Asus Zenbook 3
When Apple introduced the MacBook last year, it set in motion a disruptive chain of events: Rather than thinner and lighter laptops, it posed an additional design challenge for Windows laptops—reducing the overall footprint. And Asus’ ZenBook 3 makes for a genuine MacBook rival.
It is just 11.9mm thick, weighs a mere 910g and has a gorgeous design, dressed in Rose Gold, Royal Blue or Quartz Grey. The chassis is made from aerospace-grade aluminium, which helps keep the weight in check. Despite the premium personality, the Apple inspiration doesn’t stay hidden for long—for example, the little notch below the touchpad is very similar to the MacBook Air.
The 12.5-inch Full HD display does most things right. It is sharp, the colours look accurate and vibrant, and the viewing angles aren’t spoilt by the reflective nature of the screen. However, the MacBook has a 2,304x1,440 resolution packed into a 12-inch IPS (in-plane switching) display.
The ZenBook 3 variant that we tested ran an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, paired with 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD with Windows 10. It is more powerful than the Intel Core i5 options in the MacBook, and less expensive for the 512 GB SSD variant as well (the MacBook costs Rs1,39,900). In terms of performance, the quick storage read/write speeds and the overall experience are quite zippy. Even with 4K videos, the optimization of the processors results in much less load and, therefore, an improvement in multitasking performance. However, the base of the laptop tends to heat up quickly, even if you are simply working on a document, and that can make in-lap use quite uncomfortable.
Press down on the palm-rest area around the touchpad, and you’ll hear some worrying creaking sounds—that may pose some long-term durability issues. The battery lasted around 8 hours in most battery tests, and that means it’ll last around 10 hours when used for a typical day at work.
Given the size reduction, the key size and keyboard spacing takes some getting used to, but the depressed design of each key doesn’t offer the sort of intuitiveness that the much sharper layout on the MacBook does. The trackpad is generously big, however, and that helps while scrolling Web pages in particular.
As far as thin and compact laptops go, the Apple MacBook is still the best bet. Asus has done its best, and while it has succeeded in most respects, it’s hard to overlook the shortcomings. If you are adamant about buying a Windows laptop, however, the HP Spectre (Rs 1,10,290 onwards) is the one for you.