Asus pulls back the curtain on the ZenBook 3’s specs

The full specs for the ZenBook 3 have hit the web, courtesy of the product page on Asus' site. Folks have been comparing this 12.5" ultraportable favorably to Apple's MacBooks lately. Given the listed specs, it's not hard to see why. Even the baseline ZenBook's Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U CPU far outstrips the MacBook's Core m5, and the optional Core i7-7500U unitshould leave Apple's machine well in the dust.

The ZenBook is also more versatile than the MacBook. The baseline model has the aforementioned Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Users looking for more horsepower can configure the ZenBook 3 with a Core i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and PCIe SSDs with capacity ranging up to 1TB. That's a lot of hardware to pack into a laptop that's not even a half-inch thick when closed.

Of course, Asus had to make some compromises to achieve that slim figure. Just like the MacBook, the only peripheral connection this machine has is a single USB 3.1 Type-C port. A 3.5-mm combo jack completes the external connections. Asus offers an optional dock that expands the subnotebook's connectivity by adding USB 3.1 Type C and USB 3.0 Type-A ports, HDMI and VGA outputs, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack.

So the ZenBook 3 is lighter, slimmer (at 11.9 mm), and faster than the MacBook. Apple still holds onto the gold for screen quality, though. Both machines have wide-gamut IPS LCDs, but the MacBook's 12" 2304×1440 screen has a much higher pixel density than the ZenBook's 1920×1080 screen. Still, 1080p isn't bad at 12.5", and the Kaby Lake processors' graphics bits should handle the lower resolution better if one were to try a spot of gaming.

Asus expects the baseline model to sell for $999, while the fully-loaded version will be twice that at $1,999. Online shop Abt.com has the i7 version in Royal Blue with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for $1,599.

Comments closed
    • End User
    • 3 years ago

    Power is supplied by Type-C. This is most excellent.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    As for the single USB-C connector, let me ask a question: How much fatter is the notebook when you put one connector on the left and another on the right? I can’t imagine it causes that much of a problem, but that’s just me.

      • UberGerbil
      • 3 years ago

      Indeed. And it’s not just you.

      • End User
      • 3 years ago

      Apart from charging, the Type-C port on my MacBook gets next to no usage. Internal/external cloud storage is the new normal.

    • Blytz
    • 4 years ago

    If they ever make one with even a modest gpu in it, I’ll be all over it like a rash

      • UberGerbil
      • 3 years ago

      Even a modest GPU is going to require much more in the way of cooling; the equivalent of this (with the same battery life, etc) is going to end up thicker and heavier.

    • chยตck
    • 4 years ago

    Why didn’t they just write “please steal me” on the cover instead of using that gold trim?

      • Airmantharp
      • 4 years ago

      I know right- I’m looking at laptops for school work (have a DTR, don’t enjoy carrying it about), and flashiness is definitely a negative point. I get the appeal to the Apple crowd, but I’d rather have a discrete tool than a toy.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      Because how do you pick up chicks if not with a fancy laptop??

        • BurntMyBacon
        • 3 years ago

        What, cars don’t work anymore?

          • UberGerbil
          • 3 years ago

          In my experience, they never did. High end sports cars are great if you want to attract the attention of teenage and twenty-something [i<]boys[/i<]. The "chicks" are for the most part completely oblivious. (When I got my first sports car I remarked to somebody "I finally know what it's like to be a hot teenage girl, because when I drive down the street all the teenage boys turn their heads to follow my ass." I've had several such cars since, and the experience hasn't changed. Fancy cars are like dick pics: boys think that's what girls want, but it's really just them projecting their own desires.)

    • rudimentary_lathe
    • 4 years ago

    I like that in their previous generation, the UX-305 entry level started with a 256GB SSD (IIRC). That should be the bare minimum IMO, and I like that they’ve continued it here with the next generation. The 13″ UX-305 with 8GB, 256GB RAM and 1080P IPS screen for like $600USD was a heck of a deal, though it didn’t have much CPU.

    I don’t like this new generation starts with only 4GB. I would have liked to see 8GB on the entry level. 4GB is increasingly not enough even for casual use (e.g. multiple tabs open in a browser). I’d also say the aesthetics are taking a step backwards here from the previous generation. I realize this is subjective, but I don’t like the colours or the gold accents.

    Overall still a very nice machine for its target market, but not for me. I’d rather live with an extra pound and a bit more thickness so that I can have a more powerful CPU, and replace/upgrade the RAM and storage solution myself.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 4 years ago

    I’m normally a “black and grey only” sort of person but I must admit… I kind of dig the blue one here.

      • duranzo
      • 4 years ago

      I went looking for Black, but I’m 100% getting blue now.

      Something about that Blue & Gold, very sexy.

