Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12″ killer!!

A Notebook PC that is going head to head with Apple’s 12 inch Macbook. Physically it is thinner than the Macbook 12 inch at 11.9mm (compared to the Apple Macbook), it is lighter by 10 grams at 910 grams. The body is mainly made out of 6000 series aerospace grade aluminium alloy combo-ed with the 0.4mm thin corning gorilla glass 4 for the display. It’s great they gave it the toughness its needs to survive user abuse or mishandling. It comes if 3 flavours, Rose Gold, Royal Blue and Quartz Grey. All models come with gold accents around the screen lid. The logo is gold even the keycaps are gold colour. Asus is really going premium on this one. Even with the colour scheme here.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
Sexy gold accent

It has the same ports as Apple Macbook. 1 Type C port for data and charge and a combo audio jack. Asus includes a dongle in the box for a HDMI out, a USB 3.0 port and a TYPE C data and power pass through but we will talk about that later.
Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
Let’s start with the display first. It has a slim bezel (of 7.6mm wide) around the screen that gives the Zenbook 3 a 82% screen to body ratio, The 12.5” Full HD IPS display has excellent viewing angles from any point of view up to 178 degrees. It’s very sharp and vivid despite being only a FHD screen with a lower PPI count compared to Apple Macbook but you wouldn’t notice much differences in use and even when editing photos. The screen has an anti glare coating which does helps a lot for me in a lot of situations. Especially when editing in trains where light shines in from the windows or when I’m at outdoor cafes. Also the gorilla glass I mention before covers from edge to edge. Giving the screen a nice glossy and sharp look over the regular matte offerings.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels

Moving onto the keyboard. It feels much more tactile compared to the Apple Macbook. There’s much more key travel and it feels much more clicky compared to the almost tactiless feeling of the Apple Macbook. The trackpad is made out of glass and it’s a joy to use. So much that is feels much better compared to the one of their gaming series of notebooks. To top it all off is the “Can you lift the lid with one finger” test. Which it passed rather well.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
Backlit Keyboard

Now for some specs. It’s fitted with a Core i7-7500U clocked at 2.9Ghz by Asus. The usual base clock would have a 2.7Ghz factory clock and can be boosted up to 3.1Ghz for more intensive tasks.  When using the Power Saving Mode and Balance Power mode, the CPU does not take up much power which aids in battery performance. Asus decked it out with 16GB RAM which seem overkill for a notebook of this type. But it greatly helped me a lot when importing, editing and deleting content on Lightroom without any signs of slowing down. This is great when I have to do a same day wedding slide show with fully edited photos. If I had my old Notebook PC it would take 3 times as long. Thumbs up to Asus for this one. The Zenbook 3 makes one of the best photo editing companion in my book. At full load, the fan does kick in, is noticeable but it is rather muted and not at all distracting.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
Single fan

Our unit came with 512GB NVMe Gen3 SSD made by Toshiba. Which is fast but compared to Samsung’s variant (up to 2000mb/s) the Toshiba can max out 1700mb/s read and 1500mb/s write speed. But an average user won’t feel differences. Plus its 3-4x time faster compared to typical SATA based SSD that can only max out at 550mb/s. Thankfully Asus didn’t go with 256GB  as minimum capacity as it can be filled up rather quickly. The 512GB drive is suitable for content creators like me.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
PCIe SSD

For the battery, it’s using a 40Wh Li-polymer battery with 9 hours of rated battery life. It has fast charging to 60% in 49 mins. I find this important for me as I travel out of the house few times a day and may not have ample time to charge the Zenbook 3 up full capacity.  It lasted me a good 5 hours and 30 mins on full productivity (web/youtube/emails)or 4+ hours on editing photos. If I set brightness to 75% with audio off and airplane mode ON, I can hit 8 hours easily.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels

For connectivity, it’s fitted with Dual-Band Wireless AC (802.11ac) , 2.4Ghz for range and penetration and 5Ghz to max our wifi speed which Asus rates it to max out to 867Mbps. In the audio department they went with harman/kardon for the audio system. It has 4 speaker in total. 2 of them are on the bottom and 2 on the top. Surprisingly, the speakers perform rather well with vocal and acoustics as it’s strong suit. The trade off is that there isn’t any base whatsoever. But, even at 100% volume when playing Chelsea Lanks – Bullet, there isn’t any noticeable distortion apart from the slight chassis vibration.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
Top speaker
Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels
Bottom speaker

Joy carrying around as is light and doesn’t weight a lot, plus it slide into bags easily. To be honest, the Zenbook 3 feels like a real premium product. The notebook itself, the packaging, the accessories and the overall package feels just so right. Albeit, there are a couple thing I want to really gripe about. It’s about the included USB Type C adapter. It’s all good when you want to charge it while using a USB RF receiver for any one of your peripherals. The issue is when it comes to wanting to connect an external drive while doing that. Funny thing is that there is an optional premium Type C dongle. The question is why not include it in the first place since we’re going to pay so much for the notebook in the first place. It seems like a really “Apple” way of doing things with the only thing is that Asus isn’t Apple. It doesn’t feel rewarding after spending that much on a notebook. They should really listen to what the user wants rather than trying to chase after other manufacturers ideals.

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA Review | Audio Test | Macbook 12" killer | CalvinPixels

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Other Asus Reviews:
Asus Router: https://youtu.be/gCTgq5YnuT0
Vivowatch: https://youtu.be/7_6-4q3zouY
Zenbook 501 Pro: https://youtu.be/Jh2dJxN_pl4
RT-AC5300: https://youtu.be/XKcfnCL2KLQ
Horus: https://youtu.be/LWlOCP2TxS0

 


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