ASUS ZenBook Deluxe 3 UX490UA Review: A Striking, Slim Ultrabook

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ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA - Hardware Design, Software And User Experience

ASUS provides a very simple, very clean out of the box software experience. This is a laptop aimed at professionals, so it ships with Windows 10 Pro. Outside of the usual Windows 10 preinstalled items, there’s almost nothing at all on here, which is a good thing. You get a few expected utilities like Intel’s graphics configuration, and OneDrive, but there are no third-party antivirus utilities or other bloat.

ASUS includes only a few of its own utilities: ASUS Splendid to adjust display color, Tru2life Video to auto-sharpen videos, and Audio Wizard to set different EQ modes for the speakers. None of these add all that much in the way of value. However, it can be useful to engage a blue light filter when working late at night and trim audio settings a touch to eek out as much low-end from its speakers as possible.

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The overall design of the laptop is quite nice. It’s exceptionally thin at only 0.51 inches, and quite lightweight for its size at 2.43 lbs. That’s less than 7 ounces heavier than the 12.5-inch model. The aluminum chassis feels good and looks great, with a round brushed pattern on top and gold accents that manage to avoid looking gaudy.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel particularly durable, especially next to a few other premium laptops like Lenovo’s Thinkpad lineup of Dell's XPS. When the laptop is open there’s some flex in its base, as well as a little display wobble. You can always expect a bit of this when laptop makers try to go super thin, but at this price it seems like it should feel more rigid.

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Those three USB-C ports are great, and addresses one of the biggest shortcomings with this laptop’s 12.5-inch cousin. You’ll find included dongles for USB-A and HDMI as well, in case you need to plug in a “legacy” connector that is still in use everywhere.

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The UX490 employs four speakers, two up above the keyboard and two on the bottom on either side of the touchpad, to deliver better sound than you'll get out of your average super-thin ultrabook. Asus markets the speakers as, "tuned by experts from audio specialists - Harman/Kardon." I don't believe that is necessarily a magic bullet to superior sound, and it's not like you're going to be kickin' the bass out of a 13mm thick laptop, but the audio definitely does stay cleaner and more natural at a higher volume than with most other laptops in this class.

The keyboard is a delight to type on. With 1.2mm of travel and a nice firm bounce, it’s got a much more tactile and less “mushy” feel than the keyboard on most ultrabooks, especially those that are really thin. We can’t say as many nice things about the touchpad. It’s fine, but a bit over-sensitive at times even with the sensitivity turned down low. We got more accidental taps and palm detections when typing than we would have liked. Still, tracking was smooth and responsive, and all of Windows 10’s multi-finger gestures are supported. The upper right corner of the touchpad houses the fingerprint sensor, which supports Windows Hello and is fast and accurate enough.
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14-Inch IPS 1920X1080 Non-Touch Display - 300 Nits

The display only has a resolution of 1920x1080, which seems a little low for a premium ultrabook with a 14-inch panel. Conversely, this saves on cost and in general is reasonably well-proportioned to the size of the machine. Color quality and accuracy looks pretty good—ASUS claims 72% NTSC coverage and 100% sRGB coverage. Its maximum brightness is 300 nits, and the display is glossy with occasional reflection and glare. In dim indoor settings it looks great, but if you want to work outdoors or in really bright light, you’re going to wish it was brighter. It’s also not a touch screen, but since this isn’t a convertible 2-in-1 that’s only a “nice to have” not a “must have."

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