Some people want high-powered gaming machines; others already have simple laptops that can do it all. The ASUS Transformer 3 Pro is part of a tiny gray area in between, and it’s quite the niche.
If you’re familiar with Microsoft’s line of Surface convertibles, you’ll know what you’re getting with the Transformer 3 Pro. They look and function alike, but the ASUS has a few more tricks up its sleeve.
The model I’m reviewing here is also known as the T303U. If you want to get technical, mine has a decent configuration with a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 512GB SSD storage.
Not bad, eh? The only downside is the price: PhP 69,995 in the Philippines, or about $1,400 in most markets. That’s pricey, so you better read on before making the investment.
It’s surprisingly comfortable in all positions
What bothered me when I reviewed previous convertibles were the awkward resting positions on my lap. The Transformer 3 Pro manages to break that curse.
The main unit comes with a built-in kickstand, which is as long as the entire tablet part and has 155 degrees of flexibility. This means it can easily rest on any type of surface, whether you have the bundled keyboard case attached or not.
Latching on the keyboard is as simple as letting the magnets of both units attract one another. And even with the two parts put together, the whole thing feels so light. The tablet weighs in at about 790g, but you’d think it’s lighter thanks to the slim 8.35mm profile.
This thing can run fast
Based on the specifications we mentioned earlier, you can already tell this convertible can blaze through everyday tasks. The question is: How far much farther can it go?
Without a dedicated graphics card, the Transformer 3 Pro will struggle when handling high-definition video editing or playing games like Tomb Raider or the new Doom. But that’s to be expected, really.
What you can get away with is heavy editing on Photoshop while having several tabs open at the same time in Chrome. I’m writing this review on a Transformer 3 Pro, and I’m split-screening Google Docs with YouTube videos playing and Photoshop ready in the background.
But expect lots of heat on top
Obviously, you’re going to experience lots of heat when putting a laptop-level Core i5 chipset in a thin tablet. It doesn’t help that the whole thing is made of “premium alloy.” Solid? Yes, but the heat spreads all over the top half of the unit.
Since the Transformer 3 Pro doesn’t have the lighter Core M processor found in most convertibles — or even in the cheaper non-Pro Transformer 3 — a cooling fan had to be installed, and it blows hot air upwards.
That’s a good thing, actually, as it keeps heat away from your face or lap. Still, you’ll want to give the tablet some time to cool down before slipping it back in your bag, especially if you save the heavy loads towards the end of your work session.
Speakers get loud; display’s not that bright
Something I enjoy using during my time with the Transformer 3 Pro are the loud front-facing stereo speakers. They’re a breath of fresh air after all the crappy speakers I’ve had to endure with other tablets. This is one of the few instances where I don’t have to reach for external speakers just to watch Netflix flicks.
On the other hand, the screen isn’t that bright. While I appreciate the perfectly sized 12.6-inch 2880 x 1920-pixel display, the overall sharpness and well-saturated colors aren’t enough to make the screen clearly readable under sunlight. It’s a shame, since convertibles like this are designed to be used absolutely anywhere.
Wonky trackpad and keyboard, ugh
Here we go again: another Windows convertible, another awkward trackpad. Expect it to miss double-clicks and right-clicks, and mistakenly zoom in on whatever you’re viewing when you least expect it. I’d sometimes reach a point where I’d have to restart the whole thing just so it would go back to “normal.”
Same issues apply to the bundled pen. Although it works a lot like the one that comes with the Microsoft Surface line, with 1024 levels of pressure and two physical buttons for mouse-like controls, it’s difficult to write legibly or draw anything beyond rough sketches. Fortunately, the pen makes use of a removable AAAA battery instead of built-in charging like the Apple Pencil, and ASUS bundles the hard-to-find battery in the box.
The keyboard isn’t that great, either. While I appreciate the well-spaced keys and their relatively long travel, they have too much resistance, requiring stronger presses while typing. You’ll get used to it eventually, but you also have to deal with a glitchy connection to the tablet. Any slight nudge, and it’ll disconnect instantly; that’s a problem if you move a lot while it’s on your lap.
On the bright side, the keyboard has evenly distributed backlighting. This is invaluable while working in the dark, since the keyboard has an all-black design. You can also choose from three brightness levels.
Hello, ports and cameras
The latest tech trend I hate most is sacrificing connectivity options in favor of a single USB Type-C port and multiple dongles. Apple’s new MacBook started this horrible idea, and companies have been following suit in order to trim down components and rip off consumers with extra accessories. ASUS is having none of that here.
For starters, the Transformer 3 Pro has a single full-sized USB 3.0 for all those flash drives you have lying around, and a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support. Then you have a full-sized HDMI port, microSD slot, and — thank goodness — a 3.5mm headphone jack. I never had to consider bringing adapters along for a trip.
