Asus’s ZenBook Pro UX501 dazzles with a 4K IPS panel

It's rare that we see a truly high-end notebook PC these days that's not a Mac, but Asus is taking a crack at the concept. The new ZenBook Pro UX501 conceals some serious computing power inside a sleek, all-aluminum chassis that's only 0.8" thick and five pounds.

In keeping with its professional-grade aspirations, the UX501 features a 15.6", 4K IPS display with 100% coverage of the sRGB gamut. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of RAM pushes all of those pixels. The Pro also has a single Thunderbolt 2.0 port for high-speed connections to displays, external storage, and other peripherals.

On the CPU front, an Intel Core i7-4720HQ offers four cores and eight threads of processing power clocked at 2.6GHz base and 3.6GHz Turbo. Asus backs the chip with 16GB of RAM.

The UX501 also features 512GB of flash storage hooked up to four PCIe lanes, which Asus specs for read and write speeds of up to 1400MB/s. The one concerning figure is the six-hour claimed battery life, which isn't entirely surprising given the UX501's display and internals.

E-tailers are already selling the UX501 for $1999, which is marked up a little from the $1799 list price quoted in Asus' press release.

Comments closed
    • sego
    • 8 years ago

    Hi, can anyone tell me if the ux501 4k display panel uses flicker free technology, so no pulse width modulation? And maybe low blue light technology too? Thx!

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    That’s cute. You must be really young to think the world is going to conform to your idea of how things are “meant” to be.

    What makes this even more hilarious is that I’m sitting in one of those coffee shops right now. It’s about a quarter full, and of the 25 or so people in here — two are elderly ladies having a chat, there’s a couple looking at pictures on smart phone, another couple who look like they’re on a date, and one girl on her phone. Every other single person is on a laptop. That’s, uh, 18 or so people? One guy seems to be working on graphic designs for snowboards, one guy is definitely coding (I recognize Visual Studio from a long way away). Not sure what everybody else is doing, but there’s a couple of MacBook Pros and a large Asus so I doubt they’re all just using the free Wifi to browse cat videos. There’s even two people with matching Surface Pros. There’s easily over $20K of laptops here.

    Oh, wait, another couple came in and sat down beside me. And pulled out Macbooks. He was talking about pushing and pulling code from the cloud. And now she’s on her iPhone, while she’s on her Mac, talking to somebody and doing something. Should I interrupt her and tell her to do both on her iPhone at the same time?

    People buy and use technology in the way that suits them, not you. Coffee shops accommodate the customers they get, not the customers you think they should have. What you think of that, frankly, doesn’t matter.

    • Glix
    • 8 years ago

    But then who will bring them coffee?

    • dme123
    • 8 years ago

    Are you honestly telling me that you don’t see why anyone would need a laptop?

    I have a desktop that I use for games at home, but for most people having a little corner of the house where the computer lives is laughably 1999.

    More to the point, have you ever had a job??? Even office bound people carry their computers to meetings and conferences, and for anyone field based they are essential. You really seem to have the industry backwards, the desktop computer is dying and is already largely relegated to only the very bottom and very top end users.

    Your approach is basically saying that the only tools anyone needs in the world is a tiny precision screwdriver and a massive sledgehammer.

    • dme123
    • 8 years ago

    This is conceptually (and spec wise) almost identical to the Dell XPS15, which was launched 18 months ago with a 3200×1800 panels and refreshed in the new year with a 4K panel (presumably the same one as this).

    I’ve had both in Precision M3800 form and it’s a blindingly good mobile workstation, the new 4K screen is noticeably better than the old 3200×1800 one. That said the Dell has an Nvidia GT750M and an mSATA SSD and I’m surprised they didn’t update this with the new screen. As others here have said you need to “manage your expectations” for gaming performance from the GPU, but it’ll play most things at low to medium settings.

    The Dell comes with Thunderbolt now though, which makes this a viable desktop replacement through a thunderbolt dock.

    • Nnyan
    • 8 years ago

    phones and tablets are pretty good at certain tasks. IF i need to do some serious work it’s always on a laptop or PC. Trying to be fast and productive on a tiny keyboard and a micro display is too frustrating.

    If you can do everything you want on your phablet then more power to you! But in my IT circle you have plenty of phones/phablets/tablets that sit idle while real work is done on peoples laptops.

    I can see you’re not hanging out with coffee shops often. Many young professionals use coffee shops as remote offices (better than being isolated in your hotel room) to do actual work. Yeah there’s a bit of social element but I will often hit a local coffee shop when I’m working from home.

