Thin bezels? Outstanding battery life? Great performance? While it might sound like we’re talking about the Dell XPS, but we’re not! ASUS has done a compelling job of offering a variety of laptops for all kinds of takers. But with the ASUS ZenBook 15, we’re talking about ultrabooks here. With a high asking price, the ZenBook 15 sits right next to the Dell XPS 15, the MacBook Pro, Lenovo Yoga 920 and the HP Spectre x360. But does it have enough to have an edge over the others? Well, let’s find out!
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Build
A first look at the ASUS ZenBook and you’ll know ASUS means business with the ZenBook flagship series. The ZenBook 15 fits a 15-inch screen in the body of a 14-inch laptop, thanks to minimal bezels on three sides. ASUS has done a very clever job of hiding the bottom bezel by raising the keyboard as you open the lid. And for anyone who’s worried about the webcam placement, don’t worry. It’s where it should be!
The ZenBook 15 is a sturdy laptop and is also MIL-STD-810G certified. The perforated golden accent at the top of the keyboard adds a very sophisticated look. The combination of blue and gold is a wise choice and is something that sets it apart from other laptops in this range. But one thing I’d like to note is that the laptop’s keyboard surface is pretty intolerant to fingerprints and smudges.
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Display & Audio
The tiny bezels of the laptop give it a screen-to-body ratio of a whopping 92% that makes media seem surreal. The FullHD 1920 x 1080 display with a respectable 141 PPI. To be honest, the display won’t blow your socks off and is an average display in most ways. I also wasn’t particularly a fan of the brightness of the panel. It would’ve been good to see a 4K panel (or at least an option) like seen on the XPS. But all in all, the tiny bezels and the decent display panel still manages to make media visually appealing.
The ZenBook boasts of two Harmann Kardon-tuned speakers that face downward and uses the angle to bounce off the sound. But at high volumes, I found the sound to be tinny and distorted. If you’re into the consumption of media regularly, pairing a pair of headphones or speakers is the best bet!
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Performance
The ASUS ZenBook 15 is meant to be a powerhouse and is rightly specced to serve the purpose. Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-8565CVPU and a meaty 16GB of RAM. Powering graphics is the GTX 1050 Max-Q, that is very capable of paying intensive games at high settings.
Before judging how well the laptop handles games, it’s important to know who the laptop is aimed at. The ZenBook 15 is an ultra-portable that offers the best of performance, handles multi-tasking efficiently, and lasts long enough. Being just that means that the ZenBook doesn’t offer a mind-blowing gaming experience. But if you’re an entry-level gamer, the performance will be better than what you would expect it to be. We played FarCry 5 and found it touching 43-48 FPS consistently on high settings!
The laptop is equipped with a 1TB Samsung PM981 NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD which makes app launching pretty quick. The laptop also takes just about 9-10 seconds to start from cold and a reboot, somewhere around 18-20 seconds!
Thanks to great battery life, the ZenBook 15 is definitely one such laptop and can be aptly called the ‘Mo Farah’ of ultrabooks.
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Battery Life & Charging Times
I have a personal benchmark to test the battery life of any laptop. If I don’t carry the charger in my bag when I leave for a 9-hour long day of work, the laptop is a solid performer. The ZenBook 15 is definitely one such laptop and can be aptly called the ‘Mo Farah’ of ultrabooks.
The ZenBook 15 can easily last you a work day. I personally could juice out 10-11 hours of battery life with browsing on Chrome, streaming Netflix, editing word documents and sheets, and streaming on Spotify. All this while screen brightness was at 30%.
The laptop was pretty delightful in terms of charging speeds too. A 100% charge from 5-10% would take about 90 to 105 minutes. For a laptop that lasts all day long, this is nothing but icing on the cake. So if you’re looking for a laptop that won’t die on you, the ZenBook 15 won’t let you down.
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Keyboard & Touchpad
The ZenBook 15 features a full-sized chiclet keyboard that is backlit. Due to the smaller frame of the laptop, it’s not the roomiest keyboard I’ve ever used. But it’s not too difficult to get used to it. For me, the problem was the keyboard’s tactility. I found the buttons to be rather mushy. Having used the crisp MacBook Butterfly keys, I found it hard to justify the keys on the almost-as-expensive ZenBook.
The smaller frame of the laptop becomes a reason again for another small inconvenience. Since the keyboard has the numpad keys too, the placement of the touchpad seems to be in the way when you start writing. But thankfully, palm rejection is great and I barely found myself annoyed with random clicks. But unfortunately, the unit I received for review seemed to have some problems with the touchpad. I faced ghost touch issues with the touchpad a number of times and it even stopped responding at once. But I’ll give the benefit of doubt to ASUS and believe that this was only a fault with my unit.
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Connectivity & Ports
The ZenBook 15 is very well decked with a variety of ports. It has a USB-A 3.1 port, a USB-A 2.0 port, and a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port to go along with a full-size HDMI connection, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader. Unfortunately, there’s no Thunderbolt 3 support. Also, the laptop doesn’t support charging via the USB Type-C Port which means you’ll have to tug around with its proprietary charger (which isn’t that heavy, fortunately). Wireless connectivity is provided by 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0.
ASUS ZenBook 15 Review: Verdict
So where does the ASUS ZenBook 15 stand? To be honest, the ASUS ZenBook 15 is a pretty good deal. The 15-incher competes with the likes of the Dell XPS 15 and the MacBook Pro 15 but at a price that is much more affordable. Although you do miss out on a 4K screen, better build quality (subjective), a faster GPU and a fingerprint scanner, features, that are found on at least one of the above-mentioned laptops. But for the difference in price, you’ll probably forgive all those things.
While I might’ve made the laptop sound a bargain in the above paragraph, the laptop still costs a princely sum of INR 135,000 approx. But if you’re in the market for an ultrabook that can perform, the ASUS ZenBook 15 is a well-balanced choice!