Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 Review: Beauty And Brawn

Article Index

Performance: Hitman: Absolution, Metro: Last Light, Gaming Analysis

We'll wrap up our gaming tests by running built-in benchmarks from two more graphically intensive games, especially for notebooks. 

Please note that we're in the process of updating our benchmark suite to a handful of more modern games, but for now we felt it made sense to use existing data for meaningful comparisons, meaning an older selection of titles. 

Hitman: Absolution
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance

As 47, a killer for the International Contract Agency (ICA), you have a very dangerous, but action-packed life. The Hitman franchise has been winning praise from critics throughout multiple games, of which Hitman: Absolution is the latest. When running this game’s benchmark, we set AA to 4X and pump the Quality Level settings to Ultra, making for a grueling gaming test. 


Metro: Last Light
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance

Finally, we arrive at “The other Crysis,” another system slayer that really stresses video cards and pushes a system’s limits. Metro Last Light is a post-apocalyptic first person shooter game with a few rather unconventional twists. Unlike most FPS titles, there is no health meter to measure your level of ailment; rather, you’re left to deal with life, or lack thereof, more akin to the real world with blood spatter on your visor and your heart rate and respiration level as indicators. 

Metro Last Light boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC platform and includes a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism. This title also supports NVIDIA PhysX technology for impressive in-game physics effects. 


The trend that established itself during our system performance benchmarks has solidified itself, as we can clearly see a pattern of the UX501 coming in just behind the HP Omen 15. But let's talk about that. Nvidia's 960M upgrade over the Maxwell-based 860M wasn't about boosting performance. Rather, Nvidia focused on dramatically improving performance-per-watt, enabling better power efficiency. That's something they undeniably accomplished. 

And on the CPU side of hardware spectrum, we're looking at a minimal 100MHz clock speed increase, which won't amount to noticeable uplift in performance. Combined with the throttling -- again, likely for temperature and longevity concerns -- we get a machine that performs just below the HP Omen 15. Don't forget, however, that the ZenBook Pro UX501 packs 4x the pixels with its 4K display, boasts a faster SSD, and has an undeniably more stylish appearance. All for the same price of $1499. 

The one drawback to the UX501's 4K resolution is gaming. A 960M is well equipped to handle 1080p eye candy, but can only drive the most lightweight games (we're talking indies or 2D platformers) at 4K. Not even a single 980M fits the bill, so that means ratcheting down your resolution to 1920x1080 in order to play at a modest framerate. But hey, that compromise discussion once again becomes important. Do you want to pay $700+ more and have a 4K gaming notebook that also gets considerably hotter and heavier along the way? If you're reading this review, probably not. 

Our takeaway on the gaming side is positive: You can play literally anything out today with reasonably high graphics quality at 1080p, and on a gorgeous IPS display. So once again that $1499 price tag is pretty attractive given the entire package. 

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