“The PC industry is dying, smartphones will take over” – this usual statement has been around for a while. It's not wrong to say that smartphones and tablets are slowly evolving to dominate the laptop’s territory of providing computing solutions on the move. And, logically, if all you need to do is casual work on documents while waiting to board your flight, a modern-day tablet with a detachable keyboard will do just fine instead of a clumsy laptop. A laptop then actually doesn’t make sense for those always on the move.
However, a laptop is versatile and can do much more than a smartphone or tablet at any given point in time. Therefore, expensive ultrabooks still exist and are a preferred choice for white-collar professionals to carry their work with them without worrying about baggage weight. ASUS, like every other PC manufacturer, makes some great lightweight ultrabooks and the ZenBook UX430 is one of them. Priced at Rs 93,990, the laptop falls in the same category as Apple’s popular MacBook. The question is – is it as good as the MacBook? Let’s dig in deep.
Specifications at a glance:
Processor: 7th-gen Intel Core i7-7500U clocked at 2.70GHz
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX 2GB
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB SATA SSD
Display: 14-inch FHD LED backlit LCD monitor with anti-glare coating
Connectivity: 1 x Type-C USB 3.1, 1 x USB Type-A 3.1, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x micro HDMI, 1 x combo audio jack, 1 x SD card reader, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.1
Weight: 1.25Kg approx.
OS: Windows 10
The ZenBook UX 430 with its 13-inch dimension and 1.25Kg weight fulfils the basic requirements of being an ultra-portable laptop. However, there’s more to this ASUS ultrabook than its weight. These days, a mobile device needs to compliment your looks, which is why they are dressed in fancy and premium shells. The ZenBook UX 430 keeps this factor in mind with a beautifully finished aluminium alloy lid, sporting ASUS’ trademark spun-metal finish that you can find on their premium smartphones. Despite being a smudge and fingerprint magnet, the lid does steal glances from your neighbours.
As for the deck, it carries the usual wedge-like design from other ultrabooks in its category. You will find the all the necessary ports, as detailed above, on either side. However, ASUS has included a dongle for the micro HDMI port, which despite being an addition to your backpack’s belongings, is a useful touch. Turn the laptop upside down and you will notice the Harman Kardon speakers. Also, there’s no heat vent, meaning that this should be a comfortable laptop to use even when you put it under some stress.
The ZenBook UX 430 houses a backlit keyboard with no Numpad (you can’t have everything in a small laptop). The chiclet keys have sufficient travel to make typing a comfortable experience. In fact, this review was typed on the ASUS ZenBook UX 430 and at no point did we have to use Word’s auto-correct feature. The trackpad is not the best we have seen in the category but manages to do the job without any noticeable issues. There’s a fingerprint sensor mated to Windows Hello, which one can use to log into your Windows account and do online payments. The sensor has been neatly placed inside the confines of the trackpad, giving the matte-finished palm rests a clean look.
Open the lid and you will be greeted by a massive 14-inch display crammed into the 13-inch form factor of the laptop. ASUS is proud to boast about the display’s 7.8mm narrow bezels and an 80 per cent screen to body ratio. While it’s not as slim as Dell’s XPS 13, it certainly makes itself noticeable in a sea of 13-inch ultra-minis. The display pushes a full HD resolution, which is a must-have requirement on every laptop these days. The display renders colours in 100 per cent sRGB format and 72 per cent NTSC colour gamut support. If you don’t understand any of that, you will be happy to know that the display renders great colours and vibrant contrasts. You also get a 178-degree wide viewing angle, which makes it a joy to watch movies with your friends. The anti-glare finish also makes it ideal for use in outdoor condition. ASUS makes some of the best displays for laptops and they haven’t changed that fact with this baby.
As mentioned earlier, the ZenBook UX 430 houses some potent hardware underneath. With a 2.7GHz 7th gen, Intel Core i7 processor backed by 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD, terming this laptop’s performance as decent would be an understatement. It boots up and shuts down in a jiffy – thanks to the presence of an SSD. With the March Creators Update, Windows 10 is a delight to use on this laptop. Working on a few documents while switching between multiple tabs in resource-intensive web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox don’t make the laptop bat an eyelid. With the NVIDIA 940MX, you can even do some casual photo editing in Adobe Photoshop. Heck, we even managed to play 2010’s popular racing title Codemasters Dirt 3 on the highest settings. Note that games and HD movies heat up the laptop substantially, but it there's nothing to panic.
As for the audio performance, unless you are an audiophile, you won't be disappointed. ASUS has cleverly used the bottom-firing speakers to bring some varying audio effects, which can be altered through ASUS’ rather long-in-the-tooth Audio Wizard app. Don't expect great bass, but they will be reasonable enough for your YouTube binge watching. Anything above that and you will have to involve external speakers.
When it comes to the battery life, the ZenBook UX 430 with its 50Wh Lithium-Polymer battery performs on par with other ultrabooks in the category. Under ‘normal laptop usage scenarios’ including typing multiple documents, watching HD movies and extended sessions of web browsing, you will need to hunt for a power socket at the end of the day.
Priced at Rs 93,990, the ASUS ZenBook UX 430 is a steep investment. However, what you get in exchange of the 'almost-a-lakh' price tag is top notch hardware packed in a beautifully crafted exterior, which gives it the potential to lock horns with Apple’s similarly priced MacBook models and trample over expensive tablets trying hard to be a laptop (iPad Pro models). It certainly meets all standards that a laptop in 2017 needs to score — beautiful display, great performance and good battery life. The ZenBook UX 430 makes you understand why laptops are important in their own might, and if you want an ultra-portable backed by great performance and build, then the ASUS ZenBook UX 430 should be on top of your consideration list.
(Also published on Deccan Chronicle)