ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe (UX490UA-XS74-BL) Review

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The high-end ultrabook market appeals for people who are after both prestige and performance. Truly, the new ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe (UX490UA-XS74-BL) looks like a premium model and has the performance of a desktop! Its aluminum body contains top-shelf components such as Core i7 processor and PCIe solid-state drive, suggesting the notebook works for demanding use without problems. However, as the price is also on the premium side, we must examine the laptop carefully for potential flaws and blunders…

Thin Shell Full of Heavyweight Components

The performance of ultrabooks is one of their selling points; they’re essentially a small laptop with high-end components – even in the models in cheaper price range. However, this ASUS really packs a punch with its storage drive choice, as a 512GB M.2 PCIe/NVMe SSD is found in the drive department. This kind of unit is not only faster than M.2 SATA drives, it also offers ample half a terabyte space for some nice extra storage. The drive can be upgraded, it supports M.2 SATA with 2280 form factor as well.

Another component that constitutes the snappy performance is the Intel Core i7-7500U. Indeed, in a 2017 ultrabook you’re bound to see a 7th generation, Kaby Lake based CPU like here. The processor on ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe is a low voltage unit, hence it “only” has two cores, but the 2.7GHz clock speed and 3.5GHz turbo boost are a very welcome sight for power users. The i7-7500U is, at the time of writing, almost the fastest low energy processor in the market. Pretty much all activities are within its reach, even if you are a friend of editing videos and images.

The memory is 16GB dual-channel 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM. It is soldered to the mainboard, upgrading the memory is not possible.

Gorgeous Display, but How About Graphics Performance?

This ASUS UX490UA-XS74-BL is marketed as 13-inch laptop with a 14-inch screen. Indeed, it is exactly 13.0 inches wide, but the screen’s diagonal is 14 inches so the advertisement is not false. This is achieved with the thin bezels surrounding the screen; in another words, the actual display takes almost the whole upper part of this notebook. It features 1920×1080 resolution that is easy on the eyes, and IPS panel with 178° viewing angles measured from sides. This is especially useful if you are looking at the screen from unconventional angles, or many people gather around the laptop to see something on the screen. The display has Corning Gorilla Glass protection which makes it more resistant to shocks.

The graphics performance of ultrabooks is often sub-par – how could the manufacturer fit a graphics engine in such a thin and compact laptop? Well, they can’t, and the solution is small but weak integrated graphics chip on the processor. In the case of i7-7500U, it is the Intel HD 620 graphics chip. It’s far from what would be called a gaming-friendly unit, but some casual gaming is possible. For example, the little-demanding League of Legends on high settings and 1080p would get +70FPS, while Minecraft would spit over 100 frames per second.

Unboxing Video

USB-Type C All Over

Ultrabook manufacturer must always think the ports selection carefully, as there’s not too much space for the connections on these smaller laptops. In ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe, the choice is three USB 3.1 Type-C ports and a headphone/microphone jack. Two of the USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 3, also external graphics card dock like ROG XG Station 2 works. The inclusion of so many USB-Cs makes this notebook a future-proof choice as this new technology has not yet grown to its full potential. The disadvantage is the lack of regular USB-A ports – for your USB-connecting devices, you’ll need to use an adapter that work with the laptop’s USB-C. However, ASUS knows this problem and includes a bunch of adapters or Mini Dock with this notebook for USB-A support.

Almost needless to say, such a modern (and above all, cramped) ultrabook doesn’t have space for an optical drive. To circumvent this, if you need to use discs, you can get an external DVD burner. You’ll also need to buy an external card reader if you want to upload data from memory cards – for a reason unknown, there’s no built-in card reader in the ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe!

Networking is handled by a dual-band 802.11ac WiFi adapter with support for Bluetooth 4.1. Because of space limitations Ethernet port was left out of the configuration. Luckily, inexpensive USB-C to RJ-45 adapters come handy if you want Internet with cabled connection.

Average Battery Life for an Ultrabook

The provided 46Whrs 4-cell built-in battery lasts up to 9 hours, according to the manufacturer. You might not want to believe these claims as they are not often true. Usually, two hours can be subtracted from the manufacturer-announced battery life. In the case of this ASUS, it would mean 6-7 hours for watching videos and surfing the web. Many other ultrabooks beat this, however it’s still decent considering almost a full day duration.

The keyboard features backlight and 1.2mm key travel (how far down you have to push the key to be recognized) for fast typing.

Featherweight - Weighing less than two and half pounds, the ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe is truly a featherweight notebook for people on the go. And do not forget its slim profile with 0.5 inches thickness!

Fast to operate - With a quick PCIe SSD and Core i7 processor, this ZenBook can compete with many desktops in terms of performance.

No USB-A (but adapters included) - The notebook doesn't have any standard USB ports. However, it comes with adapters to get your USB devices working. This is a solution but might be tad inconvenient.

Costs a lot - The ASUS being a premium model I suspect there's plenty of fluff in the price.

The ultrabook market wouldn’t be complete without a high-end model, and this ASUS is a perfect example of dashing ultraportable laptop of 2017. It runs extremely fast thanks to 7th Gen i7 processor and PCI-e based solid-state drive, and the unit also looks gorgeous due to the aerospace-grade metal used in its body. Moreover, with the 2.4 pounds weight, the ASUS is ideal companion for travels long and short. As the name suggests, ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe is a deluxe ultrabook – full of performance, professional design and ample connections!

    1 Comments until now.

  • Jim Beard (#)
    August 21st, 2017

    The omission of an SD card slot is indeed puzzling, as this is otherwise a very nice photographer’s machine.

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