The flagship of the ZenBook range, this 15.6-inch model is touted by Asus as a perfect tool for creative people. Its solid Core i9-based platform, 4K factory-calibrated display and its secret weapon, the ScreenPad, are supposed to allow all digital artists to design their wildest projects.
Presented at the Computex 2018 trade show in Taipei, the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 is unquestionably one of the most enticing notebook PCs in the brand’s catalog. On the one hand, because it ships only very high-end components, compressed in a really slim case. On the other hand, because the ZenBook Pro 15 is equipped with an atypical touchpad, called ScreenPad. As its name suggests, more than a gliding surface to control the mouse cursor, the ScreenPad is actually a small screen on which several types of information appear depending on the applications launched, which can even be used Windows 10 Desktop Extension. Do you also find that there is an air of TouchBar from MacBook Pro? Yes, we too but do not go too fast.
First of all, the version we received for testing is the most upscale of the family, that it responds to the war name UX580GE-E2048T, and that on its label is printed the lump sum of 3000 euros. At this rate, as well as saying that our requirements for it are at a very high level. That said, cheaper versions of the machine are offered commercially, from 1300 euros. Each time, the ScreenPad stays in the game. Only the components and the definition of the screen and the platform change.
If you are from Paris or live in a big city, you may already have seen the Asus ZenBook Pro 15. If, yes, it is the laptop with which the actress Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) shows off in the bus stops or metro for a few days. A 15.6-inch computer that is cut both to meet the needs of creative and demanding users, which would allow us to “unleash our creative power” seals the slogan of Asus.
Finishes, Comfort, And Ergonomics
It must be admitted that this laptop is beautiful. The housing of the device is made entirely of brushed aluminum alloy, cut with precision industrial tools (CNC), and its thickness is kept below the bar of 2.25 cm.
The night blue hue of the set is finely highlighted and enhanced by a bronze-colored border that runs all around the inner board. A metallic color that is also found on the logo on the back of the screen and even on the silk screen letters of the keyboard.
A keyboard whose keys are, of course, separate, backlit (three levels of intensity) and occupy the space of the inner tray. The keypad is however to subscribers absent (well, not quite, it is hidden in the ScreenPad) and is replaced by a series of keys that are usually in the form of shortcuts (End, Start, Page Next and Previous) on many laptops. It is regrettable that Asus had, to implement these functions, plane the “Enter” key and reduce it to a simple horizontal rectangle, and that the “*” is – it – completely disproportionate. Still, once in the fingers, the range of keys offers a good comfort of typing, neither too long nor too short and the noise emitted is quite bearable.
The ZenBook Pro 15 offers a fairly complete connectivity, starting with two USB 3 (right) and two others, type-C, compatible Thunderbolt 3 (left). An HDMI video output, an audio jack that combines the stereo output and the microphone input, and a microSD card reader finish filling the sides of the device. No wired network connection, so you will need to buy a USB / Ethernet adapter in addition or go through the Wi-Fi module for Internet connections.
Is the ScreenPad Really The Future Of The Touchpad?
The ScreenPad is undoubtedly the main innovation of this ZenBook Pro 15. As we said in the introduction, it is a touchpad under the surface of which hides a screen and which can take three different costumes. That of simple substitute for the mulot, that of the second touch screen on which one can make for example glide windows of Windows 10 or, still that of a TouchBar of MacBook Pro, with some additional subtleties.
To switch from one role to another, press the F6 key on the keyboard and, in any case, waving the finger on the surface continues to move the mouse cursor. As a touchpad, the ScreenPad does its job, nothing to say. It responds well to various manipulations with many fingers. The surface is matte, slides well and the click buttons hidden under the sliding area are as we like them. As a secondary 5.5 inches screen, it offers a full HD resolution, scaled to 175% by Windows 10 so that the readability remains correct. It is possible to have several small windows or one, in full screen. Ideal for watching a Netflix series discreetly in the office! Or, more seriously, to keep in front of web pages, a document, news feed or a folder full of files that could clutter the main screen.
In this scenario of use, we can not recommend too much the use of an external mouse because drag and drop elements by having a finger on the touchpad converted to the second screen is sometimes a little complicated.
Also note that when you move – for example – the role of the touchpad to the second screen by pressing the F6 key, Windows accuses the shot and emits a sound, that of the external device connected to the computer. In the long run, it’s tiring.
Second Screen Yes, The Alternative To The Touch Bar, No
In ScreenPad mode, the touchpad is moved by a home navigation interface. This gives you access to a quick launch bar, which is displayed as you would on a smartphone, by sliding his finger up and down. First observation, after a few hours of manipulation: everything does not really obey the finger and the eye. It is sometimes difficult to move the bar down a flick on the screen.
It is thanks to this bar that we will then have access to several other customizable functions. By default, it is the virtual keypad, the MP3 player, the calculator, and the Launcher menu. But all this is changed through the settings menu, accessible by touching the gear icon.
Let’s take a look at the menu Launcher (the icon in the shape of a house). Thanks to him, we create a library of shortcuts to all the applications installed on the machine. Once selected, they are arranged alphabetically in the menu. We would have liked to arrange them according to our tastes as on the different parts of a smartphone interface. It will also be noted that the more apps there are on the machine, the longer it takes them to list them and display them.
Like the MacBook Pro Touch Bar, the ScreenPad can also display special options or tools depending on the applications running on the machine. So when you launch Word, Excel, or Powerpoint, the Pad becomes a virtual tool palette, with shortcuts to formatting options that appear on the screen. Lists of options that can also be customized by choosing from a (limited) panel of possibilities, provided that the developer has thought about it.
