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Asus Zenbook Pro UX501 (UX501VW) – impressions and review

Asus Zenbook Pro UX501 (UX501VW) – impressions and review
By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , last updated on May 12, 2016
Summary: The Zenbook UX501 gets the looks, the build quality, the hardware and especially the price to match (and outmatch) many of its rivals. The latest Skylake version also gets an improved display over the original Haswell model, as well as a few new features, which make it a solid buy for the money, albeit there's still room for improvement when it comes to the keyboard and audio quality.
Rating: 4.0 / 5   Price range: $1499

THE GOOD

great design and build quality; great screen; fast hardware; decent trackpad; large battery; excellent price

THE BAD

the keyboard and the speakers are a downgrade over the previous generation

Asus have a new 15-inch laptop in the works for 2015: the Zenbook Pro UX501. It’s not yet available in stores at the time of this post, but it will be in the near future, alongside its close gaming oriented relative, the Zenbook G501.

The Pro UX501 is marketed as a premium multimedia full-size laptop and it builds on last year’s Zenbook NX500, which we reviewed here on the site a while ago. In fact, it inherits many of its features, including the sleek metallic body, a wide-gamut 4K display (although not the same one, as you’ll see later) and the large battery, but gets, among others, updated hardware, a new keyboard and redesigned speakers.

We’re going to address these here, in a series of impressions gathered after spending a few days with a pre-production UX501 model. I won’t focus on performance and battery life though, as we’ll keep those for the final review, which will be published when I’ll get my hands on a final version (hopefully in the near future, but there’s no promise).

I’ll touch most of the other aspects though and if you’ll have questions regarding any specific details I might have missed, feel free to get in touch in the comments section.

Asus Zenbook Pro UX501VW

In the meantime Asus released an updated versions of the notebook tested here, the Zenbook Pro UX501VW.

The design, keyboard, speakers or IO are identical to our review model, so make sure to check out the sections below for more details. However, the UX501VW improves and adds on a couple of levels. For starters, it’s built on a newer Intel Skylake Quad-Core hardware platform, which runs cooler and more efficient than the Haswell hardware in this test unit. So expect superior performance under loads (lower temperatures leads to fewer throttling cases) and increased battery life. Of course, the bump to Skylake also brings support for DDR4 memory and faster NVMe storage, among others.

Besides this, Asus actually put a great screen on this newer model, with an UHD panel and accurate color reproduction, unlike on our test model, which makes the Zenbook UX501VW a good choice for graphics professionals. One other thing to mention is the addition of a Thunderbolt 3 connector, again a feature professionals are going to appreciate.

The Zenbook Pro UX501VW is available with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 16-32 GB of RAM, 256-512 GB of SSD storage, Nvidia 960M graphics, a 96 Wh battery and a UHD display in the US and Canada, with the base configurations starting at $1499. In Europe the same laptop is also available with a FHD display option and start at around 1600 EUR. Follow this link for more details and up-to-date prices at the time you’re reading this post.

The specs

So let’s get going, but first, a quick look at the specs.

Asus Zenbook Pro UX501 (Zenbook N501JV)
Screen 15.6 inch, 3840 x 2160 px resolution, IGZO IPS, touchscreen
Processor Intel Haswell Core i7-4720HQ CPU
Chipset Intel HM87
Video integrated Intel 4600 HD + Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5
Memory 16 GB DDR3 (8 GB soldered, 1 x 8 GB DIMM)
Storage 512 GB PCIe SSD (M.2 PCIe 80 mm)
Connectivity Wireless AC, Bluetooth, Lan (with adapter)
Ports 3xUSB 3.0, SD card reader, HDMI, miniDP, Thunderbolt, RJ45 (with adapter)
Baterry 96 Wh
Operating system Windows 8.1
Size 383 mm or 15.07 in (L) x 255 mm or 10.03 in (W) x 21 mm or 0.83 in (H)
Weight about 2.27 kg (5.00 pounds)
Extras backlit keyboard with NumPad, Bang&Olufsen Speakers

It’s worth adding that Asus will offer the Zenbook Pro UX501 in a couple of different configurations and among the options, you’ll be able to choose between a 6 Cell 96 Wh battery (like on this model) or a 4 Cell 60 Wh battery. The latter models will be slightly thinner and lighter (2.06 kilos), but will of course suffer when it comes to autonomy.

Design and exterior

On the outside the UX501 is nearly a perfect replica of the NX500. Brushed metal is used for the entire outer-shell, the interior and the screen’s hinge and the laptop looks and feels like a premium device should these days, with its aluminum covered surfaces and machine beveled edges.

