Introduction and Specifications
The ZenBook 3 UX390UA is a 12.5-inch thin-and-light which offers a 1920x1080 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.”
Editor’s Note: After our review of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, Dell contacted us about our performance results. They found our numbers were significantly lower than their own internal benchmarks. They offered to send us a replacement notebook to test, and we have done so. After spending some time with the new unit we have seen much higher results, more in line with Dell’s performance claims. We haven’t been able to find any differences between our initial sample and the new notebook, and our old sample has been sent back to Dell for further analysis. Due to these changes, the performance results and conclusion of this review have been edited to reflect the higher performance results.
It's difficult to believe that it's only been a little over 2 years since we got our hands on the revised Dell XPS 13. Placing an emphasis on minimalistic design, large displays in small chassis, and high-quality construction, the Dell XPS 13 seems to have influenced the "thin and light" market in some noticeable ways.
Aiming their sights at a slightly different corner of the market, this year Dell unveiled the XPS 13 2-in-1, a convertible tablet with a 360-degree hinge. However, instead of just putting a new hinge on the existing XPS 13, Dell has designed the all-new XPS 13 2-in-1 from the ground up to be even more "thin and light" than it's older sibling, which has meant some substantial design changes.
Since we are a PC hardware-focused site, let's take a look under the hood to get an idea of what exactly we are talking about with the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.
|Dell XPS 13 2-in-1|
|Screen||13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch display|
|CPU||Core i5-7Y54||Core i7-7Y75|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 615|
|Storage||128GB SATA||256GB PCIe|
|Network||Intel 8265 802.11ac MIMO (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
1 x Thunderbolt 3
|Connectivity||USB 3.0 Type-C
USB 3.0 x 2 (MateDock)
|Audio||Dual Array Digital Microphone
Stereo Speakers (1W x 2)
|Weight||2.7 lbs ( 1.24 kg)|
|Dimensions||11.98-in x 7.81-in x 0.32-0.54-in
(304mm x 199mm x 8 -13.7 mm)
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home / Pro (+$50)|
One of the more striking design decisions from a hardware perspective is the decision to go with the low power Core i5-7Y54 processor, or as you may be familar with from it's older naming scheme, Core M. In the Kaby Lake generation, Intel has decided to drop the Core M branding (though oddly Core m3 still exists) and integrate these lower power parts into the regular Core branding scheme.
Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:37 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Triton 700, Predator, nvidia, notebook, max-q, laptop, GTX 1080, geforce, gaming, computex 2017, acer
Acer has introduced the Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop, which boasts a very thin and light design as it is built to NVIDIA's newly-announced Max-Q specifications. This allows the Triton to house a "standard-voltage" Intel Core i7 processor (overclockable, no less) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.
"The Predator Triton 700 utilizes Max-Q, NVIDIA’s innovative approach to designing the world’s thinnest, fastest, and quietest gaming laptops. Max-Q, an integral part of NASA’s mission to launch man into space, is defined as the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximized. Thus, the design of the rocket is precision-engineered around Max-Q. NVIDIA has applied a similar philosophy to designing gaming laptops, enabling Acer to build laptops that are thinner with more GPU performance of previous generation products."
Storage is just as impressive as the CPU/GPU tandem, with dual NVMe PCIe drives in RAID-0, just in case you would like to experience double to the speed of the fastest available type of solid-state storage (the benchmarks will probably be astonishing). Other specs include a 15.6 FHD display with NVIDIA G-SYNC, memory support for up to 32GB 2400 MHz DDR4, Killer DoubleShot Pro networking, and Thunderbolt 3.
The design of the Predator Triton 700 is somewhat unusual for a laptop, with a mechanical keyboard that sits flush with the front edge of the palm rest, and a touch pad positioned above. But this is no ordinary touch pad, as Acer explains:
"A large Corning® Gorilla® Glass plate above the keyboard serves as a window into the notebook’s cooling system, showcasing the AeroBlade™ 3D Fan and five heat pipes, and also functions as a Precision Touchpad."
The Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop will be available beginning in August with an MSRP of $2999.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | April 19, 2017 - 08:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: notebook, Lenovo, laptop, Flex 11, convertible, Chromebook, 2-in-1
Lenovo’s Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 convertible notebook design powered by a 2.1 GHz quad-core ARM processor and running Google’s Chrome OS. It features an 11.6-inch IPS multi-touch HD display, up to 10-hour battery life, and a weight under 3 lbs.
"Packing the fun of a tablet with the power punch of a PC, and designed with Android apps in mind, the Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 laptop optimized for entertainment and productivity. Its 360° hinge and 11.6" multi-touch display gives users the flexibility to shift between four dynamic modes (watch, tent, laptop, and tablet) for any combination of work and play activities."
