Asus ZenBook 3 review

Svelte, portable, powerful

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Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake i7 processor powered through anything we put the ZenBook 3 through during our testing. Multitasking was a non-issue, going between tabs and apps without any noticeable slowdown. 

Fans, if they were needed, were quiet and not a distraction by any means.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Asus Zenbook 3 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 3,689; Fire Strike: 875; Time Spy: 364
Cinebench CPU: 225 points; Graphics: 27 fps
GeekBench: 4,279 (single-core); 8,361 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,859 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 11 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 6 hours and 25 minutes

Four Harmon Kardon speakers are found on the ZenBook 3. Two are on the top of the device, just above the keyboard, with the other two speakers found on the bottom of the housing. They aren’t the loudest speakers, but they’re more than enough to listen to music or watch the occasional YouTube video.

Our benchmark tests put the ZenBook 3 in the ballpark of the XPS 13, and in some areas ahead of it. Most notably, the ZenBook 3 performed better on both the single and multi-core GeekBench tests, but it fell short of the XPS 13’s performance in 3DMark.

Battery life

One of the concessions that’s typically associated with a laptop of this size is battery life. Asus touts enough juice in the ZenBook 3’s battery to get through 9 hours of use. However, our tests found that to be a bit of a stretch. Looping Guardians of the Galaxy at 50% brightness with all unnecessary features (Bluetooth, location, backlit keyboard, etc.) disabled, we ran our movie battery life test twice to confirm the ZenBook 3’s score of almost 6 hours and 30 minutes. 

What’s more, the PCMark battery life test came back at just over three hours of heavy use. That’s not good, by any measurement.

Reliable fingerprint sensor

Using Windows Hello to sign into a Windows 10 laptop is convenient and downright cool. Scanning your eyes or a fingerprint are popular implementations, with the ZenBook 3 having the latter.

Despite our gripes about where the sensor is placed, we have to praise the accuracy, reliability and speed of the sensor. After initial setup of teaching the ZenBook 3 to recognize our fingerprint, it was few and far between attempts when we would see a prompt that our finger wasn’t recognized.

Typically, after opening the lid and placing a finger on the sensor it was mere seconds until the device was unlocked and ready for use.

We liked

The ZenBook 3’s display is bright and vivid, even though it’s a 1080p screen. The lightweight and portable approach Asus took with its design is appreciated, especially for those who frequently travel and need a device to get work done on.

We disliked

We would like to see slightly better battery life from the ZenBook 3, but are thankful it comes with fast charging technology. The keyboard, on the other hand, needs to be beefed up.

Final verdict

Priced in between the XPS 13 and the MacBook, the Asus ZenBook 3 is a legit contender for those seeking out an Ultrabook that’s ready to handle even some of the more intense tasks you can throw at it.

But, don’t expect all day battery, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to use an external keyboard. 

All told, if you can look past the blemishes, the ZenBook 3 is a slick and powerful laptop that falls just short of some of the best.