Laptops

ASUS ZenBook 15 review: Everything you need in a laptop?

With great power, comes all the caveats in between

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Very few laptops have everything a person would ever need out of it. Whether it’s just for typing Word documents or playing all the latest games, only a handful of laptops fit the bill. ASUS has one laptop to offer, which was announced back in IFA 2018.

The ASUS ZenBook 15 has almost every piece of hardware for everyone. But is a device powered by a powerful Intel processor and a gaming-ready graphics card really worth it? Let’s find out.

Same premium design through the years

ASUS dubs their ZenBook lineup as its top-of-the-line Ultrabook. Through the years, ZenBooks have retained their premium design and feel. So when I got the chance to try the new ZenBook 15 (UX533) out, I expected nothing less — and I was impressed. The build quality of the device is great, with a sturdy metal-plastic chassis that shows little to no flex. It even feels light to bring around, at only 1.59kg.

My unit has the Icicle Silver finish that shows off the elegance of the laptop. There is an option to get it in the bolder Royal Blue color, but it will definitely feel like you own a premium device the moment you set your eyes on it.

The only real change the company implemented was the addition of the ErgoLift. Essentially, it frees up space for the laptop to release hot air instead of blasting them on the table or your lap. It’s also supposed to make the bottom-facing speakers sound better, although this really wasn’t the case when I used it.

It almost has everything for everyone

The ZenBook 15 is one powerful machine, from the inside out. My unit comes with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor and 16GB of RAM. This configuration alone guarantees superb performance, and the ZenBook 15 did not disappoint. Typing Word documents, surfing the web, even photo and video editing felt like a breeze with this machine. You can play games here too, but let’s save that discussion for later.

On the outside, you have a 15-inch Full HD anti-glare NanoEdge display — perfect for outdoor use at full brightness. It comes in a resolution of 1920 by 1080, a full 16:9 display with tiny bezels on the side.

It’s also equipped with a full-size backlit keyboard, with the number pad separated from the trackpad — unlike its 13-inch and 14-inch variants.

The ZenBook 15 does come with three USB Type-A ports and one USB Type-C port that supports external displays; however, it would have been better to make it as Thunderbolt port to fully maximize the potential. The laptop also comes with a dual-band Wi-Fi card, although an additional Ethernet port would have been nice, as well.

It’s got game, but it really destroys your battery life

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the ZenBook 15 is the fact that it comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q. With this graphics chip, gaming on this laptop actually feels pretty damn good. It managed to get competitive frame rates for fast-paced games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Rocket League, all with high settings. But, don’t expect the same from AAA titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Also, there is a significant increase in the laptop’s overall temperature with longer than 30 minutes of play time. The left side of the laptop felt so hot, it’s almost like you could fry an egg on it. Of course, playing for long hours on this device drains the 73Wh battery significantly faster. I got about nine to ten hours on regular use, and only two to three hours on full game mode.

The camera is honestly only good for Windows Hello

The ZenBook 15 comes with an 3D infrared HD camera that supports Windows Hello. The infrared sensors were great at facial recognition, and Windows Hello felt really easy to set up and use. But, the camera was lackluster when taking photos and videos. It only seems passable to use for video calls, but the overall image quality just doesn’t equate to HD.

The bottom-facing speakers could be better

The two Harman/Kardon speakers on the ZenBook 15 are placed on the bottom side, facing the table or your lap. Sound quality is impressive until you turn it to maximum. Apart from that, I was expecting that they would sound better because of what ErgoLift supposedly does for them.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 89,995 (US$ 1,720), the ASUS ZenBook 15 jams almost everything you need in a premium device. And for that price you get the highest, most powerful configuration possible. Anyone can do pretty much anything with the hardware that comes with it. Apart from that, its elegant design and lightweight body make it a perfect on-the-go device. 

If you’re low on cash, you can also get the 14-inch ZenBook 14 for PhP 77,995. It only has 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card that offers similar, but less powerful overall performance. But, you do get the illuminated number pad on the touchpad.

Of course, that is if you don’t mind the otherwise average camera and fryer-like temperatures with heavy gaming. However, if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle anything, the ZenBook 15 is for you!

