Some say it looks better than the Mac, some say they want to lick it, some say other explicit things they want to do with it which we can’t repeat. All I know is that I am in absolute love with this beauty, but a glance at that price tag compels me to give it a second thought.
However, soon those ‘second thoughts’ disappear when you learn that the new MacBook starts from a trouser-troubling ₹1,04,800 for the base model with a Core m3 processor. LOL! Switch over to Asus’s website and you get a more sensible Core-i5 offering that starts at ₹93,990.
On paper (or screen) that’s more sensible. Right? Well, the real-world scenario can be quite different. So does this spanking-new ZenBook justify that more-than-Mac-for-your-buck price?
Asus Zenbook UX430UQ Design - We are circles you see!
If you are familiar with previous Zenbooks, you know what to expect. That elegant Zen-inspired design and those circles still look oh-so-classy. In earlier models, you could feel the grooves of the circles that were made on the aluminium-alloy lid, however, on the UX430, that’s not the case. Asus has done something slightly different here and that’s the inclusion of a special crystal-like coating that’s created using an advanced technique known as nano-imprinting lithography. Not that the direct advantages are unclear, but hell, it feels really nice to hold (better than the MacBook in my opinion) and lifts the appeal of the already elegant laptop.
There’s one aspect in which the MacBook beats the Asus and that’s weight. While the UX430 weighs a feathery 1.23kgs, the Mac drops that number to a cool 0.92kgs. In the real world, they both feel almost the same weight and size. The only thing lighter than these two will be your wallet once you splurge out that cash.
Asus Zenbook UX430UQ Keyboard/Trackpad - Reflexes of a water boatman
A water boatman is an insect that stings with its, ahem, and also happens to have sharp reflexes. Clearly, Asus has drawn inspiration from this bug because that trackpad is super-responsive and takes your Windows experience to a whole new level. It also gets a gloss coating and has the smarts to distinguish your palm from your fingers to avoid accidental registers. There’s also handwriting support, but my handwriting could put doctors to shame.Which brings us to the trusty old keyboard. Actually the keyboard has been worked upon too. There’s now just a 1.44mm travel for the keys to register, and it retains the backlight abilities of its predecessors. The backlight is an underrated feature that you miss the very evening you buy a laptop without one.
The typing experience itself is great. There’s something about the keyboard that makes you feel like Beethoven playing one of his symphonies while you type out that boring work report or a helplessly positive review. It feels at its ergonomical best and that’s what you expect from a workhorse that you will use all day.
Asus Zenbook UX430UQ Display - Glaring omission
A glaring omission on the display front of the Asus UX430 is the actual glare itself. The 14in display is pin-sharp and full of rich detail. Colours look perfectly balanced thanks to the 100% sRGB badge it holds and you really can’t find a fault with it. Take a break from work and watch an episode of The Grand Tour and you can easily delve into the beautiful scenes and the stunning cars even though it’s just a 14in display.
Another great bit we love about the display is the fact that it doesn’t lose its composure even when you view it from crazy angles. You won’t need to turn your display towards your colleague for him/her to see what it is that you want to share. The viewing angles are great and there’s virtually no loss of colour or contrast when you view the display from the sides.
Text appears sharp and a few Windows modes like Night Light make it easy on the eyes too if you burn the regular midnight lithium. However, a good display without equal audio prowess to support it is like a freshly baked waffle cone without any ice cream to fill in. It just feels incomplete and makes you cry and suicidal. That’s not the case here though.
Backed with audio from Harman Kardon, the UX430 offers great fidelity in scoops. The dual 1.5W speakers get surprisingly loud coming from such a small chassis and there’s dollops of detail too. Performance through the audio jack is commendable as well and if paired with a decent headphone, the UX430 can be a nice way to consume your media.
Asus Zenbook UX430UQ Performance - Slithering smooth
Our review unit packed in the Intel Core-i7 7500U processor that’s clocked at 2.7GHZ with a Turbo Boost to 3.5GHz. It strikes a great balance between performance and efficiency. But the performance is made better thanks to the 16GBs of RAM that Asus crams into this beautiful slab. That’s not all, you also get 512GBs of storage in the form of the latest SATA 3 M.2 SSD, which means blazing-fast boot times and programmes load in the blink of an eye, or even faster sometimes. And with a PCMark 8 score of a whopping 4985, this one is a purebred work horse. But we tend to consider real-world performance rather than benchmarks, and that’s where it impresses us even further.
A few heavy apps like Photoshop and InDesign were dismissed without any effort and regular Microsoft Word and Excel are child’s play for the UX430. We tried a bit of video editing too on the GoPro Studio software and were pleased with the fast delivery of the UX430. It’s almost like there’s an urgency to finish every task at hand. Almost like a really enthusiastic puppy that quickly gives his paw and looks at you for a treat even without you asking it to do so.
What about gaming? That’s possible too! Thanks in no small way to Nvidia’s GTX940MX GPU. It is loaded with 2GBs of video memory which is not that bad for some light gaming and medium settings. Of course, don’t expect to play Shadow Of War at Ultra settings, we tried and it can’t handle it. On the other hand, games like Cuphead work butter-smooth and even the new Wolfenstein is managed well with a few settings turned low. Try and push it a bit harder and you end up with an overheated puppy that’s now tired of you not treating it well.
Asus Zenbook UX430UQ Ports and Battery Life - Ports they aren’t missin’
Pick any ultrabook today and have a look at the edges. What do you see? Nothing! That’s somewhat the situation here as well. If you’re a fan of the thin and strong laptops, you know that having all the ports isn’t possible. Asus provides you with an external ethernet and HDMI connectors. Which, if you’re clumsy like us, are very difficult not to lose.
But not all is lost. You still get better connectivity than that pesky ‘minimalistic’ (read money- robbing) Mac. While the money robber, like some corrupt politicians creates a scarcity (just one USB C connector) and then increase the price of the particular product in need (adapters), the Asus is more generous. It gives you a USB Type-C connector that can also support an external display, a USB 3.1 port, an additional USB 2.0 port, a micro-HDMI connector, a combo audio jack and a freaking SD card reader! Ab ki baar Asus sarkar?The battery life is a claimed nine hours and it comes close to that. Work it extremely hard and it will last you only about seven hours, but we’re talking about extreme benchmarking and constant heavy software use. Use it regularly and it does last the entire work-day and then some for your evening music session. Oh, and the charger is quite small too, so lugging it around is not a chore at all.
Asus Zenbook UX430UQ Verdict
Taking all the things into consideration, the UX430 offers quite a lot for the amount it asks for. You get unquestionable portability, which is the USP here and a tonne of other features and connectivity with the performance to back it all up. Hey, Asus even gives you a sleek cover with it! And to answer the question of the UX430 or the Mac, you’re smart, you know what to do.
Hint - Get the Asus.