Although it was born for the purpose of exploring the possibilities of ultrabooks, the ZenBook family of ASUS has gradually diversified to accommodate other types of laptops. During the last months, our machines have been as attractive as the Zenbook Flip UX360UA, an ambitious convertible that we really liked, or the Zenbook 3 Deluxe, a stylized team with a really interesting configuration.
Despite the obvious differences between some proposals and others within the ZenBook range, all of them have been designed with the same philosophy. And this causes that they have in common a very current design, in which stand out some measured frames and a contained thickness, as well as a careful finish. The ZenBook Pro UX550VD to which we dedicate this analysis is no exception. In fact, it strictly respects these precepts, but the most interesting thing is that it has its own personality. Let’s see why it deserves a little attention.
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX550VD: Technical specifications
If you take a look at the table below, you will see that the configuration of this laptop is, above all, balanced. ASUS has sent us the version with the most “humble” RAM and disk drive, so anyone interested in this device but looking for a more ambitious configuration can opt for the version that incorporates up to 16 GB DDR4 of main memory and an SSD unit with NVMe M.2 interface of up to 1 TB capacity.
In any case, the version we are about to analyze has its own virtues. Just turn it on to realize that it has an IPS panel of very good quality, with viewing angles close to 180 degrees and a competent colorimetry. It also relies on an Intel Core i7-7700HQ microprocessor with four cores that, thanks to Hyper-Threading technology, can process up to eight threads of execution simultaneously. This CPU works at a base clock frequency of 2.8 GHz, but it can reach 3.8 GHz if the workload to which we submit it requires it.
|ASUS ZENBOOK PRO UX550VD|
|SCREEN||IPS LED 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 points). 100% sRGB coverage. Reduction of blue light by 30%|
|SIZE||36.5 x 25.1 x 1.89 cm|
|PROCESSOR||Intel Core i7-7700HQ at 2.8 GHz (14 nm / 4 cores / 8 threads of execution / 6 MB of L3 cache)|
|GRAPHICS||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4 GB GDDR5)|
|RAM||8 GB DDR4-2400|
|STORAGE||SSD 256 GB SATA3|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY||WiFi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2|
|BATTERY||Lithium polymer / 73 Wh|
|PORTS||1 x HDMI, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x slot micro-SD cards and 1 x microphone / headphone jack|
Its specifications reveal that its vocation is, above all, professional, or as a general purpose machine. However, there is a component that tells us that this laptop is also comfortable with games: its GPU. And is that its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, well equipped by 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory, should be enough to allow us to play many titles at the native resolution of the panel (1,920 x 1,080 points) with enough guarantees. But we’ll check that a bit later. Now I leave the specifications of this machine so you can examine them in detail.
Design and finishing: Impeccable machining
As I have anticipated in the first paragraphs of this analysis, two of the hallmarks of the ZenBook family of ASUS are its careful construction and careful design. In the photographs that illustrate this article you can see that the chassis is quite thin (it has a thickness of 1.89 cm) and is manufactured from a single piece of machined aluminum. The use of this material allows to keep the weight of this laptop under control and clearly below 2 Kg (weighs a measured 1.8 Kg). And, at the same time, it acts as a huge heat sink that helps to efficiently evacuate the energy dissipated in the form of heat, especially by the CPU and the GPU.
If we strictly adhere to the design it is worthwhile to pause for a moment to examine its screen. Its frames are not the finest in the market (in this field is surpassed, for example, by the Aero 15 of Gigabyte that we analyzed recently), but the sides have a thickness of 7.3 mm, a rather moderate measure that gives it of an interesting attraction. However, the upper and lower frames are somewhat larger, although it is not at all dramatic. In any case, the proportion of screen on the total surface of the equipment is 83%, a striking figure that gives it a certain advantage in this parameter compared to some of its rivals (especially if we compare it with most of the machines for gaming).
Let’s go back a moment to review its finish. If you look at the photograph you have below this paragraph you will see that the machining of the chassis is really outstanding, which reveals that ASUS has used a cutting machine by numerical control (CNC) of high precision in its manufacture. The chamfer that surrounds the base of the chassis, in which the PCB (printed circuit board) resides and most of the components of the equipment, endows it with an unusual elegance. And, at the same time, reflects the dedication placed on the finish of this laptop. And this is appreciated, especially when they ask for more than 1,000 dollars for it.
