Introduction and Specifications
7th-gen Intel Core i7 with premium aluminum and glass design
The ZenBook 3 UX390UA is a 12.5-inch thin-and-light which offers a 1920×1080 IPS display, choice of 7th-generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a roomy 512GB PCIe SSD. It also features just a single USB Type-C port, eschewing additional I/O in the vein of recent Apple MacBooks (more on this trend later in the review). How does it stack up? I had the pleasure of using it for a few weeks and can offer my own usage impressions (along with those ever-popular benchmark numbers) to try answering that question.
A thin-and-light (a.k.a. ‘Ultrabook’) is certainly an attractive option when it comes to portability, and the ZenBook 3 certainly delivers with a slim 0.5-inch thickness and 2 lb weight from its aluminum frame. Another aspect of thin-and-light designs are the typically low-power processors, though the “U” series in Intel’s 7th-generation processor lineup still offer good performance numbers for portable machines. Looking at the spec sheet it is clear that ASUS paid attention to performance with this ZenBook, and we will see later on if a good balance has been struck between performance and battery life.
Our review unit was equipped with a Core i7-7500U processor, a 2-core/4-thread part with a 15W TDP and speeds ranging from 2.70 – 3.50 GHz, along with the above-mentioned 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. With an MSRP of $1599 for this configuration it faces some stiff competition from the likes of the Dell XPS line and recent Lenovo ThinkPad and Apple MacBook offerings, though it can of course be found for less than its MSRP (and this configuration currently sells on Amazon for about $1499). The ZenBook 3 certainly offers style if you are into blade-like aluminum designs, and, while not a touchscreen, nothing short of Gorilla Glass 4 was employed to protect the LCD display.
“ZenBook 3’s design took some serious engineering prowess and craftsmanship to realize. The ultra-thin 11.9mm profile meant we had to invent the world’s most compact laptop hinge — just 3mm high — to preserve its sleek lines. To fit in the full-size keyboard, we had to create a surround that’s just 2.1mm wide at the edges, and we designed the powerful four-speaker audio system in partnership with audiophile specialists Harman Kardon. ZenBook is renowned for its unique, stunning looks, and you’ll instantly recognize the iconic Zen-inspired spun-metal finish on ZenBook 3’s all-metal unibody enclosure — a finish that takes 40 painstaking steps to create. But we’ve added a beautiful twist, using a special 2-phase anodizing process to create stunning golden edge highlights. To complete this sophisticated new theme, we’ve added a unique gold ASUS logo and given the keyboard a matching gold backlight.”
- Display: 12.5" (16:9) LED backlit FHD (1920×1080) Anti-Glare
- Processor: Intel Core i7 7500U
- Memory: 16 GB LPDDR3 2133MHz SDRAM Onboard
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620
- Storage: 512GB SATA3 SSD, 512GB PCIE Gen3 SSD
- Networking: Integrated 802.11 AC Wi-Fi
- I/O: 1x USB 3.1 TYPE C port, 1x 3.5 mm combo audio jack
- Audio: ASUS SonicMaster Premium Technology
- Keyboard: Illuminated Chiclet Keyboard
- WebCam: VGA
- Security: Finger Print Reader
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home/Pro
- Battery: 6 Cell 40 Wh Polymer Battery
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 11.65 x 7.52 x 0.46 inch
- Weight: 2.0 lbs
ASUS ZenBook 3 UX390UA: $1499.99 – Amazon.com
Inside the box the ZenBook 3 is accompanied by a padded laptop sleeve, the power adapter, and a dongle with additional I/O ports.
The included dongle offers a standard USB 3.0 port along with full-size HDMI and a Type-C pass through. This is not much, but better than the laptops's solo USB Type-C port at least.
The laptop itself is a fashionably thin design featuring the unusual color combination of dark blue metallic with gold trim.
Next we'll take a closer look at the design and that glass-covered display.