I do have to add that the inner chassis is still made from plastic, so this laptop doesn’t exactly sport a unibody construction like the Macbook Pro. The laptop is nevertheless strongly built, but some of you complained about this particular aspect on the previous 15 inch Zenbooks and I wanted to let you know it hasn’t changed here.

Back on topic, in reality the UX501 is millimetrically longer and thicker than the NX500, and from what I can tell that’s because Asus needed extra space for the only major exterior change on this new model: the keyboard, that now includes a NumPad Area. I have to admit I’m not a fan of this addition, especially since it attracts a much more annoying change: the speakers are no longer firing towards us, but have been moved on the laptop’s back, like on most of the other Zenbooks available right now.

To be frank, there’s no way I can understand why they did this. It’s not that they made the laptop larger when their 15 inch Zenbook was already trailing the competition when it came to size and weight, but why mess with the speakers? Those are extremely important on a multimedia machine and this UX501 is no longer a reference when it comes to either volume or sound quality. The NX500 was imo a downgrade from the older UX51 which included an external subwoofer, but at least offered front-facing speakers. This new model no longer does that, and still doesn’t include the subwoofer. WHY?

Anyway, on a much friendlier note, the UX501 gets an interesting addition when it comes to the IO: a Thunderbolt port (on select models, according to Asus). In other words, the miniDP port available before is now a Thunderbolt connector on some versions of this Zenbook, which can come in handy when connecting various accessories (mass-storage systems, external monitors, etc). That aside, nothing else has changed. The UX501 still gets 3 USB 3.0 slots, full-size HDMI output, a headphone-microphone jack and a card-reader that still can’t fit flush a regular SD card. There’s also an USB to Lan adapter included in the pack, if you’ll ever need that, but there’s no VGA adapter. I do appreciate that the video connectors are placed on the left side, which leads for an uncluttered right edge.

There is another thing I should add before we move on. The cooling solution on last year’s 15 inch Zenbook wasn’t spectacular and Asus tried to address that on this new model, internally, with what looks like a redesigned heatpipe system. More about that lately. They also made a minor tweak to the laptop’s rear rubber feet, which are now taller than the front feet by about 2 millimeters. That creates extra space beneath the laptop when you put in on a desk or other flat surface. Not sure if that’s going to make any difference, especially since the intake and exhaust are still crammed behind the screen’s hinge, but it might help. On the other hand, adding some cuts in the belly would have probably made a greater difference, but I’d guess that’s reserved for the more powerful GX501. We’ll see.

Ok, so the wrap this up, the Zenbook Pro UX501 remains a beautiful and excellently crafted machine. But while the competition is struggling to create more compact machines without compromising on anything important, Asus actually went the wrong way and made the new model slightly larger and moved the speakers on the back, all these in order to accommodate a new keyboard.

Keyboard and trackpad

The truth is the keyboard on the older Zenbook NX500 needed a redesign. It felt mushy and lacked firm feedback, which occasionally resulted in missed strokes.

The solution on this newer Zenbook Pro seems to me identical to the one Asus use on the Asus N551 laptop, both in terms of how it performs and in terms of layout. And that comes with pros and cons.

On one hand, I feel that typing on this implementation is a more pleasant experience, although I only used it for a few days. The keys feel more robust and better finished, not as plasticky as before. On the other, this particular layout isn’t very good. The NumPad section is cramped, with rather narrow keys, and what’s more annoyingly is the fact that the arrow keys are just as small. On top of that, the Power button is integrated as the top right key and while it’s stiffer than the others, you’ll still end up pressing it by mistake and put the computer to sleep from time to time.

However, my biggest grippe with the NX500’s keyboard remains unaddressed here: contrast. The lack of it, actually. Asus stuck with silver keys on a silver background, corroborated with white illumination LEDs, and that makes keys difficult to distinguish when the backlight is active. If you’re an experienced typist and don’t need to look at the keyboard this might not mean much to you, but for the regular user it will. I’m not the only one complaining about this aspect and perhaps someone at Asus should start reading the forums and the reviews and get back the BLACK keys they’ve used on their laptops a few years ago. Contrast makes a whole of a difference and should be used to our benefit!

Anyway, on to the trackpad. Not much has changed here. The glass clickable area is spacious, smooth and accurate most of the time, no matter if it comes to handling swipes, gestures or taps. But the experience is still somewhat lacking here and there, for at least two reasons. First, the clickpad’s software doesn’t allow any tweaking (cursor speed and sensitivity, for example) and second, physical clicks are noisy and stiff. Having tested countless Asus laptops in the recent years, I’m 99% sure these aren’t going to be addressed on the final retail models. But let’s hope I’m wrong.

