I’ve used lots of laptops in the past year — from the pleasant $150 Starmobile Engage Aura to the monstrous $9,000 Acer Predator 21 X — but none have impressed me as much as the ASUS ZenBook 3. Let me explain why.
It’s unbelievably thin and light!
And it comes with a sleek travel case
The keyboard is really shallow, but fun to type with
Its trackpad is one of the most accurate in its class
There’s also a lightning-fast fingerprint scanner for instant logins
Charging and data transfers share one USB Type-C port, but…
… ASUS adds a bundled dongle to ease the pain
Don’t worry, the 3.5mm audio jack is still present
Speaking of audio, the four-channel speakers are surprisingly loud!
Hold on, does it actually perform well?
When you see a laptop this portable, you’d normally expect a slow processor and laggy performance; that’s absolutely not the case here.
The ZenBook 3 feels like it’s on steroids thanks to its seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor, which you’d normally find on laptops much bigger than this, as well as 16GB of memory and 512GB of fast SSD storage. There’s no separate graphics card for gaming, but all these components put together make for smooth multitasking and quick boot-ups.
My only gripe is how hot it gets while under full load. It gets so warm, I have to take it off my lap and find a table to place it on — so much for the “lap” in laptop.
People might also complain about the run-of-the-mill Full HD 1080p resolution on the 12.5-inch display. It’s not as pretty to look at as the ASUS Transformer 3 Pro’s high-resolution screen, for example, and there’s also no touchscreen to speak of. It’s otherwise good enough for watching movies and getting work done.
Can it last a whole afternoon of work and play?
Another worry I had when first using the ZenBook 3 was the possibly poor battery life. My concerns were justified by the results, but I was still satisfied by what I got.
Because of the efficiency of the processor and not-so-dense pixel resolution of the display, I managed a little over four straight hours of mixed usage, involving image editing on Photoshop, writing articles on Google Docs, and playing YouTube videos in the background.
Even though that amount of battery life is nothing to brag about, it’s just right for one long work session, and it’s far better than the measly endurance of the Transformer 3 Pro convertible. I also shouldn’t complain much; I can get so much work done in that span of time on the ZenBook 3’s speed.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The look and feel of the ZenBook 3 are enough to justify a purchase. Our unit’s royal blue color together with the spun-metal finish make this such an eye-catching notebook. Add the consistent overall performance, and you have the best Windows alternative to the new MacBook yet.
Its only serious drawbacks are potential overheating and the port limitation. Oh, and let’s not forget the price. With a starting price of $1,000 for the weaker Intel Core i5 version, and PhP 79,995 ($1,600) for the Core i7-equipped variant we have here, this isn’t an affordable notebook.
For that price, you can get yourself the fancier Transformer 3 Pro convertible we mentioned earlier, which has a higher-resolution display, detachable keyboard, and bundled stylus pen. You can also afford one of ASUS’ midrange gaming laptops at this point and do more, but that would mean sacrificing more bag and desk space.
In addition, ASUS will be rolling out a more high-end ZenBook 3 Deluxe soon. It’ll have a larger 14-inch screen, more USB Type-C ports, and a webcam supporting Windows Hello. Of course, it’s going to cost more, but you should definitely consider it before committing to the regular ZenBook 3 right away.