Asus ZenBook 3 review: This compact laptop puts the MacBook on the ropes, but doesn't deliver a KO

PCWorld | Oct 5, 2016

This 12-inch MacBook clone is a premium Windows ultraportable, but a few design choices keep it from rising above all its competition—MacOS and Windows alike.

Asus’s ZenBook 3 comes with just a single USB port -- a polarizing design we first saw in Apple's 12-inch MacBook. Sure, this ultraportable packs in great components, but it deserves the same complaints that were lobbed at Apple's notebook.


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If you mostly work in the cloud and want something stylish, compact, and fast, the aluminum-coated ZenBook 3 delivers a premium experience in spades. Outside is a fingerprint reader that unlocks Windows as fast as a smartphone, and inside is a wealth of cutting-edge technology. A brand-new 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor, a PCIe solid state drive, and ultra-fast RAM make basic computing feel incredibly fast. And even with all this high-end hardware, you’ll get a little over 8 hours of video playback while watching movies on the ZenBook 3’s 12.5-inch full-HD screen.


Unfortunately, this laptop has only a single port for data and charging, and that can be a real drag. Even with the included Mini Dock, which provides a USB-C port for charging and a USB-A port for data, you’re still limited to one USB accessory at a time. You’re also capped at a last-generation 5 gigabit per second transfer rate between an external storage drive and the internal SSD. That’s a shame, given the top speeds possible over USB-C.

If you can live with the limitations of the lone USB-C port as well as a mediocre keyboard, you do get a 12-inch MacBook experience in a tidy Windows package. Just be prepared to make room in your bag for the cables and adapters you’ll need in a world that still requires external storage drives, displays, and two-factor authentication keys.
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