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Asus ZenBook Pro 15 review: It’s an absolute beast, but very expensive

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  • The Asus ZenBook Pro is an absolute beast — but it’s an expensive beast that isn’t for everyone.
  • If you’re a gamer or video editor looking to get a laptop that can handle some more intense processing, then this may well be the computer for you.
  • In place of a touchpad, you’ll find a touch-sensitive display, which can be used as a touchpad the majority of the time, but then can perform extra functions when you need it to.
  • The base model comes at $1,750, while the top-tier model steps up the price to a whopping $2,300

The humble laptop is changing.

While most computers still feature a basic display-keyboard-touchpad setup, some companies are experimenting with new touch-sensitive portions of the keyboard. Apple, for example, updated the MacBook Pro to feature the company’s Touch Bar, which allows for controls to be tweaked depending on the app that’s open.

Now, Asus is taking its turn with the new Asus ZenBook Pro, which boasts a touch display in place of a touchpad.

Often, however, features like this tend to be more of a gimmick than anything else.

Do the laptop’s other features make it worth buying buying? We put the Asus ZenBook Pro to the test to find out.

The design and features

The first thing you’ll notice about the ZenBook Pro is its design, and it’s not a bad-looking laptop — but it is pretty big. Of course, that size is to accommodate for the power under the hood, but it’s still something to consider if you’re planning on taking the laptop on the road with you. The laptop itself measures 14.37-inches wide, 9.49-inches deep, and 1.89-inches thick, which is no small laptop in a world of MacBook Airs and Microsoft Surface Laptops.

On the left of the laptop, you’ll find a power input, HDMI output, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, while on the right you’ll get two USB-A ports, a MicroSD card slot and a headphone jack. It’s a good selection of ports; we like that there are Thunderbolt 3 ports for the new wave of USB-C-shaped devices, while the laptop still retains a few USB-A ports for those who plan on keeping their older peripherals for the foreseeable future.

The main display on the laptop comes in at 15.6-inches with a resolution of a whopping 3,840 x 2,160 and an aspect ratio of 16:9 — and it’s a great looking display.

This is one of the few laptops on the market with a 4K display, and while it probably has an impact on battery life, the fact is that it looks absolutely beautiful.

It’s perfect for the gamers out there who want a nice display to use when they aren’t at their desk. The display is touch sensitive too, so if you prefer to reach out and use your hands to control Windows 10, you can do so.

The keyboard on the Asus ZenBook Pro is relatively sturdy. There seems to be a good amount of travel, which is helpful for the typists out there, and we found typing on it generally comfortable.

The new addition: a touch-sensitive display

It’s what’s under the keyboard, however, that really makes the ZenBook Pro an interesting device.

In place of a touchpad, you’ll find a touch-sensitive display, which can be used as a touchpad the majority of the time, but then can perform extra functions when you need it to. For example, you can set the display up to act as a number pad, considering the laptop’s keyboard doesn’t have one, or you can set it to control music playback. The unit we tested came with a few different apps — a music player, calendar, number pad, calculator, and Spotify player. The touchpad itself has a full HD resolution too, which is a nice touch, but again, may strain the battery a little.

It’s a neat feature, and while we don’t imagine it’ll revolutionize the way you use your laptop, it could certainly come in handy from time to time. We did find that at some points it didn’t work properly. For example, tapping the “Get More Apps” menu button in the settings menu didn’t seem to work at all. As a touchpad, however, it worked perfectly fine — it seemed relatively responsive and quick.

Under the hood, the Asus ZenBook Pro is an extremely capable machine. The base model comes with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and has a traditional touchpad, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU. The model we reviewed, however, steps things up to a 2.9GHz Intel Core i9 processor coupled with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, options for between 256GB and 1TB of storage, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU. Safe to say, this is a serious workhorse, and even if you’re a dedicated gamer you should get some use from this machine.

Of course, you do have to pay for that performance — the base model comes at $1,750, while the top-tier model steps up the price to a whopping $2,300. That’s a lot of money for a laptop.

The result of these high-resolution displays and huge processing power is that the laptop uses up a lot of battery power, and while the battery definitely isn’t terrible, it’s not great either. We managed to get around 6 to 7 hours of use out of it before the battery failed, and that’s not a whole lot under normal use. If you’re looking for something to last you hours and hours, we recommend looking elsewhere But if you think you’ll have access to a power outlet in many of the places you go, this device may do just fine.

The bottom line

Ultimately, the Asus ZenBook Pro is an absolute beast — but it’s an expensive beast that isn’t for everyone.

If you’re simply looking for a solid laptop that you can use for work, word processing, and basic gaming, then you probably don’t need to spend the cash on a machine like this one.

If, however, you’re a gamer or video editor looking to get a laptop that can handle some more intense processing, then this may well be the computer for you. The touch display touchpad is a nice bonus too, and while you may not find much use for it, if you can work it into your workflow we think it could well come in handy.

You can find models of the Asus ZenBook Pro for sale at Best Buy, Amazon, B&H.

Top-tier model: Buy the 15.6″ Asus ZenBook Pro (UX580GE) we tested at Best Buy for $2,299.99 (currently sold out)

Base model: Buy the 15.6″ Asus ZenBook Pro (UX580GD) at Best Buy for $1,749.99

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