soldered on the motherboard so you will need to separate and remove that first in order to get to the spare memory slot. The 4 GB of RAM is shared with the system and graphics so it makes sense to upgrade/replace that first before you do anything else as doing so will result in a noticeable performance gain especially gaming, multitasking, and video rendering.

1. Turn off your laptop then remove its battery if possible (just for safety).

2. Disassemble the laptop completely including removing the heatsink, fan, and plastic shield first to get easier access to all the screws underneath then put everything safely aside.

3. Label each screw with a post-it so you’ll know exactly where each of them comes from (just for convenience)

4. Pry out the yellowed piece of plastic inside the memory slot as shown in the picture below using a scissor or your fingernail.

5. Use something thin like a credit card to lift up one end of the DIMM’s connectors (one by one) then use your finger to pull them out completely.

6. Once you’ve removed the DIMM, there are two screws to be removed on the motherboard side as shown in red on the picture below.

7. Remove and replace it with a new one (in our case 4GB) then put everything back together starting from step 2 and please remember to put your battery back before powering it on

It’s definitely a great laptop to have especially for students and/or programmers with its sleek design, lightweight body, quiet keyboard, decent speakers, clear display screen and works well right out of the box. However you’ll need a little (hardware) tweaking here in there to get the most out of it.

Is Asus VivoBook L203MA touchscreen?

Yes. Asus VivoBook L203MA is a touchscreen laptop with a full HD display. While it’s not the best touchscreen ever, it offers a good user experience, reasonable touch sensitivity and with most Asus Touchsmart interface available right out of the box. Asus VivoBook l203ma is not completely touchscreen -compatible so you will have to specifically look for this feature in Asus Laptop as not all models come with a touchscreen display (this one does).

How to update Asus VivoBook L203MA drivers?

Asus VivoBook L203MA does not need any driver updates as it has the latest ones pre-installed already but if you wish to check manually for updates, use Asus Drivers Download Utility.

Is Asus VivoBook L203MA battery replaceable?

No. Asus VivoBook L203MA is not user serviceable so it’s best to leave its maintenance and repairs up to Asus technicians only. Also while you’re at it, please follow these basic precautions when handling your laptop:

  • Never pry open the laptop or attempt to take it apart unless instructed otherwise by a professional technician
  • Never place a heavy object on top of your laptop/battery
  • Never expose your Asus laptop to extreme temperatures e.g. direct sunlight, cooking oil, hot water or any beverages
  • Don’t short out its motherboard components (eg. Asus VivoBook L203MA RAM) as it can cause severe damage and may potentially lead to fire hazard if not properly handled.

Keyboard backlight?

The Asus Vivobook has an LED keyboard that lights up when you need it to shine using the FN + F8 key combo. The Asus Vivobook also has 2 brightness levels: High and Off (but even on high, I find it barely noticeable and its effect on battery life is minimal).

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