Screen

The screen on this Zenbook is not bad, except for one major issue, that if you get past the occasional scaling issues you’ll encounter with many third party apps, which either look blurry or don’t scale at all. And that’s because Asus put a 4K display (3840 x 2160 px) on the UX501. Out of the box it’s set to scale content up to 200% so by default everything looks like a much crisper version of a 1920 x 1080 px resolution on the 15.6 inch screen.

It’s worth adding that some of the base models are going to get a FHD (1920 x 1080 px) panel, which will help with scaling, battery life and even performance, but while I’m not convinced UHD screens are actually worth getting on a laptop today, I have to admit that I did enjoy this panel’s sharpness or potentially increased working space.

Asus opted for a pentile screen on the UX501 and not the quantum dot panel they bundled on the NX500. In fact, they went for the Samsung SDC434B panel we’ve seen on a bunch of other laptops (Lenovo Y50, MSI GS60, Dell Inspiron 15), which in unable to display yellows properly. In fact, yellows have a mustardy tint. That can be somewhat addressed with appropriate BIOS profiles, but Asus are usually very slow or even incapable of providing those fixes. Remember the Zenbook UX303LN who never got the fix?

Yellows were imo not as skewed on this test unit as they were on the UX303LN, although the numbers below do show they are not accurate either and the calibration run did little to address that. So if you do need this computer for color-accurate work, look elsewhere, the Samsung panel will not deliver.

  • Panel HardwareID: Samsung SDC434B;
  • Coverage: 97% sRGB, 74% NTSC, 78% Adobe RGB;
  • measured gamma: 2.2 ;
  • max brightness in the middle of the screen: 275 cd/m2;
  • contrast at max brightness: 490:1;
  • white point: 6600 K;
  • black on max brightness: 0.56 cd/m2;
  • average DeltaE: 2.71 uncalibrated, 2.30 calibrated.

screen-brightness

There’s something else to keep in mind here. Asus went for a touchscreen on this laptop and it’s one of the glossiest I’ve seen in a while, so glossy that reflections can become annoying even in standard office environments, especially since the panel is not very bright.

Asus will also offer a matte non-touch version of the UX501 this year, but that might not be available all over the world.

Hardware, performance and upgrade options

We had one of the beefiest Zenbook UX501 configurations for this preview and that includes the Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD and Nvidia 960M graphics (with Optimus and Intel HD 4600).

However, since this is a pre-production model, we’re not going to get in depth on performance, benchmarks and gaming results. I’m sure many of you would be interested in those, so stay close. As soon as I get my hands on a final retail version of this thing I will update this section.

Compared to last year’s NX500 though, the UX501 is a fairly different solution. First of all it now gets a more powerful quad-core 47W processor, as opposed to the Core i7-4712HQ processor in the NX500. That will be visible when it comes to demanding tasks like editing photos/video, running programing software, virtual machines and so on. The new processor is hungrier and theoretically heats up quicker though, and given how the NX500 had issues under load, I’m a bit worried about the UX501. On the other hand, when it comes to graphics the GTX 960M chip shouldn’t be a major step-up from the 860M solution used in the NX500, but it does run colder and more efficient.

So again, we’re not drawing any conclusions, but from the little I can say right now this new configuration seems to perform well in most activities, even in those that put the hardware to serious work. In fact, the internal cooling system was changed on this new Zenbook and got redesigned heatpipes.

Speaking of the internals, you’ll notice that there’s a RAM DIMM available on this laptop, as well as a M.2 PCIe 80 mm storage slot. That DIMM can take an up to 8 GB memory module, while 8 GB of RAM are also soldered on the motherboard. In other words, you can end up with a max of 16 GB of RAM on this machine. The M.2 slots support fast PCIe SSDs and this test unit bundles a 512 GB Samsung XP941 stick, one of the fastest available right now (and one of the priciest as well).

BTW, accessing the internals is a fairly simple job, but you’ll need a Torx T4 screwdriver for all the screws around the rear-panel and a Philips PH0 for the extra two screws hidden beneath the rear rubber feet.

Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers and others

Again, we’re not going to get in depth on noise and heat, simply because this tested laptop does not run on final hardware/software and the results could be misleading. I can say that the laptop’s back does get warm in daily use and the fans remain silent when performing daily taskstasks (editing texts, browsing, Youtube, music), but do kick on and become audible once you put the computer to work. More about these in the update.

As for the speakers, well, I already complained about them above. Asus moved those on the bottom. In fact, from what I can tell from the internal pics, these look a lot like the speakers used on other Zenbooks, so there’s nothing special about them anymore.

