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Asus ZenBook 3



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Asus ZenBook 3
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Preview: We try out Asus' latest MacBook alternative

Asus’ ZenBook range has proven enduringly popular with reviewers and buyers alike, offering fantastic specifications and reasonable build quality at a market-leading price.

With the ZenBook 3, announced alongside several other new devices at Computex today, Asus has produced a laptop that's thinner and lighter than any that have come before it. The ZenBook 3 is just 11.9mm thick and weighs 910g. That’s thinner and lighter than the ZenBook UX305.Asus ZenBook 3 1

All this counts for nothing if it doesn’t feel good, and following some hands-on time with the laptop at the show, I'm hopeful that Asus has actually created a fairly robust machine. The all-metal exterior of the ZenBook 3 feels strong and the traditional weak point of the lid feels less bendy than some of the ZenBooks that have come before it.

The laptop looks fantastic, too. The blue finish with a gold trim may divide opinion, but personally, I'm a fan. Asus is also offering a Rose Gold and a grey option too.

Related: MacBook review

The ZenBook 3' dimension slender design and light weight means that you can easily throw this laptop into a bag without a second thought. Its 12.5in form factor actually feels more compact than it is, thanks to fairly slim bezels on the left and right of the machine.

The screen, while a decent performer in terms of colours, did suffer some fairly nasty banding and backlight bleed at the bottom of the panel, although I’ll let Asus off here since this will have been a pre-production sample. I hope the issue is resolved for the final build.Asus ZenBook 3 3

Overall build quality, and such a thin chassis, is all the more impressive given that the ZenBook 3 is powered by Intel Core i – not low-power Core M – processors. Intel Core i5-6200Us or Core i5-6500Us will be available at launch, supported by 16GB of RAM and super-fast PCI Express SSDs. This is one snappy machine.

Related: Everything you need to know about Intel Core i

The keyboard offers 8.8mm of travel to each key, although the slightly odd shape of the keyboard and huge keys made typing feel a little strange. However, since I spent very little time with the machine at Asus’ event, it's something over which I'll give Asus the benefit of the doubt, until I'm able to review the laptop in depth.

I wasn’t hugely impressed by the touchpad. It didn’t feel quite as sensitive as I'd have liked, although gestures appeared to work seamlessly during my brief time with it.

On the top-right of the touchpad sits a small fingerprint reader; it's been quite some time since I've seen a consumer-grade laptop featuring a fingerprint reader. This will allow you to log in without typing in your password, using Windows Hello.Asus ZenBook 3 2

Battery life is claimed to be up to 9 hours, which is probably just about achievable with minimum brightness and Battery Saver mode in play.

One unfortunate characteristic this machine shares with the MacBook is its single port: the USB Type-C connector is used for charging the device and plugging in any additional peripherals. In order to get proper work done at your desk, you'll need a dock.

The price? For a bottom-spec version, the Asus ZenBook 3 costs just £550. Prices for the higher specification models starts at £800 – however, it isn't yet exactly clear what differentiates the two versions, so hold out until they go on sale in August.

First Impressions

If build quality lives up to the opening impressions, and the battery life isn’t too horribly compromised by the thin chassis and high-performance processors, I wouldn't be surprised to see the ZenBook 3 up there with the best laptops of 2016.

Best Deals for Asus ZenBook 3

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Liam Coyle

May 31, 2016, 10:41 am

is this the ux306CA or ux306UA

Dead Words

May 31, 2016, 10:43 pm

Beautiful, beautiful machine. I'm excited to see reviews for this one. I'm really not a fan of the single USB Type-C port, or the fact that the fingerprint sensor is inside the trackpad, or the fact that there's no touchscreen version...
This laptop has a lot of compromises to make it so thin and light, clearly. But at this price point it could turn out to be the best value proposition on the market, and that really interests me (especially with that royal blue color).

Side note: Why don't more manufacturers do interesting colors like that dark blue? I absolutely love the dark blue. The laptop doesn't have the best design (it's still awesome though) I've ever seen (I quite like the Dell XPS 13 myself) but the blue is amazing.


June 1, 2016, 1:25 am

having had a vaio duo touch screen laptop for the last few years, I cannot use non-touchscreen laptops, and the amount of apple users I've seen trying in vain to pinch zoom on their macbooks would indicate the world has now moved on. I'd guess the lack of touchscreen is a bit of a killer


June 1, 2016, 9:39 am

think you got your price details wrong. every other website has the base model at $999, around £650+

Dead Words

June 1, 2016, 5:20 pm

Like I said, they made a lot of compromises to make the laptop so thin. They likely put the fingerprint sensor inside the trackpad because they literally had no other place to put it.
But if Asus launches a "Zenbook Pro" sort of deal that's a bit thicker and heavier, but comes with a touchscreen, better trackpad, bigger screen (I'm thinking 14" minimum) with a solid resolution, and a dGPU (doesn't have to be anything serious), I'll be all over it. This laptop is, honestly, a mid-range affair. Even the price agrees.

Michael Passingham

June 24, 2016, 3:10 pm

Very late reply from me, but this was actually the price quoted in Asus' press release. They told me that'd be the cost of an i3 version.


November 13, 2016, 9:50 pm

The price is way off, cheapest i found is above £1000

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