Asus Zenbook Pro
ANOTHER FRANKENSTEIN-LIKE EXPERIMENT FROM ASUS YIELDS A GREAT ULTRAPORTABLE WITH A FEW ISSUES
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.
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