Asus ZenBook 15 UX534 overview: Smaller, not higher
“The ZenBook 15 matches most laptop computer into minimal area, however that may not be for the perfect.”
Glorious construct high quality
Strong CPU efficiency
Surprisingly good GPU
Battery is simply too small
No Thunderbolt Three
Laptops hold getting smaller, and Asus has been on the forefront of that development. 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 pc into as small a body as potential, and the ZenBook 15 UX534 ($1,399) that I reviewed is not any exception.
To make sure, the ZenBook 15 is a petite laptop computer given its 15.6-inch show. Its 92% screen-to-body ratio implies that the chassis is as small as potential, but it nonetheless homes an Eighth-gen Intel Whiskey Lake Core i7-8565U CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU.
That’s quite a lot of energy for such a small machine, however there’s extra to the story.
Over time, ZenBook has turn into as constant as Lenovo’s ThinkPad in its aesthetic. The ZenBook 15 has the enduring 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 provide Asus an excessive amount of of a tough time.
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 quite a lot of consideration to construct high quality, and it reveals. It’s a minimum of pretty much 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 taking a look at.
To be exact, the ZenBook 15 is simply a tenth of an inch much less large 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 wonderful, aside from one factor. There’s no Thunderbolt Three port, which is unforgivable in a premium laptop computer. Wi-fi connectivity can also 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 might 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 enables for higher airflow and a extra comfy expertise. The followers spin up, however they’re not overly loud they usually do their job.
That does benefit from the quad-core chip. Asus finishes our Handbrake video transcoding check in round three and a half minutes, considerably sooner 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 nearly precisely at 4 and a half minutes.
The ZenBook 15 carried out properly for a skinny and lightweight laptop computer, but it surely’s not as fast because the XPS 15.
Nonetheless, the Dell XPS 15 with the Core i9-9980HK completed the identical check in a blistering 80 seconds. The ZenBook 15 clearly isn’t in the identical class.
The identical is true, albeit to a lesser extent, in terms of 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 check. In our precise gaming benchmarks, the ZenBook 15 once more carried out properly for a skinny and lightweight 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 check video games, the XPS 15 was sooner: 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 matches 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 a collection of busy internet sites till the battery runs out, the ZenBook 15 lasted slightly below eight hours. That’s vital as a result of this check greatest mimics the battery life the everyday productiveness employee will get doing the same old shopping, e mail, and Workplace software work — it implies that the ZenBook 15 will get the everyday person near a full day’s work if the workload is mild. 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 a minimum of eight hours.
The ZenBook 15 would have benefitted from a bigger battery.
Taking a look at our Basemark internet benchmark check 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 lightweight 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 beneath load. And within the video check, the ZenBook 15 lasted for slightly below 11 hours, which is common for premium laptops as we speak.
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 in all probability simply effective 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 superb). 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, large 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.
The ZenBook 15’s keyboard is superb, with legible yellow lettering on blue keys and beautiful backlighting with three brightness ranges. Its mechanism is mild with a pleasant click on, utilizing a cushty bottoming motion to supply for a exact really feel that contact typists will love. It’s inferior to my favourite keyboard, the one on HP’s Spectre line, but it surely’s shut sufficient that most individuals gained’t discover the distinction.
That leads us to the touchpad, which is the newest 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 supplies quite a few app-based features. As a touchpad, it has a very good 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 operate 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 when 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 features. For instance, I didn’t watch the video instantly and I struggled making an attempt to determine drag a window from the ScreenPad again up. I gained’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 work out get the system to default to regular touchpad mode, so I must hold switching it over when the laptop computer wakes up. That’s annoying, and if there’s a option to change the default I haven’t determine it out.
The ZenBook 15 UX534 excels at its most evident goal: Packing quite a lot of laptop computer right into a smaller chassis than appears pure. And if that’s what you’re searching 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 sooner 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 various?
The obvious competitor to the ZenBook 15 is the Dell XPS 15, and it’s actually no contest — you should purchase 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 will get a sooner laptop computer (with a six-core i7-9750H) and higher battery life with the Dell.
One other clamshell that it’s best to have a look at is Microsoft’s new 15-inch Floor Laptop computer Three, which you’ll be able to decide 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 excellent productiveness. Lastly, the HP Spectre x360 15 (non-AMOLED) is in the identical pricing ballpark because the ZenBook 15 and it affords 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 can be a very good 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 commonplace guarantee is augmented by a 12 months of unintentional 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 seems like a gimmick and never vital characteristic.