Introduction and Specifications
The ASUS Zenfone 2 is a 5.5-inch smartphone with a premium look and the specs to match. But the real story here is that it sells for just $199 or $299 unlocked, making it a tempting alternative to contract phones without the concessions often made with budget devices; at least on paper. Let's take a closer look to see how the new Zenfone 2 stacks up! (Note: a second sample unit was provided by Gearbest.com.)
When I first heard about the Zenfone 2 from ASUS I was eager to check it out given its mix of solid specs, nice appearance, and a startlingly low price. ASUS has created something that has the potential to transcend the disruptive nature of a phone like the Moto E, itself a $149 alternative to contract phones that we reviewed recently. With its premium specs to go along with very low unlocked pricing, the Zenfone 2 could be more than just a bargain device, and if it performs well it could make some serious waves in the smartphone industry.
The Zenfone 2 also features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen with 1920x1080 resolution (in line with an iPhone 6 Plus or the OnePlus One), and beyond the internal hardware ASUS has created a phone that looks every bit the part of a premium device that one would expect to cost hundreds more. In fact, without spoiling anything up front, I will say that the context of price won't be necessary to judge the merit of the Zenfone 2; it stands on its own as a smartphone, and not simply a budget phone.
The big question is going to be how the Zenfone 2 compares to existing phones, and with its quad-core Intel Atom SoC this is something of an unknown. Intel has been making a push to enter the U.S. smartphone market (with earlier products more widely available in Europe) and the Zenfone 2 marks an important milestone for both Intel and ASUS in this regard. The Z3580 SoC powering my review unit certainly sounds fast on paper with its 4 cores clocked up to 2.33 GHz, and no less than 4 GB of RAM on board (and a solid 64 GB onboard storage as well).
Introduction and Design
With the introduction of the ASUS G751JT-CH71, we’ve now got our first look at the newest ROG notebook design revision. The celebrated design language remains the same, and the machine’s lineage is immediately discernible. However, unlike the $2,000 G750JX-DB71 unit we reviewed a year and a half ago, this particular G751JT configuration is 25% less expensive at just $1,500. So first off, what’s changed on the inside?
(Editor's Note: This is NOT the recent G-Sync version of the ASUS G751 notebook that was announced at Computex. This is the previously released version, one that I am told will continue to sell for the foreseeable future and one that will come at a lower overall price than the G-Sync enabled model. Expect a review on the G-Sync derivative very soon!)
Quite a lot, as it turns out. For starters, we’ve moved all the way from the 700M series to the 900M series—a leap which clearly ought to pay off in spades in terms of GPU performance. The CPU and RAM remain virtually equivalent, while the battery has migrated from external to internal and enjoyed a 100 mAh bump in the process (from 5900 to 6000 mAh). So what’s with the lower price then? Well, apart from the age difference, it’s the storage: the G750JX featured both a 1 TB storage drive and a 256 GB SSD, while the G751JT-CH71 drops the SSD. That’s a small sacrifice in our book, especially when an SSD is so easily added thereafter. By the way, if you’d rather simply have ASUS handle that part of the equation for you, you can score a virtually equivalent configuration (chipset and design evolutions notwithstanding) in the G751JT-DH72 for $1750—still $250 less than the G750JX we reviewed.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard is one of the newest motherboards to join their Intel Z97-based line of products. The board is squarely targeted at gaming enthusiasts, combining an appealing aesthetic with a compelling feature set for a must-have product. At an MSRP of $169.99, the Z97-Pro Gamer offers premium features to budget-conscious gamers.
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS
Even with its aggressive price-point, ASUS coupled the Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard with a top-rated power system dubbed Gamer's Guardian. The board includes an 8+2 phase digital power delivery system, 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, DIGI+ VRMs, ESD (electro-static discharge) modules protecting the integrated ports, and DRAM overcurrent protection with integrated resetable fuses. For superior sound fedelity, ASUS integrated their updated SupremeFX audio system into the board's design, featuring illuminated board sheilding, 300 ohm headphone amplifier, and ELNA audio capacitors.
