Computers

Asus goes MacBook hunting with new ZenBook 3

Asus goes MacBook hunting with...
The Asus ZenBook 3 is up there with the thinnest laptops in the world
The Asus ZenBook 3 is up there with the thinnest laptops in the world
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The Asus audio pod backs up the regular Harmon/Kardon speakers
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The Asus audio pod backs up the regular Harmon/Kardon speakers
The 12.5 inch display is full HD at 1080 x 1920 pixels
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The 12.5 inch display is full HD at 1080 x 1920 pixels
The Asus USB-C Universal Dock adaptor that is compatible with the ZenBook 3
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The Asus USB-C Universal Dock adaptor that is compatible with the ZenBook 3
The three colors of the ZenBook 3
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The three colors of the ZenBook 3
The Asus ZenBook 3 is up there with the thinnest laptops in the world
5/5
The Asus ZenBook 3 is up there with the thinnest laptops in the world
View gallery - 5 images

Laptops have come a long way from their bulky beginnings. Apple slashed the number of ports on its latest MacBook, resulting is a device that's just 13.1 mm (0.52 in) thick. HP decided to rework its hinges, giving us the 10.4-mm (0.41-in) thick Spectre. Asus is also getting "thin" on the act, with the new ultra-thin ZenBook 3 that slots in between the two.

Measuring 11.9 mm thick and 910 g (32 oz), the ZenBook 3 launched at Computex 2016 is 1.5 mm thinner and 10 g (0.35 oz) lighter than a MacBook. Asus says the weight saving comes, in part, thanks to aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, which is lighter and 50 percent stronger than the standard alloy found on regular laptops. Although it's made of a different material, the exterior is still finished with the same machined circles on the case as previous models.

Open the ZenBook 3 up and you're greeted by a 12.5 inch display packing 1920 x 1080 pixels and covered with Gorilla Glass 4. Asus has cut the screen bezel down to just 7.6 mm (0.3 in), giving the laptop an 82 percent screen-to-body ratio, .

The three colors of the ZenBook 3
The three colors of the ZenBook 3

As well as being wide, the screen boasts a 178-degree viewing angle, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and Asus Tru2Life video enhancement, which is designed to optimize individual pixels for improved contrast. How it compares to the Apple Retina Display remains to be seen, however.

The ZenBook 3 really distances itself from the MacBook under the hood. Whereas the most powerful MacBook makes do with a 1.3 GHz m7 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD, the Zenbook 3 can be specced with a latest-generation i7 processor, up to 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD.

Of course, it's not easy to cool a powerful processor in a slim body. That's why HP uses a hyperbaric cooling system on its new Spectre, and why Asus has created a new cooling system that uses a liquid-crystal-polymer fan that's just 0.3 mm thick and a copper-alloy heat pipe that helps to route hot air through vents hidden in the hinge.

Power comes from a 40 Wh lithium-polymer battery, and Asus claims it'll last you 9 hours. Thanks to its USB-C fast charger, the ZenBook 3 can be charged to 60 percent capacity in 49 minutes. The USB-C port also doubles as your display connector, USB port, and charge port.

The 12.5 inch display is full HD at 1080 x 1920 pixels
The 12.5 inch display is full HD at 1080 x 1920 pixels

Through the use of the all-in-one USB-C Universal Dock, the port also acts as an Ethernet port, SD card reader, LAN, VGA and HDMI ports. There's also an external speaker pod to back up the inbuilt Harmon Kardon quad speakers.

The ZenBook 3 will be available in blue, grey and rose gold, with prices ranging from US$999 for the base model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD, through $1,499 for the Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD model, up to the top-of-the-line model that gets a 1 TB SSD and will cost $1,999.

Source: Asus

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8 comments
Calson
More than 50% of the appeal of a Macbook or other Apple computer product (which includes the iPhone and iPad) is the operating system and user interface, both of which are far superior to anything produced by Microsoft over the past 34 years. Neither the people at Microsoft or Google know how to make an intuitive user interface and expect people to do whatever it takes to overcome the hurdles they put in the users' path.
sandflea
I have a UX31A and this just might be my replacement. The only down side I see is a single USB C port (no additional USB ports). Although I'm not surprised to see an Apple fan boy using a comment to trash Apple's competition. Sad.
Joe Blough
I bought a top of the line ASUS Desktop 2 years ago. It ran Win8.1. When Win10 was released I tried to upgrade it. Many drivers did not work and some native MS applications had errors and crashes. I contacted ASUS and was told (in writing) that I must revert to Win8.1 because my machine doesn't support Win10. So ASUS essentially sold me a soon to be obsolete high end computer that they are too lazy, cheap, or incompetent to produce OS upgrades for. If ASUS thinks they can compete with Apple that controls both hardware and software and that provides upgrades, then ASUS is dreaming. The real problem however is Microsoft who doesn't force their hardware OEMs to upgrade machines when the OS is revised. ASUS and Microsoft are meant for each other. My advice, buy APPLE.
Basil
Nice toy - good for DVDs and games, but limited use for business with the 16:9 screen. Macbook is at least 16:10. Why didn't Asus use their new Transformer LCD??
markhahn
Anyone who gives a damn about Apple products has already spent their money on Apple products. No one is trying to be Apple, since Apple did not invent the concept of an easy-to-carry laptop, and they didn't invent the concept of minimizing the ugly. What's really remarkable here is the highly unfortunate predilection of vendors to use crappy resolution. 1920x1080 isn't awful for video (cinema freaks aside), but it's simply not enough pixels in height to get work done efficiently. 1920x1200 would be so much better, and would potentially avoid the asymmetric bezel.
Rann Xeroxx
@Calson I would agree that Mac OS was superior to XP and I moved to Macs at the time but Windows has been a very good OS since at least 7. I personally liked 8.1 but frankly Windows 10 is one of the best OSs on the market today. Just being able to sync all your settings and configurations between Windows devices is a win. And the flexibility in form factors with touch, stylus input, Hello options, etc. have really opened up all kinds of use cases that Mac OS simply does not have.
pmshah
To say that iOS is most intuitive is actually really stupid. Yes it may be only for those who graduated to it from another Apple product. When you have people who are moving to portable devices from desktops of any variety one is likely to get lost. It took Google keyboard on iPad for me to be able to do any productive work like posting on blogs or quick replies to email. I got myself an iPad for one reason alone and that is to be able to Facetime with my 8 and 10 year old grand daughters on their iPods from 8000 miles away. I am slowly getting the hang of Win 10 running on my 6+ year old crappy Asus netbook. Actually it runs better now. Another Apple product ? Not again in this lifetime.
Nashi
@BasilMay : "Nice toy - good for DVDs and games, but limited use for business with the 16:9 screen. Macbook is at least 16:10." That little difference in aspect ration is a make-or-break for BUSINESS use? Really? Maybe I should report this to the management as I'm sure they have overlooked this entirely. Maybe they can't see the problem from their useless 16:9 screens... @markhahn : "...to use crappy resolution. 1920x1080 isn't awful for video (cinema freaks aside), but it's simply not enough pixels in height to get work done efficiently. 1920x1200 would be so much better..." But you do realize that it is merely a 12.5" display, right? I mean, who in their right minds would ever use that for work, unless you are on the road. Even drop-in workspaces here have monitors for actual work and once connected to an external display, you can have larger view area and you can even tilt it to 1200x1920 for so much better work efficiency, if thats your thing. Trust me, here in worklife, we do stuff on large external displays, unless its not possible for a moment. Me and virtually everyone have a screen at home too! Amazing, I know!