This is our review of the Asus ZenBook 15 lineup of full-size ultrabooks, the compact 15-inch laptops with modern specs, few compromises, and highly competitive pricing in most regions. Down below I’ve listed all our reviews of this series from recent years, starting with the most recent launches:
- ZenBook 15 UX534FTC review – 2020 model – 10th gen Comet Lake Core U processors, optional Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics, 76Wh battery, FHD or 4K screen, 1.7 kg/3.7 lbs.
- ZenBook 15 UX534FTC review – mid-2019 model – same as the FTC, but with 9th gen Intel hardware.
- Zenbook 15 UX533FD – early-2019 model – the reminding of this post.
You’ve been asking for my take on the 15-inch Asus ZenBook 15 UX533 for a while now and I finally got to spend some time with it in these last weeks, so the article down below gathers all my impressions on this product, with the strong points and the quirks.
I’m writing this as of mid-February 2019, a few months after the ZenBook 15 was launched, and it looks that by this time Asus managed to address some of the issues people encountered initially.
This notebook slots in a niche with little competition. It’s very light for a 15-inch laptop, it looks nice, it types well and it performs well with daily use, demanding loads and even games to some extent, but without sacrificing battery life. This combination of Core U hardware with GTX 1050 dedicated graphics and a fair-sized battery is hard to find anywhere else, and combined with the competitive pricing in most regions, makes this an interesting choice for those looking for a compact and light all-around laptop with a 15-inch screen.
There are however a few aspects Asus could have done differently, and we’ll talk about them down below.
As a full disclaimer, our review unit is a retail model identical to those available in stores and was provided by Asus for this review. That, of course, has no impact on what we’ve experienced and reported in this article.
Specs as reviewed
||Asus ZenBook 15 UX533FD
||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, matte
||Intel Whiskey Lake Core i7-8565U CPU
||Intel UHD 620 + Nvidia GTX 1050 Max-Q 2GB DDR5
||8 GB DDR4 2400 MHz (soldered)
||256 GB M.2 NVMe SSD (80 mm – Kingston RBU-SNS8154P3)
||Wireless AC (Intel AC 9560), Bluetooth 5.0, Fast LAN (via USB dongle)
||1x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-A 3.0, 1x USB-C 3.1 gen2 (data only, no video or charging), HDMI (2.0?), SD card reader, mic/headphone
||73 Wh, 90W charger
||354 mm or 13.94” (w) x 220 mm or 8.66” (d) x 17.9 mm or 0.70” (h)
||3.41 lbs (1.55 kg)+ .77 lbs (.35 kg) charger, EU version
||backlit keyboard, HD webcam, IR Hello camera and near-field mics, available in Royal Blue or Icicle Silver, protective sleeve
Our review unit is the entry-level version available over here in Europe, with just 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe SSD, but all the other aspects are identical across all the existing configurations, including the most widespread model that comes with 16 GB of RAM and a faster 512 GB SSD.
Design and construction
The form factor is one of this laptop’s main selling points, as it’s significantly more compact and even lighter than most of the other 15-inch alternatives. It gets small bezels around the screen, but also a very small chin, in fact so small that it feels a little weird to have to lower your eyes that much to find the launch bar in Windows. On the other hand, there’s still enough room at the top to integrate a webcam, microphones, and a set of IR cameras.
The smaller footprint is also one of the reasons this is so light, at only 3.4 lbs in the reviewed configuration. Keep in mind our version comes with a matte screen, but Asus also offer one with a sheet of protective glass on top of the panel, which weighs around 3.7 lbs.
The choice in materials is the other. Metal is used for the entire outer-case and the build quality is pretty good, with a fairly sturdy main deck and screen frame, although there’s still some flex in the sheets of aluminum used for the lid cover, around the Asus logo in the middle, and in the keyboard deck, but not to the extent where you’ll notice it easily or impact your experience when using the laptop. I do have a nit with the panel used for the underbelly, which bends and creaks when grabbing the laptop in your hands and moving it around, but again, as long as it’s on a desk or the lap, you’re not going to notice this.
Asus offers this laptop in either dark blue or silver, and we got the blue variant here. It looks nice, even with that tacky gold piece of plastic above the keyboard that hides the wireless antennae, but at the same time shows smudges and finger-oil, so keeping this clean is going to prove challenging. Both the textured lid and the smoother interior easily catch fingerprints and they tend to stick even when vigorously wiping them with a cloth unless you also use some water or cleaning liquid. That’s why I’d probably go with the more forgiving silver variant that does a much better job at concealing dirt.
