Asus ZenBook 15 UX534 evaluation: Smaller, not higher

“The ZenBook 15 suits most laptop computer into minimal area, however which may not be for one of the best.”

Wonderful construct high quality

Pleasing keyboard

Stable CPU efficiency

Surprisingly good GPU

Battery is just too small

Disappointing display

No Thunderbolt Three

Laptops maintain getting smaller, and Asus has been on the forefront of that pattern. Dell began issues off with its XPS 13, which leveraged smaller bezels, however Asus has doubled down. Almost each member of its premium ZenBook line is concentrated on packing as a lot laptop into as small a body as attainable, and the ZenBook 15 UX534 ($1,399) that I reviewed isn’t any exception.

To make certain, the ZenBook 15 is a petite laptop computer given its 15.6-inch show. Its 92% screen-to-body ratio signifies that the chassis is as small as attainable, but it nonetheless homes an Eighth-gen Intel Whiskey Lake Core i7-8565U CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU.

That’s a whole lot of energy for such a small machine, however there’s extra to the story.

Going stale

Over time, ZenBook has develop into as constant as Lenovo’s ThinkPad in its aesthetic. The ZenBook 15 has the long-lasting Asus concentric swirl on the lid, it’s blue with gold trim, so that you’d be hard-pressed to inform the distinction between this mannequin and those that got here earlier than it.

Be aware that the ZenBook 15 competes with the Dell XPS  15, which additionally hasn’t modified up its design shortly, so it may not be truthful to present Asus an excessive amount of of a tough time.

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I don’t begrudge Asus the ZenBook 15’s construct high quality. Its all-aluminum physique is as strong as any competitor. Asus has paid a whole lot of consideration to construct high quality, and it reveals. It’s at the very least nearly as good because the XPS 15 on this regard, and I haven’t reviewed a laptop computer that’s higher.

Is the ZenBook 15 a lot smaller than the XPS 15, or different comparable laptops, that it’s measurement is a big profit? It will depend on which dimension you’re .

To be exact, the ZenBook 15 is barely a tenth of an inch much less vast than the XPS 15, whereas an inch shallower. It’s additionally a bit thicker at zero.74 inches in comparison with the XPS 15 at zero.66 inches. Lastly, the ZenBook 15 is lighter at Three.6 kilos versus the XPS 15’s four.5 kilos.

There’s no Thunderbolt Three port, which is more and more unforgivable in a premium laptop computer.

So sure, the ZenBook 15 is a bit smaller, and it’s fairly a bit lighter. That’s a profit. It additionally calls for compromises.

Connectivity is one instance. The ZenBook 15 has two USB-A ports for legacy help, one Gen 1 (as much as 5Gb/s) and one Gen 2 (as much as 10Gb/s), a single USB-C Gen 1 port, a full-size HDMI port, and a full-size SD card reader.

That’s glorious, aside from one factor. There’s no Thunderbolt Three port, which is unforgivable in a premium laptop computer. Wi-fi connectivity can be caught up to now, with gigabit 2X2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi (no Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.zero.

Quick, however not the quickest

The ZenBook 15 is smaller than the XPS 15 (and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive, one other highly effective laptop computer), however can it sustain when it comes to its efficiency?

No, it will probably’t. The ZenBook 15 equips a quad-core Core i7-8565U, which may’t compete with the six-core Core i7-9750H (to not point out the Core i9 that’s additionally out there) within the XPS 15.

As with the 13.Three-inch and 14-inch fashions, the ZenBook 15’s hinge angles the keyboard up away from a desktop (or a lap). That permits for higher airflow and a extra snug expertise. The followers spin up, however they’re not overly loud and so they do their job.

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That does profit from the quad-core chip. Asus finishes our Handbrake video transcoding take a look at in round three and a half minutes, considerably quicker than different quad-core 15-watt laptops, which generally want a minute longer.

