ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 analysis: a mix of workstation and portable gaming that surprises with its ScreenPad ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 analysis: a mix of workstation and portable gaming that surprises with its ScreenPad
4.5
It is difficult to innovate in the field of laptops, and in fact perhaps you do not have to do too much with a... ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 analysis: a mix of workstation and portable gaming that surprises with its ScreenPad 4.5

It is difficult to innovate in the field of laptops, and in fact perhaps you do not have to do too much with a format that has worked for decades. However, ASUS believe that there is at least one element that can go further, and that is none other than the ScreenPad of your new ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 .

The 15.6-inch laptop has a remarkable specification sheet but not especially different from other competitors in this price range: the differential here is precisely that touchpad renamed ScreenPad that wants to become a second screen for various types of scenarios.

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 data sheet

The ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 deceives slightly for its sober aspect, because inside we have a remarkable configuration for the power of two of its main components: both the processor (a Core i7-8750H Hexa-core) and the graphics, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 armed with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory .

SCREEN

15.6 “1080p LED

PROCESSOR

Intel Core i7-8750H (8th Coffee Lake Gene)
6 cores at 2.2 GHz (4.1 GHz with Turbo mode), 14 nm, 45 W TDP

GRAPHIC CARD

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
4 GB GDDR5 / Intel UHD 630

MEMORY

16 GB DDR4

HDD

512 GB SSD M.2 NVMe

TOUCHPAD

5.5-inch 1080P Touch ScreenPad

SOUND

2 stereo speakers ASUS SonicMaster Premium and Harman Kardon certification

CONNECTIVITY

WiFi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 5.0

DRUMS

71 Wh LiPo

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

365 x 251 x 18.9 mm
1.86 kg

OS

Windows 10 Home
Huawei Share

OTHERS

VGA front camera, fingerprint reader, 2 x USB type C (Thunderbolt 3), 2 x USB (USB 3.1 Gen.2), headphone jack, HDMI, MicroSD reader, power outlet

PRICE

1,499 euros

That good base is accompanied by the 15.6-inch non-touch screen that in this case has 1080p resolution although there is a 4K variant (not available in Spain). It is not a particularly remarkable panel , something that perhaps should have been more careful in a perfect team for creative tasks and well prepared for decent gaming sessions. The 16 GB of DDR4 memory and the 512 GB SSD drive are also fantastic companions to a configuration with few fissures.

Probably one of them is the VGA webcam, which perhaps does not seem consistent with the rest of the configuration, complete both power level and connectivity except for one element: we miss a network connector , although it is possible to add it with an adapter from USB to RJ45.

A design without shrillness

Nothing stands out especially in the design of the ZenBook Pro 15 until you turn it on. The dark blue aluminum dominates the entire chassis , which despite being made with this material has some “hollow” points, nothing too worrisome, but it does not leave the feeling of solidity that we would expect.

Among the few differential notes in the exterior design is the small copper beveled around the base of the laptop. The team is conditioned by those 15.6 inches of its diagonal, and does not hide its dimensions even with the use of reduced frames.

In fact we find that when opening the screen these frames are decent on the sides but especially pronounced at the top (where we find the webcam) and especially on the bottom, which highlights how the team belongs to the ASUS family ZenBook Despite this ASUS gets an advantage of the front of 83% , a figure that seems abnormally high given the presence of these frames.

The hardware bet certainly conditions sections such as thickness (18.9 mm) or weight (1.86 kg) , which are what we can expect from a 15.6-inch computer, but also components such as the processor or the Powerful GeForce GTX 1050 and its requirements regarding ventilation also impose that cost in dimensions so that internal temperatures can be kept under control.

On the left side is where we find the power socket, the full-size HDMI connector and two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 interface that unfortunately can not be used to charge the laptop. Still almost everything is good news in this regard, especially taking into account that on the other side ASUS has had the good sense to keep conventional USB ports (2 x USB-A with USB 3.1 Gen. 2 interface) to the other side so we can connect our current peripherals without adapters.

On that same right side we also have a MicroSD card reader, and the headphone jack, which completes the endowment of a team that by request maybe we would have requested an RJ-45 port for network connections given its partial orientation to gaming thanks to its dedicated graphics. Be that as it may, few complaints in this regard .

The keyboard of the team is full size and makes use of an additional column to the right of the Enter key to accommodate there the keyboard shortcuts of the Start / End / Page Up / Traditional Page, something that other manufacturers solve with combinations with the Fn key that in this case does not have this capacity in the ZenBook Pro 15.

