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Asus ZenBook S review: S is for Style, not for Substance

Asus ZenBook S assessment: S is for Model, not for Substance

“What’s that? It seems to be bizarre!”, is what a number of tech journalists have mentioned to me upon seeing the Asus ZenBook S for the primary time. Granted, it does look just a little odd, however you should not choose a laptop computer by its ergonomically elevated keyboard.

Although the Asus ZenBook S could seem unconventional, it’s not that completely different below the lid. Actually, it’s all too common when it comes to its and efficiency output. May this be a case of fashion over substance, then?

READ NEXT: Greatest laptops for college students

Asus ZenBook S assessment: What it’s good to know

The ZenBook S is designed to perform as an ultra-portable spin-off to the Asus ZenBook and Asus ZenBook Professional units. It’s a glossy, compact gadget with a 13.3in IPS show, weighing just one.4kg. When closed it has an extremely slim depth of 12.9mm, slipping neatly right into a rucksack, or below your arm when on the transfer. It even comes with its personal snazzy protecting sleeve.

As with all laptop computer, there are quite a few configurations to select from. For this assessment, I’ve been given a mannequin with a Full HD, non-touch-enabled display, an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. The value of the Asus ZenBook S fluctuates wildly between the various specs – extra on that below- however all use Home windows 10 Residence because the default working system.

Asus ZenBook S assessment: Worth and competitors

The precise configuration I’m reviewing is offered completely within the UK by John Lewis, and it goes for £1,099. That’s not as a lot as a few of my colleagues had guessed based mostly on its dazzling design however keep in mind that this doesn’t even get you a touchscreen, whereas the decision’s a reasonably common 1,920 x 1,080.

For the burgundy end, John Lewis is your solely possibility, however by way of Asus UK you should buy a ZenBook S in blue with the very same specs apart from RAM (16GB as a substitute of 8GB), whereas there’s one other which is an identical apart from its touch-enabled display.

For across the similar cash as this assessment mannequin may get your arms on numerous glorious machines, together with the gorgeous new Microsoft Floor Laptop computer 2, which I reviewed at £1,249. Although barely dearer, its efficiency benchmarks beat the ZenBook S at each flip. You possibly can additionally choose up a Dell XPS 13 for £1,249, though the class-leading mannequin featured in our assessment value £1,649.

Purchase the Asus ZenBook S now from John Lewis

Asus ZenBook S assessment: Design

As talked about beforehand, the ZenBook S has an uncommon look for a laptop computer due to the elevated base. When the lid is closed it lies flat to the desk floor identical to some other laptop computer. However behind the hinge on the rear fringe of the laptop computer is a bit of additional bulk which acts as a lever, pushing the laptop computer’s base upwards off the desk when the lid is opened.

Moreover trying fairly cool (in my view), this has two key results. Firstly, it gives extra air flow for the CPU, offering loads of area to dissipate warmth. Secondly, the angle gives a extra ergonomic, ‘pure’ typing expertise – not less than, that’s the thought.

The additional air flow is far wanted because it occurs as a result of the ZenBook S will get extraordinarily heat when performing extra demanding functions – and typically when it’s not doing something in any respect. Grabbing the IR thermometer gun from the Skilled Evaluations labs, I clocked the bottom’s temperature at 54 levels centigrade. In accordance with LiveScience an egg may be cooked at 55 levels. For a extra worrying level of reference, human pores and skin may be burned by temperatures as little as 44 levels. This implies it’s probably not appropriate to be used in your lap. On condition that we’re speaking a few laptop computer, that’s an actual downside.

Nonetheless, the ZenBook S is a fetching gadget – it has an all metallic (principally aluminium) physique which options Asus’ trademark ‘spun metallic’ end on the lid, and it is available in both a placing burgundy purple or an equally engaging deep blue. At 311 x 213 x 12.9mm, that is one trim laptop computer. However that svelteness comes at a value: ports.

Excluding the three.5mm audio jack on the decrease right-hand aspect of the lid, there are solely three ports on the Asus ZenBook S, and so they’re all USB-C. Asus consists of two clunky adapters, one for USB Three.zero to USB-C and the opposite for HDMI to USB-C. When plugged in they severely cramp the ZenBook S’ type, and there’s at all times a chance that you just would possibly lose them and have to purchase your individual down the road. Asus sells its personal Mini Dock for £75.

Twin Harman/Kardon audio system are tucked away on the laptop computer’s underside, the place they sit in direction of the entrance and lie in touch with the desk floor. This has the impact of boosting the audio, though even at max quantity the ZenBook S suffers from a tinny sound. I’ve examined smartphones with louder audio system than these, so shopping for a separate Bluetooth speaker is unquestionably a good suggestion.

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Asus ZenBook S assessment: Keyboard and touchpad

The elevated keyboard takes some getting used to, particularly when you kind totally on a flat keyboard as I do. After a couple of minutes, it actually grew on me, nonetheless, and I loved the angle at which my wrists rested whereas my fingers typed. It positively felt as if my arms had been in a extra impartial place, which in flip made typing really feel simpler.

Having mentioned that, I didn’t benefit from the keys themselves a lot, as there’s little satisfaction to be drawn from the restricted journey or the general really feel. Personally, I desire a extra weighty, clicky keyboard with extra journey depth. All the identical, I didn’t have any issues with the structure and should admit that the shiny purple end is fairly good.