    • Vergil
    • 8 years ago

    Coffee shops are meant for coffee consumption and web browsing not coding or graphics design. You want to code or edit then you can use your desktop computer at home.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 8 years ago

    Yeah, no. Lugging a desktop + monitor + keyboard + mouse + whatever the hell else around anywhere is not only a gigantic pain in the ass but makes you look like even more of a douche than your typical coffee shop Apple hipster. I’ll take the laptop.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    Tell that to the dozens of people I see in coffee shops every day, who have the likes of Iphone 6 or Galaxy sitting on the table next to the laptop where they’re actually doing something.

    Generally speaking it’s an MB Air or something else closer to $1K rather than $2K, but almost every day I see somebody writing code or doing some kind of graphic design/editing with some kind of high-end laptop. I guess I could suggest to them they actually do that work on their high-end smartphones, but I don’t much like being laughed at.

    • Vergil
    • 8 years ago

    yeah, you can use desktop for that.

    • kano
    • 8 years ago

    Try doing any kind of proper work out side the office on a phone, phablet or even a tablet.

    • Vergil
    • 8 years ago

    What’s the point of a laptop in 2015, especially a costly one like this here?
    For $2K, you can buy a high-end smartphone/phablet the likes of Iphone 6, 6+, Nexsus 6, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, G4 unlocked for around $500-$700. You get a device that comes with much better screen albeit smaller, you can make phone calls, take amazing pictures and record beautiful 1080/2k videos at 60fps. text, GPS, MAPs and pretty much use it for everything else including office, light photo/ video editing and online media consumption.
    You can invest the rest of that money on a powerful desktop PC with a nice 2k monitor for DX12 gaming.

    • njoydesign
    • 8 years ago

    well, in the world of laptop graphics cards it is))) But I see your point

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    It’s the Zen design concept being pushed by Asus. Even the Zenfone lineup has them.

    • chuckula
    • 8 years ago

    Oh, Broadwell’s safe… for now.
    However, if you don’t have the money down to the docks by midnight, then Broadwell is going to be sleeping with the fishies.

    • deathBOB
    • 8 years ago

    The finish on the top looks way too cheap for a $2000 laptop.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    I was only commenting on your quote about ‘paying for Windows’.
    With some PCs you get the option to buy without a Windows license; no O/S or Linux pre-installed.
    With Apple you don’t get that option so you are stuck with an O/S which you might not want which you have paid for.
    That’s why I found your quote ironic but of course most PCs do come with Windows also.

    • WasabiVengeance
    • 8 years ago

    I’m not deluding myself. The point is that for many buyers, buying a machine with unix preinstalled saves us the time of installing something. That has some amount of value, and I specifically said it was subjective.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 8 years ago

    So now theres this, the Asus Zenbook UX305, and the Dell XPS 13 2015. Why are non-Apple OEMs (well, two of them anyway) suddenly putting out well designed laptops that are actually affordable? What the heck is going on? I thought this kind of thing wasn’t allowed?

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Next quarter Skylake!

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Well, no – but doesn’t change the fact that the 960M ~ GTX750. It’s not really a complaint, mind, I still think it’s a really nice laptop.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Still, what’s the point?

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    You guys think Asus will one day roll out a ZenBook that’s powered by AMD’s Zen? It would be the quintessential ZenBook!

    • jihadjoe
    • 8 years ago

    Yeah I think 4k at 24″ is better than 1440P, or 1600P.

    There’s the high pixel density for super smooth text and images on the desktop, and a nice 4:1 ratio so you can use 1080P with demanding games.

    • psuedonymous
    • 8 years ago

    Don’t care much for the laptop itself (it’s nice enough, I guess), but damn do I hope that panel uses eDP (and is a proper RGB stripe rather than pentile RGBG or RGBW). That sort of pixel density will be AMAZING for computational imagery (e.g. stacked Tensor displays). Phone panels may be denser, but currently need you to build a custom MIPI interface controller to use even one.

    • grantmeaname
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve got a UX31A that seems to be all-aluminum, and I’ve taken it apart three or four times. The screws are softer than I’d like and hard not to strip but it’s not like the whole thing disentegrates – I haven’t had whole pieces break off.

    • GrimDanfango
    • 8 years ago

    That’s the sort of thing I’m very much concerned about. At some point (shortly after the warranty expired), my current decent-mid-range Asus N56VZ with it’s sleek, premium-looking aluminium veneer (that hides its plastic internals), had one of the corners of the casing start to come loose, around the hinge.

    I very, VERY! carefully opened it up, to see what I could do to fix it up, and fix the busted sprung network port while I was at it (had a cheap plastic tab as a spring mechanism inside, which snapped within a few days of purchase).
    – doing so basically half-destroyed the damned laptop! Almost every single screw I CAREFULLY removed, tore its accompanying tiny metal mounting plug clean out of the cheap, thin, brittle plastic surrounds they were all embedded in… it was almost as if they’d designed the thing with an inbuilt self-destruct mechanism if you DARED to attempt to service it. By the time I’d got the case off, there were literally hundreds of tiny plastic fragments strewn around the table.