    • duranzo
    • 4 years ago

    @Zak Killian, I know ASUS website doesn’t list this, but it’s a very important feature that many folks will want to know about — the USB-C port included on the Zenbook 3 does feature Thunderbolt 3 — you can hack external GPU to this machine I bet.

    It took me awhile to confirm, ASUS customer support was useless in this regard, but it looks like it will indeed have it if the recent ASUS conferences are to be believed.

    [list<] [url<]https://twitter.com/DigitalicMag/status/774189831316398080[/url<] [url<]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cr57KG5WYAEGodQ.jpg[/url<] [url<]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cr555NWWYAA_loZ.jpg[/url<] [url<]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cr55hzcXEAAIy5u.jpg[/url<][/list<]

      • RAGEPRO
      • 4 years ago

      Hm! Thanks for letting us know. In the final images the laptop doesn’t have a Thunderbolt logo on the Type-C port, so maybe this support was dropped by this point. I definitely wouldn’t buy one on that premise until an independent third-party confirms whether or not you can use Thunderbolt on this machine.

        • duranzo
        • 4 years ago

        Thanks for taking me back down to earth, I was getting wayyy too excited.

        • duranzo
        • 3 years ago

        Well it looks like even @ASUSUK doesn’t know for sure…c’mon Asus!!

        [quote<]We thought it was via the USB-C port. This could vary be region.[/quote<] [url<]https://twitter.com/ASUSUK/status/783944946596413440[/url<]

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 4 years ago

      Is there a separate power connection from the USB-C port? I don’t think you’d want to be doing any gaming without this thing plugged in, right?

        • cygnus1
        • 4 years ago

        An eGPU dock could also power the laptop through the type C port.

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    Yet another set of vile colour choices. Gold is so 90’s and it’s used on the delicate and easily-scratched edges.

    Can we not just have at least one colour that is the same as the metal the chassis is made of, ie magnesium or aluminium alloy?

    That way, when the inevitable scratches appear – after all, these are ultraportables and they’re going to get moved around a lot – they don’t stand out like an OMG THIS IS ALL SCRATCHED NOW, BETTER THROW IT AWAY AND BUY ANOTHER ONE.

    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    Curious about the relative battery life. With a 1080P screen the Asus should pull far ahead, but that’s just speculation…

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      The screen should help the Zenbooks, although I will give Apple credit for jamming a relatively large battery into its thin-n-light systems. We’ll see if Asus actually puts in a decent battery or skimps too much in the name of thinness.

      • Chrispy_
      • 4 years ago

      OSX is better at not mucking about in the background all the time with a zillion pointless services so hardware can actually sleep and save power.

      Windows is a serious handicap in the quest for battery life, any hackintosh owner will attest to that.

        • cygnus1
        • 4 years ago

        Can’t say I agree with that assessment. On my MacBook right now there are 344 processes running. All to run 1 browser, Outlook, Messages, Terminal, Activity monitor, and a handful of menu bar background apps (dropbox, onedrive, f.lux, tunnelblick).

        344 processes to run less than a dozen things… definitely on the excessive side.

        edit: Also, my windows desktop running way more stuff has only 198 processes.

          • Chrispy_
          • 3 years ago

          Fair enough, I hadn’t considered how much lighter W10 is these days.

          Is there an up to date battery life comparison between OSX and W10 anywhere? I’d search but I’m browsing on a potato right now.

            • cygnus1
            • 3 years ago

            Windows 8 and 10 are both a lot lighter by default and can go even lighter on the newest hardware with compatible sleep states (Connected Standby compatible). It’s actually pretty impressive what MS has done in that department. To their own products benefit of course, ie Surface and phone hardware.

            And of course, none of this applies as long as you use Chrome on either platform :p

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 3 years ago

            Right, the issue today in these comparisons is that it has far more to do with the applications and screen than with the OS itself. Both OSes are fine/good when used well. Both are terrible when you run Chrome doing software video decoding on them ๐Ÿ˜‰

            Also note that bootcamp is (intentionally) awful in terms of battery life on Windows so there’s no really good way to compare apples to … windows. ๐Ÿ™‚

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 3 years ago

            AFAIK, Windows 8+ basically closed the gap between OS X and Windows when it comes to battery efficiency. Anandtech tracks it and Windows laptops have lead the minutes:whr metric for a while.

        • moog
        • 4 years ago

        Not anymore, Win10 is very light.

    • flip-mode
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<] HDMI and VGA outputs[/quote<] I wish there was some love for display port too.

      • Kretschmer
      • 4 years ago

      VGA in 2016? We ought to throw PS/2 on there, too.

        • tsk
        • 4 years ago

        And 3.5mm jack too, who the hell does Asus think they are?

          • Generic
          • 4 years ago

          Bunch of cowards, is what they are.

          Cowboy up, and stop coddling your customers Asus!