I also saw some reports of the lid scratching easily, which also shows off on this dark blue variant and should not as obvious on the silver option. The finishing feels pretty sturdy to me, but it’s metal and will scratch and dent if not pampered, there’s no way around it. Asus includes a pretty good protective sleeve in the pack, and I’d advise you to use it to keep the laptop safe when in your bag or backpack.
As far as practicality goes, there’s little to complain about here, except perhaps for the always lit LED in the power button and the fairly sharp front-lip that might dig into your wrists in certain situations. The laptop does get a low profile though, and a fairly roomy palm-rest, given its size, so for the most part I don’t think you’ll even notice that lip. These aside though, this is great. The screen can be easily lifted and adjusted with a single hand, yet the hinges are strong enough to keep it as set-up, the ports are lined on the edges and the rubber feet on the bottom, although small, keep this well anchored on a desk.
Much like the other late-2018 ZenBooks, the UX533 gets what Asus calls the Ergolift hinge which slightly raises the laptop’s body on two small rubber feet placed at the bottom of the screen’s frame. That allows a little better air circulation down beneath, as well as a slightly inclined and ergonomic typing position. I find this to be a pretty smart implementation, although I do worry about the small rubber feet wearing off in time and I also don’t like that fact that the screen can only lean back to about 145 degrees, which can be a little limiting while using the device on the lap or in cramped spaces.
As for the IO, it’s lined on the sides, as mentioned earlier, and includes pretty much everything you’ll want on such a laptop, except for Thunderbolt 3 or video support on that USB-C port. Most ports are placed on the right side though, including the power plug, which could cramp-up that part around your mouse if you need to hook up multiple peripherals.
All in all, this a pretty good laptop. It looks nice, it’s practical and it’s well enough built, although the rigidity was slightly sacrificed to get the weight down, much like with the other ultralight 15-inch laptops like the LG Gram 15 or the Acer Swift SF315. If given the choice, I would stay away from the dark blue version, it sure looks nice, but keeping it smudge-free is going to be a nightmare.
Keyboard and trackpad
I was expecting this keyboard to feel much like the one on the smaller ZenBook UX433, but I liked it a little more.
The keys are a bit mushy and need a firm press to actuate, so they’re not giving the typer much confidence, but once you get used to this feedback you’ll find it quick, quiet, and fairly reliable. This is one of the fastest keyboards I’ve tested in a while, but my accuracy still struggled at around 92-93%, down from my normal 95-97%. It didn’t improve much during my two weeks with this laptop, but it might over a longer time.
This keyboard’s layout is fairly standard, with well-sized and spaced keys, but a cramped NumPad is also included. Some of you will probably find it useful, but overall I rather prefer the simpler layout of the ZenBook Pro 15.
The keys are backlit, with three intensity levels to choose from, and the light doesn’t creep out from underneath. The illumination is pretty evenly spread across the entire keyboard and lights up when swiping fingers over the touchpad, so you don’t have to physically press a key to do it.
The writing on each key is easily visible with this Gold/Blue color scheme, but keep in mind that the Icicle Silver variant of this laptop gets much poorer contrast, with silver writing on silver keys.
A mid-sized touchpad is placed underneath, centered on the chassis. It’s both visually and physically indented from the palm-rest around, and it’s a glass-made Elan surface with Precision drivers.
For the most part, it handled swipes, gestures, and taps well during my time with this laptop. Palm-rejection could use a bit more tweaking though, and sometimes light taps were interpreted as double taps, so there’s room for improvement here as well. The physical clicks are pretty nice though, smooth and quiet.
I noticed quite a lot of people are complaining about this clickpad freezing up and stuttering with daily use, but I haven’t encountered this kind of behavior on our sample. I’d reckon either Asus tweaked the drivers in the meantime, or quality control is a lottery. Asus has had multiple issues with Elan clickpads in the past, but their implementations have gotten better over the years. Nonetheless, make sure to update to the latest drivers, wait for Windows to finish up its initial updates, and then give this a proper test within your return window, just to make sure it works well; send it back if it doesn’t.
There’s no finger-sensor on the Zenbook UX533, but there’s a set of IR Hello cameras at the top of the screen, an even nicer alternative for quickly logging into Windows.