Gaming

Think pink: ROG decks out devices in black and pink

Bringing black and pink to your area

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ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) just announced a new special edition series of Electro Punk gaming devices that are stunning and they’re decked out in black and pink. From their pink, PNK LTD, line-up to this cyberpunk black and pink combo, ROG has kept releasing eye-catching color palettes to make sure you find the right gear to show off your personalities with.

Hit you with that…

Black and pink: let’s talk color; not the four drop-dead gorgeous girls that first came to mind with this new color combo.

 

ROG has long integrated Aura Sync into their devices so you can make their devices puke whatever color you liked or felt like. But, not even RGB lighting quite fills the void just as much for some people so, they developed color palettes.

The full Electro Punk set

The Electro Punk color set is available on the: ROG Strix G15 gaming laptop, ROG Strix Go 2.4 headset, ROG Strix Scope TKL keyboard, ROG Strix Impact II mouse, ROG Sheath mouse pad, and the ROG Ranger BP1503 backpack.

ROG Strix G15 Electro Punk gaming laptop

The 15-inch ROG Strix G15 sticks to gaming fundamentals to master it. It’s got the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 that can shred through everyday work and play; an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, and 240 Hz display. It’s perfect for buttery-smooth gameplay while maintaining laptop portability, storage, and durability. If you’re looking for a good baseline gaming laptop this is for you.

The Electro Punk edition lays out a sleek stripe around the chassis, highlighted WASD keys, and a pink ROG logo as icing on the cake.

ROG Strix Go 2.4 Electro Punk gaming headset

The ROG Strix Go 2.4 Electro Punk is a USB-C 2.4 GHz wireless headset. It gives you exceptional sound quality with a stable cordless connection to your PC, PlayStation, Xbox, smart devices, and Nintendo Switch. On top of that, it charges fast, has long-lasting battery life, comes with a detachable boom mic, and has built-in buttons for quick and easy volume and mic controls.

The Electro Punk variant has piping hot pink accents in and around the headband, ear pads, and the ROG logo. The rest stays sleek black.

ROG Strix Scope TKL Electro Punk gaming keyboard

The ROG Strix Scope TKL mechanical keyboard was created for fast-paced multiplayer gaming. It’s got an enlarged left CTRL key making it easy to find in any FPS frenzy. Gamers can punch in complex commands with confidence with Cherry MX switches. And, with its durable, aluminium-topped construction and compact size, it’s the perfect keyboard for travelling to LANs, tournaments, and other esports events.

This Electro Punk variant has keys that accent the edges well. On top of that, Aura Sync lighting shines under every key and through the ROG logo while casting an RGB glow below.

ROG Strix Impact II Electro Punk gaming mouse

 

Designed with pro gamers in mind, the mouse delivers smooth action in serious play. It’s 79g lightweight frame features a pivoted button mechanism for precision speed. And, ROG made sure to make personalizing Impact II’s performance easy.

The 6,200 DPI optical sensor ensures accuracy and responsiveness while a DPI button lets you switch between four sensitivity profiles. An exclusive push-fit switch socket design makes it simple to change click resistances and extends the mouse’s lifespan.

The programmable buttons above the thumb-rest pop out against the body of the new ROG Strix Impact II Electro Punk gaming mouse. and of course, the Aura Sync-enabled RGB lighting is integrated into the logo, scroll wheel, and front making it shine in theme from top to tail.

ROG Sheath Electro Punk gaming mouse pad

Every Electro Punk edition Strix G15 laptop comes with a special ROG Sheath desk mat that dials up pinpoint precision for gaming mice. The pad measures 35-inches across and 17-inches deep and provides the perfect comfort cushion for your ROG peripherals.

ROG Electro Punk backpack

The Electro Punk collection is more portable with the ROG Ranger BP1503 backpacks. It’s got pink piping, patches, and slash across the front. The 15-inch laptop backpack’s fabric is durable, lightweight, and water-resistant. And, the mesh netting inside lets users organize their cords tangle-free. It’s no gaming backpack without cushioned compartments for keeping everything perfectly snug.

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Gaming

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is an elevated experience

For gamers and creators

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In 2019, ASUS had a lot of people losing their minds when they unveiled the ZenBook Pro Duo with its secondary 4K display. Now, they’ve taken that same concept, improved it, and slapped it on a gaming machine — the ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.  

