Asus ZenBook 13

£899 | $999 www.asus.com A shiny cover brings all the Win­dows fans to the yard

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Car­ry­ing around a lap­top that’s ul­tra-thin, light­weight and yet packs a punch seems to bring about a feel­ing of con­fi­dence on most days. Know­ing that a pow­er­ful tool is in your back­pack or briefcase is re­as­sur­ing; even more so when that tool doesn’t cost a small for­tune.

Take the new Asus ZenBook 13 as an ex­am­ple: this ul­tra-por­ta­ble lap­top packs In­tel’s lat­est Core i5 pro­ces­sor, an Nvidia GPU and is more af­ford­ably priced than HP’s lat­est Spec­tre 13. Heck, it’s priced the same as Dell’s XPS 13, but with slightly bet­ter hard­ware in­side.

Price and avail­abil­ity

If you’re in the mar­ket for the lat­est ZenBook 13, you won’t have any op­tions to cus­tomise its in­ter­nals in the US. The $999 price tag gets you the mod­estly con­fig­ured lap­top you see here. In the UK, the same model we tested is £899, with a more pow­er­ful model fea­tur­ing an In­tel Core i7 and dou­ble the stor­age cost­ing £1,299.

A sim­i­larly spec­i­fied HP Spec­tre 13 starts at $1,149 in the US, while in the UK it dou­bles the stor­age and a serves up a 4K dis­play for £1,599.

The new Dell XPS 13 is priced at $999 (£1,299), but doesn’t have a touch­screen, and makes do with half the RAM, and half the stor­age found in the ZenBook 13. All in all, the ZenBook 13 is com­pet­i­tively priced for what it of­fers.

De­sign

The next time you find your­self look­ing for a mir­ror, just close the lid of the ZenBook 13 in­stead. It’s not only shiny, but re­flec­tive enough to serve as an im­promptu look­ing glass. We tested the Royal Blue model, but the Slate Grey model is just as re­flec­tive and shiny.

There are a num­ber of ports on the ZenBook 13. On the right side is a mi­croSD card reader, a 3.5mm head­phone socket, and a USB 3.0 port. On the op­po­site side is where you’ll find a USB Type-C port, an­other USB 3.0 port, and a full-size HDMI port.

A stan­dard key­board is back­lit with a white light and sev­eral lev­els of in­ten­sity. The chi­clet keys of­fer 1.4mm of travel and are in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able to type on. We use a lot of key­boards, and most take some sort of ad­just­ment be­fore we re­ally get into a flow. With the new ZenBook 13’s key­board, how­ever, it was love at first type.

The 13.3-inch dis­play is sur­rounded by Asus’ 6.8mm NanoEdge bezels. The touch­sen­si­tive dis­play is smooth and re­spon­sive to our fin­gers. We didn’t have an Asus Pen to test on this par­tic­u­lar unit, but it is avail­able as an op­tion should you want a sty­lus for jot­ting notes and draw­ing. Note, how­ever, that the hinge doesn’t let the dis­play fold flat, so you’ll have to ad­just to draw­ing with the screen in lap­top-like ori­en­ta­tion.

Even though the dis­play is Full HD (1,920x1,080 pix­els), it’s very sharp and leaves the im­pres­sion of be­ing of a higher res­o­lu­tion.

Asus also now seems to have ac­cepted that hav­ing a fin­ger­print sen­sor in the top-right cor­ner of the touch­pad is a bad idea – some­thing we’ve long com­plained about. It now sits just be­low the right ar­row key, and is far more con­ve­nient to use. Thanks, Asus.

With the fin­ger­print sen­sor out of the way, this is the first time we’ve had a chance to truly get a feel for an Asus touch­pad. The touch­pad works with ges­tures, but al­most too well. When us­ing two fin­gers to scroll down a web page, we of­ten ac­ci­den­tally trig­gered the zoom func­tion in Google Chrome. The ges­tures are dif­fer­ent enough (two fin­ger swipe and pinch-to-zoom) that we are puz­zled by the mix-up.