As the name suggests, the ZenBook UX533 gets a 15.6-inch display available in either an FHD matte variant, the one we have here, or the same FHD panel with an extra layer of protective glass on top, but without touch. That improves on the screen’s rigidity and cuts off some of the graininess associated with the matte finishing, but it also ads glare and reflections into the mix, as well as extra weight, so I’d stick with the matte option if possible. A UHD screen option was also taunted at launch, but I couldn’t find it listed in any shops at the time of this post.
The bottom point, the matte FHD option is by far the best suited for this kind of a laptop in our opinion, and Asus implemented a fair quality panel with slightly above average peak-brightness, contrast, and color reproduction.
At around 290-nits maximum brightness, you might still struggle with it in strong light environments, and blacks could have been deeper at higher brightness levels as well. On top of these, those of you interested in excellent color-accuracy will still have to hook up an external monitor, yet for the average user, this should be good enough.
Details down below, taken with a Spyder 4 sensor.
- Panel HardwareID: BOE BOE07D8 (NV156FHM-N63);
- Coverage: 94% sRGB, 71% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.3;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 288 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 700:1;
- White point: 7400 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.41 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
- Response time: ~45 ms GtG;
The panel is well calibrated out of the box, but you can further correct the White Point and slight gray-levels imbalances with this calibrated profile.
As for uniformity, both in terms of color, luminance, and bleeding, this is one other aspect that this panel checks as merely “good enough”: not perfect, but the deviations are not easily noticeable with the naked eye in everyday use. Some people on Amazon and the forums complain about pronounced bleeding on their units though, and that’s again a QC flaw you cannot control, so make sure to buy your devices from a place that will accept to swap your unit in case you draw a short stick.
I’ll also add that this is a fairly slow IPS screen, so not nearly as nice for gaming as the 144 Hz options available on most gaming laptops these days. Nonetheless, as I’ll further explain through the article, the ZenBook UX533 is not a gaming machine, thus occasional gamers shouldn’t find the ghosting that much of an issue, as long as they don’t plan to competitively play fast-paced titles.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
Our test model is a mid-range configuration of the Zenbook UX533FD, with the Whiskey Lake Core i7 processor, 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256 GB Kingston RBU-SNS8154P3 SSD and the Max-Q variant of the Nvidia GeForce 1050 graphics chip.
The 256 and 512 GB SSDs Asus bundles on this laptop only use a PCIe 3.0 x2 connection, but you can replace them with faster SSDs that will use all the 4 lines. The 1 TB configurations come with a fast Samsung PM981 SSD out of the box if you don’t want to go through the hassle of upgrading the storage yourselves, but those are not available in all regions.
The storage is, in fact, the only upgradeable component on this laptop, as the CPU, RAM, and Wi-Fi are soldered on the motherboard, so you should make sure to get the configuration you want from the beginning. 8 GB of RAM is perhaps enough for daily use these days, but 16 GB will become the norm over the long-term.
You have to remove the entire back panel to get inside, which is a fairly simple task: you’ll need a Torx screwdriver for the screws visible around the sides, and there no other screws hidden beneath the rear rubber feet, like on the 14-inch ZenBook UX433. Also unlike on the 14-inch model, there’s no longer a warranty sticker on top of the SSD’s screw, so replacing the storage yourselves shouldn’t affect the warranty.
I should also mention that our review sample came with a clean Windows install, with very little preinstalled software aside from the pesky McAfee antivirus, which is the first to go on any of the laptops that land on our desks. However, this might differ in other regions, and you might get more bloatware to remove on your unit.
Asus claims to offer this GPU with either 2 or 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, but only the 2 GB versions seem to be available in stores, with a base Clock Speed of 1000 Mhz and Turbo Boost up to 1685 Mhz. That impacts the performance in games, as most modern titles would ideally require between 2.5 to 3.5 GB of memory these days, and there are only 2 available on this laptop.
Before we get to talk about gaming we should once more iterate that the ZenBook UX533 is not a gaming-ultraportable, but rather a compact allrounder with some gaming abilities. It primarily excels in everyday use, where it runs cool and quiet and easily handles multitasking, video content, and all other basic chores.
It’s also a good performer in demanding tasks that require CPU and even GPU power, so it can handle photo/video editing, programming software, and the likes. Of course, you should not forget this is powered by Intel Core U hardware and won’t be able to compete with the Core H Coffee Lake options out there, but it offers longer runtimes and performs better than most other Core U implementations.
