When you think of ultra-portable laptops, which is the first one that comes to your mind? Probably the Macbook Air. It has carved a dominant position in this space and very few devices have managed to even challenge it. Now think of some really good ultra-portable Windows laptops. Chances are you wouldn’t have a name at the back of your mind. This speaks a lot about the lack of good ultra-portables with Windows.
Asus may have addressed this exact same problem with its launch of the Zenbook UX430U. It’s an ultra-portable, thin and light laptop that isn’t too expensive. With this latest offering, Asus has put in best-in-class specifications inside a gorgeous-looking body that is easy to carry around. We got to try the laptop for a few days and here is our full review of the Asus Zenbook UX430UN.
The first glance at this laptop was enough to convince me of how elegant it looks. Although I am not a big fan of the Royal Blue colour (more colour options available: Rose Gold, Quartz Gray and Shimmer Gold), it looked pretty decent owing to the spun-metal finish on the lid. The Asus logo is placed at the centre of the concentric circles that shine upon light reflection. The brand claims that the high-quality texture has been achieved through nano-imprinting lithography. All of this does a good job in making the laptop look and feel premium, it will surely grab eyeballs.
But, one big flaw of the glossy coating on top is that it is prone to fingerprint marks and smudges. To me, it wasn’t as big a problem but it would have been great to see the same design and feel without getting your fingerprint marks all over the surface. At just 1.25 kgs, the laptop is very lightweight and very easy to carry around. It is quite thin as well, measuring at just 0.63 inches at the thicker end. In comparison, the MacBook Air weighs 1.35 kgs and measures 0.68 inches, making it both heavier and thicker than Asus’ offering.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Fingerprint Sensor
The Asus Zenbook UX430UN comes with a full-size backlit keyboard which feels comfortable to use. Being a writer, one thing I can’t compromise with is a laptop’s keyboard and I wasn’t disappointed with this one. The keys have a travel of 1.4mm which is quite decent to allow a good typing experience.
The touchpad is spacious enough and has two integrated buttons on the bottom, it works well for most parts. However, when you press the buttons, the whole portion shakes and it feels a bit flimsy. The touchpad also has palm rejection that ignores mouse movement as you type. It also has the ability to use Windows’ multi-touch gestures and handwriting recognition in the touchpad.
You also get a small fingerprint sensor on the top-right corner of the touchpad, an ideal position which ensures no interference in your mouse usage. It is quick and accurate most of the times but doesn’t work with moist fingers, something even most smartphone fingerprint sensors struggle with.
Display & Audio
The UX430UN features a 14-inch Full HD display which Asus proudly calls as the ‘NanoEdge display’. The fancy name stands for the near bezel-less look that it depicts. It definitely feels good to see most of the laptop’s upper flap occupied by the display. However, I would have loved to see the bottom bezel not as big as it currently is. This would have made the display look even more appealing aesthetically. The experience of watching videos, movies or playing games is considerably enhanced owing to the display which offers a rich and vibrant output. Reading experience on the laptop is also quite sharp and crisp.
Another thing I loved about the display is that it reflected almost no glare, all thanks to the matte anti-glare coating on top of it. If you ever happen to work under direct sunlight on your screen, you will thank the display for how good it is. Even in indoor artificial light conditions, the difference between a normal and anti-glare display is highly noticeable. The display gets sufficiently bright when you turn off Windows’ automatic brightness feature.
The audio output is one of the best parts about the laptop, it is damn impressive. The sound gets fairly loud and we noticed almost no distortion even while playing music at the highest volume. The speakers use Harmon Kardon technology and the quality is evident in its output.
Asus claims that the laptop’s amplifier produces 3.5x louder sound which isn’t difficult to believe once you listen to it. The stereo speakers are positioned on either side of the laptop’s bottom so you need to place the laptop on a flat surface to get the best output from them.
In terms of performance, the Asus UX430UN packs in top of the line processor, GPU, RAM and storage. There has been no compromise on this front, the ultra-portable machine has got an 8th generation Intel core i7 processor which is currently the most advanced and fastest processor in Intel’s core series. It is coupled with 8GB of RAM which ensures most of your heavy-lifting can be done without any hassles. However, there should have been a 16GB RAM variant for those who aspire for an even superior performance. To render graphic-intensive content like games, the laptop has got 2GB of NVIDIA GeForce MX150. Owing to these high-end specifications, there was never a moment where it felt that the performance could have been better. The internals were perfectly capable of pulling off whatever we threw at it with no hiccups whatsoever.
Our most usage included heavy internet browsing, watching videos, listening to music and playing games at times to test its performance. The device breezed through all of this with no signs of performance strain. There’s 512GB of SSD storage (also comes in 256GB variant) in the laptop to allow quick booting along with faster read and write speeds. The storage space seems fairly enough, and since it’s SSD, you also benefit from some additional perks.
The Asus laptop comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro and the OS seemed snappy throughout. The machine also comes with the required hardware to support almost all of Windows’ features without any hassles.
Battery & Connectivity
Based upon my usage mentioned above, I found the battery to be pretty impressive. Although Asus claims that the laptop offers 9 hours of battery life but on an average, I got around 7 hours, which is great for a Windows laptop. It draws power from the 50Wh 3-cell lithium-polymer battery fitted underneath. The laptop also charges up quickly, all thanks to the 65W power adapter that comes along with it. Being an ultra-portable device, battery is an essential aspect and based on our observation, it won’t disappoint you.
On the connectivity front, this Asus laptop comes with a variety of ports on either side. On the left, there’s the charging port, USB 3.1, Micro HDMI, 3.5 mm combo audio jack and a USB Type-C port, which is appreciable. On the right, you get a USB 2.0 and an SD card reader. Coming to wireless connectivity, it has got Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n. The connectivity options seem sufficient given that how thin and lightweight this laptop is.
The Asus UX430UN ticks all the right boxes you would expect a good ultra-portable laptop to do. It has a great display, the performance is excellent, battery life is good, there are enough connectivity options and it is light & thin. Although the laptop isn’t targeted for gamers, the GPU will be able to render most graphic-intensive games effortlessly. We had the top variant of the laptop with best-in-class specifications and it is priced at Rs. 93,990. If you think you can do with slightly toned down specifications (Core i5 + 256GB storage), you can get the lower variant of the same laptop starting at Rs. 72,990.
Its closest competitor is the Macbook Air, which comes at a premium price of Rs. 92,500 for the 256GB SSD variant. In comparison, the offering from Asus surely leaps ahead in terms of overall specifications. The same stands true for Dell XPS 13 that is positioned at a similar price point. Another thing to consider is that the 128GB of Macbook Air is available for below Rs. 50,000 in some online stores which makes it a very lucrative deal in itself. But you won’t get such high specifications, ports or a quality Full HD display with the Air. It finally boils down to your personal preferences at that stage.
If I had to rate this laptop out of 5, I would give it a 4 without any hesitation. Or probably 4.5 for a particular set of audience. If you are someone looking for a really premium and portable Windows laptop in this price range, this one is a highly recommended option.
Picture Credits: Hannan Mansoori