The highlights of the interior design come from the ScreenPad, that curious touchpad that doubles as the second screen that we will discuss in detail later, and the fingerprint reader located to your right, just below the Fn key in the lower right corner . This reader behaved perfectly in our tests, and is a great way to avoid the introduction of passwords when logging for example.

The amazing ScreenPad as a differential feature

ASUS wanted to give a spin to one of the fundamental components of any laptop: the traditional touchpad. It has created the so-called ScreenPad, which is a mix of a Windows Precision Touchpad (PTP) -already popular among laptop manufacturers-, and a 5.5-inch interactive touch screen with 1080p resolution .

That screen always acts by default as a conventional touchpad, but at the top we find a small white bar that tells us that it is “ready” to work in ScreenPad mode. By sliding your finger from top to bottom we will find an icon bar with applications specifically developed to work on this second screen.

Among them are the calculator, the calendar that allows us to consult the agenda or even an integrated music player that allows to have ready playlists to be enjoyed directly from this interface. Perhaps the most striking today is the Spotify application, which allows having a “mini player” available on that second screen to control from it that reproduction of the popular music streaming service.

We also have a launcher to access (and edit its appearance there) to our favorite Windows applications, some of which are specially adapted to take advantage of this second screen. Microsoft Office is a good example , since using it will appear options for editing and modifying elements directly on this small screen as well as in “La Cinta” that has characterized the Office suite for years.

There are also some special extensions for web services like YouTube that add playback controls on that second screen, although more striking is the possibility of using this second screen just like that: the F6 key allows us to change between ScreenPad operating modes, and one of them is the so-called “extension screen” , which works identically if we connect the equipment to an external monitor.

That external monitor is, in our case, the 5.5-inch ScreenPad, in which suddenly we will find a “mini desktop” Windows 10 that obviously will be difficult to handle by that diagonal but otherwise is fully functional. We can have several windows open on it, or fully control any application on that screen.

In this mode of operation we can use the keyboard and even the touchpad itself, which will have two operating modes (touch or cursor). None of them is especially recommended when operating with that second screen, and the most appropriate thing is to simply use an external mouse to experiment with a singular option that can give more game than it seems.

Playing Fortnite or other games on this small secondary screen is possible. What is not is highly recommended.
It is even possible to use that screen as the first screen if we want through the traditional Windows menu “Project” that we get when pressing Windows + P, although perhaps managing a Windows 10 desktop in those dimensions for a long time does not seem very good idea.

At the moment native applications for the ScreenPad can be counted on the fingers of both hands, and it does not seem that ASUS offers any type of SDK for developers who want to promote that catalog.

Fortunately you can take advantage of this “Extension Screen” function with which we can have a background application always at our disposal , something that can give a lot of play.

Beyond that, the truth is that during our ScreenPad tests has not gone beyond a curiosity to which we have given little use, partly because we are accustomed to the use of keyboard or mouse shortcuts and often the proposal of those applications in second screen are not especially faster than accessing native applications in Windows for those tasks.

A performance that is difficult to ask for more

We already anticipated it when talking about the configuration and the tests have shown that this specification sheet is not there for nothing: the processing capacity of the CPU and the dedicated GPU give wings to the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 , which did not falter at any time .

This was noted for example in the synthetic tests with PCMark 8 and 3DMark, to which we must add, for example, the 4,659 points we obtained in PCMark 10 . In the graph you can see how their performance is not among the highest in the table, but all these teams have graphics more powerful that obviously offer greater performance in graphic behavior.

Despite this the GeForce GTX 1050 of this team seems a good option to maintain a good balance between price and performance, and the behavior in video games was always decent. It is true that with demanding titles a GTX 1050 can be a bit short , of course, and the example we have in the tests with ‘Shadow of The Tomb Rider’. In this demanding game we test with a low detail level, without AA and with 1080p resolution and we touch 40 fps on average, which makes the game playable but does not “shine” as some might want.

With other less demanding titles that experience improvement- and we talked about Fortnite- and the conclusion is the same: we can play without problems if we are capable of sacrificing the level of detail in demanding titles, even the most demanding perhaps would want to go one step further and go to a more portable setting for gamers.

Its behavior as a workstation does not disappoint either: we got 110.31 fps and 1187 cm in Cinenebch R15 , and there the hexa-core processor does wonders. In GeekBench that CPU also shines with 4,917 points in Single-Core and 22,085 in Multi-Core, while the SSD unit (Toshiba in this case) did not disappoint either: 2,555 MB / s in reading and 1,384 in writing were the results of the test with CrystalDiskMark.