That’s also the impression I got using the laptop for a couple of days, but do keep in mind this is a preproduction model and things might be different on the final units. Anyway, I had to keep these at max volume most of the time and even so, they were barely capable of filling up a small room. As for the audio quality… well, it was disappointing for what I was expecting from the 15 inch Zenbook, having the previous models back in my mind as a reference. BTW, Asus includes the AudioWizard app on the laptop and by default the Music mode is selected. If you switch to OFF the results are even worse.

As for connectivity, the laptop offers Bluetooth 4.0, Ethernet (with the included adapter) and wireless. Asus went for a Qualcomm Atheros AR5BWB2222 module here, a solution found mostly on mainstream notebooks in the last years. I didn’t have the time to properly test it, but I haven’t noticed any issues in my brief experience with the UX501 while browsing, downloading stuff of the Internet or streaming video content of Youtube (including 4K clips). I haven’t encountered any signal drops either or “Limited Connectivity” when resuming the machine from sleep.

Last but not least, there’s a 720P webcam on top of the display, flanked by an array of dual-microphones. Expect it to be good enough for occasional calls, as long as there’s sufficient lighting.

Battery life

The tested model came with the larger 96 Wh battery and Asus promise around 6 hours of everyday or multimedia use. Again, I’m not going to get specific here as the results I got on the pre-production model might not be accurate, but I can say that this particular UX501 came only a little short of those numbers, averaging between 4 to 5 hours of life on a charge in real everyday use. It only got close to 6 in Office mode, while editing documents in Google Drive, with almost nothing else running at the same time.

That's what Asus claims we should expect from the Zenbook UX501

That’s what Asus claims we should expect from the Zenbook UX501

I do expect some nice improvements when it comes to gaming on battery, as the 960M graphics chip coupled with Nvidia’s BatteryBoost technology should spur impressive runtimes. But that’s something else I will have to test on the final models.

Price and availability

The Zenbook UX501 is available in the US for $1499.

The base model includes a Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, Nvidia GTX960M graphics, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD and the 4K display.

Similar configurations are more expensive in Europe and keep in mind that over here the Zenbook UX501 is available with a different internal layout that includes space for the 2.5″ HDD, but only gets a smaller battery.

Update: A Skylake version of this laptop is available in the meantime, with a Core i7-6700HQ processor, support for up to 32 GB of RAM and NVMe storage, a Thunderbolt 3 port and an improved display, which also starts at $1499 in the US. Follow this link for up-to-date prices and configs at the time you’re reading this post.

Wrap-up

This wasn’t an actual review, so I’m not going to draw the line on this laptop before actually getting to see how the final models perform and what they’ll offer in terms of battery life and thermals.

I am however convinced that the UX501 is only a small update of last year’s NX500 and to the most part, a step-back. While the more capable processor and graphics are welcomed changes, the new keyboard, the screen and audio system are not. They might not be deal-breakers for you, especially since the Zenbook Pro UX501 is much more affordable than the NX500 and it still gets the looks, the build quality and especially the hardware to match (and outmatch) many of its rivals, including the:

  • Macbook Pro 15 2015, which is smaller and lasts longer on a charge, but only relies on outdated graphics solutions and sells for more;
  • HP Omen, which is cheaper, uglier (imo), lacks an UHD display and offers very poor battery life;
  • Dell XPS 15 w/Retina display, which hasn’t received an update in 2015 yet.

The MSI GS60 Ghost Pro on the other hand, well that’s going to be a true competitor for the Zenbook. You might want to check out our review over here.

Last but not least, if you’re interested in the Zenbook UX501 you should also keep an eye on the Asus G501 model, with a black/red case and keyboard. More about it in a future post.

With the right price and thermal performance, the Zenbook Pro UX501 could be a winner. Time will tell.

With the right price and thermal performance, the Zenbook Pro UX501 could be a winner. Time will tell.

Anyway, these were my detailed impressions of the Asus Zenbook Pro UX501, the soon to be available 15 inch premium Asus multimedia laptop. Let me know what you think about it in the comments section below and look forward for the updated/final review somewhere in the next weeks.

Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.

73 Comments

  1. Hal

    April 18, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Could please post a review of the G501? It has a matte screen.
    Surprised to see a Samsung panel(used on y50 4k) instead of the Sharp 4k panel.

    Hope to see Skylake and the new PCIe 3.0×4 Samsung Nvme ssd later this year!

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 18, 2015 at 7:41 am

      I will as soon as possible. I was a bit surprised to see the Samsung panel as well, but aside from the brightness and slightly unnacurate colors, I can’t complain.

