ASUS has introduced their latest ultraportable laptop, the Zenbook 3 which goes up against Apple Macbook which has given portable yet powerful laptops a new definition. ASUS has managed to beat the Macbook in terms of portability by making the Zenbook 3 more thinner and lighter than the Macbook. One has to wonder, has ASUS with far less experience in the premium Laptop segment managed to get the right formula to manufacture and sell premium laptops at a much lower price point?
ASUS has made sure that the Zenbook 3 is as light and as thin as possible by removing many ports and the keyboard is kept to a minimum as well. So let us look at how the device performs with all the exclusions in the detailed review below.
Specifications of ASUS Zenbook 3 UX390UA
- Display: 12.5-inch IPS non-touch with resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Processor: Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U CPU
- RAM: 16 GB LPDDR3 2133 MHz
- Storage: 512GB SSD SATA on Core i5 model
- OS: Windows 10
- Ports: 1x USB 3.1 Type C gen 1, mic/headphone
- Battery: 40Wh
- Weight: 910 grams
- Additional features: Fingerprint Scanner, backlit keyboard, VGA camera
Design and Display
It is undoubtedly the best looking Zenbook by ASUS and can also be one of the best looking powerful yet portable laptops in the market close to HP’s Spectre series. You get the premium feel from the laptop on the first glance and the workmanship can be appreciated by carrying the Zenbook 3 in hand, at just 12mm thick and weighing just 904 grams it lets you carry it around without losing a sweat and looking graceful at the same time.
It is portable and sleek but ASUS has done a good job by not cramping the wrist space as using it every day does not make you uncomfortable or hurt your wrist as it gets a decent amount of space to rest your wrist around the touchpad. The body is made out of aluminum giving it premium look and feel, ASUS has included their trademark concentric circles texture onto the lid as well.
ASUS has made sure that they compete with the Macbook by removing all the ports as well and the Zenbook 3 comes with just a 3.5mm jack on the right side of the laptop and a USB-C Port on the left which also acts as the charging port.
It sports a 12.5-inch Full HD display with 1000:1 contrast ratio, it is a non-touch display with a glossy surface. The display is almost bezel-less making sure that even with the compact size you get good screen space. The brightness of the backlit display is very good and viewing good resolution movies on this display was good. Outdoor use can be a bit uncomfortable thanks to the glossy display which reflects the light but the good brightness from the display it is not something to worry about.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The Keyboard is shallow but not as much the one in the new Macbook which was not what I would like, as we type a lot it feels good to have a bit of depth while typing and with the Zenbook 3 we have that, the feedback from the keys is good and the keyboard overall has a smooth feel and response to it. The keyboard is backlit and even has three brightness levels to adjust it depending on where you are using it.
The trackpad is decent in size and ASUS has built in a Fingerprint sensor into it, The trackpad has a glass surface. The Fingerprint sensor was not accurate all the while and not fast enough (compared to smartphones).
It also works with Windows 10’s Hello security platform which works by taking you to the Home screen as soon as you scan your Finger. If you are a person who likes physical clicks, you will be disappointed as it is too shallow to give that feel and I ended up using the tap which was more responsive.
It comes in two variants based on processor an Intel Core i7-7500U variant and the other one being a Core i5-7200U version. The one we are talking about is the Core i7 variant. It is quite powerful on paper and even in GeekBench 3 scores, it scored better than the H Spectre which was powered by a Core i7-6500 processor. We had the 512GB SSD variant with the 16GB of LPDDR3 memory. The SSD stick is not soldered on the motherboard which can be replaced with a compatible 80 mm stick.
When it comes to daily usage it never fails you, we tried running multiple applications and tabs in the background and there was no lag or any delay in response while opening another application etc. We tried Video Editing as well which was not as smooth as that in a Macbook, occasional use of applications like Photoshop and Lightroom was not a problem but prolonged usage saw heating.
Heating was a problem which we could see right from the start of using it, even when it was not used to its full potential the right side of the keyboard and wrist rest got hot. Another annoying thing was the noisy fans which were quite loud for such a compact laptop.
Gaming is not a strong point for the Zenbook 3 as it comes with an Intel HD Graphics 620 which is a shared graphic chip and not up to the mark to support most of the latest games in full resolution. Games which do not require high resolution can be played such as Role Playing Games and some games which we tried out were Need for Speed: Most wanted was good at around 20 fps and Tomb Raider at 30 fps.
The Zenbook 3 UX390UA comes with a 40 Wh battery which is a bit low for a laptop sporting an Intel Core i7 processor but considering the size of this Ultrabook we cannot ask more from it. We could get anywhere between five and six hours of battery life with the moderate use of browsing media-rich content websites, using web apps like Google Keep and Google Drive along with occasional Video content. The battery life plunged to around three to four hours when we tried to Edit some Videos or use applications such as Photoshop and Lightroom to edit some photos.
Using the Laptop in bright outdoor conditions required high screen brightness up to 120 nits which will bring down the battery life considerably as compared to indoor usage. ASUS gives a 45W power brick which charges the battery completely in around 2 hours through the USB Type-C port thanks to the fast-charging which is said to give up to 60% battery life in 50 minutes.
The ASUS Zenbook UX390UA is priced at Rs. 1,13,990 for the i5 variant while the top-end one with Core i7 Kaby Lake processor is priced at Rs. 147990. The various variants available are Core i5-7200U processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD with options to upgrade to 8GB RAM and 256 GB SATA SSD. The higher end variant comes with a Core i7-7500U processor coupled with 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD.
A beautiful, wonderful, and a powerful laptop. But, the price is steep and not something that one would love to buy just for the looks that it has. The unit that we reviewed is still good at Rs. 113990 and it does have that factor of attracting for looks and performance.
But, the keyboard seems not so strong for a longer run and if you are someone looking to have a Windows PC no matter what but want to have a laptop that gives that Mac a tough challenge, you got one now. The 12-inch Mac from Apple has a perfect competitor in the ZenBook 3 from ASUS.