ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q Ultrabook Review

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April 21, 2017
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The ultrabook market has recently received a new addition: the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q. People interested in this notebook are probably power users or travelers due to the top-notch performance and portability the ZenBook offers. The older versions of this model have been selling like hotcakes, let’s see if this new ASUS shall be as popular as the past members of this ultrabook family…

Design

As you can see from photos, ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q boasts an all-aluminum silver body. Such a material choice gives the laptop a sleek professional look. The only disadvantage of metal shell is that it’s prone to scratches unlike plastic. So don’t be too rough with your notebook and it will stay neat.

Perks of aluminum shell are noticeable in the weight. Including battery, this unit weighs only 2.6 pounds. That is exactly half of what regular 15-inch laptops are! That benefits the portability to a great degree. The same can be said about the thickness – at 0.5 inches height, this unit is extremely slim. It will slip into your bag in just like that!

Does it have great performance?

You bet ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q has great performance! Its most important component, the processor, is a late 2016 model: the Intel’s 7th generation (Kaby Lake architecture) Core i5-7200U. The unit in question has a base clock frequency of 2.5GHz, while there is also turbo for more demanding times, taking the clock speed to 3.1GHz. The amount of cores in this processor is two, so admittedly no extra points for multitasking activities are given. Nonetheless, the CPU Mark score the i5-7200U gets is around 4700, putting it right in the powerful laptop CPU category!

The ZenBook uses DDR3 memory, not the newer DDR4. Anyway, there is 8GB RAM installed, a great choice for more demanding work – like occasional photo editing or programming. I am pretty sure that more memory can not be added so you will have to go with 8GB at all times. This, however, should not be a problem for anybody, not even for 99% of power users.

Of the main components, the storage section is probably the best. The laptop’s 256GB solid-state drive is, most importantly, darn fast. You will realize Windows loading up in a matter of seconds right to desktop. Programs you run, such as browser, will also load and respond very quickly. The drive has SATA 3 interface connected to M.2 slot on the mainboard. I’m sure if you open this laptop up, you can also change the storage drive.

I hear it’s not good for gaming. This true?

Undeniably, there are many better gaming laptops than ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q. It is full of solid components but the graphics engine isn’t one of them. You see, there is actually no dedicated graphics card at all, but a slower and simpler integrated one, called Intel HD 620. Its performance is not up for more demanding “Triple A” games: GTA 5 and Fallout 4 would run with noticeable lag on low settings and around 720p resolution. On the other hand, games easier on the system (that are still popular) would run good, those including CS: Go, sports games, H1Z1, Minecraft and Sims 4.

Video

How are ports and other connections?

ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q has jumped on the USB-C bandwagon, it has one such a port – USB-C Gen 1, max 5Gbps transfer rate. Advantages include reversibility, meaning you can insert the connector both ways and upside down. That being said, if you value familiarity, there are also two USB 3.0 ports to fit that bill for you.

The laptop accepts one external monitor. You can connect that extra display to the ZenBook’s microHDMI output. That way, you don’t have to use the laptop only through its own screen if you don’t like to. There is also a combo audio jack for headphones and mic.

These ultrabooks don’t come with optical drives. The ASUS is no exception, no DVD burner is found here. If you absolutely must use discs you have the option to get an external drive. Such a device costs some 20 dollars and connects to the USB on this laptop. Hence, it’s both cheap and easy to use! Bear in mind the notebook has a micro SDXC card reader which is also good for transferring data, given your files are indeed on memory cards.

As I guessed, the networking options are limited to wireless on this machine. You are free to use the excellent WiFi card supporting long-range 802.11ac standard, WiDi (wireless display) and Bluetooth 4.1. If you need Ethernet support, cheap USB to RJ-45 dongles exist in shops.

Other benefits you might be interested in

A major selling point of ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q would be its screen. Like many previous ZenBooks, also this model has the ultrabook-size 13.3 inches display, but with a professional-grade 3200×1800 resolution. In another words, much more than Full HD. You can stuff a great deal of data – such as browser windows – on the screen before it fill ups. This is especially desirable for image/video editing and movies with high resolution. The screen does not support touch. It has a 300-nits luminance, so an average brightness. Refresh rate is 60hz, the panel has anti-glare coating and 72% NTSC color gamut. Viewing angles being 170 degrees it is also IPS display.

There is a 57Whr polymer battery giving power to this computer. There are no early user reviews available yet which would tell the battery life of this Quad HD model. The manufacturer claims up to 12 hours for web browsing is attainable. I would take that with a grain of salt, shooting for ~8 hours would be much more realistic.

The ZenBook comes with a backlit chiclet keyboard. There is no separate 10-key numpad on it – a common thing in these smaller laptops.

The pre-installed operating system on this notebook is Windows 10 Home 64-bit.

Verdict

I see no reasons to bash ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH5Q. On the contrary, I see many a reason to recommend it. First, the price is far from expensive when you take a moment to see what it offers: a Kaby Lake Core i5, solid-state drive, 13.3 inches 3200×1800 screen and professional aluminum body. Such a laptop goes a long way for power users and business travelers interested in performance, style and light weight. Oh, and let’s not forget people in digital arts and Photoshop, they would love the Quad HD screen. As a great addition, there is no bloatware installed – unlike in many cheaper models. Indeed, for these reasons, I can only recommend the ASUS for quality ultrabook seekers!

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