So, special brightness of the processor and sufficient room for maneuver with your graphics card, which perhaps leaves you wanting more in a team that otherwise has difficult to defraud its users for that 1,500 euros it costs.

The ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 on a day-to-day basis

It is clear that before us we have a team that speaks volumes for its ScreenPad, but the truth is that the potential of this component is limited, and it is likely that the vast majority of the time we use it as a conventional touchpad .

Whether we do it or not, we must not neglect the overall behavior of this laptop, which of course stands out for a keyboard with a stroke of 1.5 mm and with a fantastic touch . It took me a while to get used to the distribution with that extra column that makes me put my hands wrong the first moments, but once you get the right position the keyboard response is great.

We do not take advantage of all its connectivity, but here we have two ports with Thunderbolt 3 and the HDMI connector allows us to theoretically connect up to three external monitors, or we take advantage of those TB3 ports to maximize graphic performance with some eGPU . Not that here the team is walking with little ones: the GTX 1050 is as we have seen in the section of performance capable of giving many joys if we are not too demanding with the level of graphic detail.

The processor has also behaved remarkably at all times, and those 16 GB of memory make it difficult for the computer to be in trouble in normal work sessions with dozens of browser tabs, office programs or image editing and Video: ASUS may not call this portable workstation computer, but it does not take much to get to that level. The six cores (and 12 threads thanks to the support of Hyper Threading technology) of the Core i7-8750H are perfect for creative programs in which this feature favors these applications in which a high degree of parallelism is supported .

Ventilation is carried out by two fans and a heatpipe system that thanks to the dimensions of the equipment can operate with ease. In conventional situations we will not notice that ventilation, but the thing changes when we load a videogame, which almost inevitably leads to the snorting of those fans . It happened even with Fortnite, which is not particularly demanding, for example.

That power has a counterpart: the battery, which despite having a capacity of 71 Wh is not capable of breaking any record especially if we play with the team or use demanding applications such as the aforementioned creative tools with which to squeeze all the potential of the processor.

In multimedia reproduction the equipment behaves in a correct way, but not especially remarkable. To that contributes that screen of which we spoke previously and Harman Kardon speakers that are located at the bottom and have, as in most laptops, little room for maneuver. That does not mean that they sound bad , but once again the ideal thing is to use headphones if we want to enjoy a more striking audio.

In our tests we obtained something more than 7 hours of continuous use with a different use (small test session with Fortnite included), a figure that is not particularly low nor is it remarkable. What it is is the charging time, thanks to the fast charging support and the included adapter (150 W) allows to charge 60% of the battery in just 50 minutes, as promised by the manufacturer on its official website .

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 (UX580U), the opinion and note of Xataka

The proposal of ASUS will not take any prize for a daring design or compact dimensions, but certainly draws attention by a very decent construction for everything that has inside and of course by the ScreenPad which is the differential feature of the team.

That option, we insist, should not have much weight in the purchase decision: in the time we have had the team we have not had many opportunities to get all the juice, but the available applications are limited and here the feeling is that can give for more without it being completely clear for what exactly . Probably the real virtuda of this second screen is that Windows 10 sees it as such, and configure a second desktop with applications maximized in it that take advantage of that area seems striking.

Even so the true potential of the team is in that hardware proposal that is remarkable although after the tests it left us wanting more in the graphic section. The GeForce GTX 1050 is a good alternative, but if you are gamers it is likely that you want to opt for laptops with more substance in that area , because the options with a 1060 or a 1070, even being more expensive, are clearly much more interesting to take advantage of potential of video games on the laptop.

This is also noticeable in the panel, which is also not geared towards videogame teams without being bad. Where the team shines most is in the field of creative applications that can take advantage of those six cores and twelve processor threads. The 16 GB of memory is an excellent accompaniment, although the battery may be somewhat scarce for users who need more hours with the equipment disconnected from the socket.

In general we find a proposal that does not have an exorbitant price and that also takes care of many of its details with success. Those who need performance will not be disappointed , although the format, autonomy or graphic power can condition their success.

Kim Hostler

I studied Communication Sciences because as a child I always wanted to be an announcer and make drawings for advertising campaigns. Life took me down another path and now I am a Communicator who has worked for Nokia, and Motorola. Where now instead of drawing, I take pictures, and instead of talking about my passion.