Keyboard and Touchpad
It is very pleasant to see that the manufacturers of laptops increasingly give more importance to the quality of the keyboards that are part of their equipment. At least, in those of a certain price level. And it is that the keyboard with which ASUS has equipped this machine is of very good quality. It is chiclet type, and, although it is not mechanical, the keys have a nice touch, the appropriate travel (1.5 mm), backlighting, and, what is even more important, they hardly suffer from transverse oscillation, something crucial if we need use it for many hours in a row because it prevents the appearance of discomfort in our wrists.
The touchpad is at the height of the keyboard. It responds very well to both the touch and the pulsations, and the layer of glass that covers it gives us a very accomplished touch. In fact, it has nothing to envy the touchpad of the MacBook Pro with which I am writing this article. In addition, it supports multi-touch gestures and has a biometric sensor that can read our fingerprint to allow us to log in to Windows without the need to enter a password.
Connectivity: Few ports, but well chosen
The minimalist design and stylized profile of this laptop condition the number of ports that can be integrated. Even so, although this ZenBook does not bring together a large number of connectors, it has the ones we really need today. On the right side of the chassis are two USB 3.1 Gen 1 type links, a slot for micro SD cards and type connector jack which can be used both to enter into the computer the audio signal from a microphone to extract the sound to our headphones.
The other side of the chassis, the left, picks up the necessary HDMI output, the power connector and two additional USB ports. Yes, these last two connectors are USB 3.1 Gen 2 C-type compatible with Thunderbolt 3, so, thanks to its high maximum transfer speed (up to 40 Gbps), we can use them, for example, to connect to the laptop a high capacity external hard drive. Or to send the video to two external 4K UHD monitors, a possibility that can come in handy to users who want to use their equipment to edit video or run graphic design applications.
Harman Kardon sound and four speakers
I have no doubt that ASUS engineers have worked hard to fine-tune the highest quality sound possible on this notebook. To achieve this, four loudspeakers have been integrated into the chassis, when it is customary to install two loudspeakers, and they have also chosen to excite them using two stereophonic amplifiers with high current delivery capable of achieving a higher sound pressure level than other similar notebooks of this type brand. But this is not all. They have also had the collaboration of Harman Kardon technicians, who, according to ASUS, have helped them calibrate the sound of this laptop.
The problem is that, as with smartphones, the limited size of the laptop’s chassis does not allow us to do wonders with sound. This equipment has a very decent audio. It does not sound bad at all, and one of its most obvious qualities is that it is capable of reaching a relatively high sound pressure level, for a device of this type. However, its sound is not as detailed as would be desirable, and it does not offer us the punch when playing the lower octave of the spectrum that both fans of music and video games appreciate so much. For this reason I think it will satisfy the users who are not very demanding with regard to sound, but those who are, will prefer to get good headphones or some external acoustic boxes of a certain quality.
ASUS, beware of crapware
We enter a delicate terrain. The software that computer manufacturers pre-install and that users do not ask for is only well received if it really adds value. If it is useful and offers us some functionality that is not contemplated by the operating system. Otherwise, it is preferable that we save it and give us a team as clean and light as possible.
ASUS, like all brands, installs quite a lot of software not requested by users on their laptops. And the problem is that although some of the profits worth, there are others that do not contribute virtually nothing, and therefore most users prefer not to find pre-installed. The Battery Health Charging tool, for example, is one of the ones that add value. And it does so because it allows us to activate load profiles that can help delay the battery life of the equipment, automatically stopping the loading and reanudándola so that the number of load cycles are reduced.
However, among the pre-installed software we can also find Giftbox, a software repository that hardly contributes anything in front of the Microsoft application store, and ZenLink, which serves to transfer files from the laptop to other devices. It would be a good idea for manufacturers to give us our computers completely clean, and all this software included in a DVD or a flash drive, so that each user decides what he wants to install and what tools he prefers to do without.
