Today Asus announced their new ZenBook Pro UX501. The ZenBook Pro UX501 sits above all the other ZenBooks as a flagship laptop for people who need serious processing power when they're on the go. It could be called a workstation laptop or a desktop replacement, but whatever the case may be it certainly packs some potent hardware. I've organized its specifications in the chart below.

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501
Size 15.1 x 10.0 x 0.8”
38.4 x 25.4 x 2.03cm
Mass 5 lbs - 2.27 kg
Display 15.6" 1920x1080 IPS LCD or
15.6" 3840x2160 multi-touch IPS w/ 100% sRGB
Battery 60/96Wh battery rated for 6 hours of usage
Storage/DRAM 1TB 5400RPM HDD or
128/256GB SATA3 SSD or
512GB PCIe x4 SSD
16GB DDR3
CPU Intel Core i7-4720HQ (2.6GHz base, 3.6GHz turbo)
GPU NVIDIA GTX 960M
Wireless 2x2 802.11ac + BT 4.0
Ports 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 2.0/mDP, HDMI, SDXC,
3.5mm Headset Jack
Front Camera HD 720p
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Warranty 1-year limited
Price $1799 for UHD + 512GB SSD model

Starting with its appearance, we see that the UX501 features an aluminum chassis with the same spun metal finish that ASUS has put on most of their products. At 2.03cm thick at its thickest point and a mass of 2.27kg, it's definitely not an ultra portable laptop. The aluminum build and high end specs will inevitably draw comparison to the MacBook Pro, and the name ASUS has chosen certainly gives the impression that they're taking on Apple's flagship laptop as well. That being said, in my view the UX501 is distinctly an ASUS product with its slightly tapered chassis and brushed metal lid.

Just looking at the specs, it's clear that the UX501 is what one might call a desktop replacement laptop. The most notable point may be its display, which is a 15.6" 3840x2160 IPS panel. At 282ppi it's an extremely high resolution display, although I don't think anyone was unhappy with 3200x1800 panels and the lower power consumption that comes with them. ASUS is also reporting full sRGB gamut coverage, and hopefully high color accuracy is bundled with that gamut. The rest of the specs are equally impressive, with a 2.6GHz quad core Intel Core i7 CPU, and NVIDIA's GTX 960M GPU.

In terms of storage, ASUS is offering several options with the UX501. Buyers can opt for a 1TB 5400RPM HDD, a 128GB or 256GB SATA III SSD, or a 512GB PCIe x4 SSD. The PCIe SSD is definitely the most interesting option, with ASUS quoting maximum read/write speeds of 1400Mbps.

Battery life on the UX501 is a bit low, but hardly unexpected for a laptop with these specifications. With no Broadwell quad core i7 parts available, companies making desktop replacements are stuck using Intel's 22nm Haswell parts. The display is undoubtably the biggest consumer of power, and one can debate the merits of moving to 4K from QHD+ or other resolutions. With a 96Wh battery in the UHD model, ASUS is also pushing up against travel regulations that do not permit battery packs above 100Wh on airplanes. Regardless, any users interested in a desktop replacement should always be ready to keep their charger with them.

The I/O ports on the UX501 are fairly standard for a laptop of this class, but there's one port that is fairly unique among Windows laptops. ASUS has included a single Thunderbolt 2 port on the UHD model of the UX501. Thunderbolt never really took off like many had hoped, but it seems that there's enough adoption of it in the professional space to warrant ASUS putting it on their flagship laptop. The 1080p models will feature a Mini-DisplayPort output rather than the Thunderbolt 2 port.

The ASUS ZenBook UX501 is available now in the United States from the ASUS Online Store as well as from various retailers. The fully featured model with the UHD display and 512GB PCIe SSD will be $1799 USD.

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  • invinciblegod - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Hmm, this will go nicely with that Ultra wide LG monitor with thunderbolt reviewed here a while back (since no other windows laptops I'm looking into has thunderbolt). Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    I hope you'll get one in to review. I'm really interested in what the thermals and sustained clock speeds on that are going to be. A 47W CPU and a GPU that's probably in the 45-60W range is a lot of heat to be trying to dissipate in such a thin package, even if it uses the entire chassis as a heatsink. Reply
  • Morawka - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    just like the Macbook Pro 15", this thing is one giant heatsink thanks to the all aluminum enclosure.. it'll do fine and i bet it has bigger heatsinks than the MBP Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Razer does it with a 47W CPU and an 82W GPU, albeit very loud and hot at full load. I don't think a 960m will be much of a problem in this form factor. Depending on the implementation it can have ~50-60W TDP. Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    On the one hand, Asus is pretty shameless about mimicking Apple. On the other hand I'm generally glad they do, because Apple puts out some really good designs and it's nice to have something similar in usability and quality from a PC vendor. Reply
  • V900 - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    This is one case where a lot of people would appreciate it of they copied Apple a little less, however...

    Everything about this machine says 15 inch MacBook Pro knockoff for people without MacBook Pro budgets. But they couldn't have made it with a 13 inch screen?!?

    It's been years since Apple put a decent discrete GPU in the little MBP. It sure would have been nice to see a GTX640M in the 13 inch Asus...
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    You mean like the Asus Zenbook UX303LN? Or the many models that Asus made before that? They are among the *very* few manufacturers who have actually offered exactly what you are asking for, which is why it is so ironic to see you call them out on this.

    True, we are not talking about a tremendously powerful GPU, but there are limitations in terms of heat dissipation in such a small form factor.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Worth noting that ASUS has had an UX3xx Air equivalent with an IPS display for years, usually with more storage or RAM for the $ too. Reply
  • fokka - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    to be honest, i wouldn't be opposed to them taking a couple more design cues from apple.

    for one, the spun lid finish starts to get old after 4 years or so and the lid also overlaps the base a little bit when it's closed. of course that is to help you open the lid more easily, but still, i prefer the look of apple's solution with the small cutout on the base. the machine just looks beautifully monolithic that way.

    also, i'm not a big fan of silver keyboards, especially if backlit. it's not great for readability, black keycaps would be better imho.
    Reply
  • WorldWithoutMadness - Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - link

    +1 as you but what I hate from Asus is they don't really bother to perfect their product as well so in result felt like skimped product. Reply

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