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

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Inspecting The ASUS ZenBook 3

The ASUS ZenBook 3 is constructed of premium materials and features an all-metal unibody enclosure, but the machine still manages to be ultra-thing and light. The ZenBook 3’s profile is only 11.9mm and it weighs in a svelte 2lbs (910g).
zenbook 3
Like previous-generation ZenBooks, the ZenBook 3 has a spun-metal finish, but the concentric circles are more densely packed and thinner with this latest iteration. Asus also employs a 2-step anodization process to get the different colors on the chassis. With the Royal Blue version you see here, once the enclosure has been stamped out, the blue anodization is applied. Then the edges are beveled and the gold anodization is applied on the exposed edges. The end result is very attractive in our opinion.

zenbook 3 clamshell

There is a lot happening inside the ZenBook 3’s gorgeous enclosure as well. As we mentioned, the systems are built around Intel’s latest Kaby Lake 7th Gen Core processors, and you can see just how tiny the highly integrated motherboards featuring Kaby Lake can be. The processors, chipset, and memory are all integrated onto a PCB no bigger than the average sized hand. NVMe SSDs slot right in to a connector on the edge of the board.

zenbook motherboard

In addition to the PCB, there’s obviously a specialized cooling solution and a few other goodies inside the chassis. There is a very thin heatsink and copper-alloy heatpipe assembly, with walls that are only .1mm thick. To aid in cooling, there is also a 3mm thin fan inside, that features liquid-crystal polymer fan impellers. Cool air is pulled into a pair of perforated vents on bottom of the system, blown across the heatsinks and heatpipe assembly, and exhausted out of a vent that runs along the hinge on the back.

zenbook 3 internals

Also inside the system are a quartet of speakers. Even though the machine is super-thin, ASUS crammed a four-speaker audio system inside, with quad-amplifiers, tuned by Harman Kardon. With drivers so tiny, there obviously won’t be a ton of bass pumping out of the ZenBook 3, but the sound emitted from the system is surprisingly robust and offers decent volume. Two speakers fire out of the bottom of the machine, and two out of the top. And finally, there is also a 40Wh lithium-polymer battery inside with fast-charging support – it can be charged to 60% capacity in just 49 minutes and ASUS claims roughly 9 hours of battery life.

The ZenBook 3 it outfitted with a 12.5” FullHD display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and native resolution of 1920x1080. We found the display to offer excellent brightness, contrast, and saturation, and viewing angles were very good too. The actual screen is protected with a .4mm thin sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass 4, and at either side the bezels are only 7.6mm thin. There’s a bit more bezel at the top to accommodate the built-in HD webcam, and more at the bottom too, where the ASUS ZenBook logo resides. Asus also calibrates the display for color accuracy, and provides a couple of utilities for users that want to tweak things further. There’s an Eye Protection mode that dims the display and filters out some blue lighting, and ASUS’ Splendid tool can be used to optimize the display for different image types. ASUS includes a utility called Tri2life that offers real-time video enhancement to optimize the appearance of every pixel in every frame of video, to improve sharpness and contrast.

zenbook 3 deck

The keyboard and touchpad are very good on the ZenBook 3 as well. The keyboard has limited key travel (.8mm) due to the system’s ultra-thin chassis, but that’s to be expected with a machine of this type and it's easy to get used to. The layout of the keyboard is very good, however, and it features gold-backlighting, with adjustable brightness. There are no funky key placements, and ASUS uses as much space as possible to ensure the keys are a good size and spaced apart properly. There’s only 2.1mm of empty space on either side of the keyboard and the keys have a 19.8mm pitch (distance from center to center of adjacent keys), which is excellent considering how small the ZenBook 3 is. The touchpad is responsive and good and rejecting unwanted palm grazes and there’s a Windows Hello-Compatible fingerprint reader incorporated into the top-right corner. Once configured, a simple touch will log you right into the machine.

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