Standing toe-to-toe with Apple’s MacBook Air products, the Asus ZenBook line-up has often been accused of plagiarism, but they’re not so much a direct copy.
Instead, I prefer to think of them as taking inspiration from their svelte Apple-based alternatives, a tradition the Asus ZenBook 3 continues.
With its new lighter chassis, however, it’s Apple’s 12in MacBook that the ZenBook 3 is targeting this time around. For the most part, the two look hauntingly familiar. Aside from the obvious Royal Blue colour, and Asus’ usual flourish of concentric circles on the lid, you’d be forgiven for thinking this walked straight out of your local Apple Store.
Its lavish build quality sets it in the same stride as its MacBook counterpart as well. The accented gold trim and gold backlit keys are well worth the price of admission, with a faint whiff of inspiration from HP’s recent gold-infused Spectre and Envy refreshes. The subtle detailing altogether lends itself to a very premium feeling device, worthy of the four figure price Asus is asking.
Take a closer look and you’ll spot a few subtle differences between the two competitors. The ZenBook 3 is a smidge slimmer than the MacBook at 11.9mm deep and at 910g it’s just over 1% lighter, too. While the footprint is roughly the same, the MacBook’s 16:10 display makes it a tad more stretched out from front to back, but the differences between the two are all but negligible.
Asus ZenBook 3 review: Performance and battery life
Where the ZenBook 3 is a near carbon copy of the MacBook from a physical point of view, its innards are noticeably different. Where the MacBook is limited to the ultra low-power Core m chips, the ZenBook 3’s slowest model squeezes in a 7th generation, Kaby Lake dual-core i5-7200U processor clocked at 2.5GHz and backs it up with 8GB of RAM. If you’re up for spending a little more, you could opt for a ZenBook 3 crammed with a Core i7 inside.
I tested the Core i5 model and even this is wonderfully capable. It scored 43 in our 4K benchmarking tests, a difference that’s night and day compared with the paltry 24 of the Apple MacBook equivalent. Rest assured, the ZenBook 3 will be able to keep up with most workloads, although it might struggle with heavy video editing.
Heck, you can even play some games on it, too. Integrated graphics chips are no longer synonymous with naff performance, with Intel’s latest HD Graphics 620 GPU kicking up a storm. Of course, you shouldn’t expect to play The Witcher 3 on Ultra settings here (save that for Razer’s awesome new Blade QHD+), but older games ran without a hitch. Minecraft never dipped below 40fps even at max render distance, although that game can probably run on a toaster these days.
The big problem is the ZenBook 3 chews through its battery too quickly, lasting a mere 6hrs 52mins in our continuous video playback test. That’s nowhere near the MacBook’s 10hrs 12mins the same test.
See also: Asus Zenbook UX310UA review