ASUS ZenBook Pro Review – Laptop review

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ASUS ZenBook Pro Review. We’re going to check out the ASUS ZenBook Pro and see what it’s got to offer, as well as how it performs through a number of benchmarks to help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider. Inside the box we’ve got the laptop itself, manual and warranty information, power brick and power cable. To start let’s look at the specs of the model I’ve got here.

There’s an Intel 7700HQ quad core Kabylake CPU which runs at 2.8GHz and can turbo up to 3.8Ghz. There’s 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400MHz here and for storage there’s a 256GB SATA M.2 SSD and it’s got support for PCIe based storage so you can upgrade if needed. For the graphics we’ve got Nvidia’s 1050 in combination with a 15.6 inch 1080p 60Hz IPS panel, we’ll see how this performs later in the benchmarks.

For the network connectivity there’s 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2, no ethernet port here unfortunately unless you use a USB dongle. I’ve got the matte black version of the laptop here, but it’s also available in blue. There’s a nice circular brushed metal look on the lid, and inside is where you’ll find the matte black. The entire body of the laptop is solid metal, so the lid, keyboard area, and even the base, and there’s a silver accent around the edge.

ASUS ZenBook Pro Review
ASUS ZenBook Pro Review

The physical dimensions of the laptop are 36.5cm in width, 25.1cm in depth, and 1.89cm in height. The total weight of the laptop is advertised at 1.8kg on the ASUS website, and when testing mine it weighed it weighed a bit more, just under 2kg. When including the power brick and power cable for charging the total increases to around 2.5kg, so it’s fairly lightweight and portable for a 15 inch laptop. As mentioned the screen here is a 15.6 inch 60Hz 1080p IPS glossy panel. ASUS say that the panel can be viewed at 178 degrees, and I found that no matter what angle I looked at it from, up or down, side to side the colours still looked great.

Although the glossy screen does look good, one of the downsides is of course that it shows all reflections. It’s also a touch screen, so all those fingerprints will be clearly visible. I don’t have too much experience with touchscreens, but I found it to work well. I’ve also measured the colours produced by the screen using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 96% of sRGB, 67% of NTSC and 73% of AdobeRGB, so in terms of colour reproduction it did pretty well. I’ve also performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a completely black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding around the edges. I then take a long exposure photo with my camera to help display any bleed, so basically this is a worst case scenario test.

The results were pretty good, interestingly there’s extremely minor bleed shown in the photo that I wasn’t able to see myself, this is the first time that’s happened in over 15 laptop reviews. As I couldn’t actually see it even with the lights off, I’m going to say it’s virtually non existent and not a problem practically, though of course this will vary laptop to laptop. While moving the display there was almost no flex, it’s really solid owing to the metal construction and the hinge which runs along most of the base. You can almost open the laptop with one finger, but it’s not quite heavy enough for that.

Above the display is a VGA camera, so it’s only capable of 480p video at 8 frames per second and uses a 4 by 3 aspect ratio. As you probably expected the video is kind of garbage, I think the microphone sounds alright but I’ll let you judge for yourself. The keyboard is backlit with white LEDs which can be adjusted between three brightness levels, no options to change the colours unfortunately. There’s plenty of spacing between the keys, but in order to get that there’s no numpad available.

I personally prefer this as I never use the numpad myself, so if you do it’s something to be aware of if you do. Overall I liked typing on the keyboard, I’d describe the key presses as slightly mushy and quiet. There was some flex while pushing down hard on the keyboard but this wasn’t noticeable under normal typing conditions, overall it feels fairly solid. I also found the touchpad to work pretty well, it’s got a very smooth surface and I had no problems using it.

Moving onto the available I/O on the left we’ve got the power input, HDMI port, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 available. Over on the right there’s a 3.5mm headphone and mic combo jack, a micro SD card reader slot, and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports. On the front there’s just a couple of LED status indicators, while on the back there’s nothing except some subtle ZenBook branding. Up on the lid there’s the ASUS logo which is lit by white LEDs while powered on.

Both the lid and matte interior showed fingerprints very easily, but they were pretty easy to wipe away. Underneath there’s basically nothing other than two speakers towards the front, as well as some rubber feet which help prevent the laptop from moving around on flat surfaces when in use. There are two more speakers on either side of the keyboard for a total of four speakers, and I thought they sounded quite good for laptop speakers, there was some bass and they sounded clear even at higher volumes.

