The ultrabooks are currently in vogue as they offer an optimum balance between raw power and portability. Asus too tried to cash in on this latest trend with its Zenbook 3 which steps in the same territory as Apple MacBook or HP Spectre.
Recently we got the opportunity to use the Zenbook 3 as a daily driver and test it for ourselves how the new Asus machine fares in day-to-day usage. Here’s what we think about the Zenbook 3.
Asus Zenbook 3 Design
I have no second thoughts in my mind when I say the Zenbook 3 is prettiest Zenbook ever. It seems to have taken the ultrabooks to the next level at least in design terms. Asus has used an aerospace-grade aluminum 6000 to carve out its unibody which gives its strength to withstand rough usage.
Aesthetics wise, our Royal Blue review unit came with a brushed aluminum pattern on the LID (typically ASUS) with gold color frame and logo – and it looks beautiful. Mind you, it’s prone to smudges and will require wiping every now and then. Its back-lit keyboard has all keys marked with golden color which felt a bit unusual to us.
Despite featuring compelling specs, it weighs mere 910gram with 11.9mm sleek body which makes it extremely portable. We notice no flexing issues with this ultrabook.
The ZenBook 3 certainly showcases the capabilities of Asus design engineers as they have ensured that its footprint and build quality matches what is required for an high-end ultrabook.
The small chassis does have its disadvantages, though. Due to limited space, Asus could only manage to fit a Type-C USB port and 3.5mm jack. The company does bundle a dongle which has a USB 3.0 port, HDMI and a USB 3.0 Type-C port for charging.
It’s a shame that you can’t really connect a thumb drive and an external mouse at the same time in this premium ultrabook. Its competitors like the HP Spectre, Dell XPS 13 and the Acer Swift 7 are scores better in this regard as they at least offer two two USB Type-C ports (not ideal but better that a single port, right?)
The Asus Zenbook 3 (UX390UA) 12.5-inch IPS display has full HD 1920x1080p resolution which is sharp, bright and renders punchy colors. The screen is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection on top (a welcome addition). The display isn’t touch sensitive, but that, in my opinion, is a good thing. On the downside, it’s a bit reflective which makes using it outdoors an inconvenience.
On the whole, It delivers great viewing angles and crisp text which makes using Zenbook 3 a joyride.
Trackpad and Keyboard
The Macbook style chicklet keyboard is surprisingly good. The full-size keyboard stretches from edge to edge to ensures there is adequate room between keys. Prior to reviewing it, I used it as my daily driver and typed thousands of words and rarely made typos. The feedback from keys is good and the keyboard doesn’t feel wobbly. The only issue I had with the keyboard is the placement of power button which is conventionally the place for delete button. However, we got used to it over a period of time.
The touchpad too manages to make a positive impression. It was smooth, simple and easy to use. The fingerprint sensor on the top right corner is for Windows Hello authentication. My experience with the fingerprint has been positive as it rarely failed to authenticate my finger scan. The touchpad is wide and doesn’t really require any effort to maneuver cursor.
The Asus Zenbook 3 packs a top of the line hardware, therefore, and thus it’s no surprise that the performance is best in class. For geeks, it houses an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 16GB of DDR3 memory running in dual-channel mode, and a 512GB Toshiba M.2 PCIe Gen3 SSD. Regular tasks like web browsing, watching or streaming videos and data crunching run perfectly smooth. I didn’t face any stuttering or freezing issues.
Being an ultrabook, these laptops are generally not optimized to handle CPU and GPU daunting tasks like images and video editing. However, when I decided to put it through my photoshop stress test where I opened more than a dozen images in one go, the Zenbook 3 managed to do hold its ground rather well. Though, it took some time to load those images which are understandable as Asus applies CPU and GPU throttling to keep temperatures under control. We didn’t encounter any heating issues with Zenbook 3.
That’s not all, in a data transfer speed test, it results where astonishing. It constantly manages to offer above 1Gbps speed while transferring files from one drive to another.
It managed to handle light games with perfect ease but if you are one of those who is into hardcore gaming let me put this straight this ultrabook is ‘NOT’ for you.
Asus Zenbook 3 Benchmark Test Results:
|3DMark Fire Strike||898|
|3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited||70490|
|Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)||7,950|
|PC Mark 8 Creative||3,342|
During my time with this sleek beast, it managed to outshine all others ultrabooks which I have used in the last couple of years. I could stretch it through my 8-hour work day that involves everyday tasks like Microsoft Office, Web browsing, Slack, Photoshop and more. In my Movie Marathon test, where brightness was set to maximum and audio output was via speakers, it managed to last 4 hours and 5 minutes.
Asus has sourced and packed four Harman Kardon speakers – two powerful ones at the top and remaining two at the bottom. The loudness and quality of audio output are awesome. The laptop comes loaded with an AudioWizers app which offers multiple presets and customization option.
The Zenbook 3 is incredibly light, the performance is right up there in the top tier (when it comes to Ultrabooks). Not only it manages to impress us with its display quality and performance, its battery also lasts comfortably long. Having said that, lack of connectivity ports can leave many (including us) frustrated. Overall, if you are cool with a few trade-offs and are looking for a sleek, premium Ultrabook we have no qualms about recommending Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA.
Who Should Buy It: People who prefer to work on the go, those who want aesthetically appealing yet powerful machine, flawless performance seekers, Window OS lovers.
- Great Design and build quality
- Flawless Performance
- Sharp Display and Great Audio
- Long Lasting Battery
- Missing Ports
- No touchscreen