ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q Ultrabook Review

     
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The ultrabook market is the favorite market of power users and travelers who want equally high performance and portability in a neatly-sized package. A recent addition to this ultrabook bunch is ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q which tries to allure shoppers with its beautiful Quad HD display, 256GB solid-state drive and Intel Core i5 processor. While these things sound good on paper for a powerful notebook seeker, there are also other, less advertised aspects you might want to know about this ZenBook. Hence this review, enjoy reading it!

Compact Performance, but How About Gamers?

ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q is a proud carrier of Intel Core i5-7200U. The tech speak goes like this: 7th generation, Kaby Lake based processor with dual cores, 2.5GHz clock speed and 3.1GHz turbo boost. Translated to plain English, you are getting a very decent processor for both casual (web surfing etc) and professional (image editing etc) use. I actually have an older version of this ZenBook myself – with slower Intel Core m3 processor – and use it now and then for editing photos and programming, and still think it’s the beast!

As a real ultrabook the storage drive choice for this ASUS is a solid-state drive. These durable units without moving parts are excellent choice for laptops that might get hit or even dropped, as it’s very hard to break such a modern drive. Also, SSDs are famous for their performance, which helps programs and the operating system respond smoothly. This drive offers ample quarter a terabyte (256GB) storage and connects to SATA 3 port. Also, the 8GB DDR3 memory is nothing to scoff at, although because the RAM is soldered on board there’s no way of upgrading it. The SSD can be swapped for another M.2 SATA drive if you want.

Over and over, there is a single thing that makes ultrabooks less desirable for gamers. For the little space they offer, there is hardly any room for dedicated graphics card. Thus, they must rely on smaller integrated graphics. In this ASUS, the graphics engine is called Intel HD 620 – and yes, it is crammed into the processor unit. This saves space, but also lacks in real performance: you would be looking at average 720p resolution and low to medium settings on many games, including GTA 5 (30FPs or so). The bright side is, if you don’t mind playing with just a little eye candy on, many of the older games do fine on this rig.

Video Review Below

These Ports Might Be All You Need

This ZenBook has already proven itself in the performance department, but how is the case with ports? For this rather affordable price, it’s hard to get everything right. However, in the case of the ASUS, the selection of ports seems very decent: at your fingertips, two USB 3.0 ports and also USB Type-C are present. Granted, the USB Type-C does not support Thunderbolt here, you may still enjoy accessibility of the reversible plug. You can also get your PC monitor (or HD television) to work with this laptop, by plugging in such an extra display to the ZenBook’s micro HDMI output.

The computer does not come with an optical drive, but that is another case the USB ports to handle. Indeed, if you are craving the support for discs, you can go to shop or Internet and buy an external DVD burner. They neatly connect to laptops’s USB port and are ready to use. If you have other kind of media, like memory cards, those can be used with the notebook’s built-in SDXC card reader. Either transfer data or increase the local storage temporarily with those media cards!

It is not easy, or even feasible, for the manufacturer to try and include all kinds of ports on their laptops. Indeed, the ASUS is missing RJ-45 port, which is of course used to get Internet access with cable. Instead, the notebook offers a snappy wireless card which supports AC standard (long range), WiDi (Wireless Display) and Bluetooth 4.1 all in one package.

Beautiful Display for Digital Artists and More

The Full HD resolution is getting more and more common in notebooks; you could even say it is the new norm in laptop screens. Be that as it may, ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q takes things a step further: it sports a compact 13.3″ IPS matte screen but with a high 3200×1800 resolution, also called 4K in marketing speak. This essentially means that all things – like text and icons – will look quite small on the display. In another words, a lot of screen estate is provided, which is a sought after feature by people working with photos, videos and multimedia. Strange enough, the resolution on the much more expensive Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga ultrabook is actually smaller. Anyway, the display on this ASUS is not a touch screen or 2-in-1 laptop, with maximum opening angle at 135 degrees. The brightness stands at 300 nits and contrast at 500:1, so yes, even on paper the colors and image look good!

Miscellaneous Things You Might Want to Check Out

Ultrabook manufacturers feel pressure to include long battery life. Their competitors build long-lasting laptops, so must they. In case of ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q, the system draws its power from a 57Whr polymer battery. If you have been reading the manufacturer website you might’ve noticed the talk about 12 hours battery life. This is very, very optimistic guess or calculation – you might get through a full day at work, around 8 hours at most. One thing that uses a lot of power on this rig is the 4K screen. What you win in great display, you lose in battery life.

The operating system of this ASUS notebook is Windows 10 Home, it being pre-installed on the solid-state drive. An illuminated (backlit) keyboard is provided, however I don’t think you are able to change the actual color. The laptop has one fan on the processor, it runs very silent when the system is not under heavy loads.

Pros:
Runs anything - A notebook with Core i5 processor and solid-state drive very rarely, if ever, slows down. All the mundane activities, like web surfing, YouTube and paper editing are piece of cake for the system. So are more exotic programs, including those from the Adobe family for digital artists and editors.

Screen delivers - Only by reading the specifications, you can see there is something good going on with the screen. Mostly due to the 4K resolution you can expect sharp image quality. More importantly, this is backed up by many user reviews who really seem to like and recommend the laptop, especially for its screen.

USB Type-C - In addition to a couple useful USB 3.0 ports, there is USB Type-C port giving some future proof for the laptop. Surprisingly enough, not all notebooks in this price range come with this Type-C.

Cons:
Doesn't offer much for gamers - The "sin" of ultrabooks, bad gaming performance, is ever present. Even this ASUS doesn't have a great graphics engine, only the integrated one. You will get away with many of the less demanding games, but most titles you throw at this computer won't have overly smooth frame rates.

I would say, like many people who bought ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q, that it’s a solid laptop at this price point. What you are getting is a full-blown, power user friendly ultrabook with a fantastic 4K display, high performance components (i5 and SSD), good connectivity thanks to USB Type-C and decent battery life. As an owner of previous ZenBook, I can personally recommend these things if you on one hand sit in front of computer a lot, on the other hand travel plenty. In essence, the ASUS combines performance with portability, and fits perfectly in that niche.

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