        • RAGEPRO
        • 4 years ago

        VGA is still useful in corporate environments due to the preponderance of projectors that only accept VGA.

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 3 years ago

          … due to idiots working in IT. 1280×1024 DVI or HDMI projectors aren’t expensive. I installed one in a new conference room several years ago. When the bulb eventually burned out, the idiots in IT replaced the whole projector with an 800×600 VGA unit. They also locked the PC at 1024×768 resolution. Projected on the 11-foot screen, it looks like complete crap.

            • Anovoca
            • 3 years ago

            … due to [s<]idiots working in IT[/s<] budgets, vendor supply contracts, & redtape.

            • flip-mode
            • 3 years ago

            I call BS. On October 6, 2016 you can get a projector with a DVI port even in spite of low budgets, vendor contracts, and red tape.

            • Anovoca
            • 3 years ago

            yes, but “a newer cable type is now available” is not a sufficient enough of a reason to retire a working projector. Certainly not when the laptop makers are more than happy to continue to supply the appropriate hookups.

            • BurntMyBacon
            • 3 years ago

            You seem to be shifting the goal posts. Your initial response was to this post:
            [quote=”JustAnEngineer”<]1280x1024 DVI or HDMI projectors aren't expensive. I installed one in a new conference room several years ago. When the bulb eventually burned out, the idiots in IT replaced the whole projector with an 800x600 VGA unit. [/quote<] If the projector wasn't broken, then it is likely cheaper to just replace the burned out bulb and maintain the superior connectivity and resolution. If it was in fact broken, then Flip-mode is suggesting that you can get a DVI capable projector at similar cost. Nobody you were responding to suggested that you should be replacing a working projector. In this situation, it is hard to see what advantage (technical or financial) is gained replacing the existing projector with a VGA only model.

      • End User
      • 3 years ago

      That Type-C port should support Display Port.

      • cynan
      • 3 years ago

      It’s only got a single USB 3.1. Swap out the accessory adapter for an affordable[url=https://www.amazon.com/CableCreation-DisplayPort-adapter-Adapter-ChromeBook/dp/B01F4MF64S/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1475890879&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=usb+3.1+to+displayport&psc=1<] add on alternate[/url<] and you're in action. The day of dongles has dawned.

    • UberGerbil
    • 4 years ago

    How is the keyboard? That’s one of the primary victims of the quest for slimness, and is only discernible when it is actually in use rather than in sexy product shots.

    • MrDweezil
    • 4 years ago

    Boo to ultrabooks and their low voltage cpus. My 6 year old laptop holds its own thanks to this dumb trend, and its as thin and light as I have any need for.

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      You’re not the target market.

        • MrDweezil
        • 4 years ago

        Which would be fine, if I were at least the target market for someone somewhere. There are very few full voltage 13″ laptops these days.

          • morphine
          • 4 years ago

          Fair enough.

          • odizzido
          • 4 years ago

          I feel the same way, but from the other end. Nobody makes small fanless laptops. Nobody.

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            Since the surface pro isn’t technically Laptop I’ll agree.

            • DancinJack
            • 4 years ago

            You’d both be wrong.

            [url<]http://www.apple.com/macbook/[/url<]

            • odizzido
            • 4 years ago

            Apple doesn’t make anything in the 9-10 inch range which is what I want.

            • DancinJack
            • 4 years ago

            I think I have a netbook lying around if you want it?

            • odizzido
            • 4 years ago

            That’s exactly what I am currently using, an old netbook. Thanks though.

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 4 years ago

            Huh? What about the Asus UX305?
            [url<]http://www.pcworld.com/article/3021294/laptop-computers/asus-zenbook-ux305-review-still-the-best-budget-ultrabook-around.html[/url<] Pretty sure Lenovo has some too. There are conventional laptop form factors but fanless. For smaller stuff there's the Surface 3 or Surface Pro 4 m3 version and various OEM takes on those. If you want to go really small I'm sure there's still some practically-free 8" bay trail tablets kicking around too.

            • MrJP
            • 3 years ago

            Asus Transformer? I have a T100 that sounds awfully like what you’re describing.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 4 years ago

          One thing to consider is that the processor you probably want basically doesn’t exist. In the Skylake range, at least, you have the ULV chips and then you have the big HQ and HK chips. I think there’s one -H SKU? And the -M class is completely gone.

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 4 years ago

            Curiously what chip is he looking for here? Dual core but 30+W? What’s the purpose in that vs. the quad cores in similar TDPs?