Why? Because they can, and it also kind of makes sense. ASUS ROG recognizes the reality that many gamers are also creatives. They work AND play. So they came up with this machine that serves both purposes.

ROG even managed to make it fairly light (2.4kg) and slim (36 x 26.8 x 2.1 cm) while packing it with everything you’ve come to expect from a top-tier gaming notebook. Here’s a quick rundown of the device’s highlights so you’re not overwhelmed.

  • ROG ScreenPad Plus unlocks endless possibilities: 14.1″ secondary display aids multitasking with intuitive touchscreen, apps, and stylus support
  • AAS Plus amplifies airflow: 28.5 mm intake increases airflow 30% over standard AAS while keeping noise under 46 dB(A) and elevating performance
  • Go hi-res or hi-speed: PANTONE® Validated display options include an ultrafast 300 Hz / 3 ms gaming display
  • Super-powered speed: Up to a GeForce® RTX 2080 SUPER™ GPU delivers high frame rates and speeds up tasks like 3D modeling and deep learning
  • Boosted productivity: Powered by up to a 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i9 CPU, 32 GB of 3200 MHz RAM, 2 SSDs in RAID 0, and Thunderbolt™ 3
  • Revolutionary cooling: CPU and n-Blade fans use an exotic liquid metal compound, and operating modes adapt to any task to boost overall performance

ROG ScreenPad Plus for gaming 

The ScreenPad Plus is great. It tilts up at a 13° angle for comfortable viewing and touchscreen interaction and stays firmly in place as you use the laptop. That tilt not only helps with viewing angles but also with ventilation.

Don’t worry about the screens making contact. ASUS made sure to prevent this by adding curved sliders that delay the deployment of the secondary display.

You’re probably wondering now if any games will actually support this new hardware. But of course, it will! ROG has tapped multiple game developers to make sure you have games you can play that will maximize the hardware.

They’re worked with Techland to optimize AAA games like Dying Light 2. Here, the co-op chats were moved to ScreenPad Plus for easy viewing, and adds touchscreen controls for easy switching between inventory items and quests.

A collaboration with Overwolf also allows gamers to download apps for games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and CS:GO to see real-time stats, build recommendations, and more — all to give you that extra edge when gaming on a multi-screen machine.

Surreal display options

In gaming, your screen refresh rate can make a huge difference in winning or losing. With that in mind, ASUS equipped the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 with  an ultrafast 300 Hz / 3 ms gaming panel. Sweet.

Other than the high refresh rate displays are factory calibrated and PANTONE Validated to guarantee color accuracy. The panel also covers 100% of the Adobe RGB color space — making it perfect for gamers, creators, or one who does both.

Everything gaming

For the processor and graphics you have two options each: Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake i9-10980HK or Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake i7-10875H, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER, 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM or NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER, 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM.

The keyboard is backlit chiclet that supports n-key, per-key with 1.4 mm key travel. As for ports you have:

  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C™, DisplayPort 1.4, TBT, PD input 20 V/3A;output 5 V/3A
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (right)
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (Bottom)
  • 1 x HDMI (HDMI 2.0b support)
  • 2 x audio jack: mic-in & headphone, plus mic-in
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN

Lastly, it has a 90Wh battery with a 240W power adaptor that supports USB-C power delivery 3.0 up to 65W. Overall, it’s everything we know and love about the ROG Zephyrus line but elevated with a secondary display for a brand new experience. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.

 

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Laptops

Apple’s 2020 MacBook Air is faster, has better keyboard

Time to switch to Mac?

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Apple made performance changes to the 2020 MacBook Air and we have a feeling you’re all going to like it.

First major change is the keyboard. Gone are the butterfly-mechanism keys that Mac die-hards tried hard to talk (or typed?) themselves into. In its place is the scissor-switch keyboard that Apple also put in 16-inch MacBook Pro.

At the core of the performance improvement is a10th-gen Intel processor — up to a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7. By comparison, last year’s model was equipped with an 8th-gen chip. The machine starts at 8GB of memory and 256GB of internal storage that you can bump up to 16GB and 2TB, respectively. It will also now come with Intel Iris Plus Graphics.

The 2020 MacBook Air starts at US$ 999 and is discounted at US$ 899 for education customers. Orders can be placed on Apple.com.

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