- Still the Sexiest Laptop we know
- Gorgeous 4K Display
- ScreenPad Works like a Charm!
- Decent Performance
- Decent selection of ports
- Amazing Speakers
- Touchscreen isn't necessary
- Battery life could have been better
Asus unveiled the Zenbook Pro 15 back in Computex and this is the company’s first approach in making a dual display laptop. With that said, it made its debut back in September and ever since then we have been using it as our daily driver. It’s been quite a while and its time for us to share our final verdict in this Asus Zenbook Pro 15 Review.
Design and Build Quality
When it comes to design, it’s no doubt that Asus pretty much nailed it with this. We have been (and still are) a huge fan of ASUS design language for their Zenbook series for a while now and the Zenbook Pro 15 is no exception. On the outside, it still rocks a dark blue shade with the ZenSpiral Design we have seen with the previous ones. The gold accents on the side gives the laptop that premium look that isn’t striking but subtle. On the inside, you’ll notice the whole area around the keyboard has a brushed finish that gives the industrial look to it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the brushed design look on the FX505 but this isn’t as obvious – very subtle once again. The color on the Zenbook Pro 15 is rather even and there isn’t any darker or lighter shade to be seen which is without a doubt shows how much effort has gone into the craftsmanship of this laptop.
Now on to the build quality, the whole laptop is constructed in metal all around and it feels premium in the hand. The laptop has some weight to it – in fact, it weighs around 1.88 kg. It sure isn’t the lightest laptop around but for a laptop with such specification – which you’ll find in a minute – actually is impressive. It’s 18.9mm thin as well. One of the things with Zenbook previously is how the hinge isn’t as sturdy it should be but the Zenbook Pro 15 has the sturdiest hinges we have seen on a laptop. It’s almost like a gaming grade laptop’s hinge that pretty much withstands to multiple opening. The whole keyboard area is designed well that there isn’t a single flex, thanks to its impressively strong chassis that holds up really well.
I have to say, the laptop has improved build over its predecessor and it’s better.
I/O and Connectivity
Unlike the last Zenbook 3 Deluxe which has only three USB-C Ports and you’d require dongle (that laptop still holds a place in our hearts by the way) – the new Zenbook Pro 15 actually has ample ports for you to not even purchase a dongle. On the left side, You’ll find 2 x Full Size Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2 Ports, a MicroSD Card Slot and Audio Jack. On the right side, it has 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Port, HDMI and DC IN.
Since the Zenbook Pro 15 is targeted towards creators, they could have included an SD Card slot instead of a MicroSD Card slot. That feels like a missed opportunity. Also, just like their predecessor – it’d have been nice to power up the laptop with a USB-C Port. At this point, these are some nitpicks from me, but I like the port selection so far.
In terms of connectivity, you get Bluetooth 5.0 for pairing your Mouse, Speakers and other peripherals whereas for network, you get a Dual-band 802.11ac gigabit-class Wi-Fi that gets you going.
This is where the magic happens. The Zenbook Pro 15 they sent us over has the following specification.
- Powered by Intel Core i7 8th Generation 8750H Processor
- Hexa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz with 9MB Cache
- 16GB DDR4 Dual Channel RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM
- 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Now, you can get the Zenbook Pro 15 in various configuration – even with a GTX 1050 and a FHD Display on the front instead but there’s an overkill variant of it – that runs a friggin’ Intel Core-i9 8950HK Processor. You can get that too.
On our Zenbook Pro 15, the laptop rocks a 15.6” LED-Backlight 4K UHD Display in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Now this isn’t your average display that you see on a laptop – on a day to day basis. We are talking about – possibly one of the best (if not, the best) display on a laptop. The laptop has been color calibrated to Delta E < 2 and has a full 100% coverage of the Adobe RGB Color Gamut. To make it even better, this display is PANTONE Validated – this shows how color accurate the display is.
If you have read our reviews on G-SYNC Screens on laptops like the ROG series, we describe it as orgasmic because of its 144Hz. The display on the Zenbook Pro 15 isn’t orgasmic but euphoric. Everything about is fine and just like spoiling your eyes with higher frame rates and not being able to go back – the color production on the Zenbook Pro’s display spoils your eyes for having really good colors. The colors stand out and during our time editing an image, we can actually tell that the difference were pretty drastic comparing to my personal laptop – the ROG Scar.
This display is for those who care about finer details in the content that they produce – be it for work or for production as it does get the job done. This display is also good for other things – we tried playing one of our favorite game title – Evil Within 2 and we have to say, the colors do stand out. It applies pretty much the same for the shows and movies you are planning to watch on it.
One other extra feature the display boast is that it is touch screen and supports ASUS Pen for input. Take note though (Pun intended), the laptop doesn’t fold – so writing on it is going to be a challenge unless you flip it upside down.
ScreenPad – Secondary Display
The ScreenPad is the second display that hides behind the frosted glass of the Trackpad. It’s a 5.5” FHD Super IPS+ Display with touch input underneath. It supports up to four-finger smart gestures. Now, we are going to be brief about it in this because the ScreenPad deserves a review on its own. So keep your eyes peeled for that.
As a secondary screen hidden in the trackpad is a much smarter move than the company who replaced the Fn keys for a touch bar. To me, the whole ScreenPad idea reminds me of another gaming company that included a display on their trackpad. But in this case, the ScreenPad got few cues from that and made the whole experience better with their Zenbook Pro 15. In fact, during my time using it – I was enjoying the ScreenPad with it’s limited-yet-useful library of application that takes your productivity to another level.
