18-07-2019
review

Asus Zenbook ux303ub Review after 18 months

Overview

Launched in early 2016 the ASUS UX303UB with the aluminum construction, the 3200×1800 QHD+ display, the 512GB SSD and the Intel Core i7 (6th Gen) 6500U / 2.5 GHz packs a punch when it comes to performance and looks.

We have tested this laptop’s performance through gaming, image processing machine learning algorithms, software programming and other casual application testing like browsing and light image editing.

Short story long: the laptop has great hardware performance but lacks in usability and optimizations.

Performance

This laptop features an interesting set of hardware components that are still competitive in 2018.

Below is a table with its main hardware features:

Processor
ModelIntel Core i7 (6th Gen) 6500U / 2.5 GHz
Cache4MB
RAM
Memory Speed1600 Mhz
Capacity12GB total (8 GB + 4 GB soldered)
Video Card
Model NVIDIA GeForce 940M - 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Storage
TypeSSD
Capacity512 GB

If you want to see the full specifications please visit: Asus Official Website

Processor

Based on the Passmark benchmark score the Intel Core i7-6500U running at 2.5Ghz has medium to upper capabilities, though it can handle most of the common tasks like browsing and programming without issues.

Video card

The NVIDIA GeForce 940M has been tested through games, image processing machine learning algorithms and video editing software like the Adobe Premiere Pro.

The best performance was achieved in machine learning algorithms where we used Tensorflow for poets in order to run a classification algorithms for a data set of 3600 photos of small to medium resolution in under 3 minutes.

When dealing with video editing the

Storage

The 512GB SSD storage is enough for most users being able to handle all the storage needs: games, photos, software and movies.

The read and write capabilities are good with (tested with CrystalDiskMark):

  • Up to 540MB/s Read capabilities
  • Up to 400MB/s Write capabilities

Display

Having an 3200×1800 QHD+ display the videos are crystal clear being able to deliver 4k video with ease. The colors are brilliant and vibrant, watching documentaries is a pleasure on this display.

From our point of view, for this 13,3″ inch display size is an overkill when a 1080p would have sufficed. On Windows 10 the user has to play with the scaling of the text to be able to use this resolution. Some applications are not optimized to use all of these pixels and you would have cases where the text is too small to be read.

Audio

Even though the laptop comes with Bang Olufsen audio system and it is marketed on the website “never heard before from a laptop, with deep rich bass and crystal-clear vocals, even at the highest volume levels” it fails to deliver in the never heard before as the volume is too low be heard. The quality of the audio is satisfactory but the volume is not, as most of the time we found ourselves connecting a Bluetooth speaker because the sound volume was.

The speakers give a clear sound and offer a surround feeling as the speakers are located at the bottom sides. Though, loudness is not enough to listen a movie if the laptop sits at more than 40cm from the user, especially if the laptop is held in the lap or in bed as the materials absorb the sound waves, constantly trying to raise the volume when it was at its maximum. Even adding sound enhancement software like SmartAudio. We have also tried the AudioWizard software that has to be downloaded and not coming stock with the device but the lack of configuration options led us to try other software.

When testing the maximum volume we could achieve 77dB using the Sound Meter Android App.

Headphone audio is mediocre at best, lacking custom the equalization capabilities, resorting to 3rd party software like SmartAudio for that custom configuration. Though, it should be mentioned that the stock sound configuration would please people that look just for having a normal sound experience for example skype conferences or watching video tutorials.

Connectivity

Given its small footprint, this device allows for various ports such as:

  • Mini DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • Headphone/microphone combo jack
  • Memory Card Reader: 2 in 1 (SD Card, MultiMediaCard, SDHC Card)

If you need to connect to the Internet via cable you would have to get an Ethernet to USB adapter in order to work. There are Gigabit Ethernet adapters so speed should not be an issue, both the adapters and the gigabit network

Battery

After testing the laptop for over one year, the battery capacity is well under the manufacturer specifications (when considering the normal decay of Li-Po batteies) which says it can “last for up to 7 hours on battery power“. In our tests the laptop has never got up to that mark, scoring a maximum of 6 hours when doing light tasks such as internet browsing and video streaming at 1080p or under.

Battery statistics

Design Capacity: 50,103 mWh

Full Charge Capacity at Beginning: 42,276 mWh

Capacity after 18 months 41,157 mWh

Cycle count: 264

 

Battery capacity estimates.

Numbers were obtained using the Windows 10 battery management command line tool.

PERIODCAPACITY
2017-10-02 - 2017-10-0943,692 mWh
2017-11-07 - 2017-11-13 43,393 mWh
2018-01-15 - 2018-01-2241,586 mWh
2018-02-1841,157 mWh

Battery life estimates also based on observed drains using the default Windows 10 stock battery manager tool:

PERIODACTIVE AT FULL CHARGE (hours)ACTIVE AT DESIGN CAPACITY (hours)
2017-10-02 - 2017-10-094:41:055:22:19
2017-11-07 - 2017-11-134:24:505:05:47
2017-12-18 - 2017-12-256:07:576:55:17
2018-02-05 - 2018-02-124:10:064:57:33
2018-02-17 3:56:504:48:18
2018-02-204:43:595:45:42

Touchpad

The touchpad comes with a configuration software: Asus Smart Gesture that allows for one/two three finger actions such as zoom, rotate and minimize.

Besides this, the touchpad is the most annoying “feature”of this laptop, many times making it unusable due to the lack of responsiveness and precision. Innately there is a lag of the cursor that does not go away even if you try to enhance the precision option or increase/decrease the sensitivity from the settings. Most of the times you will be compelled to just use a regular mouse because you will click the wrong buttons as the cursor will go to an inappropriate point.

Keyboard

The keyboard is well lit and the keys can be well pressed having a proper feedback and good precision.

And that’s about it for the good points regarding the keyboard. The “Home”, “End”, “Page down” and “Page up” buttons are positioned on the arrows button and can be accessed only via the “fn” button.

This makes any business workflow (spreadsheets, documents, presentation and programming) rather unnecessary heavy especially when trying to make a selection and you would need to hold four keys instead of three when for example you want to select all the text until the end of a document.

Also the Function buttons are selected by default so if you want to increase the volume via keyboard you would need to press the fn button and the F12 key where the volume alias is located. This turns a supposedly one hand easy action into two hand action. From our findings this cannot be changed as it is hardcoded into BIOS.

Conclusions

The laptop comes with great specifications: the great display with QHD+ resolution, dedicated video card, strong aluminum body and the many connectivity ports.

Though, it lacks features in the usability part as the sound is average, the touchpad is mediocre, and the keyboard configuration slows down the workflow.

We would not recommend this as a business laptop or a laptop that would be used in software programming.

We would recommend this laptop for people that are looking for a small footprint laptop that like to watch high resolution videos, photo editing on the go, light browsing and light gaming as long as they come with their own mouse.

JohnnyChecks

Self Made Blogger

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