ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA laptop review

ASUS have finally launched the ZenBook 3, and I’ve been anticipating this one for so long that unboxing it was as exciting as opening a Louis Vuitton gift box from my wife. Er… wait, I mean for my wife. *cough*

Technical specifications

Dimensions: 296×191.2×11.9mm

Weight: 910g

Display: 14-inch full HD (1920×1080) LED backlit display / 7.46mm slim bezel / 84% screen-to-body ratio
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620

I/O: 3.5mm headphone jack / 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C Thunderbolt ports (plus an additional Type-C charging port)

Battery type: 4-cell 46WHr Lithium-polymer, non-removable

Claimed battery life: 12 hours

Battery yield under load: 3 hours 34 minutes

CPU: Intel Core i7-8550U

RAM: 16GB LPDDR3 2,133MHz

Storage: 512GB / 1TB PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD

Speakers: 4 x Harman Kardon-tuned speakers

Wireless connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 4.1

Security: optional touchpad-mounted fingerprint reader

Price and supplier information
Supplier: ASUS South Africa
RRP: R29,999

The ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe is manufactured from an aerospace-grade aluminium alloy, and as a result it feels supremely slick. The anodized gold trim, ASUS logo and matching gold-keyed, backlit keyboard make for an impressively stylish overall design. At 11.9mm thick and weighing just 910 grams, the lightweight ZenBook 3 is available in three colours: rose gold, quartz grey and royal blue – which is so royal it’s almost black (is that a thing?). The designers of this notebook have truly delivered a beauty, one that’s in keeping with the zen garden approach that inspired the first of the ZenBooks back in 2011.

Not only is the ZenBook 3 super slim and gorgeous to look at, but it also packs a punch with its eighth-generation (Kaby Lake) Core i7 8550U CPU, a 512GB PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD and 16GB of 2,133MHz DDR3 RAM. The ZenBook 3 comes with multiple USB 3.1 Type-C Thunderbolt connectors, which means you could connect anything from an external GPU, a monitor or two, transfer data to an external drive at 5Gbps, or do all the above simultaneously via a universal docking station.

The keyboard feels very comfortable and precise, and the large touchpad is great for people like me with paddles for hands. It also supports Windows 10’s multi-touch and gesture control. The device is equipped with a fingerprint scanner – and although this works with zero issues, I personally would’ve preferred facial recognition.

Although you’ll be able to play a fair selection of less-demanding games on the ZenBook 3, it isn’t touted as a gaming notebook, with its Intel HD 620 GPU putting it squarely in the casual gaming category. With powerful notebooks such as this one, you’d normally have to deal with excessive heat. Fortunately, ASUS have designed a cooling system from the ground up to effectively and quietly direct heat away from and out of the ZenBook via discreet vents situated in the hinge. I didn’t experience any heat issues throughout my testing of the ZenBook 3, even when it ran a gauntlet of hectic battery tests and the like.

Speaking of the battery, the unit is equipped with a multi-cell battery design – meaning that instead of one battery, the designers have inserted lithium polymer batteries into every available space throughout the chassis to achieve maximum battery yield. ASUS reckons that the ZenBook 3 will yield up to ten hours, according to a Mobile Mark 2014 office productivity benchmark result they published. I decided to put this to the test using PCMark 8 Advanced Edition ( PCMark 8 subjects the unit to a range of tests designed to mimic heavy usage, and after two runs from a fully charged battery, the results yielded a score of 3,405 and a battery time of 3 hours and 34 minutes.

The ZenBook 3 features a 14-inch, full HD, Gorilla Glass 5-coated, LED backlit display, and comes equipped with ASUS’s Tru2Life video-enhancing technology. They’ve also managed to squeeze in four Harman Kardon-tuned speakers, and I was pleased to discover that these deliver excellent clarity and a surprisingly rich sonic experience.

9This notebook is truly stunning, and I totally get the zen approach that ASUS had in mind throughout the construction of the ZenBook 3. Personally, I’d have loved to see facial recognition security, a touch screen, and perhaps a hinge that allowed the screen to fold all the way back, to transform the notebook into a tablet. However, this is just me trying to find problems with this beauty, because I can’t find anything else wrong with it.

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