The Asus ZenBook is a MacBook on a budget

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I have been using an Asus laptop for about two years now and it has indeed served me well. I had my reservations at first  but I have come to love it and therefore, it is no shock that my excitement on seeing the new Asus ZenBook 3 could not be contained. Word on the street is that it is a MacBook knock-off in prettier packaging but I like to think of it as a ‘Mac-on -budget’.

Apple has been on the forefront of the minimalist act with their ultra-portable MacBook but have since lagged behind in terms of specs therefore it is nice seeing the ZenBook give them a run for their money.

There is no denying that new Asus ZenBook is quite similar to the MacBook in terms of aesthetics but its incredible features definitely sets them apart.

I did a comparison between the two in terms of their specs and pricing to  gauge which of them offered the best value for money and determine if indeed the ZenBook  could be a worthy opponent.

Design                                                                                                                                                                                                 The ZenBook weighs about 910grams while the MacBook weighs about 912grams. The casing on both is made of aluminium with the ZenBook claimed to be from a special aerospace grade hence slimmer and lighter than the MacBook but a bit wider.

It is available in quartz grey, royal blue and rose gold while the MacBook comes  in silver, gold, space gray and rose-gold.

Display
The ZenBook has a 12.5inch screen with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels limited to full HD. The screen also comes fitted with a gorilla glass 4 for extra durability. The MacBook on the other hand has a 12-inch screen with 2304x 1440 pixels making the MacBook have the best clarity on display.

Ports
Both the ZenBook and the MacBook have one USB-C port and one headset jack.

Processor
By integrating a 3mm fan, the ZenBook that boasts of 1TB PCIe SSD storage and 16GB RAM, can support an intel core i7 processor chip with a speed of 2.3 GHz compared to the MacBook with 512GB PCIe SSD storage, 8GB RAM and supports intel core m7 chip with speed of 1.1 GHz. This means that ZenBook is much faster compared to the MacBook.

The spectacularly speed however comes at a price, the Core-I processor requires the fan to be very efficient otherwise there could be throttling and a lot of noise.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The ZenBook has a vertical travel of 0.8mm compared to the MacBook’s 0.5mm and even though the travel space is better it is rumored to still be shallow and quite uncomfortable to type with. This is not really a win for the MacBook as its keyboard could also do with a bit of improvement.

The ZenBook has integrated a finger print reader with windows hello support on the touchpad that allows user authentication.

The MacBook offers larger trackpad but the ZenBook’s glass pad is definitely something to write home about.

Battery life
The ZenBook battery offers 40 watt hours claimed to last 9 hours while the MacBook offers 41 watt hours that lasts 10 hours.

Given that it is powered by a Core-I processor that is energy demanding, the battery life offered may not be sufficient and therefore it may disappoint on this front. A slightly bigger display also means more backlight and hence further drain on the battery.

On the bright side you can top up the battery to 60% in just about 49 minutes according to Asus.

Pricing
The ZenBook base models will cost $999 (99,000 Ksh) while the MacBook goes for $1299 (129,000 Ksh). In as much as the starting price is cheaper than the MacBook the specs on the model (4GB RAM, 256GB SSD and core i5) are a sham. The high-end ZenBook will retail at $1999 while the MacBook retails at $1599

The ZenBook is spectacular and much more better than the MacBook but I have a few reservations on its capability that I hope will be proved wrong. The limited Input-output space is also a major turn off for those of us who like to connect more than one accessory at a go and could mean incurring an extra expense buying an external USB port.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Lilian Mutinda
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