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

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ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA - Battery Life, Thermals, Accoustics

In the following benchmarks, we employ two very different battery life tests: Battery Eater Pro and a custom 1080p HD video loop test. In all tests, Windows 10 Quiet Hours have been enabled and displays are calibrated with lux meters on pure white screens to as close to 115 nits as possible. For the average notebook this is somewhere between a 45 - 60% brightness setting. Since notebook displays significantly affect power consumption and battery life, it's important to ensure a level playing field with respect to brightness of the display for battery testing. However, since many notebook displays vary in brightness at each respective brightness setting in Windows, this calibration with the meter is also critical to ensure all displays are set to as near identical brightness as possible before testing.

Battery Testing
How Long Did It Last?

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Battery life is one area where ASUS’ quest to make an extremely thin and light laptop may have drawbacks. There’s room for only a 46Wh battery in this system (which is actually pretty good considering its thin size). But that battery, combined with the 14-inch display, leads to a rather average 2 hours and 15 minutes in this intense battery drain test. That’s less than the 12.5-inch version ZenBook 3.

Our custom HotHardware video loop takes a 1080p HD video with a 16Kbps bit rate and loops it repeatedly, with 1 minute break intervals in between, using VLC. A timer log file increments minutes of up-time and a final tally is recorded before system shutdown, which then is stored in the log. This is a lighter duty test that is still a bit more strenuous than many office productivity tasks, but it's not nearly the strain that Battery Eater puts on a system.

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The system performs reasonably well in this test, lasting 5 hours and 48 minutes. That’s on the high end of average for an ultrabook, but not as long as slightly heavier machines, with less bright displays and bigger batteries (like the latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon at 57Whr). For a system with a 1080p display, we could hope for more. Again, the super-thin-and-light nature of the laptop limits the size of the battery ASUS can fit in there. However, at almost 6 hours of video playback time, you've got untethered coast-to-coast air travel well-covered and then some.

Acoustics and Thermals

Along with the average battery life, the extremely thin and light design is likely the cause of two other issues: a little more heat and noise than we would like. There’s just not enough room for good airflow and heat dissipation, and as a result the laptop can get quite warm, both on the top and bottom, when performing intensive tasks.

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For instance, we measured temperatures up to 115 degrees on the right side of the keyboard, and almost 120 degrees on the bottom, while installing several applications. It’s enough to get uncomfortable if it’s resting on your lap.

Fan noise is a small annoyance, too. When doing almost anything, including relatively light web browsing, the fan kicks in at a low level. If you’re in a quiet environment, you’ll notice it, and wonder why the fan’s running when you just have a few browser tabs open. When you do more intense tasks, and especially while charging, the fan spins up higher. It’s not “hair dryer” annoying, but it's audible enough to take notice of.

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