ASUS ZenBook 3 Review
Back in May, ASUS announced their latest ultrabook that aims to rival Apple’s new MacBook – the ZenBook 3. It boasts an aerospace-grade aluminum body measuring 11.9mm thin, a 7.6mm slim bezel, 12.5-inch Full HD display with Gorilla Glass 4, Intel Core i7 CPU, USB-C, and Windows 10 Pro. That said, you can consider the Windows alternative to the MacBook, but is that all there is to it?
Design and Construction
ASUS’s ZenBook lineup has always been famous for its slim build and premium design. The ZenBook 3 is definitely a member of the family and in fact, can be considered the best representation of that lineup.
As mentioned earlier, the ZenBook 3 features an aerospace-grade aluminum for its body. The top lid carries the company’s signature spun-metal finish found in other Zen devices. The edges, on the other hand, have golden highlights which are a good contrast to the rest of the body’s Royal Blue color.
Lift the lid and you will be greeted by the 12.5-inch display bordered by a relatively thin 7.5mm bezel. Above it are the microphones and webcam, while below is the device’s name in gold. Further down, we have a couple of speakers, backlit keyboard, touchpad, and fingerprint sensor.
ASUS says that the ZenBook 3’s keys have a travel distance of 0.8mm, which isn’t really much. You’ll still notice the slight travel but feels really shallow even from a laptop standard. Still, we didn’t have trouble adjusting to it.
The keys are well-made, really quiet and generously spaced. Our only gripe is the positioning of the power button which is located just right above the backspace key, making it prone to accidental presses especially if you’re not used to the layout yet.
As for the touchpad, it’s smooth and responsive, with good tactile feedback when clicking. The fingerprint scanner, though, is placed inside the touchpad which sometimes limits the space you can use to swipe.
Connectivity-wise, the ZenBook 3 took hints from the MacBook as well and decided to minimize the ports to a single USB-C port which is also used for charging, and a 3.5mm headset jack. The good news is, ASUS is including a universal dock in the package that provides the ZenBook 3 with an SD card reader, LAN, VGA, HDMI, standard USB 3.0 and USB-C port for charging.
Overall, the ASUS ZenBook 3 is one of the most attractive devices in the company’s lineup as well as the ultrabook market. It’s also thin, light at 910g, and easy to carry around. ASUS is also throwing in a leather carrying case in the package.
Display and Multimedia
The ZenBook 3 boasts a 12.5-inch Full HD screen with 82% screen-to-body ratio and 178-degree wide viewing angle. The contrast ratio is pegged at 1000:1 with 72% NTSC color gamut. Protecting all of it is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. All-in-all, these features give the ZenBook 3 a tough yet, sharp, vibrant display with great colors. Unfortunately, there’s no touch.
Given that it has a great display, viewing photos and watching videos are a treat. Good thing the ZenBook 3 is equipped with good-sounding speakers as well. To be specific, we’re listening to a quad-speaker surround sound, 5-magnet speakers with 4-channel smart AMP powered by Harman Kardon.
Aside from the two speakers located above the keyboard, there are four more located underneath. That said, you won’t be forced to use a headphone or external speaker just to hear good sound.
OS and Apps
Running the operating system is Microsoft’s Windows 10 Pro. As expected, it comes pre-loaded with software like Evernote, Foxit PhantomPDF, McAfee, TeamViewer 10, Dropbox, WPS Office, including a few apps from ASUS. Storage-wise, you’ll get 512GB SSD partitioned into C and D drives.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the ZenBook 3 is an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU clocked 2.7GHz and 16GB of RAM. Performance is great when handling productivity tasks like browsing multiple Chrome tabs, Photoshop, and Office apps. You may also game on it, but only with those that don’t require heavy graphics processing.
Although performance is good, heat can be an issue as the bottom right part can become hot to the point that it’s no longer comfortable to put on your lap. The heat also radiates to the top of the keyboard which warms up right palm rest as well as all the keys in that area.
3D Mark benchmark scores:
* Fire Strike – 728
* Sky Diver – 2,975
* Cloud Gate – 5,020
* Ice Storm – 57,579
Providing juice for the ZenBook 3 is a 40Wh Li-polymer 6-cell battery which ASUS claims to last for 9 hours. True enough, with brightness set to 30 to 40%, it was able to last us for the whole work day with some left for the night. All in all, it clocked for around 10 to 11 hours on average. As for our video loop test (Full HD video on loop in Airplane mode at 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged), it lasted for 11 hours and 20 minutes. Charging from empty to 100% takes about an hour and a half.
ASUS really has a killer ultrabook in the form of the ZenBook 3. It has premium build, attractive design, great display and audio, and good performance and battery life. However, the heating is a turn off as most people would like to use it on-the-go without burning their laps. The USB-C port can be an issue for some as well but can be remedied using the universal dock included in the package. Just make sure you don’t lose it.
Lastly, the price, at Php79,995, it’s not light in the pockets, but if you have the budget and looking for an ultrabook that exudes the same aura as the Apple MacBook, the ZenBook 3 is definitely worth considering.
ASUS ZenBook 3 UX390UA specs:
12.5-inch (16:9) LED-backlit FHD (1920×1080) 60Hz Glare Panel with 72% NTSC
Intel Core i7 7500U Processor
Integrated Intel HD Graphics 520
16 GB LPDDR3 2133MHz SDRAM
512GB M.2 SATA
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (WIDI Support)
Illuminated Chiclet Keyboard
Combo audio jack
USB 3.1 Type-C
ASUS SonicMaster Premium Technology
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
296 x 191.2 x 11.9 mm
2-year ASUS Global Warranty
* Premium build
* Nice design
* Great display
* Good performance
* Good battery life
* Universal dock included in the package
* Thin and light
* Bottom part heats up
* Single USB-C port
* No touch screen