We test the CPU’s behavior in demanding loads by running Cinebench R15 for 10+ times in a loop, with 2-3 sec delay between each run, which simulates a 100% load on all the cores. For our tests, we used the High-Performance mode in Windows.
Out of the box, the CPU settles for around 2.9 GHz after several Cinebench runs, scores of around 650 points, a TDP of 24+ W, and temperatures of around 75 degrees Celsius, which are excellent results for a Core U laptop. Asus set the TDP threshold at a fairly high level, which allows the high frequencies and Cinebench scores.
Undervolting can further increase these results. We couldn’t’ install XTU on this laptop, so went back to the trusty Throttlestop and lowered voltages by -100 mV. Our sample was unstable below that, and we later encountered some crashes at -100 mV as well, so we eventually had to dial back to a -80 mV undervolt that proved stable with daily use, benchmarks and games.
Still, at -100 mV the CPU settles for around 3.2 GHz after several Cinebench runs, scores of around 690-700 points, a TDP of 24+ W, and temperatures of around 75 degrees Celsius, which is a roughly 7-10% improvement over the stock settings, without any impact on the temperatures.
Our sample performed quite well on battery too, returning scores of around 570 points in Cinebench, with the CPU being limited at a TDP of 15 W and frequencies of 2.5-2.6 GHz. That’s good for battery use and what you can expect with most Core U laptops while plugged in.
Next, we’ve included a set of benchmarks, for those of you interested in numbers. We ran them on the High-Performance profile and default settings:
- 3DMark 11: P7133 (Physics – 7568, Graphics – 7047);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 5146 (Graphics – 5582, Physics – 10642);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1734 (Graphics – 1618, CPU – 2935);
- 3DMark 13 – Nigh Raid: 15540 (Graphics – 22983, CPU – 5482);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 3991;
- PCMark 8 Conventional 3.0: 2637;
- PCMark 10: 4386;
- PassMark: Rating: 4688, CPU mark: 10442, 3D Graphics Mark: 4188;
- GeekBench 3.4.2 32-bit: Single-Core: 4220, Multi-core: 15419;
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 5157, Multi-core: 16653;
- CineBench R15 (best run): OpenGL 104.48 fps, CPU 811 cb, CPU Single Core 190 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 –193.35 fps, Pass 2 – 45.37 fps.
Then we reran some of the benchmarks on the -80 mV undervolted profile, which allowed a slight 5-10% increase in CPU related tests and no changes in GPU scores:
- 3DMark 11: P7203 (Physics – 8282, Graphics – 7074);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 5175 (Graphics – 5592, Physics – 11454);
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 5034, Multi-core: 16934;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 –190.06 fps, Pass 2 – 48.50 fps.
OK, let’s address the gaming experience. We ran a couple of games representative for DX11 and DX12 architectures, on the Max Performance power profile and -80 mV CPU undervolt (further called Tweaked the tables down below), first on Ultra settings, and then on Medium graphics settings.
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks Off)
- The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the in-game benchmark utility;
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Normal Preset, SMAA)
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Medium Preset)
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Medium Preset, FXAA)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Medium Preset, TAA)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Medium Preset, Hairworks OFF)
It comes to no surprise that this cannot handle FHD gaming with maximum graphics settings, but as shown above, it also won’t handle Medium settings in some of the newer and demanding titles, and there are a few reasons for it. First of all, the GTX 1050 Max-Q is a low-end dedicated graphics chip, just a notch above the entry-level MX150 option. Then, just like on other thin-and-light implementations, it cannot constantly run at its maximum Turbo Boost clocks in demanding games. And third, the amount of VRAM acts as an extra bottleneck in the more recent titles.
Here’s what to expect in terms of temperatures and performance with the out of the box settings on FarCry 5, which taxes both the CPU and the GPU. The performance is pretty good for this kind of hardware, with the CPU running at an average of 2800 MHz and the GPU at 1520 MHz, just 10% shy of its maximum potential, but you’re still not going to run this title smoothly unless you lower the graphics settings to a bare minimum.
And here’s how undervolting impacts the performance, both in FarCry 5, but also in Witcher 3 and Shadow of Mordor, an older and less demanding title.
The impact is minimal, as undervolting mostly allows the CPU to run at slightly higher Turbo frequencies, but without any impact on the GPU. However, by limiting the CPU to stock 1.8 GHz frequencies we were able to force the GPU to run at its peak capacity all the time, which can result in slight 7-10% gains in certain titles, but beware that the capped-down CPU can also act as a bottleneck in this case.
