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ASUS introduces the ZenBook S with a 3:2 display and Ice Lake processors
by João Carrasqueira
This week is the week of IFA, one of the very few - if not the only - major tech events that's still taking place despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, a number of announcements are coming through, and ASUS has a couple of their own, as reported by The Verge. The company today introduced the ZenBook S laptop and the ZenBook Flip 13 convertible, both powered by Intel's Ice Lake processors.
Aside from shipping with up to an Intel Core i7-1065G7, the ZenBook S comes with up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of PCIe-based storage. The biggest improvement over the previous generation seems to be the display, though, ditching the 16:9 aspect ratio in favor of a 3:2 screen with a resolution of 3300x2200. The Verge's report doesn't mention the screen size, and the laptop hasn't shown up on ASUS' website, but assuming the form factor is similar, it might be close to 14 inches. The previous model had a 13.3-inch 16:9 display. That display also covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space, and is Pantone-validated, so color accuracy shouldn't be an issue.
In terms of connectivity, there's two Thunderbolt 3 ports that can be used for charging, a USB Type-A, a microSD card slot, and HDMI out. There's no headphone jack, though the laptop ships with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter, and that has an ESS digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Also in the box is a 65W charger that promises to charge the 67Wh battery to 60 percent in 49 minutes. With a fully charged battery, the ZenBook S should last 14 hours on battery power.
ASUS also introduced the ZenBook Flip 13, a convertible that also comes with Intel's Ice Lake processors, and up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. It has a less exciting 13.3-inch Full HD display, and as far as ports go, it's pretty much the same setup as the ZenBook S.
The ASUS ZenBook S will only be available at Costco and the Microsoft Store, and the price has yet to be revealed. The ZenBook Flip 13, however, is already available for preorder. The base model, with a Core i5-1035G1 (meaning there's no Iris Plus graphics) and 8GB of RAM costs $899.99 on Amazon and B&H Photo. The top-tier model with a Core i7-1065G7, 16GB of RAM, and an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, is $1,199.99, and it's also on Amazon and B&H Photo, though Amazon doesn't seem to be letting you make preorders for this variant yet.
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By Jay Bonggolto
ASUS ZenFone 7 series debuts with triple flip camera and more
by Jay Bonggolto
ASUS announced today its latest smartphone, the Zenfone 7 series. The device succeeds last year's Zenfone 6, and like its predecessor, the new-generation handset's main selling factor is its flip camera, although it now adds a third lens.
The new phone series comprises two models: the cheaper Zenfone 7 and the higher-end 7 Pro. The devices sport a 6.67-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 1080 x 2400 resolution. Both models will be available starting on September 1 worldwide, with the global prices set to be announced next week (via GSMArena).
The phones use Pixelworks' technology such as its accurate color calibration and DC dimming capability that minimizes flicker in low-light environments, Pixelworks announced today. The Pro version is powered by a Snapdragon 865+ chipset while the non-Pro variant has the regular Snapdragon 865 SoC. This is paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage for the Pro version. Meanwhile, its less pricey sibling ships with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
The Zenfone 7 series also improves on the camera side from its predecessor. It has added an 80mm telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and optical image stabilization for the 7 Pro. This is in addition to the camera's 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor and a 12MP ultrawide-angle camera that doubles as a macro lens. The main camera supports 8K video recording at 30fps. In selfie mode, the camera can also record 8K at 30fps and 4K at 120fps.
Both phones pack a 5,000mAh battery with support for 30W fast charging, which can get you 60% of battery life on a 34-minute charge from 0%. The handsets also feature a side-mounted fingerprint reader, although the 3.5 mm headphone jack is absent. The devices have a series 6000 aluminum body with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on the front and Gorilla Glass 3 on the back.
Asus TUF A15 review: A decent gaming laptop held back by poor thermal design
by Anmol Mehrotra
Back January, Asus launched its new TUF series laptops based on AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series processors and Intel’s 10th gen processors. The TUF A15 and A17 come with Ryzen 4000 series, while the F15 and F17 come with Intel’s corresponding counterparts. We had a chance to look at the TUF A15, which comes with the AMD’s Ryzen 4000 processor.
