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ASUS' ZenBook 3 is thinner, lighter and faster than the MacBook

Engadget Engadget 30/05/2016 Devindra Hardawar
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How much more can ASUS shave off of the ZenBook, its flagship ultraportable? Apparently, quite a bit. The company's new ZenBook 3, announced today at Computex, clocks in at just 2 pounds and 11.9mm (0.46-inches) thick. In comparison, the previous ZenBook UX305 weighed 2.64 pounds and was 12.9mm thick (0.51-inches). Sure, those might just seem like incremental improvements, but they're remarkable when you consider just how insanely thin and light the previous model was. Most impressively? The ZenBook 3 just barely edges out Apple's svelte MacBook, which weighs 2.03lbs and is 13.2mm (0.52-inches) thick, all the while packing in a larger 12.5-inch display.

ASUS attributes the ZenBook 3's weight loss to a new "aerospace-grade aluminum alloy," which it says is 40 percent stronger than what's typically used in laptops. Honestly, that just sounds like marketing fluff, but there must be something special about the laptop's new material to lose 0.6 pounds from the last gen. ASUS is still sticking with its "spun metal" style, so hopefully you're a fan of the concentric metallic rings on its cases. It'll be available in "Quartz Grey," "Royal Blue," and the seemingly ubiquitous "Rose Gold."

Unlike the MacBook, the ZenBook 3 won't be under-powered. At the top end, you'll be able to configure it with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe SSD (which should be faster than a typical SATA drive). The display is covered in Gorilla Glass 4, and it looks like Asus was also able to slim down the bezel (now it covers 82 percent of the laptop's front). The ZenBook 3 packs in a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port for charging (which it says can juice the laptop's battery up to 60 percent in 49 minutes), and it should last around 9 hours of typical battery life. As for cooling, Asus says it's developed the "world's thinnest" fan at just 3mm. There's also a built-in fingerprint sensor with Windows Hello support.

The ZenBook 3 will start at $999 with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. Stepping up, you can get it with a 512GB SSD for $1,499, and you can add a Core i7 processor, 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM for $1,999. ASUS isn't talking about availability details yet. We'll definitely be paying attention to this ultraportable.

Check back soon for hands-on impressions of the ZenBook 3.

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