Asus ZenBook 3 Review: An Intel Kaby Lake-Powered Ultrabook

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Introducing The ASUS ZenBook 3

Although they were initially announced all the way back at Computex, ASUS held a casual event in NYC this past Wednesday (Oct. 5) to officially launch an array of new products, including the ZenBook 3, ZenWatch 3, ZenPhone 3, and Transformer Pro 3 and Mini. We’ve got some initial coverage of all of those products here at HotHardware if you’d like some additional background on the full line-up, including hands-on video of the latest ZenBook and smartwatch. However, we couldn’t wait to dive in a little deeper with the ZenBook 3 for a couple of reasons. First off, the ZenBook 3 is the first Ultrabook to hit the lab built around Intel’s brand-new Kaby Lake-based 7th Generation Core series processors. If you’re unfamiliar with Kaby Lake, it is the follow-up product to last year’s Skylake, and features improved responsiveness, a beefed up multimedia engine, and it's built with a refined 14nm process that improves clocks and overall power efficiency. For a deeper dive on Kaby Lake, check this out.
zenbook 3 front
The ASUS ZenBook 3

The ASUS ZenBook 3 also happens to be one of the thinnest and lightest Ultrabooks to hit the market, but despite its diminutive form factor, it is packing some sought after amenities like a NVMe PCIe SSD, 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, and Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader -- at least on the Core i7-based model. We’ve got the rest of the ZenBook 3’s main features and specifications listed below if you’d like to inspect more of the particulars. On the pages ahead we’ll dig in a little deeper to see just how well this bleeding edge Ultrabook behaves with some benchmarks and battery life tests, and we'll explore the user experience as well.


ASUS ZenBook 3
Specifications & Features
CPU Intel 7th-generation Core i7-7500U, Intel 7th-generation Core i5-7200U
Display 12.5in (16:9) LED backlit Full HD (1920x1080) anti-glare, with 72% NTSC gamut ultra-thin 7.6mm bezel / 82% screen-to-body ratio
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Pro / Windows 10 Home
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Main memory 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz or 8GB LPDDR3 1866MHz
Storage 512GB PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSD or 256GB SATA SSD
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Camera VGA Webcam
I/O ports 1 x combo audio jack, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C (Supports display output and power delivery)
Audio 4 x high-quality speakers (2 x full-range, 2 x 5-magnet bass drivers) with ASUS SonicMaster Premium technology and Harman Kardon tuning
Security  Touchpad-mounted fingerprint scanner (UX390UA-XH74-BL)
Battery 40W lithium-polymer, 6-cell battery
AC adapter Output: 20V DC, 2.25A, 45W, Input: 100 -240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
Dimensions 296 x 191.2 x 11.9mm / 11.65 x 7.53 x 0.47 inches
Weight 910g/ 2lbs with battery
Models and PricingZenBook 3 UX390UA-XH74-BL - $1599, UX390UA-DH51-GR - $1099

zenbook 3 colors
The ZenBook 3 Will Be Offered In 3 Colors - Rose Gold, Royal Blue, and Quarts Grey

The ASUS ZenBook 3’s specifications read like a premium Ultrabook’s should. There will initially be two version of the ZenBook 3 on the market, one packing a Core i7-7500U, 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM, and a 512GB SSD, and another with a Core i5-7200U, 8GB of 1866MHz RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The form factor is identical between the two systems, as are the 12.5” FullHD display, keyboard, touchpad, and other features.

dongle

The only “gotchas” with the ZenBook 3 – at least for some of you – will be ASUS’ choice of IO and the lack of wired network connector. ASUS almost went “full-Apple” on us and equipped the ZenBook 3 with only a single USB-Type C connector, though there’s a headphone / microphone jack on-board too. Although some of you probably won’t mind, having to use a dongle to plug in a device with a full sized USB connector, use the HDMI output, or charge the ZenBook, while also having a USB device attached, this single connector will be a hindrance for some.
bundle 1

On the plus side, ASUS includes the aforementioned dongle with the ZenBook 3, along with a warranty card, a basic user’s manual, and an attractive folio carrying case, with magnetic latch. A lightweight, relatively small wall-wart type charging adapter is included as well, of course.

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