Asus Zen­book Pro

AN­OTHER FRANKENSTEIN-LIKE EX­PER­I­MENT FROM ASUS YIELDS A GREAT ULTRAPORTABLE WITH A FEW IS­SUES

PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS INTRO - NICK ROSS

There are few com­pa­nies that in­no­vate like Asus. While some of the com­pany’s more ‘out-there’ cre­ations are prob­a­bly best kept from the mar­ket­place, oc­ca­sion­ally some­thing new and in­ter­est­ing ap­pears. In this in­stance, Asus has trans­formed the tra­di­tional note­book touch­pad into a 5.5inch Full HD touch­screen. So is it a gim­mick

t for a tradeshow or a revo­lu­tion­ary new tech­nol­ogy?

Be­fore we dis­sect the touch­pad it’s worth not­ing that the host ma­chine is ex­tra­or­di­nary in its own right. It sports a 15.6-inch, Pan­tonecerti ed 4K Touch­Screen which of­fers bright and vi­brant colours. There’s some ghost­ing with fast-mov­ing con­tent, but it’s no deal breaker. The glossy screen is re­spon­sive to touch and a glass coat­ing de ects nger­prints im­pres­sively.

The chas­sis is re­mark­able. Both the main body and the lid are solid metal and have vir­tu­ally no ex what­so­ever – it’s a solid note­book. And yet de­spite the size and strength, it only weighs 1.88KG.

In­side re­sides Intel’s top-end mo­bile pro­ces­sor: the 2.9GHz Core i9-8950HK. It’s a hex­a­core part with a Tur­boBoost that pushes to 4.8GHz. We were con­cerned be­cause this part is usu­ally re­served for much-larger note­books with en­hanced cool­ing. Ex­pect­ing it to per­form in a 1.9cm chas­sis with­out thermal throt­tling is a big ask. None­the­less,

anked by 16GB of 2400MHz RAM and a 1TB NVMe hard drive it scored 4,732 in our PCMark 10 test. This is a high score but not high enough. It’s slightly lower than Core- i7-wield­ing all-rounder note­books we’ve re­cently re­viewed – ri­vals that were built for hefty gam­ing and had su­pe­rior cool­ing sys­tems. A closer look at the scores show that while the UX50 scored well for re­spon­sive­ness, when it came to pro­cess­ing tasks slowed down. Sure enough, it doesn’t take much for the fans to spin up – a 4K YouTube video will get them crank­ing. Their whoosh­ing is audi­ble but not dis­tract­ing yet they do ap­pear to her­ald per­for­mance throt­tling.

Our unit also came with Nvidia’s 1050Ti GPU. A score of 1060 in 3DMark’s Firestrike Ex­treme test re ects an av­er­age of just 6fps for the lat­est games. How­ever, while you’ll need to drop res­o­lu­tion and set­tings in Far Cry 5 the likes of Fort­nite and Over­watch are still very playable.

The key­board is well laid out and very com­fort­able to type on. A nger­print reader sits below it on the right. The speak­ers of­fer impressive, well-rounded au­dio with ac­cept­able bass. How­ever, some treble-rich notes caused in­ter­nal vi­bra­tions.

Con­nec­tiv­ity is impressive with two Thun­der­bolt-com­pat­i­ble USB-C ports and two USB 3.1 Type-A ports. These are joined by a 3.5mm au­dio jack, HDMI (un­speci ed ver­sion) socket and a Mi­croSD slot.

Bat­tery life is stated at nine hours but it only played our Full HD movie for four hours. It ran PCMark 8’s bat­tery test for two hours 46 min­utes at 83 per cent of the plugged-in score.

Any fears about the re­spon­sive­ness of the “ScreenPad” evap­o­rated quickly: re­spon­sive­ness and click­ing are ne. Press­ing F6 tog­gles be­tween modes where it can be turned off, com­pletely dis­abled, used as a sec­ond screen or as a smart­phone-like con­trol panel. We didn’t get bored of play­ing videos on it – it’s bright and colour­ful and mo­tion is smooth. There’s min­i­mal practical bene t but it looks awe­some. Apps such cal­cu­la­tor and cal­en­dar aren’t the most en­tic­ing, but us­ing it as a num­ber pad, app launcher, music player and hand­writ­ing recog­ni­tion will be at­trac­tive to some. Some Mi­crosoft Of ce in­te­gra­tion (such as text re­siz­ing) can be more use­ful while us­ing it with Pow­erPoint’s pre­sen­ta­tion mode will en­tice oth­ers. Frankly, the best thing about it is hav­ing a cool-look­ing sec­ond-screen on view. As such a ba­sic slideshow app would be ap­pre­ci­ated. But hope­fully fu­ture apps will push func­tion over form.

De­spite be­ing some­thing of an over­pow­ered, Franken­steinian beast, it re­mains a great, pow­er­ful ultraportable. At $3,999 it’s not cheap but you can save money by choos­ing an i7 speci cation for $3,199.

KEY SPECS

2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU • 16GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM • Nvidia GTX 1050Ti GPU • 1TB NVMe SSD • 15.6in 3,840 x 2,160 Touch­Screen dis­play • 5.5in 1080p ScreenPad • HD we­b­cam • Thun­der­bolt 3/USB 3.1 Type-C • 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A • HDMI 2 • DP 1.4 • Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net • 3.5mm au­dio jack • 2.1KG • 1yr RTB war­ranty

$3,999 • www.asus.com/au

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