Lenovo says the Flex 11's hardware is designed to be rugged, with drop and liquid spill resistance including a water-resistant keyboard (up to 1 cup) with “channels beneath the keyboard to drain liquid, keeping it away from sensitive electrical components”. In addition to Chrome apps the Flex 11 will support the Google Play store (Lenovo says this is "coming soon").
I/O includes USB 3.0, USB Type-C, HDMI, a mic/audio jack, and an SD card slot. As to pricing/availability, the Flex 11 Chromebook starts at $279 and will be available this month.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 17, 2017 - 07:21 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Sky X9E3, nvidia, notebook, MXM, modular, laptop, Intel Core i7, geforce, gaming, eurocom
Fancy a desktop processor in your laptop? How about dual MXM graphics card slots? While such a machine is likely not as 'portable' as the laptop designation would make it seem, it is interesting to see a notebook product built specifically for upgradability, and that is exactly what Eurocom has done with the Sky X9E3.
"The Sky X9E3 is an SLI Ready and VR capable super high-performance supercomputer laptop. With an upgradeable desktop CPU and two upgradeable desktop GPUs cooled with high-quality copper heatsinks and IC Diamond thermal paste, and controlled by an unlocked system BIOS for the ultimate in overclocking capability."
One of the things detractors of gaming laptops will point out is the limited lifespan of a product that is often far more expensive than a high-end gaming desktop. Granted, gaming laptops generally do not follow the soldered memory trend from thin-and-light machines, allowing users to swap SODIMMs for more memory down the road, and storage is generally upgradable as well. But what about the most expensive parts of a laptop, namely CPU and (even more expensive) GPU? The use of desktop CPUs in the X9E3 is novel, and translates to ready availability for future upgrades; but MXM graphics is still a very expensive route, though I have ended up at Eurocom's website when researching MXM GPU upgrades in the past, so they are at least readily available.
What are the specifications? Eurocom sells the machine configured to order, and lists basic specs as follows:
- Chipset: Intel Z270 Express (Kaby Lake)
- Processor: socketed desktop LGA1151 CPU, up to Intel i7 7700K
- Memory: up to 64GB; DDR4-2400/2666/3000/3200; 4 RAM Sockets
- VGA Technology: NVIDIA Pascal GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DDR5X and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5; single or Dual SLI; two MXM 3.0 slots; up to 190W per slot
- Display Technology: supports total of 4 displays including LCD via 2x DP 1.3, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 2.0 or DP1.2 (via USB 3.1 type C port); Nvidia Surround View
- Storage: up to 14TB or storage with 5 drives; 2x HDD/SSD (SATA3) + 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4/SATA3; RAID 0/1/5; supports NVMe SSDs
- Communications: two 1GbE Killer E2400 RJ45 ports + M.2 WLAN/Bluetooth; Killer DoubleShot X3
- Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows: 10, 8.1 and 7
- Card Reader: 6-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC up to UHS-II
- Keyboard: Illuminated, backlit with customizable 7-colours
- Security: TPM 2.0, Fingerprint and Kensington Lock
- Audio System: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5; external 7.1CH audio output; headphone out, microphone in, S/PDIF and Line-in port; two built-in FOSTER Speakers (2W)+ Subwoofer (2.5W)
- Ports: 2x USB 3.1 type C (HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3/Thunderbolt 3); 2x miniDP 1.3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 5x USB 3.0 (1x Powered USB AC/DC); S/PDIF; Headphone; Mic; Line-in; 2x RJ45 (LAN)
- Weight and dimensions: 5.5kg / 12.1lbs; WxDxH 428x308x47.2mm / 17.12x12.32x1.88-inch
Pricing begins at $2499, which makes this a hefty proposition at the outset. But for someone looking for desktop experience in a notebook, and wants the ability to purchase faster CPUs and GPUs down the road, it may be worth it.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 6, 2017 - 03:37 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: xeon, Thinkpad, quadro, P71, P51s, P51, nvidia, notebook, mobile workstation, Lenovo, kaby lake, core i7
Lenovo has announced a trio of new ThinkPad mobile workstations, featuring updated Intel 7th-generation Core (Kaby Lake) processors and NVIDIA Quadro graphics, and among these is the thinnest and lightest ThinkPad mobile workstation to date in the P51s.
"Engineered to deliver breakthrough levels of performance, reliability and long battery life, the ThinkPad P51s features a new chassis, designed to meet customer demands for a powerful but portable machine. Developed with engineers and professional designers in mind, this mobile workstation features Intel’s 7th generation Core i7 processors and the latest NVIDIA Quadro dedicated workstation graphics, as well as a 4K UHD IPS display with optional IR camera."
Lenovo says that the ThinkPad P51s is more than a half pound lighter than the previous generation (P50s), stating that "the P51s is the lightest and thinnest mobile workstation ever developed by ThinkPad" at 14.4 x 9.95 x 0.79 inches, and weight starting at 4.3 lbs.