For instance, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 makes use of Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake Core i7-1065G7 (the ZenBook line will get 10th-gen CPUs in Q1 2020), a 15-watt quad-core half, and it got here in virtually precisely at 4 and a half minutes.

The ZenBook 15 carried out properly for a skinny and light-weight laptop computer, but it surely’s not as fast because the XPS 15.

Nevertheless, the Dell XPS 15 with the Core i9-9980HK completed the identical take a look at in a blistering 80 seconds. The ZenBook 15 clearly isn’t in the identical class.

The identical is true, albeit to a lesser extent, with regards to the ZenBook 15’s GPU efficiency. It scored properly within the 3DMark artificial benchmarks, however nonetheless behind the XPS 15 by 20% on the Time Spy take a look at. In our precise gaming benchmarks, the ZenBook 15 once more carried out properly for a skinny and light-weight laptop computer however not as fast because the XPS 15. The ZenBook 15 managed 89 frames per second (FPS) in Civilization VI in comparison with the XPS 15’s 82 FPS at 1080p and medium settings, which shocked me.

However in the remainder of our take a look at video games, the XPS 15 was quicker: 67 FPS vs. 60 FPS in Fortnite at 1080p and excessive settings, 42 FPS vs. 39 FPS in Murderer’s Creed Odyssey at 1080p and excessive settings, and 54 FPS vs. 41 FPS in Battlefield V at 1080p and medium settings.

Battery life is one other compromise

Asus managed to pack 71 watt-hours of battery life into the ZenBook 15, which is a good quantity for a laptop computer of its bodily measurement. Going simply by the show measurement, although, different 15-inch laptops handle to slot in extra battery. The XPS 15, for instance, packs in a whopping 97 watt-hour battery, whereas the HP Spectre x360 15 suits in 82 watt-hours. That limits the ZenBook 15 proper out of the gate, irrespective of how environment friendly Asus managed to make the laptop computer.

In our battery assessments, the ZenBook 15 is a mediocre to common performer. Within the all-important internet benchmark that runs by means of a sequence of busy internet sites till the battery runs out, the ZenBook 15 lasted just below eight hours. That’s essential as a result of this take a look at finest mimics the battery life the everyday productiveness employee will get doing the standard shopping, e-mail, and Workplace utility work — it signifies that the ZenBook 15 will get the everyday person near a full day’s work if the workload is gentle. The Spectre x360 15 AMOLED — which suffers from a really power-hungry show — lasted for nearly eight.5 hours, which is an actual knock towards the ZenBook 15 with its Full HD panel, and most premium laptops final for at the very least eight hours.

The ZenBook 15 would have benefitted from a bigger battery.

Taking a look at our Basemark internet benchmark take a look at that stresses the CPU demonstrates that the ZenBook 15 isn’t going to final terribly lengthy in case your workflow duties the processor — the Asus lasted simply over three hours, which is lower than the 4 hours or in order that the everyday skinny and light-weight laptop computer manages. The XPS 15 OLED model lasted simply 14 minutes lower than the ZenBook 15, and the Spectre x360 15 AMOLED with the identical CPU lasted for over four.5 hours. Clearly, the ZenBook 15 isn’t terribly environment friendly underneath load. And within the video take a look at, the ZenBook 15 lasted for just below 11 hours, which is common for premium laptops at present.

All in all, the ZenBook 15 would have benefitted from a bigger battery. You may’t purchase the 4K show model within the U.S., and that’s most likely simply advantageous as a result of that mannequin would get even worse battery life.

A 4K display is absent

The Full HD show is the one choice the ZenBook Professional comes with within the U.S. — and it’s under common. Colours are near common at 72 p.c of Adobe RGB and 93 p.c of sRGB, and colour accuracy is sweet however not nice at 1.68 (lower than 1.zero is great). Brightness is under our 300 nit choice at 289 nits, and distinction is under common at 700:1 (up to date premium laptops are creeping as much as 1000:1 or higher).

