Laptops have come a long way from their bulky beginnings. Apple slashed the number of ports on its latest MacBook, resulting is a device that’s just 13.1 mm (0.52 in) thick. HP decided to rework its hinges, giving us the 10.4-mm (0.41-in) thick Spectre. Asus is also getting “thin” on the act, with the new ultra-thin ZenBook 3 that slots in between the two.
Measuring 11.9 mm thick and 910 g (32 oz), the ZenBook 3 launched at Computex 2016 is 1.5 mm thinner and 10 g (0.35 oz) lighter than a MacBook. Asus says the weight saving comes, in part, thanks to aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, which is lighter and 50 percent stronger than the standard alloy found on regular laptops. Although it’s made of a different material, the exterior is still finished with the same machined circles on the case as previous models.
Open the ZenBook 3 up and you’re greeted by a 12.5 inch display packing 1920 x 1080 pixels and covered with Gorilla Glass 4. Asus has cut the screen bezel down to just 7.6 mm (0.3 in), giving the laptop an 82 percent screen-to-body ratio, .
As well as being wide, the screen boasts a 178-degree viewing angle, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and Asus Tru2Life video enhancement, which is designed to optimize individual pixels for improved contrast. How it compares to the Apple Retina Display remains to be seen, however.
The ZenBook 3 really distances itself from the MacBook under the hood. Whereas the most powerful MacBook makes do with a 1.3 GHz m7 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD, the Zenbook 3 can be specced with a latest-generation i7 processor, up to 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD.
Of course, it’s not easy to cool a powerful processor in a slim body. That’s why HP uses a hyperbaric cooling system on its new Spectre, and why Asus has created a new cooling system that uses a liquid-crystal-polymer fan that’s just 0.3 mm thick and a copper-alloy heat pipe that helps to route hot air through vents hidden in the hinge.
Power comes from a 40 Wh lithium-polymer battery, and Asus claims it’ll last you 9 hours. Thanks to its USB-C fast charger, the ZenBook 3 can be charged to 60 percent capacity in 49 minutes. The USB-C port also doubles as your display connector, USB port, and charge port.
Through the use of the all-in-one USB-C Universal Dock, the port also acts as an Ethernet port, SD card reader, LAN, VGA and HDMI ports. There’s also an external speaker pod to back up the inbuilt Harmon Kardon quad speakers.
The ZenBook 3 will be available in blue, grey and rose gold, with prices ranging from US$999 for the base model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD, through $1,499 for the Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD model, up to the top-of-the-line model that gets a 1 TB SSD and will cost $1,999.