The Asus ZenBook UX430UA-DH74 is among the most affordable Ultrabooks you can buy currently, although it isn’t the pinnacle of innovation on these sides of ultraportable notebooks.
PROS: Lightweight and very portable. Crisp, anti-glare display. Useful fingerprint sensor.
CONS: Absurd fingerprint sensor placement. Lid picks up smudges and fingerprints.
Asus continues to make smaller and more powerful ultrabooks, that compete with the likes of Apple and Dell on every other aspect, except pricing. As more people demand for more a more powerful computer that’s powerful enough to handle most everyday computing tasks, the like of the Asus ZenBook UX430UA-DH74 become more and more appealing.
The fact that it manages to squeeze tons of specs into a tiny package at a very sweet price point is one thing, but the facts that it’s able to conjure all that while maintaining an exquisite all-aluminum body is another feat altogether. It gets a full dose of Asus’ signature radial lid design so you won’t be worried of your Ultrabook looking fictitious as you type off that project in campus or at the local coffee shop.
Sure, it will take you back slightly more, than you’d pay for an entry-level ultrabook, but remember you’re spending on a premium device and not a lagging 15-inch behemoth.
Again, there are, of course the usual trade-offs when you opt for a laptop this thin. Ports have a tendency of getting thin too, and battery life somehow takes a dive off the cliff. Both of these are indeed true of the ZenBook UX430UA, but we wouldn’t help marveling at its crisp display, gorgeous casing and massive processing power.
Last year’s ZenBook 3 was a direct hit on Apple’s MacBook. This year, Asus are spoiling for a fight once again with the ZenBook DH74. It’s incredibly thin, sports an all-aluminum housing, but adds a few more ports over the ZenBook 3 from last year that had a solo USB-C port. That same port was to be used charging, connecting external peripherals and just about anything else you’d need to do with a port. The newer model adds a micro HDMI port, one USB 2.0, an extra USB 3.0, and an SD card reader over the existing USB 3.1 Type C port.
Still, you’ll find a fingerprint sensor for signing into the ZenBook using Windows Hello on the top-right corner of the touchpad and it maintains the same slim profile. I found the placement of the fingerprint sensor rather absurd, as it sometimes gets on the way while dragging your finger across the pad. Although it doesn’t have a direct impact on the touchpad’s functionality, I feel that it breaks the luxury of an otherwise smooth surface.
If you ever needed a laptop that you can easily tote around, without spending so much on a Dell XPS 13 or a MacBook Air, the ZenBook line has always been a welcome reprieve. At just 0.6 inches thin, the ZenBook DH74 is incredibly light. It’s not easy to understand how Asus manages to crack that size, considering its metal housing, at least I expect some reassuring weight. And, once you pick it up, you just realize that it weighs slightly below 2.9 pounds, making it one of the lightest ultrabooks around. The ZenBook 3 weighs a paltry 2 pounds.
Over time, I have become accustomed to Apple’s butterfly mechanism keyboards, with their signature light press keys and almost instant bounce back. Asus almost managed to mimic the same mechanism, but they still have a long way to perfect that. The backlit keys are comfortable and big enough for daily typing, but they don’t spring back into place that quickly. If a perfect keyboard is one of your worries, the MacBook 13 has one of the best keyboardS you can ever find on the market.
Despite the skinny profile for this Ultrabook, it gets a roomy trackpad, then you’d find on a typical laptop. It takes up most of the laptop’s width, but you’ll definitely appreciate the smooth and spacious surface it offers. For once, you will be at liberty to flex and press anywhere on the surface. That said, both the keyboard and touchpad offer a better experience than most ultrabooks around, with the touchpad supporting standard gestures that enable you quickly navigate around.
Display and Speakers
Whatever is motivating manufacturers into bezeless displays I can’t tell, but I know for sure the outcome is marvelous. On the ZenBook UX430UA, there’s a 14-inch display with a Full HD resolution. Asus have managed to trim the bezels down to 7.18mm, resulting in an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio. It’s the same trend among bezel-less phones and monitors and this gives you more screen in a small body.
In this case, the UX430UA looks more like a 13-inch laptop; the same approach used by Dell and Lenovo. The screen has a matte anti-glare coating, meaning it can be viewed under bright lighting. Asus claims that the display is capable of 100% sRGB, but the much you’re getting is 93% when we shelf the marketing side of it.
For sound, the speakers are tuned by Harmon Kardon that does a decent job of producing well-balanced sound, without distortions even at higher volumes. Of course, they aren’t the best around, but we certainly have worse laptop speakers out there, and most of them cost even more.
Usage and Performance
Intel’s 8th generation Kaby Lake Refresh i7-8550U powers through anything you put through the ZenBook DH74. That ‘everything’ doesn’t include 3D games, though, as they require a dedicated GPU, yet this system only has an Intel HD graphics card. Everything comes stock, including the laptop’s 1,920-by-1,080-pixel screen, generous 512GB solid-state drive (SSD) and 16GB of memory. This configuration makes multitasking a non-issue and, juggling between tabs and apps won’t bring about any noticeable slowdown.
The ZenBook UX430UA-DH74proves to be a solid performer and, for the most part, it’s faster than its predecessor from last year. That is partly attributed to the souped-up processor, and it seems like the new ZenBook takes a slight boast on graphics. On that note, the Kaby Lake Refresh chipset puts a little hop into the laptop’s performance in almost every other aspect, including improved battery life.
If there’s a thing you’re most likely to compromise on a laptop this thin is battery life. Asus claims that the 50WHrs battery can pull through 9 hours of use. However, if you fire up a Full HD movie at maximum brightness, with all the unnecessary feature (location, Bluetooth, backlit keyboard etc.) nulled, the much you’re getting is 6 hours 40 minutes. It would get worse, but the newer 8th generation processor offers a relieve. The Dell XPS 13 Touch will last 9 hours 15 minutes on similar use, while the 12-inch MacBook lasts 11 hours 34 minutes – thus, emerging the ultimate leader in battery life for the Ultrabook category.
The Bottom Line
The Asus ZenBook UX430UA-DH74 is among the most affordable Ultrabooks you can buy currently, although it isn’t the pinnacle of innovation on these sides of ultraportable notebooks. Regardless, Asus remarkably balances the complex art or components, price and excellent body quality. Personally, I’d pick the ZenBook UX430UA 1,000 times over competing Windows 10 laptop. In addition to being an absolute steal, this 14-inch ultraportable laptop cranks a near perfect 1080p screen, a refreshed Intel Core i7 chipset and a surprising number of ports.
Next to it, the 13-inch MacBook and Dell XPS look downright expensive, but the former justifies the price with all-day battery life, superb keyboard, solid construction and higher resolution screen. Late last year, brands introduced thin and exciting ultrabooks like the Lenovo Yoga 920 and HP Spectre x360 that are already turning heads. However, they too, cost more and for that the ZenBook DH74 remains as the most affordable unit that won’t disappoint you.