    I managed to just about keep it in decent working order by filling a bunch of internal cavities with high-strength epoxy and mounting the screw plugs into that. Not the best idea as it turns out… the epoxy didn’t prove to be much stronger or less brittle than the plastic it was replacing. But well, it just about limps on anyway.

    Hence my deep suspicion whenever I see Asus present an apparently premium build. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as atrocious as the one I got, but while the N56VZ wasn’t a premium ultrabook, it wasn’t a bargain-bin cheap’n’cheerful budget laptop either.

    • Laykun
    • 8 years ago

    Had the UX500 through work a couple years back and I can say it was one of the best laptops I’ve ever owned. This looks like a worthy successor to the line, wish I had a need for a laptop 😐 or they brought this out a year ago when I was shopping round.

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    lol in the negative for posting actual link with actual specs lol

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    That is a great looking piece right there. wonder how the keyboard and trackpad preform.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t eat wheaties 🙁
    i’m on a low acid diet of vegetables, fruit, rice, and chicken 🙁

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    With some of the others in the Zenbook line (the 301, for instance) there were reports of breaking hinges because the hinge is secured to plastic inside, not to the aluminum shell directly (and it is the plastic that breaks, not the hinge per se). But those are just reports on Amazon; I haven’t seen an actual tear-down or any indication of how durable those hinges might actually be (it wouldn’t be the first time an abused / mis-used product got a bad review on Amazon).

    • bjm
    • 8 years ago

    You can use the desktop GUI at 4k and game with 1080p. 2160p is exactly 4:1 to 1080p. So I’d imagine the scaling isn’t bad at all. I haven’t tested it personally yet tho.

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    Did you skip your Wheaties this morning SSK?

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    gotcha

    • Melvar
    • 8 years ago

    It’s a massive improvement for the UI. Small text is dramatically more readable at the same size when it has enough pixels in each character to make them look really sharp. More and more programs are supporting high DPI properly, and most of the ones that don’t just look like they would on a lower resolution screen. There are still programs like Photoshop that deliberately break DPI scaling, but those are less and less common.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    Names are similar. Notebook Review’s forums have it split by manufacturer. So asking questions on a Compal notebook in the Compaq forum would be like confusing Asus and Acer.

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    Sure you don’t mean a 2560×1440?? Dell also has P2416D coming out that’s 23.8″ at 2560×1440.

    [url<]http://accessories.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=ca&l=en&s=dhs&cs=cadhs1&sku=480-ACRZ[/url<] [url<]http://accessories.ap.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=hk&cs=hkdhs1&l=en&s=dhs&sku=391-BCCQ[/url<]

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t know what this means.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    unnnhh yes.

    • njoydesign
    • 8 years ago

    Oh so it was SSK who was posting questions about his Compaq in the Compal section on NBR forums a few years ago =)

    • Duct Tape Dude
    • 8 years ago

    No backlit keyboard? Am I missing something? I didn’t see any hotkeys for it.

    • njoydesign
    • 8 years ago

    960M is actually quite decent. And come on, look at it, do you really expect them to cram 970M or 980M in there?

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    “unix pre-installed vs paying for windows.”

    You pay for OSX one way or the other so don’t delude yourself.

    • Tumbleweed
    • 8 years ago

    Quad-core Broadwell isn’t out yet, right? Next quarter…

    • WasabiVengeance
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]Which is much more expensive too, if I'm not wrong[/quote<] The 15" MBP starts at $1999, so the same price that this Asus is going for. There are some pretty significant differences though: the Asus has more storage, more pixels, and a discrete graphics card. The mac has two thunderbolt ports. In terms of raw specs, that would point to the Asus being the better deal at $1999. That doesn't really cover some of the slightly more subjective aspects though, such as having local stores for support for your mac, keyboards/trackpads that are considered by many to be some of the best on the market, unix pre-installed vs paying for windows. Edit: originally wrote Acer instead of Asus.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Which is much more expensive too, if I’m not wrong. Heck, that single port MacBook is $1299 by comparison.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    Agreed, battery life isn’t such an issue once you reach this class of laptop although the XPS 15 does okay I think!

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Pretty decent price to be honest ($1799), that’s a lot of high end hardware (okay except maybe the 960M).

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Acer? You mean Asus?

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    Where’s the market for 2560×1600 at 24″?
    Firstly, the pixels are too small to run it at native resolution with no scaling.
    Secondly, 16/10 has been consigned to the pro market so asking for cheap is fighting against the tide.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    “It’s rare that we see a truly high-end notebook PC these days that’s not a Mac”

    Considering that Apple only have one high end laptop (Pro 15) that seems a very odd statement!