Subject: Displays | June 1, 2015 - 12:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, gsync, g-sync, asus, 3800R
At Computex this week ASUS is showing off a prototype of the new ROG 3800R monitor, a 34-in curved display with a 3440x1440 resolution and G-Sync variable refresh rate capability. ASUS claims on its PCDIY blog that the 21:9 aspect ratio was the one of the "most requested" specifications for a new ROG monitor, followed by a curved design. The result is a gorgeous display:
Here's a list of specifications:
- 34” optimal dimension for QHD resolutions with 3440×1440 resolution
- 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio for increased immersion and improved horizontal workflow
- IPS based panel for superior color reproduction, black levels and reduction of color shifting
- NVIDIA G-SYNC equipped offering smooth, fluid and tear free gaming with improved motion clarity. Additionally equipped with ULMB operating mode for outstanding motion clarity.
- Frameless design for seamless surround gaming
- ASUS exclusive GamePlus feature and Turbo Key
- Ergonomic adjustment including tilt, swivel and height adjustment
Hot damn, we want of these and we want it yesterday! There is no mention of the refresh rate of the display here though we did see information from NVIDIA that ASUS was planning a 34x14 60 Hz screen - but we are not sure this is the same model being shown. And the inclusion of ULMB would normally indicate a refresh rate above 60-75 Hz...
Another interesting note: this monitor appears to include both DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity.
This 34-inch 3800R curved display features wide-viewing angles, a 3440 x 1440 native resolution, and 21:9 aspect ratio. It features NVIDIA® G-SYNC™ display technology to deliver smooth, lag-free visuals. G-SYNC synchronizes the display’s refresh rate to the GPU in any GeForce® GTX™-powered PC to eliminate screen tearing and minimizing display stutter and input lag. This results in sharper, more vibrant images; and more fluid and responsive gameplay. It has extensive connectivity options that include DisplayPort and HDMI.
The above information came from ASUS just a few short hours ago, so you can assume that it is accurate. Could this be the start of panels that integrate dual scalars (G-Sync module plus something else) to offer more connectivity or has the G-Sync module been updated to support more inputs? We'll find out!
Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 07:47 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: ZenPad, tablets, moorefield, computex 2015, computex, intel atom, atom x3, asus, ZenPad S
ASUS has announced their ZenPad 8.0 Series of tablets, and these feature some proprietary visual enhancements to give their screens more contrast and vivid color:
- ASUS VisualMaster HDR video technology
- ASUS TruVivid (direct bonded glass)
- Bluelight filter (reduces blue light by 30%)
- ASUS Tru2Life (contrast and sharpness enhancement) technology
- Inteligent contrast (up to 150% wider contrast levels)
The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0
What about specifications? Here’s a quick rundown of the tablets, both of which run Android 5.0 Lollipop with the ASUS ZenUI:
ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA
- Intel Atom 3580 Moorefield
- Quad-core up to 2.3 GHz
- PowerVR G6430 Rogue graphics
- 4GB of RAM
- 16GB, 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage
- 8-inch IPS panel
- 2048x1536 display (4:3)
- TruVivid technology (direct bonded glass)
- 73.75% screen-to-body ratio
- Dual front speakers
- 5MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
- Micro SDXC (up to 128GB)
- 15.2Wh battery
- GPS & GLONASS
- 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
- USB Type-C connector
ZenPad 8.0 Z380C series
- Intel Atom X3 (SoFIA) C3200 series
- Mali 450MP4 GPU
- 8-inch IPS display
- 76.5% screen-to-body ratio
- 1280 x 800
- 16:10 ratio
- 10-finger multi-touch
- 1GB/2GB ram
- 8GB or 16GB eMMC
- 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
- 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera
- 1 x micro SDXC
- Sensors: G-Sensor, E-compass, GPS, Hall sensor, Light sensor
- 4000 mAh battery (non-removable)
No specifics on pricing or availablitiy just yet.
Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ROG, gl552, g751, g501, computex 2015, computex, asus
Launching with Computex this week, ASUS has a set of three new ROG (Republic of Gamers) notebooks for potential mobile gamers to take a look at. First up is the G751JT and G751JY machines that feature Intel Core i7 processors (likely Haswell) and GeForce GTX 980M discrete graphics. After the recent announcement of G-Sync for notebooks, it should be no surprise that this updated G751 will feature an impressive 75 Hz 1920x1080 screen that supports variable refresh gaming!