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 4800H (8-core, 16 threads) (Base 2.9GHz, Boost up to 4.2GHz) RAM 16 GB DDR4 (3200 MHz in a dual-channel configuration) Storage 500 GB M.2 NVME SSD
1 TB HDD
GPU AMD Radeon GPU
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti
Display 15.6-inch 1920x1080 144Hz Adaptive Sync Battery 48 Wh Ports (1) USB 2.0 Type-A
(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port (with Display port 1.4a support)
(1) HDMI port
(1) 3.5mm combo audio jack
(1) Ethernet jack
Keyboard Backlit Chiclet Keyboard RGB OS Windows 10 Home Single Language Price $999.99 The Asus TUF A15 comes with a Ryzen 4000 CPU which is based on AMD’s 7nm architecture, giving it an edge over Intel’s 10th gen processors based on the 14nm architecture. Right out of the box, the laptop comes with the Windows 10 November 2019 Update with minimum bloatware. Apart from that, Asus has also installed DTS Audio, Asus Armoury Crate, AMD Radeon Settings and Nvidia Control Panel.
Asus has gone to great lengths to make a value for money gaming laptop, especially for those who do not want to spend a lot of money on ROG laptops. The company has had to cut corners, which is evident in the design of the laptop.
Despite the use of plastic for the laptop, the brushed metal feel gives the device a premium look. The top of the laptop also has a TUF logo in the middle. Apart from that, Asus has gone with a minimal design which makes it a great laptop for both work and play.
The Asus TUF A15 has also got a decent selection of I/O but unlike the ROG series, this laptop has a majority of ports on the left except for a USB port on the right (along with Kensington lock).
On the left, there is power jack followed by an Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 output, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port (with Display port 1.4a support) and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the right, there is a USB 2.0 Type-A port and Kensington lock along with air exhaust vent.
On the back of the laptop, there are two air exhaust vents and the front corners house two bottom-firing speakers. Asus has also added some air intake vents at the bottom, but they are not directly above the fans.
Upon opening the laptop, you will be greeted with a bright RGB keyboard – and this time around, Asus has also included a webcam and hey! It is located at the right spot, i.e., on top of the display.
The Asus TUF A15 comes with a 15.6-inch 144Hz Adaptive Sync panel with a resolution of 1920x1080. The screen is sharp and has decent calibration out of the box. However, I was a little disappointed to see that the colours on the screen are not accurate when compared to other monitors or even other laptops. This is because the panel has just 45% NTSC, which is low, especially if you plan to use the laptop for content creation. Furthermore, the display panel is not bright compared to other laptops in the same price range. Asus noted that the laptop display supports 300 nits, but it felt lower than 300 nits. Of course, while this was not a problem during indoor use, outdoors, under direct sunlight, the viewing the screen was more trouble than I anticipated.
Like most other gaming laptops, the display on the TUF A15 does not support touch. Plus, though Asus has added a decent webcam on this device, it does not, unfortunately, come with an IR sensor or a fingerprint scanner which means no Windows Hello support.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The Asus TUF A15 comes with a full keyboard i.e., it has a number pad, but it also has small arrow keys which are difficult to get used to, especially if you are used to a full-sized keyboard. There is a bit of deck flex, presumably due to the plastic chassis but thankfully, this does not cause problems while typing on the keyboard.
Speaking of typing, the Asus TUF A15 comes with an RGB keyboard. The keyboard lights can be customized using the Asus Armoury Crate software; however, it does not support per-key customization. That said, you can still control the RGB brightness and the effects using arrow keys on the keyboard. Overall, the keys do have a decent travel but were they a bit too loud for my liking.
Given that Asus is using Microsoft’s Precision drivers, the trackpad is on the device is accurate and works well with Windows 10. The TUF A15 has separate left and right buttons, which in my opinion, are better than clickable trackpads (since those often register false clicks while gaming).
Performance and Battery
The Asus TUF A15 has decent hardware under the hood. Our unit came with a Ryzen 7 4800H (eight cores, 16 threads) processor which was paired with Nvidia GTX 1660Ti and 16GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM. For storage, Asus has added a 500GB NVME SSD and a 1TB HDD. While the specs look good on paper, the laptop is held back by poor thermal design. Unfortunately, the A15 tends to get a little toasty even during light workloads. Out of the box, the laptop was touching 65°C during Windows Updates. During a much more controlled temperature test, the laptop was hovering around 75-80°C under load (do note that the ambient temperature during the controlled test was 24°C).
Apart from the high temperatures, the laptop felt snappy and there were no issues while playing AAA titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), GTA V, Microsoft Flight Simulator (closed beta) and Control at high settings. However, you will feel a bit of heat on your palms during extended gaming sessions.
One reason for the high temperature is the design of the air intake vents at the bottom of the laptop. The vents are not directly above the fans making them work harder to pull air. It looks like Asus picked aesthetics over functionality and this cost them dearly.