Per­for­mance

Over the course of a week, we’ve put the ZenBook 13 through our daily work rou­tines. There was lots of Slack mes­sag­ing, Chrome tabs, music stream­ing and ev­ery­thing else in be­tween. There was even a bit of ca­sual gam­ing.

The ad­di­tion of Nvidia GeForce MX150 graph­ics showed in our bench­mark tests. The ZenBook nearly pulled off a com­plete sweep against the HP Spec­tre 13, save for the sin­gle-core Geekbench test, where it scored 4,136 com­pared to the Spec­tre 13’s 4,782.

In daily use, the ZenBook 13 starts off slug­gishly, but as it warms up any slow­ness dis­ap­pears and it per­forms with­out any hic­cups or is­sues. At mul­ti­ple times we had many Chrome tabs and win­dows open and switch­ing be­tween them, along with mul­ti­ple apps and emails, ar­rived at a rapid pace with­out any is­sues.

As we pre­vi­ously said, we didn’t test out any in­tense games, but did take some time to play a few on­line games and found it to get the job done with­out is­sue. You can ex­pect to play more ca­sual games with­out a prob­lem, but any­thing more in­tense might drag.

Bat­tery life

Through our tests and daily use, we are able to con­fi­dently say the ZenBook 13 has a bat­tery that’s more than enough to get you through a com­mute, flight or through a day of meet­ings.

The PCMark 8 bat­tery test came in at three hours and 49 min­utes, but the movie test was a strong six hours and 38 min­utes. That’s not the long­est bat­tery life we’ve seen

“In daily use, the ZenBook 13 starts off slug­gishly, but as it warms up any slow­ness dis­ap­pears”

from an ul­tra­book by a long shot, but it’s rea­son­ably long enough.

Speak­ers

Smaller lap­tops don’t nor­mally have the best sound out­put, and that is also true of the ZenBook 13. The speak­ers sound muf­fled, even when the lap­top is sat on a desk, with­out any real power or ro­bust sound be­hind them. If you do opt to play any games or lis­ten to music on this lap­top, you’ll want to use some head­phones or ear­buds.

Sum­mary

The ZenBook 13 is a com­pet­i­tively priced lap­top that of­fers more than enough power for the ca­sual user and the oc­ca­sional video edi­tor. It’s not go­ing to be enough to get through in­tense Fort­nite rounds, but for ca­sual gam­ing du­ties it should get by.

The su­per re­flec­tive lid is a mag­net for fin­ger­prints, which is ei­ther go­ing to up­set you or not mat­ter at all. One of the smaller, yet most im­por­tant, high­lights of this par­tic­u­lar model is the fin­ger­print reader’s new lo­ca­tion – free­ing up the touch­pad. It’s un­for­tu­nate, then, that the touch­pad re­mains frus­trat­ing to use.

Over­all, the flaws with the ZenBook 13 aren’t deal-break­ers, but caveats that you de­serve to be made aware of re­gard­ing this oth­er­wise im­pres­sive ul­tra­book.

The ZenBook 13 isn’t a speed de­mon, but it has a killer dis­play and a smooth-as-but­ter key­board.

Asus ZenBook 13 Sup­plier www.asus.com Pro­ces­sor 1.6GHz In­tel Core i5 8250U (quad-core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.40GHz with Turbo Boost) Stor­age 256GB SSD (SATA3) RAM 8GB (LPDDR3) Graph­ics Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB DDR5 RAM), In­tel UHD Graph­ics 620 Screen 13.3-inch, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) wide view touch dis­play Con­nec­tiv­ity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Blue­tooth 4.2; 1x mi­croSD card reader, 1x 3.5mm combo au­dio socket; 2x USB 3.0 Type-A; 1x full-sized HDMI, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C Cam­era VGA we­b­cam Weight 1.12 kg Size 310x216x13.9mm

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