Finally, we have a 13-megapixel camera at the back, and a 2-megapixel shooter in front with an infrared camera beside it. I honestly never thought of using the main camera for taking pictures — and don’t have any sample photos, sorry — but the front-facing camera works flawlessly for Windows Hello, which allows you to log in using your beautiful face.
Where art thou, battery life?
This part hurts the most. As much as I love the speed and overall completeness of the Transformer 3 Pro, its battery life is terribly average.
I’d normally expect at least six to seven hours of usage on a single charge from a convertible; this hybrid can manage only four hours with brightness set at 50 percent and Wi-FI turned on the whole time. And that’s if you’re lucky — three and a half hours is the norm if you go beyond simple web browsing and add photo editing into the mix.
At least you get fast charging. It took me less than two hours to reach a hundred percent, and that’s for a battery capacity much larger than any smartphone’s.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
Of all the Microsoft Surface clones that have been released, the Transformer 3 Pro does it best, and even eclipses the pioneer in a few aspects, such as physical connectivity and audio-visual quality.
This Transformer is also a step above the Core M-equipped convertibles we’ve reviewed recently, thanks to a much more powerful Core i5 processor coupled with plenty of storage and memory. Yet, in spite of all the goodness, you must take some things into consideration before investing in this product.
For one, it’s a little too powerful — yes, you read that right. You don’t need this much processing muscle for surfing the web and light editing. That’s why there’s a plain Transformer 3 with a starting price of only $799. What’s the difference? It has a more energy-efficient Core M processor and a single USB Type-C port, but comes with two additional speakers and an even thinner frame.
And, no matter how you look at it, the Transformer 3 Pro is expensive. For the same price, you could afford an ASUS gaming laptop with a real graphics card and better keyboard-trackpad combo. Sure, you’d end up with a heftier notebook without a touchscreen, but it’s far more capable in all other aspects.
[irp posts=”8791″ name=”ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe review”]
The ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023) is my top choice
If I HAD TO switch to Windows
Where do I even begin? ASUS ROG’s Zephyrus G14 has been one of my personal favorite gaming laptops ever since it first came out. And a few years later, it just keeps on getting better.
If I absolutely had to switch to a Windows laptop, the ROG Zephyrus G14 is easily my top choice. It’s an all-eggs-in-one-basket machine that can keep up with you in play, work, and everything else in between.
In a nutshell, here are the top specs and features you’re getting, taken straight from ASUS ROG’s product page:
- Up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU with 125W max TGP, NVIDIA Advanced Optimus, and DLSS 3.
- ROG Nebula HDR. Up to 16:10 Mini LED QHD 165Hz Display, Pantone® Validation, 100% DCI-P3, & Dolby Vision.
- ROG Intelligent Cooling. A custom vapor chamber and liquid metal support 0dB Ambient Cooling.
- Fast charging up to 50% in 30 minutes, 100W USB Type-C charging, and Wi-Fi 6E support.
- Windows 11 Home. Up to an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU.
- AniMe Matrix, 14,969 CNC milled holes, 1,449 LEDs, and custom animations.
Signature Zephyrus G look
Looks-wise, the ROG Zephyrus G14 hasn’t changed much. That’s great because you don’t touch perfection. The Moonlight White variant that we reviewed looks as immaculate as ever. If you’re not feeling it, it also comes in Eclipse Gray.
The Zephyrus name looks bad-ass on the back side.
The left side is home to the power adapter port, HDMI port, a UBS-C port, and the 3.5mm audio jack.
Meanwhile, the ride has the microUSB slot, another UBS-C port, and a pair of USB-A ports.
The ErgoLift Hinge, which has largely been an afterthought, is present and is still as sleek as ever.
And you can personalize it with the AniMe Matrix feature which we didn’t really bother with during our time with the laptop.
Beyond console-level graphics for gaming
Perhaps the biggest draw of the ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023), in combination with its looks, is the beyond console-level gaming visuals.
We ran Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PC on this thing and the visual fidelity nearly looks better than the one on the PS5. Let’s face it, graphics is definitely one of the things a lot of gamers consider when choosing what to play.
We tried many other titles just to see how they would look on the laptop and everything looked absolutely divine. Starfield was immersive, Lies of P looked fantastic, and even NBA 2K22 looked amazing.
In terms of the overall gaming experience, it’s also console-level and even beyond depending on what you’re playing. Going back to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PC, this game was made specifically for the PS5. And one of its flexes is the loading speed going from one rift to another. While the PS5 still feels faster, the ROG Zephyrus G14 wasn’t too far behind.