Powering the laptop is a 73 Watt hour 8 cell battery, and with a full charge and doing basic tasks such as browsing the Internet and watching YouTube with the screen on around half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 4 hours and 2 minutes. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for an hour and 4 minutes.

The laptop did pretty well here owing to that fairly large battery and lower powered 1050 graphics, and it’s one of the best 15 inch laptops I’ve tested in terms of battery life. During normal use with an ambient room temperature of 24 degrees celsius, the CPU idled at 38 degrees celsius while the GPU idled at 39 degrees celsius so fairly cool, and here are the external temperatures of the laptop where you’ll actually be putting your hands.

With the CPU and GPU maxed out for half an hour with the same room temperature, the CPU reached a maximum of 83 degrees celsius, while the GPU peaked at 79c. No CPU throttling was observed, however GPU throttling was present as the core clock dropped from 1,709MHz down to 1,506MHz in just a few minutes. Despite this considering there are no fan vents underneath it ran fairly cool, though this seems to be because of the throttling. We can see that the keyboard area has warmed up quite a bit more, mostly towards the middle and it was quite noticeable while typing, but wasn’t too bad.

I also found the laptop fairly quiet when not gaming, at idle it sat around the 36 decibel mark and I could barely hear it, this is what it sounded like. While maxing out both the CPU and GPU it went up to 47 decibels, which was a fair bit quieter than other laptops with similar specs that I’ve tested, and here’s what that sounded like.

Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools. While I’m aware that the 1050 isn’t meant to be a serious gaming graphics card, I wanted to test some of my usual suite of games against it to see how it held up, also I don’t personally have many low demanding titles, I didn’t bother with the most resource intensive titles though.

All tests were run at the 1080p resolution with all Windows and Nvidia updates to date applies. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was tested with the latest 1.0 version. I’ve used the new replay feature to perform this testing, so the results between each test should be more accurate as I can now consistently perform the same test run, however with that said the performance of the game will vary quite a lot depending on what’s going on in the game, so take these results with a grain of salt.

The game actually ran alright at minimum settings, but it’s not an ideal experience for an FPS game. Again The Witcher 3 ran fairly well at the lowest settings, not quite 60 FPS but it still felt alright while playing. Ultra settings in comparison felt very stuttery, as illustrated by the 1% low frame rate. Shadow of war was similar, in that the higher settings were around the 30 FPS mark, however at low or below the laptop was able to average around the 60 FPS point.

Although these are fairly intensive games, the 1050 didn’t do too bad when using lower settings. If you’re looking at a laptop purely for gaming though you’ll probably want to run with higher settings, I generally recommend a 1060 as I’ve found that a great sweet spot for 1080p 60 FPS gaming, otherwise a 1050Ti would probably be the minimum I’d personally consider for gaming.

Of course it depends on the games that you’ll be playing and how demanding they are, you can definitely still have a great experience with less demanding games on the 1050. Now onto the benchmarking tools, while a useful indicator note that these results are less practical compared to the real world gaming results previously shown. We’ll start with the Unigine benchmarks, this is how the laptop performed in Heaven benchmark with the tessellation set to extreme, and anti-aliasing set to x8, here’s how Valley benchmark performed with anti-aliasing on x8 at various graphics settings, and finally these are the 1080p results from their newest Superposition benchmark.

For the final graphics benchmarks I ran Fire Strike and Time spy from 3DMark and got scores of 5,267 and 1,791 respectively, so a bit lower than other laptops with similar specs that I’ve tested. In Crystal Disk Mark the 256GB SATA3 M.2 SSD performed around 550 MB/s in sequential reads and 260 MB/s in sequential writes, so pretty typical for a SATA based SSD, although a little lower on the write speeds.

With these exact specs at the time of recording the laptop can be picked up in Australia for $2,899 AUD. That’s about $2250 USD for my international friends, with tax included, so it’s a little on the more expensive side, which is to be expected as I think this is a fairly premium laptop. So what did you guys think of the ZenBook Pro from ASUS? Overall I’m pretty impressed with the build quality, the whole laptop feels nice and solid. It’s also got great battery life, and the specs are pretty decent considering the size and weight. You won’t be doing any serious gaming with the 1050 graphics, but it should be enough for plenty of games. It does cost quite a bit, but so do Razer and Apple laptops and I feel like the build quality is similar.

Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a share this post if you found the information useful. 

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