Asus’ wafer-thin ZenBook Pro 15 tames Core i9 and GTX 1050 power


Intel's Coffee Lake six-core mobile CPUs deliver a lot of performance in power envelopes up to 45 W. Most manufacturers go one step further and combine that power efficiency with fairly hefty cooling solutions and chassis. Asus says the three heat pipes and pair of fans in its ZenBook Pro 15 notebook allow the laptop to flex its available six-core muscles at speeds up to 4.5 GHz in an aluminum unibody chassis that's less than 0.75" (1.9 cm) thick.

Buyers get to pick from three Intel eighth-generation mobile processors: the four-core, eight-thread Core i5-8300H, the six-core, 12-thread Core i7-8750H, or the Core i9-8950HK that packs 12 MB of cache and can boost up to 4.5 GHz in this machine. All ZenBook Pro 15 models get an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics setup with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. Base machines get 8 GB of 2400 MT/s DDR4 memory, and the only other memory configuration is 16 GB, an amount that seems kind of low for a machine with such a fast CPU and "Pro" branding. As for storage, buyers get to choose between 512-GB or 1-TB SATA or PCIe SSDs.

The base display is a 15.6" unit with a resolution of 1920x1080 and claimed 100% coverage of the sRGB color space, optionally with touch support. That's the uninteresting screen option for this model, though. Those looking for more vivid color reproduction can opt for a 3840x2160 touchscreen that Asus says can cover 100% of the Adobe RGB color space. That display is calibrated from the factory with a Delta-E under 2, too. Asus doesn't say what panel types are used, but does say all displays offer wide 178° viewing angles, so we're guessing they're IPS screens. Since thick screen bezels are verboten these days, Asus specifically points out the ZenBook Pro 15's 83% screen-to-body ratio. The touch screen models also support Asus' Pen input device.

The ZenBook Pro 15 has about as much I/O as one could hope for from a machine that's less than 0.75" thick (1.9 cm), with a pair of Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB Type-C ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A connectors, an HDMI jack, a microSD card reader, and an audio combo jack. Asus includes a USB-to-Ethernet dongle in the box for those that aren't satisfied by the 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity. The machine also supports Bluetooth 5.0 for adding peripherals without wires. The manufacturer didn't say if the HDMI port is of the 2.0 variety, but users can attach a 4K display to each of the TB3 Type-C ports if desired.

Asus says the keyboard's silver-backlit keys each have a travel distance of 1.5 mm despite the ZenBook Pro 15's thin profile. Users can move the mouse around using the glass-covered touchpad with four-point multi-touch and an optional Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint scanner. Voice input should be better than most thanks to an array microphone setup designed for Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant.

The ZenBook Pro 15 measures 14.4" wide (37 cm), 9.9" deep (25 cm), and 0.74" (1.89 cm) thick, and weighs in at a pretty-trim 4.1 lbs (1.86 kg). Asus says the machine can run as long as 9 hours on its 71-Wh, eight-cell lithium-ion battery. Electrons flow into the machine from a 150-W power brick through a dedicated DC jack, meaning both TB3 Type-C jacks are free for other uses. Asus says the batteries can charge from being dead to 60% full in an oddly-specific 49 minutes.

Asus didn't provide any pricing or availability information about the new version of the ZenBook Pro 15, but the previous version with an Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ, 16 GB of DDR4 memory, and a 512-GB NVMe SSD recently dropped from $1699 to $1499 on Amazon. We'd expect a ZenBook Pro loaded with a Core i9-8950HK and a 4K screen to land somewhere north of that. Asus is offering one finish for the aluminum chassis: black with rose-gold accents.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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