Specs for the P51s include:
- Up to a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
- NVIDIA Quadro M520M Graphics
- Choice of standard or touchscreen FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, or 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS display
- Up to 32 GB DDR4 2133 RAM (2x SODIMM slots)
- Storage options including up to 1 TB (5400 rpm) HDD and 1 TB NVMe PCIe SSDs
- USB-C with Intel Thunderbolt 3
- 802.11ac and LTE-A wireless connectivity
Lenovo also announced the ThinkPad P51, which is slightly larger than the P51s, but brings the option of Intel Xeon E3-v6 processors (in addition to Kaby Lake Core i7 CPUs), Quadro M2200M graphics, faster 2400 MHz memory up to 64 GB (4x SODIMM slots), and up to a 4K IPS display with X-Rite Pantone color calibration.
Finally there is the new VR-ready P71 mobile workstation, which offers up to an NVIDIA Quadro P5000M GPU along with Oculus and HTC VR certification.
"Lenovo is also bringing virtual reality to life with the new ThinkPad P71. One of the most talked about technologies today, VR has the ability to bring a new visual perspective and immersive experience to our customers’ workflow. In our new P71, the NVIDIA Pascal-based Quadro GPUs offer a stunning level of performance never before seen in a mobile workstation, and it comes equipped with full Oculus and HTC certifications, along with NVIDIA’s VR-ready certification."
Pricing and availability is as follows:
- ThinkPad P51s, starting at $1049, March
- ThinkPad P51, starting at $1399, April
- ThinkPad P71, starting at $1849, April
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2017 - 09:25 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: thin and light, nvidia, notebook, laptop, kaby lake, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050, gigabyte, gaming, CES 2017, CES
Gigabyte had a full line of new laptops to show off at this year’s CES, with models ranging from larger gaming enthusiast designs to slim machines that still offer plenty of gaming power from their discrete graphics.
We’ll start with the P56, a 15.6-inch machine with an optional 4K display, 7th-gen Intel Core i7 (Kaby Lake) processor, and GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.
“The P56 provides enthusiasts with not only ultra smooth performance but also with tools to victory. All packed in a portable quality chassis. Equipped with the next gen Intel 7th Gen Core i7 7700HQ processor and the all-powerful GeForce GTX 1070 graphics. The main core of the P56 is set to drive all the latest games, not at just 1080P but even at higher resolutions with the optional 15.6” UHD 3840x2160 display.”
The P56 is equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port, island-style keyboard with customizable per-key RGB backlighting, and a large 91Wh battery.
Next we have the Sabre 15, which is also powered by a new 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB) and GTX 1050 (2GB) graphics options.
“Gamers can now fully enjoy the latest performance from the pascal architecture, with fluid gaming graphics at 1080p for most recent game titles. The keyboard plays a big role in winning or losing a game, that is why the Sabre 15 comes with optimized 2.2mm travel scissor type keys, for that extra feel and precision. To top that off, the Sabre 15 features RGB backlight keyboard with 16.8 million colors (optional).”
Rounding out the updated lineup are a trio of thin-and-light professional models that are still very capable gaming machines, beginning with the AERO 14, a 19.9mm-thick (and 4.17 lb) aluminum design which features a QHD (2560x1440) IPS screen, GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, and 94.24Wh battery.
Finally we have the P34 and P35 laptops, which claim the title of “world’s lightest 14” GeForce GTX 1050 Ti laptop (P34) and “world’s slimmest 15.6” GeForce GTX 1070 laptop”, respectively.
The P34 is indeed light for a gaming-ready laptop, with a weight of just 3.73 lbs. For its part the 15.6-inch P35 laptop is a very high-end option, regardless of its slim construction.
“The P35 comes in at an unbeatable 20.9mm thin and weighs just 2.3Kg. It is hard to believe that such a thin chassis has a GeForce GTX 1070 inside, outputting the same performance as the desktop GeForce GTX 1070, now on the go. GIGABYTE has swapped out the old 6th gen and opt for the latest 7th gen Core i7 processor, giving professionals multitasking capabilities like never before. The unparalleled graphical power of the GeForce GTX 1070 further drives the stunning 15.6” UHD 3840 x 2160 IPS display, professionals will definitely take advantage of such a high pixel density and high RGB accuracy display, stationed or mobile. The Swappable bay gives professionals the power to swap between Blu-ray drive or up to 2TB HDD of extra storage, providing that extra customization on the go.”
