Design

ASUS has really refined their design over the last couple of years, and the ZenBook 3 is a great example of their work. The entire laptop is built out of aluminum, as you’d expect in a premium Ultrabook, and finished in either Royal Blue or Quartz Gray. The finish is nicely textured to provide a comfortable grip as well, but it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. The compact design is highlighted by the very thin bronze strip on the outside of the display bezel, giving a nice contrast to the color of the finish.

ASUS has jumped on the thin-bezel bandwagon, and the 7.46 mm bezels on the sides really shrink the overall laptop. They’ve not gone quite as thin as Dell, especially on the top, but that does then leave room for the webcam in the proper position at the top of the display. ASUS states the screen-to-body ratio is at 84%. It’s really great to see larger displays like this 14-inch panel put into Ultrabooks that used to be 13.3-inch models. It’s a bit bigger than an XPS 13, but doesn’t feel much bigger thanks to the light weight.

Unlike some of their lower-cost ZenBooks, the ZenBook 3 features a fully backlit keyboard, and although the backlighting is handled by white LEDs, the amber key cap fonts give the keys a great level of contrast without overpowering your eyes in dim lighting. There is three levels of backlighting available.

The keyboard itself is pretty standard fare for ASUS, with a six-row keyboard that offers a fairly standard key layout. The arrow keys are half-height, but are separated enough that they work well. The only real concern with the keyboard is something that ASUS has been doing forever, which is placing the power key at the top right corner, above backspace. This can cause you to accidentally shut off the device when trying to correct text, which isn’t ideal. The key feel is decent, for a low-travel thin keyboard.

The trackpad is a Precision touchpad, featuring a glass surface. The trackpad is smooth and easy to use, and one of the best ones that ASUS has utilized. ASUS has also gone with a trackpad that features a built-in fingerprint reader, which is located in the top right corner. It’s a capacitive model, and quickly lets you get going with Windows Hello for a password-free login.

As for ports, ASUS has gone all-in on USB-C, outfitting the laptop with only USB-C ports. This is a bit awkward right now, as devices transition to the new, smaller, cable, but is as future-proof as a device can be at the moment. The laptop actually isn't even thick enough to support a USB-A port, so if you do need to access legacy devices you’ll have to use an adapter. Luckily ASUS has also outfitted two of the ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, while the third port is a standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, and all three USB-C ports support upstream charging. That means you can charge the ZenBook on any of the three USB-C ports, which is a nice touch, and avoids any confusion for the end-user.

The screen hinge is very nicely done, although you can’t quite open the laptop with one finger, but that’s also due to the light weight of the laptop. Unlike some other ASUS laptops we’ve reviewed, this hinge also doesn’t go over-center, meaning it doesn’t raise the back of the laptop off the desk. It doesn't open all the way to 180° like some devices, but in most scenarios that's not a huge deal for a non-touch laptop.

If you’re after a well-designed laptop, ASUS has really done a great job on the design of the ZenBook 3. It’s thin, light, and offers the modern benefits of a thin bezel and large display, but it does so with the traditional concentric circle aluminum design, and simply looks fantastic.

Introduction Powering the ZenBook 3: Quad-Core Kaby Lake Refresh
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  • lefty2 - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    The Cinebench multithread score look very weak. Only 497. The Ryzen 2700U scores 707 Reply
  • Dr. Swag - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    When it's allowed to turbo to the max, that is. If you put it in a laptop where you're more thermal and power constrained it's gonna give similar performance to this.

    If you look here it's only scoring 550 or so
    https://images.anandtech.com/doci/11964/amd_ryzen_...

    The 700 number was definitely with good cooling and maybe even the CPU set to the 25w mode. To achieve over 700 the CPU would need to be boosting to 3.3 ish ghz which is not reasonable to see in a laptop.
    Reply
  • lefty2 - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    (Sorry, posted this wrong)
    The 707 score is for a 15w laptop. Also, some redditors benchmarked the envy x360, which has a ryzen 5 2500u, that scored 577
    Reply
  • neblogai - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    Did Anandtech run Cinebench on Asus a single time, or in long loop? Did not see the answer when fast-reading the article. Ryzen Mobile in HP x360 with 2500U scored up to 614 for users in a single run, and AMD showed ~550 to be expected in continuous load at 25W. However- this Asus is a laptop weighing only half of what HP x360 weighs, thus lower cTDP/shorter boost time is reasonable. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    Not sure, but in the power analysis section of the article it stated that after an initial burst the laptop dropped its CPU power down to 15W; so falling behind a 25W system is only to be expected. The graph in that section's bobbing up and down on temp/clock speed/etc suggests it was run long enough to reach steady state at least. Reply
  • lefty2 - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    It's a pity no review site wants to buy a Envy x360 and benchmark it properly. We could lay this to rest then Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    Our Envy is on its way.=) Reply
  • lefty2 - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    Excellent! Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, November 23, 2017 - link

    Hope you guys spend a bit of extra time on power (for just the RR SoC), it's a possible weak point given how little such data AMD shared. Reply
  • Krysto - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    And how do we know this isn't this laptop's "peak performance", too? Maybe Intel's chip actually drops down to a score of 300 after it throttles... Reply

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