Asus recently announced two new laptops — the VivoBook S15 starting from Rs 59,990 and the ZenBook UX430 starting from Rs 74,990. Asus had launched its high-end ZenBook 3 earlier this year, so the ZenBook UX430 series is targetted at more mainstream usage. The ZenBook UX430UQ comes with a dedicated Nvidia graphics unit whereas the base UX430UA comes without any discrete graphics. It keeps up with the philosophy of the light and compact notebooks and it brings with it a Nano edge display which offers higher screen-to-body ratio. So let us see how the ZenBook UX430 holds up amidst competition.
Build and Design: 8/10
Asus has been paying a lot of attention to design. While the UX430 is not in the same league as the ZenBook 3, which was reviewed earlier this year, it is still quite pleasant to look at. The shiny blue front finish on the lid will immediately attract attention. But the glossy finish also tends to be a smudge magnet and it was quite evident within a couple of days of usage that it has a tendency to hold on to greasy fingerprints. You will need to keep a cloth handy.
The Asus logo is placed in the centre and the concentric circles around it are reminiscent of yesteryear ZenFone designs. Opening the lid, you get a six-row keyboard and plastic palm rest. The hinge mechanism is sturdy, although a slight bit of wobble is noticeable on the display. The display can open up to about 120 degrees. A chrome Asus logo is present on the bottom bezel which is the thickest of all four.
While I would’ve liked to see a metallic palm rest area, it does not take away from the good build quality of the laptop. Maybe Asus wants to keep a differentiation between the UX430 series and the ZenBook series.
The speaker section is placed on the underside of the laptop, and there two thick rubber feet at the top and two thinner ones at the bottom which put a slight air gap between the base of the laptop and the surface it is resting on. Asus also bundles in an impressive looking carrying sleeve for the UX430 which has a leather finish on its top flap.
Keyboard and Trackpad: 7.5/10
Asus UX430 comes with a chiclet keyboard without a number pad. There are six rows of backlit keys, which have a good amount of travel. It lends itself beautifully to long typing sessions. In fact, this review was written on the Asus UX430 itself. The keyboard and trackpad are housed inside a plastic material palm rest.
The trackpad is also quite responsive, although sometimes it can get a bit too responsive. It is a single pad with a slab of glass atop it. There is a square-shaped fingerprint scanner on the top right-hand side of the trackpad, which helps with biometric authentication using Windows Hello. It was responsive on most occassions. it also supports two-finger gestures. There isn’t much to complain in this department.
The Asus ZenBook UX430UQ is packed to the gills with high-end specifications. For starters, it comes with a 7th generation Intel Core i7 7500U dual-core CPU which has a base clock of 2.7 GHz and Intel HD 620 internal graphics. This is paired with 16 GB of RAM and discrete Nvidia 940MX graphics unit. You get a 512 GB m.2 SSD for storage and there’s Windows 10 OS pre-installed on the system with some Asus bloatware which can be uninstalled.
There’s a 14-inch FullHD display which reaches very close to the edges, giving thin bezels. This is clearly the highlight of the UX430, which we will discuss further in the display section. On the battery front, you get a 50 Wh battery onboard.
Coming to the edges, you have a USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot and two indicator lights on the right-hand edge whereas on the left-hand side — from top to bottom — you have the power port, USB 3.0 port, a mini HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a USB Type C port.
I feel this is easily the highlight of the device. You get a 14-inch FullHD display inside a form factor that would have been meant for a 13.3-inch laptop. The thin bezels on the UX430 give it a greater screen to body ratio (80 percent), which is a slow but surely a positive trend that we are seeing in laptops these days. The matte finish on the display also ensures that there isn’t much glare even when there are direct light sources behind you. Personally, I prefer the matte finish, but it may not be to everyone’s liking.
Viewing angles are great and there isn’t a massive contrast shift when viewed from extreme angles. Text appears crisp and colours are fine as well, although if you are coming from a glossy display, you may find it a bit muted. Brightness levels could have been higher, but it does not take away anything from the laptop.
In the Lagom.nl test, in the Contrast test the Blue colour tended to merge at the brighter part of the spectrum. The black level test is not the best, but better than other laptops we have tested in this range. White level test was one of the best, with every block clearly visible. There was no banding observed in the gradient test. On the whole, this is a display that ticks off all the right spots. Backlight bleeding is also minimal.
I used the Asus ZenBook UX430UQ as my primary laptop for a couple of weeks. It ran all my work-related tasks — involving editing documents, minor photo editing and resizing, surfing the web, watching videos and listening to music — without a sweat. Benchmarks were pretty much in line with what we have come to expect with this class of laptops.
While games such as GRID: Autosport were playable, there was sufficient throttling which lead to framing across all quality settings. So I wouldn’t really recommend this laptop for gaming if that is what you are after. Yes, it has Nvidia 940 MX, but this would put to better use when it comes to multimedia heavy applications such as Lightroom or Photoshop. When transcoding a movie, I observed that there was some amount of throttling. The laptop did not heat up to unbearable levels during my testing. Under load, the maximum temperature recorded at the base of the laptop was 40 degrees C. Onboard speakers a good enough to watch a video here or listen to music, nothing exceptional on this front. Do note that the speakers are located at the base on either side, so if you have the laptop placed atop a soft surface such as a couch, the sound may be muffled.
Battery Life: 7.5/10
Asus ZenBook UX430UQ offers around 4 hours of battery life on the standard mode and an hour more in the battery saving mode according to the PC Mark 8 test. In our regular usage, the laptop would work fine for around 8-9 hours of regular usage before requiring to be charged.
These are good numbers for the laptop considering it has the top end specs inside a compact form factor. The standby time on the laptop wasn’t impressive at all though. So even if I had a completely charged laptop which I kept in my bag, by the next day around 10-15 percent charge would be depleted. Having said that, lugging along the bundled charger does not add that much weight to your bag. The 65 Whr charger takes around two hours to fully charge the UX430
Verdict and Price in India
Asus has certainly delivered a stellar thin and light laptop with the UX430UQ with a display that is one of the best in its class. At Rs 93,990, you may be tempted to look elsewhere, but UX430UQ does make a compelling offering. Especially so if you are heavily invested in the Windows ecosystem. There are few Windows laptops — Dell XPS 13 being the most popular one — that bring together everything well in a single package — good display, excellent keyboard, long-lasting battery and good performance. The Asus UX430UQ is definitely one of them. If you are looking for a light laptop which can do more than just let you do office related work, the UX430UQ is one product that should definitely be under consideration.