In other games that weren’t specifically optimized for console, the difference in performance is negligible. Third party titles like Lies of P, NBA 2K22, and even the recently released Like A Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name played absolutely amazing.
Take note, this is without much tweaking done on our part. One of the advantages of PC gaming is how you can have specific configurations for whatever game you’re playing. But as primarily a busy console player, tweaking settings isn’t exactly something I personally enjoy. Despite that, I absolutely enjoyed playing using my GameSir T4 Cyclone Pro controller seamlessly paired with the quick launch capabilities and steady high performance of the ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023).
Most of my gameplay sessions were with the laptop hooked up via HDMI to my LG C2 TV. When I took it out and gamed outside of my place, that’s where the laptop showed its one weak link. The speakers just aren’t loud enough for what I’m used to with laptops (I daily drive a MacBook Pro 13” M1). It’s best used with headphones or a speaker whether connected via bluetooth or the 3.5mm audio jack.
Workhorse even for your multimedia needs
I wasn’t able to push the ROG Zephyrus G14 to the limit work-wise. I mostly did the usual stuff here like answering emails, writing parts of this review among other articles, and just casual social media browsing.
Thankfully, my colleague MJ served as photographer in one of the races he usually participates in. He used the laptop to process the hundreds of photos he took (some of which you can view here).
All of the post-processing of the photos he took, he did on the ROG Zephyrus G14. The laptop handled all of it with ease. If I’m not mistaken, I believe he used the Adobe Suite in touching up the images.
So, if you work as a creative and a AAA gamer outside of it, this laptop is built to handle your needs.
Everything else in between
Naturally, you can do more than just play and work on this machine. The display is so damn good I used it a lot to get my steady dose of K-Pop content. Everything from TWICE Ready To Be Tour fancams, MISAMO showcase videos, and LE SSERAFIM Perfect Night videos. If you’re a K-Pop enjoyer, the bursts of color is something you will definitely enjoy.
I also had fun catching up on a handful of shows using this laptop. Naturally, I did so using my Sony Headphones to get better audio.
Clearly, I enjoyed my time with the ROG Zephyrus G14. And while this will get a glowing recommendation from me, the laptop isn’t exactly perfect.
I’ve already mentioned the audio as a clear weak link. The laptop is best enjoyed with headphones on or paired with nice external speakers.
Another gripe I have with it, and this is true for most gaming laptops, is the HUGE power brick. It really does feel like a BRICK and adds to the already hefty weight you have to take on. The laptop is light for what you’re getting but it is by no means an easy carry.
But these are good things still. That means this laptop line still has room to grow. For instance, its first iteration didn’t even have its own webcam. But this 2023 version is now equipped with one. I’m fairly confident that over the years, we will see improvements in these areas ℅ ASUS ROG.
Is the ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023) your GadgetMatch?
I have already said this at the start of the article, but it bears repeating. The ROG Zephyrus G14 is an all-eggs-in-one-basket machine that can keep up with you in play, work, and everything else in between.
What I mean by that is if you absolutely had to invest in a single machine to handle your work, gaming, and general entertainment needs, this is a great value pick-up. I say that considering that some of its top-specced variants retail for PhP 122,000 (around US$ 2,195). That’s fantastic value considering some of the truly top-of-the-line laptops now cost north of PhP 200,000 (around US$ 3,600).
That’s a significant difference price-wise while still offering a more than competitive gaming graphics and performance, ease-of-use for work things, and considerably good entertainment presentation.
If I, a long-time Mac user, absolutely HAD TO switch to Windows, this is the laptop that I will go for.
More info and where to buy links here: https://ph.rog.gg/ZephyrusG14xGadgetMatch
New AMD chips are smaller but pack just as much power
Introducing the Ryzen 5 7545U
Chipsets are getting smaller and smaller. Now, the new architecture is more than just a flex. Making things smaller also allows companies to pack in more components into a single device. AMD is doing just that. Called the new Phoenix 2, AMD’s new chipsets are built to accomplish what more powerful processors can, but for much less space.
Like other chipsets, the new ones under the Phoenix 2 will use the regular Zen 4 CPU cores but mixed with new Zen 4c cores. The new cores will do much of what the current lineup already does. They are, however, smaller. Devices with the new chipset can save space, allowing them to have more features or have lither form factors.
More specifically, the Phoenix 2 chipsets will have two high-performance Zen 4 cores and four efficiency Zen 4c cores. AMD already has a chipset out: the Ryzen 5 7545U.
It’s not the only new kid on the block, though. Besides the full package, AMD is also releasing a lighter version of the Phoenix 2. The also-new Ryzen 3 7440U will have one Zen 4 core and three Zen 4c cores.