ASUS G751JT/JY Notebook
For those more interested in a thin-and-light gaming machine, ASUS has the ROG G501. This will be available with either 2560x1440 or 3840x2160 resolution displays and will feature Intel Core i7 processors, again without specification on if that is Haswell or Broadwell based. ASUS claims that the G501 "features dual independent fans and copper heat sinks to ensure efficient thermal management for smooth and stable performance even at high loads."
ASUS G501 Notebook
Finally, the ROG GL552 looks to be a more standard gaming rig with a Haswell-based Intel processor, non-descript "discrete graphics" and an "optional" solid state drive. The GL552 will feature an "easy-access design for additional storage and memory upgrades."
ASUS GL552 Notebook
Look for more details on these notebooks and hopefully reviews very soon!
Subject: Systems | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vivopc, vc65, g11cb, computex 2015, computex, asus
First, don't get too excited: there isn't much information that has been confirmed with this announcement. But I did find it interesting that ASUS launched not one but two different systems using 6th Generation Intel Core processors, codenamed Skylake. No specifications, no pricing, no time for release; but they do offer varied specifications.
The ASUS G11CB is a gaming desktop PC that is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core processor and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics card. It delivers impressive high-speed performance, with M.2 SSD, DDR4 SDRAM, and USB 3.1. The G11CB has an aggressively-designed chassis, with a central zone on its front façade showcasing 8-million color LED light effects, with three red-lit “flames” on its flanks. Aegis II software improves the overall gaming experience, with GameAlive allowing gamers to record and edit their game videos to share on social media sites.
ASUS VivoPC VC65 is the latest flagship in the VivoPC line. VivoPC VC65 is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i processor. VivoPC VC65 provides flexible storage options and can accommodate a total of two storage drives. VivoPC accepts both solid-state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives; with RAID support giving users the option to use it as a mini server or NAS. It can also serve as a media library to provide users with non-stop entertainment; and allows for easy software installation through its optical disc drive. VivoPC does away with an external power adapter, resulting in neater, clutter-free placement options; it can even be VESA-mounted.
The G11CB will be a true desktop system with the added weight of a GeForce GTX 980 for gaming performance. Note that the system does use DDR4 memory, confirming that Skylake will utilize it, as expected. The smaller, more business friendly VC65 uses Skylake but for general computing. ASUS actually is pitching the VC65 as a mini server or NAS with its flexible storage options. Can you do that with your VESA-mounted PC??
Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Transformer Book T100HA, quad-core, intel atom, computex 2015, computex, Cherry Trail, asus, 2-in-1
ASUS has announced the newest version of their Transformer Book 2-in-1, and the T100HA features a Intel Atom Cherry Trail X5 series quad-core processor and will run Windows 10 when released later this year.
"ASUS Transformer Book T100HA is the successor to the best-selling Transformer Book T100TA 2-in-1, and combines the power of a stylish 10.1-inch laptop with the convenience of a super-slim tablet. This new iteration has up to 14 hours of battery life, and has an ultra-thin 8.45mm chassis that weights just 580g. It has a metallic finish and is available in Silk White, Tin Grey, Aqua Blue and Rouge Pink.
The T100HA is powered by a choice of quad-core Intel® Atom™ ‘Cherry Trail’ X5 series processors, and has 4GB RAM and a USB Type-C port. This device comes pre-installed with Windows 10 and will be available in the third quarter of 2015."
Subject: Displays, Mobile | May 31, 2015 - 06:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, msi, mobile, gsync, g-sync, asus
If you remember back to January of this year, Allyn and posted an article that confirmed the existence of a mobile variant of G-Sync thanks to a leaked driver and an ASUS G751 notebook. Rumors and speculation floated around the Internet ether for a few days but we eventually got official word from NVIDIA that G-Sync for notebooks was a real thing and that it would launch "soon." Well we have that day here finally with the beginning of Computex.
