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

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ZenBook 3 Summary And Conclusion

The Kaby Lake Core i7-based ASUS ZenBook 3 UX390UA-XH74-BL we tested performed very well throughout our standard suite of benchmarks. In the all-encompassing PCMark 8 tests, the ZenBook 3 actually put up the best scores we’ve seen from an Ultrabook to date. The system also led the pack in SunSpider, and its NVMe PCIe SSD put up some strong numbers too. CPU performance was up slightly over similar-class, previous-generation processors, though 3D graphics performance with the Intel HD 620 GPU was mostly flat over the HD 520 series engine. Multimedia performance was strong, however. The new Multimedia engine in Kaby Lake offers hardware acceleration for 4K HEVC 10-bit transcoding and VP9 decoding. Skylake could handle 1080p HEVC transcoding, but it didn’t accelerate 4K HEVC 10-bit transcoding or VP9 decode and had to assist with CPU resources.

Battery life was also quite good with the ZenBook 3. Despite the system’s diminutive chassis and relatively modest 40Wh battery, it offered battery life that neared the top of the charts – all the while offering excellent overall performance.

Our experience with the ASUS ZenBook 3 was top notch as well. The chassis is constructed of premium materials, the system is super-thin and light, and it just behaves as you would expect. Boot and shut down times are quick, everyday computing tasks are responsive and snappy, and typing and zooming around on the touchpad are thankfully uneventful. The out-of-box experience with the ZenBook 3 is excellent.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. I/O on the ZenBook 3 could be better in our opinion. For some of you, the single audio jack and lone USB Type-C port may be a non-issue, but we wish there was at least one full-sized USB port somewhere on the machine, along with a card reader. ASUS mitigates these shortcomings by including a dongle with a USB Type C port, HDMI output, and full-sized USB port (which can all be used simultaneously), but the idea of plugging a bunch of stuff into a dongle and having to carry the dongle around in the first place isn’t terribly appealing to us.

Ultimately though, the ASUS ZenBook 3 is a top-shelf Ultrabook. The system performs very well, it offers good battery life, the typing and touchpad experience are good, and the display is great. There is a bit of premium to pay for an Ultrabook in this class – the Core i7-powered ZenBook 3 UX390UA-XH74-BL carries an MSRP of $1599, and the Core i5-based UX390UA-DH51-GR - $1099 – but that is to be expected. If you’re comfortable with the machine’s I/O configuration, we believe consumers looking for a premium Ultrabook will be quite pleased with the ZenBook 3. Definitely add this machine to your list...
hothardware recommended200

 hot not 
  • Strong Battery Life
  • Great Performance
  • Premium Materials
  • Good Looks
  • Windows Hello-Compatible Fingerprint Reader
  • Top-Notch Display
  • Lone USB Type-C Port
  • Minimal Key Travel
  • Somewhat Pricey

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