The ZenBook Pro UX501VW is a high-end desktop replacement that's not short on power, delivers a crisp 4K display and has enduring battery life.
Powerful Intel Skylake processor, 4K screen, GeForce GTX 960M, long life, good design, competitive price
Bulky, heavy on bloatware, dim display
From £1,388.99 (as tested)
Display: 15.6in, 3,840x2,160 resolution at 282ppi
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ
OS: Windows 10 Home
Memory: 12GB DDR4 RAM
Storage: 512GB SSD (other options available)
Connections: 3x USB 3.0, 1x Thunderbolt 3.0/USB-C combo, 3.5mm headset jack, HDMI out, SD card reader, 802.11ac WiFi, USB to Ethernet adapter
Cameras: 1.2MP HD Web Camera
Dimensions: 383x255x20.6mm, 2.27kg
We normally associate the Asus ZenBook line with shiny, metallic and dainty ultrabooks. The ZenBook Pro takes that preconception and smashes it to smithereens.
Blink and you'd be forgiven for mistaking the sleek, brushed aluminium chassis for the latest Apple MacBook Pro. And if you think you've seen it all before that's because it borrows heavily from last year's UX501J. There's a ripple effect pattern engraved on the surface that offsets the otherwise tough looks and rigid build quality.
The UX501VW measures 383x255x20.6mm and weighs 2.27kg with battery. That's slightly more than the MacBook Pro, and more than enough to crush Microsoft's Surface Book.
If size and weight are factors you might want to try before you buy, as it's slightly too wide and long to stow in anything but a laptop bag. You'd struggle with a rucksack, for instance.
The size of the ZenBook lends to the backlit keyboard's pleasing expanse, and there was ample space to stretch our fingers and make frequent use of the full-size numeric keypad.
Particular attention must also be paid to the excellent trackpad that offered just enough precision and responsiveness that we never felt like reaching for an external mouse.
The UX501VW is well represented in terms of connectivity. On the left you'll find power, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI-out and 1x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 support. On the right, 3.5mm audio, SD reader and 2x USB 3.0. On the bottom you'll find Bang & Olufsen speakers at opposite ends.
One thing to note: there's no Ethernet port so you'll need to make use of the supplied USB-to-Ethernet adaptor to make a wired connection.
4K/UHD displays are fast becoming the norm on high-end laptops but that takes nothing away from their awe. The 15.6in touchscreen on the UX501VW offers a 3,840x2,160 resolution and, at 282ppi, it's as pin sharp as you'd like. With Windows 10 the desktop has never looked better, but you'll need to bump display scaling up somewhat as the UHD resolution makes text very small.
If you compare the screen on the 15in MacBook Pro (a Retina display capable of 2,880x1,800) there's a 60 per cent difference in pixels between the two.
Colours are rich and there's an abundance of detail, but we found it just a little too dim for our liking after extended viewing.