G-Sync for notebooks has no clever branding, no "G-Sync Mobile" or anything like that, so discussing it will be a bit more difficult since the technologies are different. Going forward NVIDIA claims that any gaming notebook using NVIDIA GeForce GPUs will be a G-Sync notebook and will support all of the goodness that variable refresh rate gaming provides. This is fantastic news as notebook gaming is often at lower frame rates than you would find on a desktop PC because of lower powered hardware yet comparable (1080p, 1440p) resolution displays.
Of course, as we discovered in our first look at G-Sync for notebooks back in January, the much debated G-Sync module is not required and will not be present on notebooks featuring the variable refresh technology. So what gives? We went over some of this before, but it deserves to be detailed again.
NVIDIA uses the diagram above to demonstrate the complication of the previous headaches presented by the monitor and GPU communication path before G-Sync was released. You had three different components: the GPU, the monitor scalar and the monitor panel that all needed to work together if VRR was going to become a high quality addition to the game ecosystem.
NVIDIA's answer was to take over all aspects of the pathway for pixels from the GPU to the eyeball, creating the G-Sync module and helping OEMs to hand pick the best panels that would work with VRR technology. This helped NVIDIA make sure it could do things to improve the user experience such as implementing an algorithmic low-frame-rate, frame-doubling capability to maintain smooth and tear-free gaming at frame rates under the panels physical limitations. It also allows them to tune the G-Sync module to the specific panel to help with ghosting and implemention variable overdrive logic.
All of this is required because of the incredible amount of variability in the monitor and panel markets today.
But with notebooks, NVIDIA argues, there is no variability at all to deal with. The notebook OEM gets to handpick the panel and the GPU directly interfaces with the screen instead of passing through a scalar chip. (Note that some desktop monitors like the ever popular Dell 3007WFP did this as well.) There is no other piece of logic in the way attempting to enforce a fixed refresh rate. Because of that direct connection, the GPU is able to control the data passing between it and the display without any other logic working in the middle. This makes implementing VRR technology much more simple and helps with quality control because NVIDIA can validate the panels with the OEMs.
As I mentioned above, going forward, all new notebooks using GTX graphics will be G-Sync notebooks and that should solidify NVIDIA's dominance in the mobile gaming market. NVIDIA will be picking the panels, and tuning the driver for them specifically, to implement anti-ghosting technology (like what exists on the G-Sync module today) and low frame rate doubling. NVIDIA also claims that the world's first 75 Hz notebook panels will ship with GeForce GTX and will be G-Sync enabled this summer - something I am definitely looking forward to trying out myself.
Though it wasn't mentioned, I am hopeful that NVIDIA will continue to allow users the ability to disable V-Sync at frame rates above the maximum refresh of these notebook panels. With most of them limited to 60 Hz (but this applies to 75 Hz as well) the most demanding gamers are going to want that same promise of minimal latency.
At Computex we'll see a handful of models announced with G-Sync up and running. It should be no surprise of course to see the ASUS G751 with the GeForce GTX 980M GPU on this list as it was the model we used in our leaked driver testing back in January. MSI will also launch the GT72 G with a 1080p G-Sync ready display and GTX 980M/970M GPU option. Gigabyte will have a pair of notebooks: the Aorus X7 Pro-SYNC with GTX 970M SLI and a 1080p screen as well as the Aorus X5 with a pair of GTX 965M in SLI and a 3K resolution (2560x1440) screen.
This move is great for gamers and I am eager to see what the resulting experience is for users that pick up these machines. I have long been known as a proponent of variable refresh displays and getting access to that technology on your notebook is a victory for NVIDIA's team.
Subject: Motherboards | May 29, 2015 - 04:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Godavari, asus, amd
If you are running an ASUS FM2+ board and you want to install the shiny new AMD A10-7870K Godavari processor then it is time to fire up either the ASUS USB BIOS Flashback or ASUS EZ Update tools. Below is a list of all of UEFI versions for all compatible motherboards which you will need to update to in order to boot the new processor. If you do not see your motherboard on the list then it is likely it will not support the new processor, keep an eye on the relevant page on ASUS for more information.
Gigabyte has also release updates to support the new APU, head to their downloads page and search for the model of motherboard you are currently using for the latest UEFI BIOS to flash to.