Preloaded Software and First Boot
Preloaded software isn't quite the nuisance it used to be, but it's important to remember that partnerships between companies like Asus and McAfee probably aren't disappearing anytime soon. If you're anything like me, the first thing you do when you purchase a new laptop is immediately open up Control Panel and start uninstalling bloatware until your system once again resembles a clean, icon-free, pristine Windows install.
Thankfully, Asus hasn't packed the ZenBook UX501 full of too much unwanted desktop software, and apps like Asus Giftbox and Asus PhotoDirector stay behind the scenes until they're needed, and aren't intrusive.
The constant nagging from McAfee Antivirus (which is just the trial version) is a different story. "Vulnerability Scanner found new updates!" "There's a new device on your network!" "There's new software on your machine!" "You still haven't signed up for a subscription, why do you love viruses?" Ok I'm slightly exaggerating, but these pop-ups are borderline belligerent until you blast McAfee from your SSD.
Aside from that it's smooth sailing. The UX501 cold boots to the desktop in 9 seconds flat, and navigating Windows is snappy and intuitive using either the trackpad or touchscreen. (Windows 10, by the way, is an even more delightful experience for touchscreen users, and the upgrade to it on the UX501 was free and painless.)
Asus has a tendency to split its drives into multiple partitions, and that seems an odd choice with only a single 512GB SSD on board. It works out to an "OS" drive with a 190GB capacity, and a "Data" drive with a 270GB capacity. The act of partitioning doesn't shrink your total storage space, but it's a curious approach. I can imagine a scenario where a user would install Steam (by default to the OS or C: drive) and quickly slam into the space ceiling, having to create a second library on the data drive. I know, it's a niggle and not really a complaint, but still worth mentioning.
Let's equalize that minor criticism with some numbers. Specifically the read/write performance of the ZenBook Pro's Samsung SM951 SSD, which taps into a PCI-E 3.0 x4 pipeline for increased bandwidth and increased power efficiency.