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ASUS ZenBook Pro UX550 review: More premium business notebook than gaming machine

By Koh Wanzi - 3 Mar 2018
Launch SRP: S$2898

Conclusion

 

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX550

A premium business notebook and a portable workstation for creative professionals

The ASUS ZenBook Pro is a beautiful machine to look at. The rich Royal Blue color of my review unit is a welcome change from the black or gray of so many laptops today, and the excellent display makes a great first impression when you power up the notebook.

The quad-speaker setup also makes it a good entertainment machine that you can take around with you, and I absolutely love how solid the laptop feels when you pick it up. Furthermore, it's a lot slimmer and lighter than other gaming systems with similar specifications, and that's a huge plus point in its favor. 

As a workstation system, it supports two 4K external displays via two Thunderbolt 3 ports, all of which goes a long way toward justifying its premium S$2,898 price tag.

After all, its specifications are offered by countless other laptops, and there are better and cheaper gaming systems out there with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

Gaming really isn’t the point of the ZenBook Pro, and while you can certainly play games on it, you’re really paying for the design, build quality, and things like the display and speakers. It’s also for those who’d like more screen real estate on their work laptop, and want more than the piddling graphics processing power of an integrated GPU.

Judged on gaming performance alone, the ZenBook Pro would fare poorly, given how it was always slightly behind similarly configured notebooks in our gaming benchmarks. But those notebooks were affordable, mostly plastic constructions targeted at budget gamers.

Conversely, the ZenBook Pro is positioned as a premium option, and the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti isn’t so much an entry-level GPU as a big step up from the integrated graphics normally found on business notebooks.

And while its price may appear high, it’s actually in line with things like the Dell XPS 15, which costs S$3,099 for the same processor, RAM, and storage, but comes with a 4K display. The XPS 15 is also equipped with just a GeForce GTX 1050, so the ZenBook Pro actually has an edge in this area.

One downside is the lack of upgradeable memory and a conservative cooling system, so you’ll have to carefully evaluate your priorities and what you wish to get out of your notebook.

If you’re looking simply for a gaming machine, look elsewhere. But if what you want is a powerful laptop for work, the ZenBook Pro certainly deserves your consideration. And should you really want to play more far more demanding games on it, it’ll also work with the ASUS ROG XG Station 2 external graphics dock.

8.0
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 7.5
  • Value 7.5
  • Mobility 8.5
The Good
Bright display with vibrant colors
Great sound quality from quad-speaker setup
Excellent build quality and sleek design
The Bad
Shallow key travel distance
Cooling system doesn't seem sufficient to sustain strong gaming performance
Glossy display may cause annoyances with reflections
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