On the touchpad is a fingerprint reader, nestled in on the higher proper nook, however this seems to be a poor design resolution. There are a lot of locations on the laptop computer the place a fingerprint reader may have been put in, so why add it right here? When utilizing the touchpad, a acutely aware effort have to be made to keep away from the part of the containing the sensor. As soon as your finger slips into the inset groove of the reader, you lose management of the cursor. Primarily what you’ve bought is a touchpad with a bit lacking.

Purchase the Asus ZenBook S now from John Lewis

Asus ZenBook S assessment: Show

The 13.3in IPS show on my ZenBook S assessment mannequin has a 1,920 x 1,080 decision, though there’s additionally a 4K touch-enabled configuration out there. The show seems to be superb when enjoying Full HD YouTube and Netflix movies, however our show calibrator revealed that it has a reasonably sub-par gamut protection of 87%, which is compounded by oversaturation. Each color, apart from some shades of black and gray, is inaccurate and a median Delta E of 5.1 highlights how unsuited the ZenBook S is for picture or video modifying.

A distinction ratio of 1099:1 is unusually low for a laptop computer of this value. Show brightness can be disappointing, with a most measured luminance of 288cd/m2; merely put, that’s not ok for a mid-range laptop computer, not to mention a premium effort. Working below harsh lighting circumstances the display will undergo from glare, making it tough to see when sat by a window on a brilliant day, and borderline unusable in direct daylight. Given how scorching the laptop computer will get indoors, I’d keep away from placing it in daylight both manner.

Asus ZenBook S assessment: Efficiency and battery life

Now for the all-important benchmarks. Inside this Zen E book S is an Intel Core Kaby Lake R i7-8550U, plus 8GB RAM. Though the CPU got here out fairly properly from our media benchmark exams, with an general rating of 62, I had hoped it’d sustain higher with the likes of the Floor Laptop computer 2, which achieved a pace of 84 utilizing a lesser i7-8250U chip.

Sequential learn and write speeds, whereas not terribly sluggish, are a notch beneath the competitors. The SSD within the Asus achieved file learn speeds of 459MB/s, and wrote recordsdata at 204MB/s which, once more, falls wanting the Floor Laptop computer 2, as proven within the chart beneath. In fact, my check pattern packs in a 256GB SATA-Three SSD slightly than the 512GB NVMe SSD discovered within the Dell XPS 13, which is leaps and bounds forward when it comes to throughput, and configurations can be found with a 512GB or 1TB PCI-E drive. When you’re engaged on duties the place SSD efficiency issues, you’re prone to discover the distinction.

Gaming choices on the Asus ZenBook S are restricted. It solely has Intel UHD Graphics 620 built-in graphics and performs averagely in our varied gaming benchmarks. It ran DiRT Showdown at 1080p at a median fee of 22.56fps – not unplayable, however removed from nice.

Purchase the Asus ZenBook S now from John Lewis

The extra demanding Metro: Final Gentle 1080p benchmark hovered across the 12fps mark, suggesting that you just higher hold the gaming gentle on the ZenBook S. That mentioned, it’s not any worse than different laptops within the value vary. Within the GFXBench Manhattan onscreen check, it scored a median of 45.2fps; just a little greater than the Floor Laptop computer 2’s 39.1fps.

The ZenBook S didn’t do too properly within the battery rundown check. On condition that it solely has an FHD, non-touch show, I had hoped it’d surpass rival laptops with greater resolutions or contact shows, or each. Sadly, its battery life solely lasted for 6hrs 13minutes of steady video playback, which is about an hour shorter than the Floor Laptop computer 2.

I’d contemplate something beneath 6hrs within the standardised battery life benchmark to be unacceptable on a laptop computer costing £1,000 or extra, so the ZenBook S is treading a superb line right here. Odds are that the battery life on the 4K touch-enabled configuration is significantly shorter.

Asus ZenBook S assessment: Verdict

Asus will get high marks for type, however there are too many points with the ZenBook S to advocate it over laptops just like the Floor Laptop computer 2, the Dell XPS 13 and even the LG Gram, all of which may be purchased for across the similar value. Other than its neat elevating hinge design, there’s nothing exceptional about it, and its benchmarks outcomes are removed from particular.

Add to that the heating points, flawed touchpad design and woeful lack of ports, and the worth tag begins to look unreasonable. This can be a laptop computer that, in aesthetic phrases, has many positives, however transcend the seems to be and the niggles quickly outweigh them. College students and informal customers would possibly get by simply superb, however when you’re searching for a laptop computer that’s able to being one thing extra than simply eye sweet, look elsewhere.

Core specs
Processor Intel Core i7-8550U (Kaby lake R)
Reminiscence slots (free) N/A
Max reminiscence 256GB
Dimensions 311 x 213 x 12.9
Weight 1.4kg
Sound Harmon Kardon audio system (x2)
Pointing gadget Touchpad
Display measurement 13.3in (LCD IPS)
Display decision 1920 x 1080
Touchscreen No
Graphics adaptor Intel UHD Graphics 620
Graphics outputs N/A
Graphics reminiscence N/A
Whole storage 256GB
Optical drive kind N/A
Ports and growth
USB ports USBC-C x Three (USB Three.zero and HDMI adapter in field)
Bluetooth Sure
Networking Wi-Fi
Reminiscence card reader No
Different ports Three.5mm audio jack
Working system Home windows 10 Residence
Working system restore possibility Home windows restore partition

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