Our test bench
Before delving into the results that this laptop has shown in our performance tests, it is worthwhile dedicating a few lines to reviewing the quality of its IPS LCD panel with LED backlighting. I like its blacks, its colorimetry, its wide viewing angle (178 degrees according to ASUS), and also an almost total absence of reflections. I just miss that the Taiwanese brand does not offer us the possibility of getting a version of this laptop equipped with a panel with the same characteristics, but with a higher resolution than traditional Full HD. Oh! An interesting note: what is available is a version with multi-touch screen, although it is not the one we have had occasion to try.
Now, we have to start with the performance tests. As you can see in the picture below, in Cinebench R15 the Intel Core i7-7700HQ this laptop perform as expected of a chip with quad – core eight threads (threads) yields a productivity similar to other processors with a similar architecture, but it is clearly overcome in this test, which rewards the ability to run in parallel, for chips with six cores and twelve threads or more.
In PCMark 10 this ZenBook has achieved a very meritorious position, a little below the Leopard Pro of MSI that we analyzed a few weeks ago. This result is satisfactory because the MSI team has twice as much main memory (16 GB), and also with an SSD unit with NVMe M.2 interface that gives it a certain advantage in this test, in which it does not matter so much. Degree of parallelism as in Cinebench R15.
Interestingly, in the Home Conventional 3.0 scenario of PCMark 8 the ASUS laptop has been slightly above the MSI team of which I have spoken in the previous paragraph. In any case, the really important thing is that your productivity when you have to face a scenario of execution of office applications and playback of multimedia content is quite good, despite having “only” 8 GB of main memory.
In the PCMark 8 Creative Conventional 3.0 scenario, this ASUS team performs exactly the same as in the other test of this same test. In fact, it has outstripped both the MSI laptop and Thunderobot, two proposals that have a much more marked vocation as games equipment.
Although in the graph that you have below these lines you can see that this ZenBook has been the last one in 3DMark, in fact it is a very worthy result if we keep in mind that it is not a team with a clear vocation of machine for gaming. And practically all its rivals, some of them with a very superior configuration, are proposals designed to perform well with the games. Even so, as we will corroborate in the next test, this team is able to “move” with some fluency 1080p graphics.
The following graph gives an answer to the question that videogame fans are sure to ask: yes, this ZenBook is good for playing. Although it’s GeForce GTX 1050 GPU is the most modest of the GeForce GTX Series 10 family, it has enough power to move titles such as “Rise of the Tomb Raider” or “DiRT Rally” with average rates above 30 FPS at 1080p and with the highest image quality. In Final Fantasy XV, which is a newer and more demanding game, however, this team has a worse time. The average cadence of images is below 30 FPS, and, in addition, suffers from significant falls of the framerate, which reflects that with really demanding games this laptop goes something right. The solution in these cases is to reduce the image quality until the frame rate is as stable as possible and remains above 30 FPS.
In CrystalDiskMark 6 the SSD unit with SATA3 interface that incorporates this laptop has produced a result similar to that of other computers with solid state disks that also use this interface. Its sequential read speed is 533.8 MB / s, and the sequential write rate is close to 500 MB / s. These are good figures, there is no doubt about that, but it would have been a good idea to bet on an SSD M.2 interface with NVMe because, with total certainty, these numbers would have been noticeably higher. Even so, the performance of the secondary storage subsystem of this equipment is attractive.
With regard to autonomy, this ZenBook slightly exceeds three and a half hours (3:35 minutes) in a real-use scenario of a certain intensity that combines the execution of office applications, Internet browsing and content creation. It is not a bad autonomy, but it is not a shocking figure either, so during a whole working day we will be forced to charge it, at least, once, as long as our starting point is the battery with 100% of the load.
And with regard to the working temperature, the CPU oscillates between 45 and 50 degrees Celsius with a moderate level of stress. When the workload is close to 100%, the temperature rises to 85 degrees Celsius, an important value that does not compromise the integrity of the processor or the stability of the operating system because it is below the maximum threshold of temperature supported. By the CPU. Finally, with a workload of 50%, the noise level of the equipment oscillates around 38 dB, reaching 49 dB when the load reaches figures close to 100%.