Archive for February 25, 2019

Review: ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE

Posted in Products with tags on February 25, 2019 by itnerd

I am reviewing a very unique laptop. Before I show you the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE, let me talk about what’s under the hood first. 

Those are some stout specs that allow you to do anything from serious game play to video editing. But that’s not the star of the show here. This is:

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This trackpad doubles as a second screen. Dubbed the ScreenPad, it’s a trackpad that doubles as a second screen that does HD resolution. You can create shortcuts and add compatible apps that are tailored for the ScreenPad to increase your productivity. ScreenPad apps are easy to find as all you have to do is to enter the term “ScreenPad” into the Microsoft Store search bar to find them. And you can switch between the second screen mode and the ScreenPad app mode by pressing the Fn-F6 key combination.

At 4.1 pounds, the ZenBook Pro is comfortably light for a 15-inch laptop and feels like a quality product. Plus it is very thin. The weight is even more impressive when you consider that Asus managed to cram in two cooling fans and three heat pipes to deal with all the heat that the powerful CPU and GPU generate. I was impressed with that when I ran the Zwift virtual cycling platform at 4K resolution with just over 65 FPS. While the ZenBook did get on the loud side due the fans spinning up, I never suffered any performance issues while riding on Zwift.

The display is gorgeous. Its 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) resolution and glossy finish results in brilliant colors, made even more brilliant by Pantone color calibration and a blue-light reduction feature. As a result of the blue-light reduction, the default color temperature is much warmer than other 4K displays I’ve used recently.

The keyboard on the ZenBook Pro is comfortable. It’s backlit, too, and it sports a convenient vertical row of Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys. Even better, Asus arranged the directional arrow keys in an inverted-T shape, which is more intuitive than a row. A fingerprint reader is at the keyboard’s bottom right edge. Sound from the downward-firing, Harman Kardon-tuned speakers is adequate and room-filling. It’s not the best that I’ve heard, but I doubt it make you complain.

Downsides? There were two in my testing:

  • The camera’s VGA quality leaves a lot to be desired. Images and video are quite grainy, even in a well-lit room, and the laptop features no IR sensors to allow you to log in to Windows using face recognition.
  • They way that ASUS implements Bluetooth also leaves a lot to be desired. I ran into problems with three or more Bluetooth sensors staying connected to the laptop when I tested it with Zwift. It was the same experience that I ran into when I reviewed this ASUS laptop not too long ago. While I will admit that this is an edge case as most who buy one of these laptops will not be using it for Zwift and connecting that many Bluetooth devices, there are other laptops that I have tested that have no problem with this use case. Thus ASUS should really look into this.

But here’s the bottom line. At just under $3000 at Amazon, it undercuts the MacBook Pro released last summer with a similar processor. That alone makes this ZenBook Pro a winner. The ScreenPad is a bonus that may make it a priority test drive at your local ASUS dealer.

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