Bottom point, the ZenBook UX533FD is not a great gamer, but it can still cope with older and simpler games. Hooking up an eGPU is also not an option without Thunderbolt 3, so if you need a better gaming experience you should rather check out the portable Core H and GTX 1050 Ti /1060 models available out there. You will lose on efficiency and lightweight though when moving to the more demanding platforms.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
For cooling, Asus went with a fairly peculiar solution, with two 5V fans and two heatpipes, but each pipe is connected to a single radiator. That’s similar to the implementation on the Lenovo Yoga Y730, yet in this case, the heatpipes are a bit longer and the radiators get more fins. As a result, this cooling does a fairly good job at keeping the Core U CPU and GTX 1050 GPU in check, as seen above.
It does so while also running quietly during gaming sessions, the noise levels only rising to around 42-43 dB according to our sound meter (ambient noise level measured at 34 dB in a perfectly quiet room). That’s something the speakers can easily cover up in most situations.
With daily use, the two fans remain active all the time but spin slowly and barely audible (~36 dB) even at night. However, keep in mind that out the box the fans might get loud as Windows updates its drivers; this can also impact performance and make the overall experience a little sluggish, but bear with it and wait for the updates to finish up and everything should run smoother afterward.
We also haven’t noticed any loud coil whine or electronic noise on our unit, yet that’s one more of those random QC issues that you might run into, that’s why you will find some people complaining about it on the forums. Check for it on your unit and just ask for a return in case you end up with more than you can find acceptable.
As far as the outer-shell temperatures go, the Zenbook UX533 runs cool with daily use and hits values in the mid-40s with gaming. Those are pretty low for a thin-and-light laptop with dedicated graphics, but the heat creeps down towards the middle and left side of the keyboard, which can cause unpleasantly sweaty hands in some warmer environments. Other such laptops don’t run significantly cooler in similar scenarios though.
*Daily Use – running Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, fans ~36 dB
*Load – playing FarCry 5 for approximately 30 minutes on ultra FHD settings, fans ~42-43 dB
For connectivity, there’s an Intel 9560 wireless module inside this laptop, with Bluetooth 5.0, pretty much the go-to solution for any modern ultraportable these days. It performed great with our setup, both near the router and at 30 feet with obstacles in between, and I didn’t encounter any drops or other issues. As a side note though, I noticed that it will occasionally take this about 15-30 seconds to reconnect to the Internet after waking up from Sleep, while most of the time it stays connected. A USB to Ethernet dongle is also included in the box, just in case you’ll ever need to hook to the Internet via wire.
As far as the speakers go, there’s a set of them firing through fairly large cuts on the front side of the belly, and they’re quite good. We measured maximum volumes of about 83 dB at head level, without any distortions and a limited amount of vibration on the palm-rest, and the sound comes out alright, with good mids and highs, but rather lacking on the low end. The output can be somewhat tweaked in the included AudioWizard app, but don’t expect miracles.
Peeking inside you’ll see that these are not the same design as on the 14-inch Asus ZenBook and that’s why, as far as I remember without having the two side by side, they sound tinnier on this 15-inch model. You should also be careful not to cover them when using the laptop on the lap, which can happen easily due to their positioning.
A 720p camera and a set of IR Hello cameras are placed at the top of the screen and flanked by an array of near-field microphones that work with Cortana and Amazon Alexa. The standard webcam is fairly mediocre, much like on most existing ultraportables, but the IR camera is going to prove very useful for logging into Windows, especially since there’s no finger sensor.
There’s a 73 Wh battery inside the ZenBook UX533, which is fairly high-capacity for a thin-and-light 15-inch laptop, thus there’s no surprise this will last for quite a long time on a charge with daily use, given there’s also Optimus and efficient Core U hardware inside.
Here what we got in our tests, with the screen set at 30% brightness, which is around 120 nits:
- 7.9 W (~9+ h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7.3 W (~10 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 6.8 W (~10+ h min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~5 h 45 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 38.5 W (~2 h of use) – Gaming – Shadow of Mordor, Max Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON, fps limit of 40.
Asus bundles this with compact and light 90 W charger, sufficiently sized for the hardware inside this laptop, but not in the standard design we’ve seen on ZenBooks in the last years, with the prongs attached to the power brick. As a result, an extra cable is used on our E model, which adds to the total weight, but the US variants should be lighter. A full charge takes around two hours.
