Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA review
Ultrabooks provided a much needed breath of fresh air to the tired laptop scene when they first made an appearance just more than six years ago. Asus has become a significant proponent of Ultrabooks because their beginning, and while there is still a perception that Ultrabooks are a costly method of getting on the light and thin bandwagon, the likes of the ZenBook 3 continue to prove that there is a good deal of fantastic technology and performance to be had in a tiny form factor if you are prepared to invest that little bit more.
The most recent rendition of the ZenBook 3 uses one of Intel's latest, 8th generation quad-core processors, code named Kaby Lake R. Asus has combined that with a healthy amount of RAM and the most recent NVMe PCIe SSD to make sure that you've got performance where you want it, at a stylishly-slim laptop that you can take anywhere.
Such high-end components usually do come at a really real cost, along with the cost sticker attached to the machine surely suggests that it is not a mainstream option. But in case you're looking for a high-end Ultrabook, then this type of ticket cost is not too outrageous, and it actually does feel as if you are getting a great deal of kit to get you money.
Price and availability
Ultrabooks do need a premium on thinner, thicker machines, and weighing in at $1,799 (£1,399; AU$2,499), that certainly costs more than your typical 14-inch laptop. Really, together with the likes of the Microsoft Surface Book and Apple's Iconic MacBook Pro coming in at about the very same rates, this has to do something unique to set itself apart from a crowded picture.
It is well worth looking back in that specification though, along with the model examined does play home to a genuinely cutting edge hardware. That 512GB of PCIe NVMe storage, so that we will return to soon, packs an incredible punch in regards to data throughput, and also the fact that it is also home to a 8th-generation Core i7-8550U should not be understated either.
1 thing to keep in mind while looking to get this laptop, or really any modern laptop, is that there really are a excellent many specifications out there to choose from, so it is well worth drilling down to the details to be certain that you're getting the specific model you feel you're. Variations on the CPU used, the quantity and kind of storage used, in addition to how much memory is used.
In this example, a selection of CPUs could be found powering the ZenBook 3 in the most recent quad-core processors as we've got here, to last-generation dual-core components. While we could see a case with a Core i5 instead of the Core i7 we've got here, we would still suggest going for the more recent generation of processors across the 7th-generation if at all possible.
The model as examined is readily available in the usa and UK, though you want to be certain you double check the specifications to make certain.
The good news for our Australian readers is that this laptop can be obtained right from Asus, though it does not carry the specific specification that we've got here, since the SSD is a slower SATA3 model instead of the lightning-fast NVMe drive we've got from the evaluation unit.
Asus has a good reputation for its ZenBook manufacturer, and it is just going to win over more fans here, with its brushed aluminum finish making for an especially fine device to maintain and use.
With the lid closed, the hottest ZenBook is home to some minimalist design that errs on subtle rather than boastful, with just the gold edging indicating that this is more than it might first appear.
The bottom is likewise understated, using its own four low-profile rubber toes providing some feel to split up the smoothness. The pair of talk grills could be found here towards the front of the machine, even though a pair of thin air intakes on the borders finish off the sober aesthetic.
Pop open the lid and the full-size keyboard lights up glows into activity well in a darkened area, although in ordinary daytime light the backlight on the keys can be tough to pick out, and the light is a little patchy. Not a significant criticism by any means, but in this level, we expect perfection, and also the keyboard light is somewhat off.
We found typing on this keyboard a nice enough experience, and for once we are shocked to report that the trackpad is not a waste of time either. In reality, we did not feel the necessity to reach for a mouse when using it. There's a fingerprint scanner at the top right-hand corner too, for extra flexibility and safety.
The full HD screen is a joy to use, both for acute work and also for watching films, with good vibrant color reproduction, and fantastic viewing angles. People who are looking for a bezel-less screen are going to be disappointed, however, the end is fine and overall works nicely.
The last point of note about the design of the ZenBook 3 is its own weight. It is mild. Seriously so, but does not feel weak or delicate because of it. This is a simple device to slip into its own included pouch and chuck in your purse, or carry around under your arm to your day. It is thin enough to carry around as you would a file, but large enough and bright enough to present on to some little team if necessary.
If there's 1 criticism we can level , the normal VGA webcam is not going to do anybody any favors, also in 2018 we just expect something greater. Particularly when Asus are requesting such a high cost for the device.
It is time to chat about the performance of the ZenBook 3, and it is not just a simple picture. This is because the processor that may be found inside this exterior is an incredible powerhouse, but it is limited by the thermal envelope it is working inside.
For small bursts it will wow using its raw energy, but on longer workloads it throttles back so much, while producing so much sound and warmth, that we question the choice to use that processor here whatsoever.
The Intel Core i7-8550U used has a inventory frequency of 1.8GHz, though as with any new processor it quite infrequently runs at that rate, rather turboing up to whatever as large as 4GHz (even though Asus states that it must just go as 3.8GHz from the official documentation). In testing we did really see 4GHz hit occasion, but for the most part it stays at about its inventory frequency because the cooling system simply can not keep up.
This can be compounded further by how sexy it runs. During testing we run temperature monitors to ensure that everything is functioning as planned, simply to see here that inner temperatures topped out in a staggering 100 C. That's hot to get a laptop processor, and though the exterior did not get close to that water-boiling temperature, then it surely got hot enough to become uncomfortable when used right in your lap.
It is a much clearer image in regards to push throughput, and that NVMe driveway makes a difference to copying files around, and loading (and really installing) applications. In case you need to handle a great deal of large data collections, or massive media files, then the rate increase offered by a PCIe driveway is well worth the expense on a standard SATA drive.
We were amazed that the ZenBook 3 did not place in greater figures as it came to battery life. Given that Intel is continually banging on about improved efficacy with every new iteration of its processors, we just expected more out of it.
Asus has used a 46Wh 4-cell lithium-polymer battery, also asserts that a 12 hour battery life, even though we can not see how you are going to attain that without just letting it sleep for a good chunk of that time.
At over half an hour playing full HD films, it will definitely keep you entertained if you are away from a power outlet, but at only three hours to get severe punishing work, you are going to need to track down that socket after functioning. Ironically the PCMark 8 evaluation is the worst situation in terms of power drain, but even so, we have seen improved lately.
There's a whole lot to appreciate about the most recent spin of the ZenBook 3, together with the lightness of the device and it has high-end design being evident highlights. It is as good at playing movies because it's tackling more serious office work. The performance on offer can be striking, thanks in no small part to the superfast NVMe SSD.
We have a problem with the cooling offer though, since it can not actually keep up with the requirements of the Intel Core i7 you will find inside . Not only does this reach incredibly substantial temperatures , but it gets uncomfortably hot at the floor also.
Battery life can do with being prolonged to actually make the most out of its inherent dimensions and weight, and also we can not fathom why the webcam has not been brought current, however these are little niggles for what's an outstanding machine. Just aim to get a lower-spec processor and you are good to go.