            • RAGEPRO
            • 4 years ago

            Well, yeah. Notebooks that used chips like the old [url=http://ark.intel.com/products/64896/Intel-Core-i5-3320M-Processor-3M-Cache-up-to-3_30-GHz<]Core i5-3320M[/url<] are still more than serviceable today with a fresh SSD and battery. The high clock rate gives you strong single-threaded performance, and you aren't wasting precious TDP or battery on a pair of extra cores that don't even really get used anyway. In my experience, quad-cores in laptops ultimately end up running lower clock rates in every case, which means that any given single task runs worse. I mean, I know that in theory the quad-core chips' two extra cores aren't drawing any real power or creating much heat when you're doing one thing. But that's theory. In practice I've absolutely observed that laptops with quad-core CPUs do have much worse battery life and do tend to run lower clock rates. I haven't tested it exhausively and certainly not with 14nm hardware, so maybe it's different now, but at least as recently as Ivy Bridge it was definitely advantageous to have a dual-core chip in a laptop. Going over and looking at the latest stuff, that [url=http://ark.intel.com/products/95451/Intel-Core-i7-7500U-Processor-4M-Cache-up-to-3_50-GHz-<]7500U[/url<] found in this ZenBook does look like a nice chip. In a little bit thicker laptop with some solid cooling I bet you could even TDP-up it to 25W and have it stay at or near turbo speeds basically all the time under use. Not crazy about that $393 unit price though. $393 for a dual-core 3.5 GHz part seems, uh, questionable, especially given, well, [url=http://ark.intel.com/products/90734/Intel-Core-i3-6100T-Processor-3M-Cache-3_20-GHz<]this[/url<].

            • MrDweezil
            • 4 years ago

            Yeah, my old lappy has a i5-2450M which doesn’t seem too far off spec-wise from the current i5-7200U. Its not like its in some monster body either, its a 13″ that’s maybe an inch thick and 3.5 pounds. I’d love to keep the same form factor and reap several years of CPU improvements, but it seems like everything that screen size got thinner but no faster, or I have to move up a size class.

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 3 years ago

            You should look up some benchmarks. In mobile things did actually get a whole lot faster since sandy bridge, especially in the ultrabook class of machines. Frequency specs are a little bit misleading since IPC and thermals and efficiency play such an important role in these power constrained machines.

            While on desktop it’s sometimes harder to notice the last ~5 years of improvements (depending on what you do with your PC), on mobile it’s usually pretty obvious even with light use.

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 3 years ago

            FWIW there are indeed 25W variants of the -U chips, so OEMs are free to use those if they can handle the additional cooling.

            As usual, I wouldn’t trust any of the pricing on the ARK site on mobile chips beyond maybe the sorting/ordering. OEM bulk purchases don’t really work the same was as consumer MSRPs. I’m really not sure why they even quote any pricing on there to be honest… I doubt anyone actually pays that exact price.

            For the same reasons comparing BGA mobile chips to LGA desktop chips is not particularly meaningful. Desktop is always going to be less constrained and thus cheaper for a variety of reasons (binning, packaging, etc). As with everything in tech, if you don’t need it to be small, there’s no reason paying for it to be ๐Ÿ™‚

            • RAGEPRO
            • 3 years ago

            I mean, the 6100T is probably very nearly the same die size as the 7500U, and the 7500U is a significantly larger package (FCBGA1356 is 42mmยฒ, vs the LGA1151 6100T’s 37.5mmยฒ.) They’re basically the same silicon, Kaby Lake being basically Skylake with a new video block. I dunno man, all due respect, but I’m not really seeing the miniaturization cost here. Heh.

            • Andrew Lauritzen
            • 3 years ago

            Not sure I understand your logic. The “miniaturization cost” is not in terms of making smaller dies or packages (you pay for *more* silicon/package remember) but more in terms of binning for lower voltages and so on, as well as differences in the surrounding stuff (BGA vs LGA and so on).

            Ultimately the notion that you’re just buying some proportional amount of sand is untrue though in the first place… see Xeon pricing. You’re paying for significant R&D, not just the variable cost of production.

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      If you can dodge a 10lb notebook, you can dodge a ball!

    • sweatshopking
    • 4 years ago

    What’s the price on the mac book to compare?

      • RAGEPRO
      • 4 years ago

      $1299 to $1599. It’s not as configurable as the ZenBook.

        • sweatshopking
        • 4 years ago

        sounds like a better buy though. the value of macOS can’t be overstated.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 4 years ago

          Thought you were a Windows boy?

            • Shobai
            • 4 years ago

            /s?

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            A WINDOWS [i<] MAN [/i<] GOOD SIRS

            • JalaleenRumi
            • 4 years ago

            A WINDOWS MAN, GOOD SIRS!

            FTFY!

            Do we have a new superhero? WindowsMan? Windows logo on the chest?
            Moto can be: If it ain’t working, try restarting!

          • Kretschmer
          • 4 years ago

          I THINK YOU ARE MISTAKEN GOOD SIR.

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    They were right.

    Zen did launch in October.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 4 years ago

      I’m giving you an upvote, but that’s a low blow, man. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • chuckula
        • 4 years ago

        ๐Ÿ˜›

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