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

ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 Review: Another big-screen option

When you don’t want to spend much

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ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 | GadgetMatch

Without a doubt, gaming notebooks are hot items on the market. Laptop manufacturers have been churning out game-ready machines, but there’s one name, one brand that dominates the gaming market: ASUS. The Taiwanese computer maker has captured the majority of the market share thanks to its Republic of Gamers or ROG lineup.

ROG laptops can be really expensive, especially the beastly ones, but ASUS has affordable options, too. If there’s ROG, there’s also TUF which sits in the middle of the premium and entry-level gaming notebooks currently available in the market.


What I have here is the TUF Gaming FX705, a 17-inch gaming laptop that offers respectable gaming power. If you’re looking for an alternative gaming laptop with a large screen, this might just be the one for you.

ASUS’ TUF lineup has a robust look

It passed MIL-STD-810 tests

This one has a 17-inch display with a 144Hz refresh rate

It’s a 1080p IPS-level panel

The webcam is still on top despite thin bezels

ASUS calls the display NanoEdge

All the ports are on the left side

(L-R) Power, Ethernet, HDMI, 3x USB, headphone jack

The keyboard has customizable RGB lighting

With distinct WASD keys as well

The touchpad is responsive when you need it

It uses Windows Precision drivers

Heat also dissipates to the top chassis

To allow more airflow

Not sleek, but definitely not ugly

I’ve seen better-looking laptops within ASUS’ lineup, but the overall design of this TUF Gaming laptop is not that bad. It does have a bit of ROG DNA in its look, which is a good thing. The keyboard reminds me of the ROG Strix Scar II with the unique WASD keycaps. Speaking of the keys, they’re not mechanical, but they’re responsive with a good amount of travel.

The laptop is just about the size of a conventional 15-inch notebook, but it’s got a 17-inch display. Thanks to the screen’s slim bezels, the TUF Gaming FX705 has a smaller footprint. I can fit this 17-inch gaming laptop into my bag that has a slot for a 15-inch notebook.

Its display is not all about the bezels. ASUS claims the 1080p panel has 100 percent sRGB coverage for accurate colors. Also, the 144Hz refresh rate has spoiled my eyes; it should be a standard among gaming laptops.

While the display is indeed a treat, I can’t say the same for the speaker. It gets loud, but doesn’t hit the proper notes. DTS Headphone: X audio software comes pre-installed which should help with the sound quality, but it works best if you already have a pair of quality headphones.

Can play popular titles

Specs-wise, the TUF Gaming FX705 comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor paired with 8GB of memory. The unit I have for review has a combo drive of 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD for storage. Graphics performance is handled by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.

Obviously, the laptop’s setup is more than enough to run everyday applications like Chrome, Office, and whatnot. Although, customers will not buy this to only do office work.

During my time with the TUF Gaming FX705, I juggled between typing and gaming. I was able to quickly play the Resident Evil 2 remake and with the default settings applied, I had no issues with frame rates. I got above 70fps at 1080p, but this is not the highest preset available.

More graphics and resource intensive AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey really put the GTX 1050 Ti to the test. By default, the game applied the medium graphics quality preset, but still in 1080p. The prologue of the game was already too much for the laptop with multiple characters fighting around, but it stayed above the 30fps mark. When there’s not much going on, it gets up to 90fps.

To help the laptop cope with the stress, I suggest turning on the Overboost Mode to keep the dual fans kicking. When not playing, the laptop also has a Silent Mode.

Keep it plugged in

I have yet to try a gaming laptop that can last for hours unplugged. Never leave the TUF Gaming FX705’s charger behind, because you’ll always need it. Not that the laptop can’t be used on battery power, but you can’t game for long. At best, I was able to do typing and browsing for about four hours on battery mode, which is not bad.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

ASUS has a lot of gaming laptops available. There are plenty of options to choose from, so why get the TUF Gaming FX705? I’d say it’s the most balanced and well-rounded. Too bad that it can’t take advantage of its 144Hz display all the time, but it’s a nice to feature to have.

The TUF Gaming FX705 I have here retails for PhP 81,995 in the Philippines. If you have extra cash, you can get the GTX 1060-equipped variant for PhP 91,995 for better graphics performance. The more expensive variant also comes with an upgraded 256GB SSD.