Still, for the moment, applications really useful, optimized or compatible with the ScreenPad remain very few. In short, there is only the three software of the Office Suite mentioned above. That’s all.
There are also eight dedicated apps (see screenshot below), in a small home store (Asus GiftBox), three of which are also present on the Microsoft Store.
sus has launched a program to encourage developers to embrace its ScreenPad but, for now, few have responded to the call … Difficult for him to fight with the MacBook Pro and Touch Bar; to make the ScreenPad a strong selling point seems very premature to us! Especially since, as it stands, it must be admitted that the interface suffers from some slowness and sometimes has trouble interpreting the finger pressure exerted on its surface.
ZenBook Pro 15: A Beautiful 4K Screen Calibrated At The Factory
Now it’s time to move away from the screenPad’s small screen and take an interest in the big slab of this ZenBook Pro 15. The high-end model requires, Asus has used a 4K screen, touch and therefore brilliant. It can not be said that the Taiwan brand has paid particular attention to planing the side or top edges and that is a shame. This comes to a little taint the very neat aesthetics of the machine.
On a technical level, the slab benefits from Pantone color standard certification (like the Aero 15X from Gigabyte). Asus mentions that the Delta-E is less than 2, which augurs a very good color fidelity. And, after checking with our tools, it turns out that this value is confirmed on the gray levels since measured at 1.57 average. On the other hand, on colors, the ColorChecker data indicates 3.52. Good results but not as exceptional as those touted by the builder.
We then measured the brightness and the contrast ratio, taking care to keep the color profile of the small utility Asus Splendid in “Normal” mode. The slab has good scores of 368 cd / m2 for the first and 1415: 1 for the second; the ZenBook Pro 15 has a good rating in Display.
Core i9 To Report!
We mentioned in the introduction, this version of the ZenBook Pro 15 is equipped with a muscular platform. Especially at the processor, since it is the latest Core i9-8950HK and six hearts (12 threads) clocked at 2.9 GHz (4.8 GHz Turbo mode) who take care of everything turn. An Intel chip that we had already crossed in the latest Apple MacBook Pro 15. In terms of RAM, Asus put on 16 GB DDR4 and for storage on a Samsung SSD 1 TB (PCIe NVMe).
The graphics part, for its part, is provided sometimes by the graphics controller integrated into the processor, sometimes by a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. Its presence does not mean that the ZenBook Pro 15 is a gamer in the soul even if, according to our performance tests in 3D, it can quite perform some games in good conditions
For this, it is necessary to be reasonable at the same time on the definition of the screen (not higher than the Full HD) and the levels of details (Medium to High for the recent titles) because the 1050 Ti is clearly not equipped to display the AAA in 4K, thoroughly.
If you use the ZenBook Pro 15 harshly, mobilizing both the processor and the graphics card in complex tasks, you risk first of all to purr the ventilation very strongly. It emits almost 42 dB maximum, 1.5 dB less than the Apple MacBook Pro 15 for information.
Then, the mercury will gently climb under the machine (47.6 ° C max readings). And as the heat has a tendency to spread on the inner tray, know that the temperature on the palm rest can approach 40 ° C. If you tickle it too hard, the ZenBook Pro 15 slows the pace
Finally, just like the latest MacBook Pro 15 before it was patched by Apple, the ZenBook Pro 15 sometimes “too hot to (well) work”. The Core i9 processor throttles and has a violent tendency to lower its frequencies in certain usage scenarios, especially when the temperature climbs in the machine and the ventilation barely evacuates all the calories. So reducing the sail is a way to guard against a hot blow that could be fatal. So, instead of the expected minimum 2.9 GHz, we end up with a CPU that beats between 1.4 and 1.7 GHz when it is asked to mobilize all its computing units and that the graphics card is she, too, solicited on a 3D rendering.
In conventional use, that is to say in surfing, viewing multimedia content, and other office tasks, the processor does not know (and is happy) problems. Same thing when you do little photo editing. It maintains the level of Turbo at rates between 3.8 and 4.4 GHz on one or more hearts. The ventilation then remains almost silent but, for no apparent reason, sometimes has a tendency to launch, to hum for a few seconds, then to calm down again.
Long Sessions Of Working On The Battery Are To Forget
Let’s conclude this test with our traditional endurance events. Let’s be clear, the ZenBook Pro 15 is intended primarily to stay at home or office. It can, however, accompany you in some of your trips because its reasonable thickness (2.23 cm, it is recalled) and its weight less than 2 kg (1.99 very precisely) allow him to slip into a backpack without worry. However, do not forget to include the charger in the equation. In block format, it weighs 554 grams and is quickly indispensable. Especially if you often use the ScreenPad. Because yes, this small screen impacts the autonomy of the ZenBook Pro, yet announced to more than 9:30 by Asus.
With our so-called multi-purpose use scenarios, 200 cd / m2 screen, Wi-Fi connected and active, the ZenBook Pro 15 is 3:53 when the ScreenPad is on, more than 5 hours otherwise. In HD video playback, screen up, Wi-Fi connected but unsolicited, ScreenPad turned on, the machine is 3:42 and 1080p file playback, count a few minutes less.
As a comparison, note that the MacBook Pro 15 holds him until 8 h 28 in multi-purpose autonomy and between 4:40 and 5:50 in video playback and this with a Touch Bar active permanently.