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    That’s why OEMs often offer 2 screens with a 1080P being the lower option. !080P is fine for me and judging by the Dell XPS 13 the battery life takes a massive hit with the high res screen.
    They offer it because partly because its a fad and also because some people can benefit and it’s also good for margins I suspect.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    Have any official or otherwise release dates for Broadwell quads for desktop/laptop emerged yet?

    • Kretschmer
    • 8 years ago

    I still don’t understand squeezing 4K into a tiny 15.6″ screen. The UI and gaming trade-offs are real, while the number of uses for that resolution at 15″ are minimal. I’d rather stick with 1080P and use the money elsewhere in this system.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    still not an amazing value considering what companies like eurocom have out. Yes, better build, but seriously 40% more money.

    edit: i checked some pricing, and sure, you can get a 15 inch with a 970m and a 4k ips panel, but it’s not actually THAT much cheaper, and once you factor in the 512gb ssd, it’s even slightly more expensive. Not bad, acer.

    I would recommend that anyone hoping the 960m is a decent gaming GPU to check their games. it’s rather anemic, and the 2gb of memory isn’t going to help in the near future.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    mia sister ;(

    • nico1982
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]So where are the inexpensive 2560x1600 24" screens?[/quote<] I can grab a U2515H - 25" 2560x1600 IPS, fully adjustable stand, USB3.0 hub included - for 380 euro including taxes. I find it decently priced and excellent value. I suggest it to every friend that is on the market looking for a good monitor.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    Some TN-loving gamer will point out that the Sharp 4K IGZO panel has a fairly slow pixel response compared to their “it’s not all bad, honest!” TN panel that has a contrast ratio of less than 10 unless they look at it square-on.

    • GrimDanfango
    • 8 years ago

    Ooh… that actually looks like a really decent system.

    I’m slightly suspicious of Asus ever claiming an “all aluminium” build… I can’t quite believe they won’t have cheaped out on the internals *somewhere*. Can anyone confirm this is genuinely a unibody aluminium chassis?

    I think I’d still rather go for the Razer Blade if I was heading into this price territory, but alas, Razer *still* haven’t seen fit to release their laptops in the UK/Europe.

    I suppose this might just be the next best thing…

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 8 years ago

    I’m waiting for the person to say why this panel is garbage. Don’t make me wait long.

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]i7-4720HQ[/quote<] That's Haswell, is it not? Where's Broadwell...?

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    It is harder to make larger high ppi screens than it is to make small ones. On a 5 inch 1080p screen a dead pixel is largely not noticed, and other issues are less prevalent. You’re right they’re gouging though.

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    I agree with you there, they are intentionally skipping over that market and it sucks because I’d love to have a 22-24 at those specs. I don’t want to be forced into a 27-34″ monitor. I typically don’t spend more than $300 on a monitor either since I’m not doing any professional production work, just typical computer tech work and gaming.

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    I agree, what I meant though was that production hi ppi small screens relatively inexpensive is common place now-a-days.

    It’s too bad there aren’t more 2560×1600 and 2560×1440 in the 22″-24″ range for 400 and less.

    A reg price Dell 3014 goes for $1600 up here!!!!!!!!!

    [url<]http://accessories.dell.com/sna/products/Gaming_Accessories/productdetail.aspx?c=ca&l=en&s=dhs&cs=cadhs1&sku=225-4429[/url<] and here is a small start [url<]http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/news_archive/33.htm#dell_p2416d[/url<] If they can get 2560x1600 in a 10" tablet, and 4k at 23.6", then 2560x1600 at 24" in 8-bit ips should be easily under 400$ also, or 2560x1440 at 22"

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    They don’t think there is money in desktops for the average user, and might be right. The majority of people using desktops are enthusiasts or proffesionals. Having a smaller and cheaper 4k wouldn’t yeild higher profits for them when they can push their target audience to pony up an extra $150+ for larger ones.

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    Impressive, what a display 100% ftw. 6 hours considering internal like you said is to be expected l, but I consider that damn good. Most pros aren’t going to do video editing or photo work while on battery due to dimmer display and reduced performance. But they may do the occasional work on the fly while finding themselves on the run until they cross paths with an outlet.

    When I used a 17″ laptop as my main system back in 08′ it wasnt for the ability to be unplugged, it was to have a “desktop replacement” that I could move easily and then settle in an area to then hook everything up and start working/playing (more playing).

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    Meanwhile on the desktop, 4k is at about 23.6″??

    So where are the inexpensive 2560×1600 24″ screens??

    Screen makers, I find your lack of decent desktop monitors at a decent price disturbing!!

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