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Laptops

HP updates its Envy laptop lineup with new processors, longer battery life

Still with the same edgy design

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HP Envy 13 | Image credit: HP

HP‘s line of premium consumer laptops has just been updated for 2019. The Envy laptops (including the convertibles) now sport the latest Intel processors, plus the new AMD Ryzen chips with discrete-level graphics.

As always, the Envy laptops come in different sizes and styles, but they all share a modern design that gives them an edge over their competitors. While the overall look of the lineup hasn’t changed much, the bezels of the displays have been reduced.


And if privacy is a major concern, these new laptops come with a webcam kill switch that instantly turns off the PC’s camera.

Envy 13 and Envy 17

The 2019 versions of the Envy 13 and Envy 17 now come with updated eight-generation Intel Core processors and fingerprint readers for Windows Hello. As their names suggest, they come with 13- and 17-inch displays with a Full HD resolution.

HP Envy 13 | Image credit: HP

The 13-inch model is designed for on-the-go users and has a promised battery life of over 16 hours. The 17-inch, on the other hand, will appeal more to casual gamers with its large display and NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics. The larger Envy laptop also has an optical disc drive, a rare feature to have these days.

The smaller Envy will come with 8GB of onboard memory and a 256GB PCIe SSD. With more space for hardware, the Envy 17 will have 12GB RAM and 512GB of storage with Intel Optane option.

HP Envy 17 | Image credit: HP

Both HP Envy laptops will be available starting in April. Prices start at US$ 900.

Envy x360 13 and Envy x360 15

The Envy x360 models with their reversible hinges also got updated. HP didn’t reveal many details about the 2019 13-inch variant, but we do know that it has a smaller footprint than last year’s. It’ll have AMD Ryzen processor options, but they’ll be older second-gen variants.

HP Envy x360 13 and 15 | Image credit: HP

The one that has a major update (specs-wise) is the 15-inch model. Customers will be able to get it with either eight-generation Intel Core processors or third-generation AMD Ryzen chips. The display is still a 1080p panel, but with 100 percent DCI-P3 coverage plus HDR support and pen input. Unfortunately, it’ll come with just 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage.

HP Envy x360 15 | Image credit: HP

Pricing for the Envy x360 13 starts at US$ 700, while the Envy x360 15 will cost US$ 870 for the Intel variant or US$ 800 with an AMD processor. All models will be available in April.

SEE ALSO: HP Envy x360 Review: Gaming power in a small package

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India

Play on the go with these new Alienware gaming laptops

PC-like gaming on a laptop

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Alienware Area-51m | GadgetMatch

Updating its gaming portfolio in India, Dell and its sub-brand Alienware launched three new laptops aimed at three distinct categories of gamers in the country. The market is witnessing rapid growth and brands are increasing their focus exponentially. The three laptops intend to bring a PC-like gaming experience to laptops and the brand is confident about its new design language.

The Alienware Area-51m comes with a 17-inch narrow display with a 144Hz refresh rate. The brand is calling its design “Legend” and the laptop features a fully upgradable desktop-class processor and GPU. It is the only laptop to house an octa-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor along with support for up to 64GB RAM.


Other options include an Intel i7 processor, but all of them feature NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 20 series GPU that enables support for native in-game ray tracing.

For the best experience, it has a TactX keyboard featuring 2.2mm of travel and customizable lighting that extends to the power button, display cover, and vents. Alienware has also included Cryo-Tech 2.0 cooling technology for the mighty processor. It is available in Lunar Light and Dark Side of the Moon color options and starts at INR 2,99,590 (US$ 4,340)

The Alienware m15, on the other hand, features an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor coupled with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 or 2070 graphics card. It also incorporates customizable lighting ranging from the keyboard to exterior elements like the thermal vents. It even shares the cooling technology from its elder sibling.

It’s available in Epic Silver and Nebula Red color options with a starting price of INR 1,78,399 (US$ 2,585).

Dell G7 15

Lastly, the Dell G7 15 gets a 15-inch display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. The laptop is powered by Intel’s 8th-generation processors and NVIDIA’s RTX 20 series.

It is equipped with a Killer Gigabit Ethernet Controller that is designed to offer superior output and lower latency gameplay, reducing lagging and jitters while playing. It is just 19.9mm thin and built keeping portability in mind.

The Dell G7 15 is available in Abyss Grey and starts at INR 1,57,399 (US$ 2,280).

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