The underside line is that the show is barely ok for productiveness work, though the low distinction would possibly hassle individuals who like their black textual content on white backgrounds to pop. Artistic professionals ought to completely look elsewhere — together with to the XPS 15 with its choices for shows with spectacular — that’s, vast and correct — colours.

Asus has supplied 4K screens on its high-end laptops up to now, however the ZenBook 15 is caught with solely a less-than-good 1080p display.

ScreenPad 2.zero

The ZenBook 15’s keyboard is great, with legible yellow lettering on blue keys and wonderful backlighting with three brightness ranges. Its mechanism is gentle with a pleasant click on, utilizing a snug bottoming motion to supply for a exact really feel that contact typists will love. It’s not so good as my favourite keyboard, the one on HP’s Spectre line, but it surely’s shut sufficient that most individuals received’t discover the distinction.

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That leads us to the touchpad, which is the most recent model of Asus’s ScreenPad know-how. Primarily, the touchpad is a 5.65-inch touchscreen that may both act as a standard touchpad or gives quite a few app-based capabilities. As a touchpad, it has a great really feel with Microsoft Precision touchpad help and thus exact Home windows 10 multi-gesture help. Because the ScreenPad 2.zero, customers can entry particular perform keys for Microsoft Workplace apps, use their finger to jot down on the display, activate a digital numeric keypad, and use the ScreenPad as a secondary show. For instance, think about dragging a YouTube video right down to the ScreenPad and letting it play whilst you proceed to work on the first show.

The ScreenPad 2.zero works properly sufficient when you watch the introductory movies and get a really feel for the way it capabilities. For instance, I didn’t watch the video immediately and I struggled attempting to determine how you can drag a window from the ScreenPad again up. I received’t spend an excessive amount of time on the ScreenPad 2.zero, as a result of frankly, it’s a little bit of a gimmick. I can’t determine how you can get the system to default to regular touchpad mode, so I have to maintain switching it over when the laptop computer wakes up. That’s annoying, and if there’s a technique to change the default I haven’t determine it out.

Our take

The ZenBook 15 UX534 excels at its most evident goal: Packing a whole lot of laptop computer right into a smaller chassis than appears pure. And if that’s what you’re on the lookout for, then that is the laptop computer for you.

Sadly, the ZenBook 15 isn’t a lot smaller than its competitors that this explicit attribute makes it stand out. You may get a quicker and longer-lasting laptop computer that’s just a bit bit bigger, leaving the ZenBook 15 in an unlucky place. And the ScreenPad 2.zero simply isn’t sufficient to sway most individuals.

Is there a greater different?

The obvious competitor to the ZenBook 15 is the Dell XPS 15, and it’s actually no contest — you should buy an XPS 15 with a quad-core i5-9300H, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a superior Full HD show for as little as $1,030. For near the identical cash, you may get a quicker laptop computer (with a six-core i7-9750H) and higher battery life with the Dell.

One other clamshell that you must take a look at is Microsoft’s new 15-inch Floor Laptop computer Three, which you’ll choose up with an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $1,500. You’ll love the show, which is a really high-res Three:2 side ratio for nice productiveness. Lastly, the HP Spectre x360 15 (non-AMOLED) is in the identical pricing ballpark because the ZenBook 15 and it presents a 4K show, higher battery life, and superior 45-watt efficiency — albeit in a bigger and heavier convertible 2-in-1 chassis.

The Floor Laptop computer Three could be a great comparability right here, because it additionally tops out at a quad-core processor and 15-inch display.

How lengthy will it final?

The ZenBook 15 is constructed properly sufficient that you simply’ll be upgrading earlier than it wears out years down the street. It’s comparatively well-equipped, though no Thunderbolt Three is disappointing. The 1-year customary guarantee is augmented by a 12 months of unintended harm safety, which is a pleasant bonus.

Do you have to purchase it?

No. The ZenBook 15’s standout characteristic, its small chassis, doesn’t stand out sufficient towards some stiff competitors, and the ScreenPad 2.zero appears like a gimmick and never vital characteristic.

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