As a side note, as far as I can tell this laptop cannot charge via USB-C, as it lacks the required circuitry to do so, so you’ll have to always rely on the included barrel plug charger.
I’ve seen some people complaining about poor battery life on their units. Now, Asus advertises up to 17 hours of battery life on a charge, but let’s get real, that’s never going to happen in ideal conditions. 5-7 hours of daily use and 8-10 hours of video are what you should expect from this computer, and if you’re not getting them you should make sure that Optimus is working properly and no rogue software wakes up the Nvidia GPU. HWInfo can help narrow down this issue, as well as ticking the activity tracker in the Nvidia Control Panel. I haven’t run into such issues on our review unit, but I did on other laptops in the past.
Price and availability
The Zenbook UX533 series is available in stores all around the world as of mid-February 2019.
In the US you’ll mostly find the UX533FD Signature Edition variant with the Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD, and the FHD glass-covered screen, for an MSRP of around $1399. It’s available in a couple of different places, like Best-Buy or Amazon.
I noticed this gets a surprisingly low Amazon rating, but that page aggregates scores for both the 14 and 15-inch ZenBook variants, plus most of the complaints are QC related. I understand why people are upset about those, I would expect a flawless experience on a $1400 laptop myself, but unfortunately, QC issues affect all modern devices, and as long as you’re buying from a reputable store (like Amazon), you can ask for a replacement or return the laptop in case it’s not up to your liking. In other words, I would no deter that rating from giving this a try if it checks all of the other boxes for you.
In Europe, the ZenBook UX533 is also available in lower-end configurations, with the base model i7 / 8 GB RAM/ 256 GB SSD / FHD matte screen version starting at around 1400 EUR in most countries, but also as low as 1100 EUR in some others in the eastern region.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.
We’ve reviewed the entire ZenBook line in the past months and this 15-inch model is by far the most interesting of them all. It looks nice, it’s mostly well made, it gets a fairly good screen, a fast keyboard, good IO, as well as the performance to handle everyday chores and occasional demanding tasks and games. There’s no other laptop that can offer the same versatility and battery life in a similarly compact form-factor, and we’ll talk about the potential alternatives down below.
Update: You should also look into the more recent iterations fo the ZenBook 15, listed below:
- ZenBook 15 UX534FTC review – 2020 model – 10th gen Comet Lake Core U processors, optional Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics, 76Wh battery, FHD or 4K screen, 1.7 kg/3.7 lbs.
- ZenBook 15 UX534FTC review – mid-2019 model – same as the FTC, but with 9th gen Intel hardware.
There are however thinner and lighter 15-inch laptops out there, but they lack the graphics performance, and there are also quite a few more powerful and overall better-polished alternatives, yet not as light or long-lasting, and usually more expensive, especially for those living outside the US. The LG Gram 15 and Acer Swift 5 SF315 qualify for that first category, while devices like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme/ ThinkPad P1 or the Dell XPS 15 check into the second. Lenovo’s 15-inch Yoga 730 is another option you might consider, a 2-in-1 convertible with a touchscreen and usually a lower price in most regions, but also poorer gaming abilities and shorter battery life. You can find our detailed impressions on those in the linked articles.
I expect the pricing to be a decisive criterion in your selection, and that’s going to vary based on where you’re living. In the US, the ZenBook 15 sits for now at just $100-$200 dollars beneath a similarly specced Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme/ ThinkPad P1 or the Dell XPS 15, which are also available with lower-end specs and allow future potential upgrades. Yes, these are a tad larger and heavier, but also better in terms of build, IO, performance in demanding loads, or even screen quality and support, among others, which would make them my first choice over this ZenBook, at current prices. Outside of the US though, the price gap widens substantially, which makes the ZenBook 15 a much more competitive option.
In the end, the Asus ZenBook 15 UX533FD is a solid allrounder and earns our recommendation. The form-factor, the overall performance, and long battery life are its main selling points, but it has its fair share of quirks, as well as quite a few merely “good enough” aspects, judging by today’s expectations.
That’s why in the end it’s up to you to decide whether the ZenBook 15 UX533 is the right device for your needs, or those might be better catered by something else, by weighing the strong points and quirks of each option, as well as their pricing in your region. No matter what you pick, I would advise you to buy from a place that handles warranty claims and potential returns flawlessly, given the reported QC issues you could run into with this one, and in all fairness, with most other modern laptops.
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