ASUS ZenBook Flip UX461UA


CAST YOUR EYES over to­day’s PC mar­ket and you’ll largely see a tale of woe, but there’s one bright spot among the car­nage in the form of 2-in-1s — the only PC cat­e­gory that’s still see­ing sub­stan­tial growth, with de­tach­ables and con­vert­ibles con­tin­u­ing to steal a lot of cus­tomers from the shrink­ing tablet mar­ket. From a con­sumer per­spec­tive, we guess it makes some sense to put a bit of ex­tra money into a lap­top to gain the abil­ity to also use it as a tablet — and in some cases, that ex­tra spend will also net you a faster SSD, a more pow­er­ful CPU or even, in some cases, a ded­i­cated GPU for bet­ter gam­ing chops..

ASUS’s lat­est 2-in-1 con­vert­ible, the 1.4kg ZenBook Flip UX461UA, is per­haps not quite as com­fort­able to use in tablet mode as a de­tach­able or a straight-up slate, but for peo­ple who will only use the tablet form oc­ca­sion­ally, it does per­form ad­e­quately enough as a tablet to serve com­fort­ably in both modes. There are caveats, with that 14-inch size mean­ing it’s a lit­tle too big to eas­ily hold with one hand (even though it’s light for a lap­top, it’s about dou­ble the weight of your av­er­age high­pow­ered tablet) and, as with all 2-in-1s that use this folded form fac­tor, it’s a lit­tle jar­ring that your sup­port­ing-hand has to cling to key­board keys. The in­cluded 1,024 pres­sure-point sty­lus and the fully fold­able de­sign do make it good as a desk­top slate or draw­ing dis­play, how­ever, which does some­what help make up for the less-than-ideal hand­held tablet ex­pe­ri­ence.

As a lap­top, how­ever, the UX461UA looks and feels great, shar­ing the pre­mium con­cen­tric brushed-metal cas­ing of the broader ZenBook line and keep­ing its com­pact form fac­tor at an im­pres­sively-slim 1.39cm thick­ness. There’s some clever en­gi­neer­ing in the hinge de­sign which folds to give the key­board face a com­fort­able typ­ing in­cline with­out thick­en­ing the over­all body de­sign, and although it lacks a built-in Eth­er­net port (they’re just too chunky to fit), just about ev­ery other in­ter­face you’d want is there, in­clud­ing: a HDMI-out, one Type-C and two Type-A USB 3.1 ports, a mi­croSD Card slot and a 3.5mm head­phone socket.

De­spite this com­pact chas­sis, that fold­able fa­cade con­ceals a proper mo­bile se­ries Core i7-8550U CPU (or in its cheaper it­er­a­tion, a Core i5-8250U) from In­tel that is ther­mally ser­viced by a sin­gle, edge-mounted vent at the left of the key­board. The speedy CPU was ac­com­pa­nied by 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SanDisk M.2 SSD (con­nected via the SATA 6Gbps in­ter­face) on the model we tested. This is a pow­er­ful con­fig­u­ra­tion for a nearly tablet-sized setup, and the new 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel CPU showed a 10% per­for­mance boost on last year’s Toshiba Portégé X20W-D (which runs on a Core i7-7600 CPU with the same amount of RAM) in PCMark 8’s Home gen­eral-pro­duc­tiv­ity bench­mark. De­spite those pow­er­ful com­po­nents, the UX461UA man­ages to last a full 7 hours dur­ing video play­back tests on bal­anced power set­tings, mak­ing it a good out-and-about de­vice, too.

While the UX461UA’s CPU is a top bit of kit, a grow­ing se­lec­tion of pre­mium ul­tra­books are begin­ning to of­fer ded­i­cated GPUs, so you’ll want to be sure that you pre­fer the tablet fea­tures to be­ing able to lightly game, mine cryp­tocur­rency or 3D model any­thing. There’s just an in­te­grated In­tel UHD Graph­ics 620 chip here, which is out­per­formed by en­trylevel ded­i­cated GPUs like Nvidia’s GTX 1050 by any­where be­tween 100% and 600% across the suite of 3DMark graph­ics bench­marks.

Thank­fully, the price of the UX461UA is com­pet­i­tive against other cur­rent 2-in-1s. It un­der­cuts the sim­i­larly-specced HP Spec­tre x360 con­vert­ible by about $500 on av­er­age, and a com­pa­ra­ble fully de­tach­able Sur­face Pro slate will like­wise have an RRP of at least $500 more — and that’s for a ma­chine with only 8GB of RAM. If you’re look­ing for a lap­top that you’ll need to use as a tablet on oc­ca­sion, then the ZenBook Flip UX461UA is the best value 2-in-1 we’ve come across.

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