One smart move ASUS did here is to collaborate with Microsoft to make their Office tool intuitive on trackpad by keeping the commonly used shortcuts one touch away – which I genuinely liked. Watching videos on YouTube while working – pretty cool. There’s more to it and I personally think there’s a lot of potential with it. At the moment we will keep it till here, and will talk more about it in a different article.
With the specification I mentioned earlier, it shouldn’t be a doubt that the ASUS Zenbook Pro 15 is no slouch. The laptop is a beast and this machine sure does pack a punch under the hood. We have performed PC Mark for Performance, CrystalDiskMark for Disk Performance and finally verify the specification with CPU-Z.
In CrystalDiskMark, the 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD flies with a Sequential Read (Q32T1) of 2178MB/s and Sequential Write (Q32T1) of 2364MB/s respectively. And the other read/write score is pretty high indeed, this means- exporting RAW images off Lightroom, exporting videos over Premiere Pro or any other editing app will be significantly fast with these read and write speeds. Thanks to the Core i7 8th Generation processor which has 6-cores that will give you hyper threading coupled with the GTX 1050 Ti will give you better results overall.
We tried Evil Within 2 for the sake of the curiosity within us and the laptop handled the game really well. You can actually game on this machine. Playing the game on FHD Resolution gives the display better response over 4K as the graphics card sure does struggle to push as much as frames possible – so I’d suggest gaming on this at FHD (if you ever think about playing one or two titles).
The temperature on the laptop on idle in an Air-conditioned room was about 50-52 degrees for the CPU and 46-48 degrees for the GPU. Under a GPU intensive load, be it a game or editing – it hits about 73 degrees for the CPU and near 68 for the GPU – which is alright because it has a dedicated GPU. You can feel the warmth at the center of the keyboard and towards the left palm rest. But it cools down quickly – so that’s a good sign. Don’t expect the thermals to be anywhere near same for the i9 though – when the ROG Chimera hit almost 80 in that chassis, imagine how would it be with this chassis. It’s going to be hot.
The ASUS Zenbook Pro 15 packs a whopping 71Wh 8-cell lithium-polymer battery under the hood which requires charging with the help of a 150W Power Adapter that comes along with it. The battery life on it is – well, it took a huge impact on that to be honest. Since it has a 4K Display and a GPU built in this time around, and having a ScreenPad on top of that – pushing the battery for a near ultrabook’s battery life nearly impossible. With that said, on a day to day basis with just writing content, browsing internet, watching an episode on Netflix and no GPU intensive task last only about 4 hours and if you were to turn on the battery saver mode, then you can get 30 minutes more.
Now we won’t suggest you to do any GPU intensive task on the battery as it can be taxing and during our time where we opened up Lightroom and edited RAW Images and exported it, lost about 20% of the battery – which is a lot. Now if it was video rendering, boy – you will be running around looking for the nearest outlet. It’s understandable why it loses it’s battery life but at least it’s better than some gaming laptops. Just saying.
Trackpad and Keyboard
The keyboard is a Full-size keyboard with backlit with a key travel of 1.5mm. This isn’t a chiclet style keyboard but more of in between. Every key has a very distinctive inward key curve that allows you to type with comfort. With that said, the keyboard is sturdy and the typing experience is fine. You will be happy. If you are not really a huge fan of Chiclet style keyboard then this would suffice. The added backlit helps you to type in the dark – which is a nice touch.
The ScreenPad is also the trackpad and it works well – both with the screen turned on and off. It has a huge area to play with and the Glass covering does help by protecting from fingerprint and smudge. It supports all the Windows Precision gestures and works like just any Trackpad we have seen. The left and right clicks are sturdy and the keypad doesn’t feel wobbly or cause any accidental clicks when using it – which is good as well.
The speakers on the Zenbook Pro 15 is still certified by Harman Kardon. It has an ASUS SonicMaster stereo audio system with surround-sound capabilities. In fact, it has built in smart amplifier for improved audio performance. Until today, there’s no laptop that has reached my expectation with the speakers as there’s always missing something but not this one. The Zenbook Pro 15 has the best speakers on a laptop – take my word for it. At maximum volume, it has the potential to boost the audio the whole room with no trouble and does it by maintaining the quality of the song or movie you are watching.
I didn’t have the need to pair it to my Bluetooth speaker but instead just proceeded to bring my laptop to the couch and watched movie right away. The bass response is good followed by the vocal. It isn’t masked by anything.
In terms of security, the Zenbook Pro 15 has a fingerprint sensor on the side that works with Windows Hello. During my time, it has done nothing but work all the time very well.
It’s no doubt that the ASUS Zenbook Pro 15 is a beastly machine – with it’s specification, a better implementation of the whole secondary display and also the other laptop in the market that offers an i9 configuration (which we personally don’t recommend because of the thermals), it all comes to personal preference whether this laptop is for you or not.
Let’s keep it simple – if you are someone who needs a color accurate display with a decent graphics card for on the go, the Zenbook Pro 15 is the answer to all your prayers. If you think you need more power, then you’ll have to grab an eGPU on your way out but do take note that you won’t get the complete performance out of it but it will definitely be faster. Now if you are someone who wants to game, you are looking at the wrong laptop – get a ROG Zephyrus.
We are confident enough that this laptop satisfies every single content creator out there. It’s like if the Macbook Pro ever existed with Windows, this would be it.