Despite the high temperatures, all the components managed to stay within the limits and not thermal throttle which, could be taken as the silver lining here. I recorded temperatures during benchmarks and maximum CPU temperature was 92°C while the GTX 1660Ti recorded a maximum temperature of 84°C.
Interestingly, Asus has added thermal pads to almost every single component on the TUF A15 but still, the device was not able to keep the temperatures in check. This was also the first time I saw a company add thermal pads to RAM modules in addition to the NVMe SSD on a laptop.
As for benchmarks, I used PCMark 10, 3D Mark Time Spy, 3D Mark Time Spy Extreme, 3D Mark Fire Strike, 3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra, Cinebench R20, VR Mark: Orange Room, CrystalDiskMark and Geekbench 5.
PCMark 10 3D Mark Time Spy Extreme
3D Mark Fire Strike 3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra
CrystalDiskMark (SSD) CrystalDiskMark (HDD)
Cinebench R20 VRMark Orange Room
Geekbench 5 (CPU) Geekbench 5 (OpenCL)
Apart from performance benchmarks, I also ran PCMark 10 Modern Office Battery Life benchmark to simulate battery usage in an office environment. Here, the TUF A15 lasted for three hours 42 minutes with the brightness set to 50% and all RGB lights turned off.
These benchmark numbers are a clear indication of what this laptop can achieve. The device is great for both work and casual gaming. Since Asus has included an HDMI port and a USB Type-C port, while the HDMI port is connected to the Radeon iGPU, you can connect a monitor via Type-C cable to bypass the iGPU and take advantage of the GTX 1660Ti.
The Asus TUF A15 has decent a decent upgrade path. Firstly, the laptop is easy to open, but you will need to remove 11 Philips head screws to get inside the laptop. The only drawback? Asus uses different sized screws, so make sure you keep them organized. Once inside, you will get access to the two RAM slots, two NVME M.2 slots, one 2.5-inch HDD slot and the battery. My model came with a 48Wh battery with a 2.5-inch 1 TB HDD. However, if you must, you can remove the HDD and get a 90Wh battery for extended battery life. On the upside, the TUF A15 is also one of the rare laptops that come with two NVME M.2 slots giving users the option of using high-speed SSD or traditional 2.5-inch drive.
Asus has always been at the forefront when it comes to hardware and Asus TUF A15 is no exception. It is one of the first laptops to feature AMD’s new 4000 series chipset and is paired with GTX 1660Ti making it a great machine on paper.
Essentially, my major complaints are about the thermal design and the display. Asus could have done a better job at the thermal design of the laptop and it would not hurt to have included more air vents on the bottom as well as on both sides. Further, the laptop does not have any heat pipes or thermal pads over the VRAM chips which will get hot during extended gaming sessions.
Asus has also used an inferior display panel on the TUF A15. While it would not matter much while playing games, the display is not colour accurate enough for more media-oriented workload: like graphic designing and content creation. This is truly a shame because the combination of Ryzen 4000 series processor and GTX 16 series GPU would have made it a great laptop for content creation on-the-go.
Apart from the major issues, here are some of the minor concerns. Asus could have included an IR sensor or a fingerprint scanner with the TUF A15 to allow users to take advantage of Windows Hello. The laptop is also missing Thunderbolt 3 support which makes it a tough sell for people who may want to use an eGPU enclosure for better performance. That said, there are only a couple of motherboards that support both AMD and Thunderbolt so we could probably see Thunderbolt support in the future.
In the USA, the TUF A15 with the same configuration as the one reviewed is available on Newegg for $999.99. However, I would recommend saving and going for the Acer Helios 300 which comes with 10th gen Intel processors and Nvidia GPU but has a better screen and a much better thermal design. Currently in the USA, the Helios 300 is available with i7-10750H, 16 GB DDR4 RAM and RTX 2060. The laptop is priced at for $1,199.99 and can be picked up at Amazon.
All said and done, if your heart is set on the TUF A15 then I would highly recommend investing in a cooling pad for gamers. If you plan to get it for content creation, then adding a colour accurate external monitor is highly recommended too, because there is no way you could work on this laptop without worrying that you messed up the colours because of an inaccurate display.
By Sambit Satpathy
ASUS VivoBooks and ZenBooks with 10th-gen Intel Core CPUs launched in India
by Sambit Satpathy
ASUS unveiled its latest VivoBook and ZenBook lineup of laptops at CES earlier this year. Now, the company has launched these laptops in India. All the laptops are powered by the latest 10th-gen Intel Core processors and boast a thin and light form factor.
