Review: Asus Zenbook 3

Are good specs, a great body and gorgeous visuals enough to make the Asus Zenbook 3 the best in its category?

Zenbook 3
Asus Zenbook 3. Photo by Anas Thacharpadikkal

While the 12-inch ultrabook size isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, it is a category highly dominated by the Apple Macbook. Walking in and hoping to compete isn’t exactly easy. Well, Asus didn’t just walk in but wants to own the space. The Asus Zenbook 3 is a testament to that statement… almost. 

1. Specifications

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  • The Asus Zenbook 3 is as slim as it gets. The ultrabook is 12 inches thick and weighs a mere 910 grams
  • The model we reviewed was the Zenbook 3 UX390UA. It comes with the 2.7-3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-7500U but there is an i5 version too. The processor is supported by 16GB of RAM.
  • Storage is a 512GB SSD
  • The display is 12.5 inches and has a resolution of 1,920×1,080. 
  • As you’d expect on a device this slim, you get one USB type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, one of each side respectively. 
  • There’s also a fingerprint scanner on the device for security purposes. 

2. In the box

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In an extra long, extra classy box, you get the Asus Zenbook 3, a USB type-C charging cable, a dongle (#Donglelife but at least you don’t have to spend extra as was the case with the Macbook) and a very ugly, non-functional case that can only hold the laptop so I don’t get the point of it. 

A special mention to the dongle provided in the box. Unlike the dongle provided by HP for the Spectre, this is full functional with a USB-C port to continue charging the device if you need to, an HDMI port and USB 3.0 port. 

#donglelife. Photo by Anas Thacharpadikkal

3. Body and build

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When I showed the Asus Zenbook 3 to a few of my friends, they didn’t seem to like its shiny blue brushed aluminium and gold accents. Personally I thought they were great. The Asus Zenbook 3 is definitely unique in many ways.

Photo by Anas Thacharpadikkal

First and foremost, it’s the perfect size since its smack in between the 12-inch Macbook and 13-inch HP Spectre. Secondly, unlike the HP Spectre, it’s solid. It doesn’t feel flimzy in your hand for even a second. Lastly, the bezels on the device are nice and slim. This not only helps with the size of the device but also helps in keeping your eyes on the screen. 

4. Display and sound

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While the image above does no justice to the display, the Zenbook 3’s screen is just gorgeous. Images and video just pop out. The glare on the device is minimal even in indoor conditions lit by white light and as mentioned earlier, it really helps having thin bezels around the edge of the display. 

A lot of other reviews have questioned why the device isn’t shockproof. I don’t really see the necessity here since the device isn’t a convertible but this comes down to personal choice.

The keyboard tends to be quite annoying. Photo by Anas Thacharpadikkal

Considering its size, I didn’t really expect much from the audio department but was quite surprised. The Zenbook 3 isn’t the best in the segment but give clear sound even at higher volumes. 

5. Keyboard and touchpad

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The keyboard was a massive sour point for me on the device. At first glance, I felt it was appropriately sized with large keys… and they are. But somehow they’re just so uncomfortable to type on. 

The touchpad on the device is large and easy to use. It comes with a fingerprint reader. But while the reader is extremely fast, it’s not efficient. On numerous occasions I found myself adjusting my finger more than a couple of times. 

6. Performance and battery life

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The 2.7-3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-7500U processor is powerful and shows no lag or slow-down in pace throughout the day. While you’re not going to buy this laptop for video rendering, it’s nice to know this ultrabook is capable of the same. It’s a fantastic, light, portable and powerful daily driver. 

Graphics unfortunately are through the Intel HD Graphics 620 that definitely isn’t going to help with any gaming, but then again this isn’t your choice for a gaming laptop either. 

Photo by Anas Thacharpadikkal

Battery life on the device is average. Initially it lasted almost a whole day for me as my daily driver with a tab-loaded Google Chrome open most of the time while I worked using the device. As a few days passed and I further installed applications on the unit, I found myself charging the device once through the day. While this can be partly blamed on Windows 10 and its horrible task management, it still is something to be noted.

7. Conclusion

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The Asus Zenbook 3 is a very good device. Its performance is par-excellence, visuals are awesome and audio is great but the device isn’t quite the right overall package. Its battery is unreliable, keyboard is uncomfortable and it has only one USB-type C port (even with the dongle it is an issue). The device is priced at Dh6,999. Now that’s a figure that would really make me think whether the Asus is worth the price.