      • Hal

        April 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

        Nice to see your reply Andrei! Keep up the good work, I enjoy reading your in-depth reviews. Performance aside, I think the Skylake mobile quad cores are going to be 35W TDP along with SM951 Nvme SSDs. #BatteryLife Definitely worth waiting for these upgrades from @Asus @Apple
        PS: After switching to the Acer V17 nitro, its going to be difficult for me to downgrade to 15.6″ :)
        Loving my V17 but if Acer would improve upon it in Skylake, I would buy it again!

  2. Peter Vdd

    April 18, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Does the panel use PWM for the brightness? I would like to know for eye fatigue reasons, since G501 apparently uses such a panel.

    • danwat1234

      October 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      from that article labeled ‘ASUS ROG G501 vs ZenBook Pro UX501 in-depth comparison – battle of the thin and light ‘beasts’’ , the G501 regular full HD panel has PWM issues if you turn down the brightness at all from 100%, but, good brightness, matte. I just wish the G501 had a touchscreen like the UX501.

  3. ROG User

    April 21, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Andrei, thank you for the review.

    Could you check if the 4k panel in UX501 is a true RGB, or instead an RGBW?

    So far all “4k” panels from Samsung were RGBW, and they are not really 4k. Because Samsung counts each 1 group of 4 RGBW subpixels as 2 pixels, not as 1 pixel.

    As a result, fake “4k” screens with fake ~280 dpi from Samsung are looking much worse than for example ~220 dpi screens of 15 MacBook Pro Retina.

  4. Nils Nilsson

    April 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Thanks for the preview. I’m a bit confused about the keyboard, you say that the new keyboard is much better than the one on the NX500 but in the summary you say that it is not a welcome change. Even though I couldn’t agree more about Asus being stupid with silver keys, it still seems like a better keyboard than on the NX500? Also, despite the speakers not being as good as the NX500, how would you rate them all in all? Are they still “good enough” speakers for a laptop? Asus still seem to make a big deal regarding them, so I guess they can’t be too bad, right?

    By the way, the matte UHD version is already out and in stock in Sweden so I can confirm that it does exist, although with lower specs (at least in Sweden).

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 25, 2015 at 11:54 am

      The feedback is better than with the UX500. Overall the keys are firmer and have a nicer finishing. ON the other hand, there are still things that could have been done better, like I said.

      It’s great there’s an UHD matte model already available, will need to check it out. I’ve also heard about a FHD matte option

    • Dorothy Singer

      April 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Hi Nils,
      Where did you get this in Sweden? I would love a tip about a shop or an online store. I am new here (Malmo, Sweden), but would like to buy this… I was almost going to buy the Dell m3800 but then the ASUS came out with this. What specs did you get? Found a version with less RAM but was hoping for 16GB from the beginning. Thx…

      • Nils Nilsson

        April 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        Sure, here you go:

        komplett.se/asus-zenbook-pro-ux501jw-156-uhd-touch/838751
        komplett.se/asus-zenbook-pro-ux501jw-156-uhd-matt/838750

        • Dorothy

          May 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

          Thanks. Though I put of getting it due to the size of the keyboard. I dont like the numbers pad. Also dont need it. Can anyone comment on a similar laptop? Using for video editing and graphic design on the go? What about the Dell m3800? Wait for the new Macbook pro 15 inch? (Though i would miss the touch screen) Or ? Cheers

          • Andrei Girbea

            May 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

            Other options are the Dell XPS 15 2015 or the Asus Zenbook NX500, which has a very good display, the kind of keyboard you want and improved speakers.

  5. Mike

    April 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    There’s a report of muddy/mustardy yellows on this model: UX501JW-FJ162H
    Sounds similar to the unresolved issues with the Samsung panel on last year’s UX303.
    Can you confirm you did not see this on your unit?

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 25, 2015 at 11:55 am

      No, that wasn’t the case on this model I got to play with, as you can see from the color profile. It’s a different panel than the one on the UX303 though.

      • Daniel

        April 26, 2015 at 1:42 pm

        Well, Andrei!
        I’m writing right now from a UX501JW-FJ061H (bought in Romania) and it looks really ugly: yellow looks mustard/greenish. The colours are simply flat – no vibration, and way off.
        Furthermore, the keyboard is one of the worst I have ever encountered. With only one gentle push, one can bend the flat surface of the keyboard to a risky curve (I am always afraid it will crack something inside).
        I don’t understand how Asus can be offer such an expensive unit (1500Euro) and offer such a bad quality.
        All in all, dissapointed. Tomorrow I will bring back my 2 days old UX501JW. Asus does not deserve my money.