Pricing and availability information for the new laptops is not yet available.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Displays, Mobile | January 5, 2017 - 12:36 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: razer, Project Valerie, notebook, multi-monitor, laptop, gaming, concept, CES 2017, CES
Razer has announced Project Valerie, a radical concept for a triple-monitor gaming laptop described as "the world’s first gaming laptop capable of housing three individual G-SYNC displays". A picture is worth a thousand words, and there is just something about a laptop with three 17.3-inch 4K displays.
Each 17.3-inch 4K IGZO display is equipped with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology that is capable of producing the smoothest possible framerates and expansive 180 degree NVIDIA Surround View gaming. Creative professionals can look forward to 100 percent Adobe RGB color accuracy and the greatest amount of screen real estate ever assembled in a single computer.
Project Valerie uses an automatic deployment mechanism designed by Razer. Each display mechanically slides out of the side of the main screen and adjusts into place, making it easy for users to deploy. With integrated multi-monitor support, users will no longer have to deal with the cable clutter from traditional desktop setups. The result is a clean gaming and working environment that’s just as easy to maintain.
Razer has released a video for Project Valerie:
Called a "proposed system" at this point, the Project Valerie notebook would be based on a 1.5 inch thick unibody aluminum chassis with a weight of under 12 lbs. Razer states that the notebook would be equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, and exceeds the minumum hardware requirements for VR. The design includes Razer’s Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical switch keyboard, and the notebook would be cooled using a thermal system comprised of "custom-designed fan and dynamic heat exchangers pair(ed) with a vapor chamber to maximize heat dissipation".
The full press release is available after the break.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 4, 2017 - 12:17 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: notebook, laptop, kaby lake, CES 2017, CES, business, B9440, ASUSPRO, asus, 7th generation core
ASUS has announced the ASUSPRO B9440, which the company claims to be "the world’s lightest 14-inch business notebook" at just 2.31 lbs.
"The sleek B9440 is designed to be both stylish and practical, using an all-metal chassis crafted from magnesium alloy — a premium material that is lighter but more rigid than standard aluminum alloy. The ergonomic keyboard has an innovative tilting design that positions it perfectly for comfortable typing.
Like all ASUSPRO business notebooks, B9440 is designed to exceed military-grade durability standards. It also passes our extra-strict ASUSPRO reliability standards, undergoing a series of tough torture tests to ensure dependable operation in any environment.
The B9440 is equipped with the new 7th-gen Intel Core (Kaby Lake) i5 and i7 U-series processors optional Intel vPro support, along with up to 16 GB onboard LPDDR3 memory and up to 512 GB SSD storage, with security features including TPM 2.0 and a fingerprint sensor.
Specifications for the ASUSPRO B9440 from ASUS:
- Processor: 7th Gen Intel Core i5/i7, with optional Intel vPro support
- Display: 14-inch Full HD wide-viewing-angle display with anti-glare coating
- Memory: 8GB/16GB LPDDR3 onboard
- Storage: Up to 512GB M.2 PCIe or M.2 SATA SSD
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (one port supports docking, power delivery)
- 1 x combo stereo headphone/mic port
- Wireless: 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Fingerprint sensor
- TPM 2.0 (downgradeable)
- Integrated dual-microphone array
- Harman Kardon stereo audio system
- Battery: 4-cell 48W Li-polymer
- Operating system: Windows 10 / Windows 10 Pro
- Dimensions: 12.65 x 8.51 x 0.35~0.58 inches
- Weight: 2.31 lbs
The ASUSPRO B9440 will be available in May with a retail price starting at $999.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 4, 2017 - 10:15 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: nvidia, notebook, laptop, kaby lake, intel core, detachable, convertible, CES 2017, CES, asus, all in one, AIO, 7th generation
ASUS has refreshed their notebook and all-in-one (AiO) desktop lineup with the new 7th-generation Intel Core (Kaby Lake) processors, with models ranging from the ultra-thin UX330 to the 27-inch ZN270IE AiO.
The ZenBook UX330
The refreshed notebook lineup includes the 13.3-inch ZenBook models UX310 and UX330, and 15.6-inch ZenBook UX510. The convertible ZenBook Flip UX360UA and detachable Transformer Pro T304 have also been updated to Kaby Lake.
ZenBook Flip UX360
On the all-in-one side the refreshed models include Zen AiO Pro Z240IE and Zen AiO ZN241IC desktops, with a new model announced in the Zen AiO ZN270IE, a 27-inch (FHD) model which pairs a 7th-gen Core i7 processor with discrete NVIDIA graphics.
Zen AiO ZN270
Pricing and availability of the updated machines is as follows:
Available immediately are the ZenBook UX310UA ($699), ZenBook UX330UA ($749), and ZenBook UX510UW ($999). The ZenBook UX360UAK ($899) and Transformer Pro T304 ($999) will be available in May. Updated AiO desktops will be available in March, with the ZN241IC and ZN270IE priced at $999, and the Zen AIO Pro Z240IE at $1799.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!