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Asus ZenBook Pro (2017) Hands-on Review: Balancing act

Asus ZenBook Pro (2017) hands-on review: Asus’ Computex keynote was all about offering more for less, unveiling two new ZenBooks that are both impressively thin but respectably powerful too. We went hands-on on the show floor with the new top-dog, the ZenBook Pro UX550.

The Pro, 3 Deluxe and new Flip S all use queues from the same aesthetic pot. You can opt for an understated Matt Black colourway, which gives you a sandblasted gunmetal grey milled aluminium chassis with diamond-cut chamfers around its edges, or the slightly more ostentatious Royal Blue option, which trades in grey for dark blue metalwork.

Despite its sizeable 15.6-inch display (relative to the majority of the ZenBook family) it’s set within comparatively narrow bezels (referenced by Asus ‘NanoEdge’ branding), especially on either side at just 7.3mm each. Just like its predecessor’s the 4K UHD resolution touch-enabled panel is an unquestionable stunner too, although you might want to fiddle with the size of the chrome if you want to interact with smaller elements of the interface without squinting. Asus has also included support for its existing Asus Pen stylus so whilst you can’t bend this into a tablet form factor like the Flip S, it will still be the right tool for the job for certain creative types.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX550 (2017): Screen

The real draw is the Pro’s uprated internals, with the option of Intel’s Kaby Lake Core i5-7300HQ or Core i7-7700HQ processor (both which offer HEVC support), accompanied by up to 16GB of (DDR4) RAM and the option of a speedy 1TB PCIe x4-compatible SSD. It also packs a graphical punch with Nvidia’s GTX 1050 Ti inside a body that’s respectably sized at 18.9mm thick and 1.8kg respectively (that’s thinner and lighter than its most prominent rivals).

Asus ZenBook Pro UX550 (2017): Keyboard

This time around the I/O has been tweaked to offer more Type-C USB connections, two to be exact, both of which support Thunderbolt 3 and accommodate up to two external displays each at up to 4K resolution as a result. There’s also a full-sized HDMI port, two USB-As with USB 3.1 compatibility and a microSD card slot (why they didn’t stick with standard SD card support is beyond us, but it’s still an appreciated inclusion).

Asus ZenBook Pro UX550 (2017): Trackpad

Windows Hello support is made possible by the fingerprint sensor set into the corner of the expansive glass trackpad whilst the media credentials of the Pro are pushed further still by Harman Kardon-certified audio taking the form of a quad speaker arrangement (3W each).

To round out the experience Asus has specced the UX550 up with a sizeable 73Wh battery that promises between 12 and 14-hours of use with fast charging that gives you 60 per cent charge in under 50 minutes.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX550 (2017): 4/3rds view

All in all, the 2017 ZenBook Pro looks to be one of the most balanced performance laptops around, from both an aesthetic and performance perspective. We’re still waiting on UK pricing and availability information which we’re yet to glean from Asus.

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