        • Andrei Girbea

          April 26, 2015 at 6:03 pm

          Ouch, this sucks… Could you please check the panel ID? HWInfo will tell you the exact number. Is it the same Samsung SDC434B I had on my test unit?

          Also, could you check if the yellows are always skewed, regardless of the brightness level OR the Power profile chosen?

          I’m not sure I understand what you don’t like about the keyboard though. Is it the flex? I didn’t find it that bad…

          • Daniel

            April 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm

            Yes, it really does suck.
            The panel is the same panel as yours.
            I took a picture (not the best one, but good enough to check the mustard colour), don’t know if possible to upload here.
            ASUS replyed to my email and said I should do a Win8 calibration (didn’t work), install and activate an ICC profile (they told me to install “SAMSUNG/LTN156FL02-101” compatible profile – I could’t make any sense of this). Nevertheless, tried other ICC profiles, no change. That’s it.
            And yes, the yellows are always skewed, geting worse with lower brightness.
            The keyboard doesn’t feel solid and the press feeling is not clear.
            Hope that helped.
            Thank you.

          • Andrei Girbea

            April 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

            Thanks. If you have the time, please send me that picture on the email address in the contact page: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/contact/ .

            If the problem is similar to the one on the older UX303, no calibration will change it. It’s a software issue and only a BIOS update could affect it.

        • Andrei Girbea

          April 26, 2015 at 6:22 pm

          In the meantime I updated the screen section and mentioned the yellow problems you and other readers reported. BTW, your feedback is much appreciated. What are you going to pick as a replacement for this thing?

        • Lam

          July 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

          Same problems with Daniel! I ordered from Amazon UX501JW-DS71T and shipped to Viet Nam. Yellow looks as same with your complaint and keyboard is nightmare. Disappointed for this zenbook.

  6. @qushery

    April 22, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    could you review the base model (1080p screen , i7-4720HQ , GTX 960m GPU . 8GB of ram and 1TB HDD )
    it’s available is my country (Saudi) for 1130$ jarir.com/441051-laptops-zenbook-asus.html

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 25, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Chances are slim. I’m probably going to receive a high end retail model for reviews and not the base version, but stay close anyway.

  7. xdeez

    April 23, 2015 at 11:13 am

    The UHD panel has the problem with yellow color, it’s more mustard than yellow.

  8. kousuke

    April 24, 2015 at 7:30 am

    Please feedback to Asus to release a version with low-power broadwell dual core i7, 1080p non-touch matt screen and thunderbolt. 4K is pointless with all these scaling issues in windows, 5hrs battery life is not acceptable in 2015

  9. Hemgath

    April 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Is it possible to have the pci express 512go and an aditional SSD emplacement (because 512go is actually too short) ?

  10. Nils Nilsson

    April 27, 2015 at 9:49 am

    This is just crazy, finally I thought someone had managed to make a PC laptop BETTER than Apples MacBook Pros but now reports are coming in about bad screens, horrible yellows, nightmare keyboards etc. I am a 100% Windows user/developer, yet, my last 4 laptops have been MacBooks Pro (running BootCamp) which is just crazy. Expensive, yes, but you get what you pay for. I don’t want to buy a fifth MacBook Pro but I really don’t know what else to get now :(

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 27, 2015 at 10:38 am

      You could give the 2015 Dell XPS 15 or the MSI GS60 a try.

      • Nils Nilsson

        April 27, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        Yes, those are actually the ones I’ve looked into. But perhaps the GS70 more than the GS60 as the later is said to have more “problems” with heat and noise due to smaller chassis. Owning a XPS13 as well and it’s bezel less screen the XPS15 seems like it might get the same which would make it really attractive.

      • Nils Nilsson

        April 27, 2015 at 12:51 pm

        What’s your take on the UX501 vs XPS15?

        • Andrei Girbea

          April 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm

          I haven’t seen in in action. Also, I haven’t reviewed a final version of the UX501. My concerns would be temperatures, noise and potential overheating/throttling. Most of the other boxes should be checked by these two.

          • Nils Nilsson

            April 28, 2015 at 9:55 am

            XPS15 seems nice but I’m a bit concerned about its “ancient” GPU, which I wonder if it has the power to drive the 4K screen as well as the 960M (not talking about gaming here).

            Andrei, you have partly answered it in the article but how would you rate the UX501 compared to the NX500 all in all? It doesn’t seem to be so easy that the UX501 is better in everything, screen for example where the NX500 doesn’t have the “mustard yellow” problem AFAIK.

          • Andrei Girbea

            April 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm

            I’d say the keyboard is better on the UX501, but other complained about it. Also, the graphics, but performance wise the 860M and 960M are very close. I’d expect the latter to be more efficient, but I can’t tell for sure just yet.

