Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 review

Asus sets the bar high with this versatile performer

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Editor's Choice

Our Verdict

A light convertible that packs serious power into its diminutive frame, the new ZenBook Flip S doesn’t compromise on performance… or price.

For

  • Super thin and light
  • Vibrant (touch) screen
  • Powerful core components

Against

  • Not the cheapest convertible
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Unexciting battery life

If you’re experiencing a sense of deja vu, then worry not, there’s no glitch in the matrix here, just another relentless release schedule.

It wasn’t too long ago that Asus updated its ZenBook Flip S, only a few months ago in fact, but then Intel released some new Kaby Lake R 8th-generation processors and Asus felt the need to squeeze them into its product lines. And we’re glad it did, as the Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 is a machine that has plenty of performance to spare, while keeping the base frequency low until it’s needed.

Beyond the hardware thrashing away inside this machine, the externals are pretty much as we’ve already seen - which is no bad thing, as the ZenBook Flip S is a flexible joy to use. 

If you’ve not had chance to play with a 2-in-1 convertible, then it’s certainly worth trying to get hands on with one, as what seems like a gimmick at first glance actually has some practical uses once you get used to it.

If you have to present any work, then they’re particularly deft at the task, as indeed they are at playing back movies without a keyboard glowing underneath the screen.

It’s a performance upgrade to a versatile machine then, but it also comes with a higher list price. In fact, the kind of money you’ll need to drop to get the Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 model that we have in for review is MacBook Pro territory, so should you be considering this over the popular fruity option? Time to find out.

Spec sheet

Here is the Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache up to 3.7GHz)
Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) LED-backlit (60Hz, 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angle, Corning Gorilla Glass)
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Ports:  2x USB 3.1 Type-C
Connectivity: 802.11ac/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: 480p (VGA) webcam
Weight: 2.42 pounds (1.1 kg)
Size: 12.32 x 8.58 x 0.43 inches (31.3 x 21.8 x 1.09 cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

This latest rendition of the ZenBook Flip S isn’t for the light of pocket. The latest components cost a premium, and this thing is packed with them. You’re looking at $1,600 for the Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 model we’ve reviewed, or roughly £1,450 in the UK and around AU$2,100 in Australia. Although the UK model only has 8GB of RAM, while the Australian version has 8GB and half the hard drive capacity for that price.

There’s a bit of a problem when it comes evaluating the Asus ZenBook Flip S, and it’s a problem that lots of modern laptops suffer from - the boon of so many models being available means that it’s a bit of a nightmare drilling down to the exact models. Options were much more straightforward in the UK and US than in Australia, although even here there are enough subtle things to watch out for: including the processor used, memory and the storage.

This latter point is particularly important when it comes to our recommendation, as it isn’t always clear what you’re getting. Essentially there are two different storage solutions on offer for the Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370: a straight SATA SSD version and the much faster PCIe NVMe SSD. We’ll get on to the performance metrics shortly, but essentially you’re looking at six times the read performance with the latter, and three times the write performance, which makes for a much more responsive experience.

In terms of value for money, the Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 is an expensive machine, but it’s well designed using quality components, performs well, and feels like it’s sturdy enough to represent good value for money.

Design

The standout feature of the Flip S is the hinge that brilliantly turns it from a standard laptop to a tablet, with various stages of usefulness in between. This hinge keeps the screen and keyboard tightly connected, while producing clean lines at any point in its rotation. 

While we’re not convinced about some of the ways manufacturers want us to use convertibles, we’re still impressed by how they work when done well, and this is a great poster child for the genre.

The finish of this Royal Blue rendition (it’s also available in Smoky Grey) is initially beautiful, although it picks up fingerprints so alarmingly easily that we felt duty-bound to photograph it without wiping them off first. A few fingerprints here and there is one thing, but on this lush blue finish they really do stand out, and anyone even vaguely fastidious is going to have their work cut out trying to keep this looking shop-fresh.

And you will want to touch it. A lot. It’s beautiful to hold, in any of its orientations, but particularly as a tablet, where you can cradle it easily in one hand while tapping away with the other. At 2.42lbs it’s certainly light enough, and the inclusion of a slip case means that you can pop its svelte 13.3-inch form into any bag easily. Even the power brick is small enough to take along with you without much hassle.

Asus claims that the ZenBook Flip S is the world’s thinnest convertible, and at just 0.43-inches it certainly appears to be. There is a slight downside in the fact that there isn’t much room for ports, with only a pair of USB 3.1 Type-C slots present. There is a volume rocker on the side, next to the power button, which is useful when you’re using it in tablet mode. The other edge component of note is the fingerprint sensor, which is tiny, but works well.

We did fear that this super-sleek design would make for a particularly unpleasant keyboard experience, but this simply wasn’t the case. In use, we had no problem typing on it, and the majority of this review was written on it. Even more surprising is the fact that the touchpad was perfectly usable, so there’s no need to pack a mouse when out on the road. The fact that it also has a touch screen means you’re spoilt for choice here.