Technically, the new architecture isn’t new. AMD’s contemporaries have also released chipsets with similar architectures. However, AMD’s new entries should give the thin laptop market more options going forward.
M3 chip-powered MacBook Pros now official
Comes in Space Black
Apple keeps updating its MacBooks where it matters. Today, Apple just introduced MacBook Pros powered by the M3 family of chips — M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max.
The M3 family
The M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max are the first chips for a personal computer built using the industry-leading 3-nanometer technology. It comes with a faster, more efficient next-generation GPU.
It features a breakthrough technology called Dynamic Caching where the GPU allocates the use of local memory in hardware in real time. This means only the exact amount of memory needed is used for each task. This dramatically increases GPU utilization and performance for the most demanding pro apps and games.
The GPU also brings new rendering features. This includes hardware-accelerated mesh shading for greater capability and efficiency with geometry processing, enabling more visually complex scenes. And hardware-accelerated ray tracing comes to the Mac for the first time. This enables games to render more accurate shadows and reflections to create more realistic environments.
14-inch MacBook Pro with M3
From students and business owners to aspiring musicians and video editors, the MacBook Pro with M3 is the ideal laptop. The 14‑inch MacBook Pro with M3 is up to 60 percent faster than the 13‑inch MacBook Pro with M1.
Its advanced thermal system lets it unleash the full potential of M3 for sustained performance. Price starts at US$ 1,599/ SG$ 2,299.
With MacBook Pro with M3:
- Render performance in Final Cut Pro is up to 7.4x faster than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Core i7. And it’s up to 60 percent faster than the 13‑inch MacBook Pro with M1.2.
- Code compilation in Xcode is up to 3.7x faster than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Core i7. And up to 40 percent faster than the 13‑inch MacBook Pro with M1.2.
- Spreadsheet performance in Microsoft Excel is up to 3.5x faster than the 13‑inch MacBook Pro with Core i7. And up to 40 percent faster than the 13‑inch MacBook Pro with M1.2.
14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro
For users with more demanding workflows like coders, creatives, and researchers. The MacBook Pro with M3 Pro provides even greater performance, supports more unified memory, and is now up to 40 percent faster than the 16‑inch model with M1 Pro.
MacBook Pro with M3 Pro:
- Filter and function performance in Adobe Photoshop is up to 3x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro. And up to 40 percent faster than the 16‑inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro.
- Basecalling for DNA sequencing in Oxford Nanopore MinKNOW is up to 20x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro. and up to 36 percent faster than the 16‑inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro.
- Text-based editing in Adobe Premiere Pro is up to 1.7x faster than the 16-inch Intel-based MacBook Pro. And up to 30 percent faster than the 16‑inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro.
14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Max
The MacBook Pro with M3 Max provides performance and capabilities for those with extreme workflows like machine learning programmers, 3D artists, and video editors. It is up to 2.5x faster than the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max. And up to 11x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro model. It also supports up to 128GB of unified memory, enabling creators to easily work on large and complex projects spanning multiple pro apps and plugins. They can also compose huge film scores where entire orchestral libraries are instantly available from memory.
MacBook Pro with M3 Max:
- Simulation of dynamical systems in MathWorks MATLAB is up to 5.5x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro. And up to 2x faster than the 16‑inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max.
- Render performance in Maxon Redshift is up to 5.3x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro. And up to 2.5x faster than the 16‑inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max.
- Noise reduction in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Studio is up to 2.7x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro. And up to 65 percent faster than the 16‑inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max.
Now in Space Black
MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max are available in space black. M3 Pro and M3 Max models are also available in silver, and the 14‑inch MacBook Pro with M3 is available in silver and space grey.
macOS Sonoma brings a rich set of features to the Mac for work and play. Watch our video.
Price and availability
Customers can order the new MacBook Pro starting Wednesday, November 1, on apple.com/store and in the Apple Store app in 27 countries and regions, including the U.S.
It will begin arriving to customers, and will be in Apple Store locations and Apple Authorized Resellers, starting Tuesday, November 7.
- The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 starts at US$ 1,599/ SG$ 2,299 and US$ 1,499/ SG$2,159 for education.
- 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro starts at US$ 1,999/ SG$ 2,899 and US$ 1,849/ SG$ 2,679 for education.
- The 16‑inch MacBook Pro starts at US$ 2,499/ SG$ 3,599 and US$ 2,299/ SG$ 3,309 for education.
Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options, and accessories are available at apple.com/mac.
With Apple Trade In, customers can trade in their current computer and get credit toward a new Mac. Customers can visit apple.com/shop/trade-in to see what their device is worth.
SEE ALSO: 24-inch iMac gets the M3 chip treatment
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