            The speakers and screen are worse than on the NX500.

  11. Don

    April 29, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Looks nice but where’s the ventilation? I think this will throttle like crazy.

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 29, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      In the hinge, like on the previous NX500 and most other Asus Zenbooks. Other manufacturers use a similar approach, including Apple.

      • Don

        April 29, 2015 at 6:25 pm

        Andrei I’m an idiot, I meant from where the cpu/gpu supposed to breathe?

        • Andrei Girbea

          April 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm

          They draw air from some cuts behind the hinge as well (in the middle) and exhaust it towards the sides of that grill. This pic might help: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/cooling-grills.jpg

          Not the best solution for a thin and powerful device, I agree. The previous NX500 had some throttling problems. This one might as well, but can’t say for sure, I’ve yet to test a final production unit. The metallic body will get pretty hot though when running games for a few hours…

  12. hrrmph

    May 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Can you comment on the ability to add a second SSD (SATA or mSATA), or the lack of that ability.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 5, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      There’s no extra slot from what I can tell, unlike on the older NX500 that had two M.2 slots.

  13. Nils Nilsson

    May 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Any plans to make a real review of the UX501 (production unit)?

    That said, I’ve now received my UX501 (Europeean version, UHD, Touch, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM)) and the screen is horrible. The problem with the yellows are just as bad as ever, and also, my unit has some enormous light bleed, so bad I can even see it on non black background. The speakers are unfortunately also really bad, no match for my MacBook Pro from 2011. The keyboard also does flex quite a bit when pressed, but is not all that bad when actually typing (although again it’s not close to the one on the MacBook Pros).

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Chances are slimmer everyday, from what I’ve been told by my contacts at Asus. They probably won’t have a final release unit for me to review :(

      • Nils Nilsson

        May 12, 2015 at 8:58 am

        Based on my impression of this laptop as well as others, I can understand that they don’t want anyone to review it. Seems like Asus has really missed a golden opportunity here, ie not as good as it should have been.

  14. KSinner

    May 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Hello everyone. They say that the problem with the yellow creates utility ASUS Splendid. If you remove it, then the problem is solved with a yellow.

    • Nils Nilsson

      May 14, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      That would have been great if true but unfortunately, it isn’t. Have tried it myself and so has others which can confirm it makes no change at all on the UX501.

    • kousuke

      May 15, 2015 at 12:45 am

      What do you mean? solved with a yellow??

  15. hassan

    May 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    is it good for gaming ?

    • Christopher

      May 16, 2015 at 5:31 am

      A 4K screen on a laptop is never conducive to gaming. Too many pixels to push at 4K unless you game at 1080P, but still, why have the screen in the first place? These companies need to get it through their head that 1080P is sufficient, scaling isn’t going to get any better and I’m not willing to give up Win32 applications for the sake of competing with apple for pixel density.

      • Michael Burgoyne

        July 12, 2015 at 1:51 am

        The point of 4K is for photo editing. NOT GAMING!! This is supposed to be ASUS version of the MBP. Everyone expects so much out of an ultra thin laptop. ASUS ROG laptops are specifically for gaming and do not offer 4K. So buy one of those.

  16. Andy Chen

    May 28, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Hi Andrei Girbea,

    Really great article. I’m really struggling between this one and the XPS 15. I have saw you have a comparison between NX 500 and XPS 15. Based on the improvement of NX 501, which one is the one you prefer more? Thank you so much!

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 29, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      I don’t think the NX501 is necessarily an improvement. Yes it gets the faster graphics, but it looses on keyboard, speakers and screen. So I’d get the Mac for sure, or maybe the NX500 is available and within budget. The MSI GS60 could be another option, a bit too intrusive aesthetically, but a nice laptop nonetheless. There’s a review here on the site.

  17. Galaxy Legend

    July 10, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Hey !
    Have you got hold of the 1080p version of the review unit ? If not, could you tell me if the yellow screen problem may also affect this model since its a 1080p and not 4k.
    Thanks.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 10, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      I haven’t but that one should be OK. Only the pentile 4K panel is affected by the skewed colors.