The new laptops include the ZenBook 13 (UX325) and the ZenBook 14 (UX425) with prices starting from ₹79,990. There’s also the VivoBook S14 (S433) with prices starting from ₹67,990. Lastly, there’s the VivoBook Ultra K14 (K413) with prices starting from ₹39,990. All these new laptops will be available via online platforms as well as offline retail channels.
Both new ASUS ZenBooks share a set of common features, with the only difference being the screen size. The ZenBook 13 features a 13.3-inch FHD LED display with 2.9mm bezels and 88% screen-to-body ratio. The ZenBook 14, on the other hand, features a 14-inch FHD LED display with 2.5mm bezels and 90% screen-to-body ratio.
Both laptops are powered by up to Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor paired with Intel Iris Plus or Intel UHD graphics. You also get up to 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM, and up to 1TB PCIe 3.0 x2 NVMe SSD storage. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.0, two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, a standard HDMI 2.0b port, and a microSD card reader. Both laptops feature a 67Wh battery with a claimed battery life of up to 22 hours.
The ASUS VivoBook S14 features a 14-inch LED backlit FHD display with 16:9 aspect ratio and 85% screen-to-body ratio. It is powered by up to Intel Core i7-10510U processor paired with an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU. You get an 8GB DDR4 RAM, and 512GB PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD (upgradable to 1TB). There is a 50Wh battery, and connectivity options like Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI 1.4, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and an SD card reader.
Lastly, the ASUS VivoBook Ultra K14 features a 14-inch FHD LED display. It is powered by an Intel Core i5-10210U processor paired with Intel UHD Graphics 620. You also get up to 8GB DDR4 RAM, and up to 512GB M.2 NVME PCIe X2 SSD. There’s a 42Wh battery, and connectivity options like dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth v5.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI 1.4, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader.
ASUS introduces the ROG Phone 3 with a Snapdragon 865+, a 144Hz display, and 16GB of RAM
by João Carrasqueira
Just as the company had teased, ASUS today took the wraps off the ROG Phone 3, the latest iteration of its gaming smartphone. The announcement comes on the heels of Lenovo's own gaming phone, and internally, a lot is shared between the two.
The ASUS ROG Phone 3 sports Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 865+ chipset with clock speeds up to 3.1GHz, paired with up to 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The new chipset means the phone now supports 5G, but only on sub-6GHz networks. Powering all that is a massive 6,000mAh, which is still one of the biggest you can find in a smartphone, which you'll probably need thanks to the new 144Hz display.
The screen is the same size as last year's model, at 6.6 inches diagonally, with a 21:9 aspect ratio, but the refresh rate has gone up from 120Hz to 144Hz. ASUS offers plenty of configuration options, though, so you can set the display to 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, or 144Hz depending on your needs. Audio has been upgraded, too, with a dual-speaker stereo setup that got a 75 score from DXOMark's Audio test, the second-highest score for a phone (trailing the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro by one point).
To address the extra heat generated by having 5G and a higher refresh rate, ASUS says it designed a new cooling system, with a heatsink six times larger than the previous generation to help dissipate heat. The whole cooling system uses multiple layers of cooling elements, and as usual, there's a vent on the back to help release hot air.
Another notable upgrade is in the AirTriggers on the side of the phone, which are meant to be used in landscape mode. They now support features such as gestures or motion controls, so you can swipe across the touch area or shake the phone for additional controls. Plus, each of the touch areas can be divided into two, so you can effectively get two shoulders triggers on each side of the phone.
The camera setup now features three cameras, the main one being a 64MP sensor, along with a 13MP ultra-wide camera and a 5MP macro lens. Video recording is also better with support for 8K, and even slow-motion video at 4K and 120fps.
The overall design of the phone is very similar to last year's, including the side-mounted USB Type-C port, so many accessories like the TwinView Dock and the ROG Kunai controller are still supported. Other accessories, such as cases, have been redesigned for the new phone.
Alongside the ROG Phone 3, ASUS also announced a Strix Edition of the phone, with a Snapdragon 865, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Pricing and availability weren't announced for either model, though.
ASUS also announced a new ROG Strix X16 portable monitor, which can be used with the ROG Phone 3. It has a 144Hz refresh rate, too, so you get a similar experience in terms of smoothness, but it's an IPS panel. Of course, you can also use it with a laptop when you're on the go, for example, and it can conenct via USB Type-C or micro-HDMI. The USB Type-C port can also charge the monitor, which will last about three hours on a charge otherwise.