  18. Sven

    July 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    I own the NX500. The hardware upgrade is only logical. I don’t like that
    a) they used a keyboatd with numpad again (who needs that? NX500 doesn’t have a numpad, neither does Dell’s XPS 15)
    b) obviously switched a good LCD panel for a very bad panel (it’s probably cheaper)
    c) you can only buy models with a 128GB SSD + 1TB harddisk in Germany. Because of the harddisk, the models have the smaller battery

    If I wanted to buy a new laptop, and if it wasn’t urgent, I would wait for the new Dell XPS 15. The thin border around the panel should make it smaller and maybe lighter. Also, they will probably leave out the numpad and Dell usually has pretty decent keyboards. The NX500’s keyboard is not too bad, even though the silver keys with background lighting is really a joke. Those engineers should be fired. Also, I have the impression that the NX500’s keys are bigger than the N550JV’s (I also have a N550JV) and thus I suspect that the UX501’s keys are also smaller than the NX500’s.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 18, 2015 at 9:07 am

      I agree. I’d also add that if I could wait for the end of the year, I’d do it. I expect many new models to pop-out with Skylake in q$-2015 and early 2016.

      Also, the UX501 has the same keyboard layout as the N5XX series from what I can tell. Not sure if the keys are smaller though, didn’t have them both for a side by side comparison.

  19. Shanks

    August 22, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Hello, i am a student looking for a laptop for decent gaming and study. My budget is very low (around $550) but i dream of buying at least a core i5 laptop. Can you please educate me?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

      You could find some 15 inch mainstream laptops with Core i5 processors within your budget. Go through the available listings and try to find something that meets all your needs and your budget.

  20. Fp

    September 9, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Hi everyone
    I really want to like this laptop, but the comments in here sounds disappointing :(
    I heard there is a newer version of this laptop that has the keyboard and screem problems fixed. How can I know if the zenbook pro that I bought is the newer version? Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      I’m not aware of any newer version. Asus will update this with Skylake hardware later this year, but I don’t know if they’ll address any of these issues.

  21. danwat1234

    October 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    The GPU in the UX501 has 2GB of RAM not 4GB. 4GB is in the G501 though, both having a 960m.

    • danwat1234

      October 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      I wonder where the fans suck air in from if the air is expelled out the back?

      • Andrei Girbea

        October 12, 2015 at 9:47 am

        From behind the hinge and through the keyboard

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 12, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Have you seen the GPUZ printscreen? This version came with an Nvidia 960M 4GB chip.

  22. Yngve

    October 23, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Do you know how the screen sharpness looks when run at 1080p instead of 4k? I generally like the greater pixel density, but would need to run non-adapted applications at lower resolutions for them to be useable.

    Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Running these 4K panels at anything else but the native resolution results in fuzziness. It’s advisable to keep the native resolution and play with scaling, if that’s an option. It it’s not, then you’ll have to live with the blurry images.

  23. kk

    October 24, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    i just want to ask that does i can separate the screen from keyboard body…..and used as an tablet….

  24. Bakr

    December 11, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Thanks for your review , but i wanna ask if the laptop support samsung 950 pro m2 PCIe

  25. John

    January 15, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    in your review you say the colors are inaccurate that being said do you recommend this laptop for my photography or not and if so can the colors be adjusted and how? thanks in advance.

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 17, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      There was no fix at the time of the review and I can’t tell for sure if there is one now. If there’s not, then no, don’t get this laptop, unless you plan to use an external monitor for color accuracy.

      You should go on the forums on notebookreview.com, find the UX501 owner’s thread and ask for a potential solution there.

  26. Kousuke

    January 19, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Hey Andrei,

    the skylake version with thunderbolt 3 and NVme PCIe SSD variant is now avaliable

    Would you be able to review this model and let us know if a FHD version exist?

    store.asus.com/us/item/201511AM230002951

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 21, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      I’ll ask for a review unit, but there’s no promise. The FHD version of the previous UX501 was not available in the US from what I remember, so there’s a fair chance this won’t be either. That’s too bad, cause the 4K panel was highly inaccurate and I don’t know if they changed it or not.

    • Hugo

      May 2, 2016 at 12:09 am

      Hi, could you tell me the difference between the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501JW-UH71T Laptop and the VW edition?

  27. Igor Z

    August 6, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Hey,could u please let me know if this model (ASUS 15.6″ ZenBook Pro Multi-Touch Notebook) is somewhere close or identical to the one that u have reviewed,upgraded (Zenbook Pro UX501VW).
    I’m looking into buying a stable all around 15inch for photography n graphics design. price up to 1500$us.
    thank you in advance, what ur doing..very appreciated!

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 6, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Can you post a link? Sounds like the same product, but I can’t be sure without checking it out.

  28. Alex

    September 8, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I have the UX501VW-GE004T model (no touch screen – bought in Romania ) and I have not noticed any problems with the colors. After 2 months of use – mostly photo and video editing, must admit I’m quite satisfied with the purchase.The only drawback is the scaling of text in some programs but I was aware of this problem before buying the laptop.

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