A powerful Zenbook but with a disappointing screen
15.6 in 1,920×1,080 display, 2.1kg, 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM, 8.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, Windows 8
Asus’s Zenbook laptops are renowned for their superb build quality and the Zenbook Touch U500VZ is no different. Its stunning brushed aluminium chassis is similar to the Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A, but at 20mm thick the Touch U500VZ stands almost twice as tall as its more streamlined cousin. It’s heavier, too, weighing 2.1kg as opposed to the Zenbook Prime Touch’s meagre 1.4kg, but what the U500VZ lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in processing power.
The Touch U500VZ’s powerful quad-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM processor and 8GB of RAM scored an impressive 81 overall in our multimedia benchmarks, putting it a full 30 points ahead of the Zenbook Prime Touch. This is a significant boost in speed and performance over the more expensive Prime Touch, and it’s not far off our reference desktop processor. This laptop is more than capable of handling lots of demanding tasks simultaneously.
It’s a formidable gaming laptop too, thanks to its 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics chip. It produced a near perfect 59.8fps in our Dirt Showdown test on High quality settings at a 1,280×720 resolution, and we only had to lower the quality to Medium to get a comparable frame rate of 51.9fps when we increased the resolution to its native 1,920×1,080. Disabling the anti-aliasing will produce even smoother results, but you should be able to play most modern 3D games in Full HD as long as you don’t mind a slight compromise in graphical fidelity.
The U500VZ also coped relatively well with our Crysis 2 test. It only just scraped 15.5fps with graphics options set to Ultra at a resolution of 1,920×1,080, but we achieved a much smoother 40.6fps when we lowered the settings to High. This is one of the highest frame rates we’ve seen from a general-purpose laptop, and you’d be hard pushed to find anything quicker unless you opt for a gaming laptop.
At £1,500 the U500VZ needs a lot more than powerful components to help justify the price, and our main disappointment came from its 15.6in IPS display. At first impression, it looked great. Our solid reds, greens and blues were all rich and vibrant, while blacks were almost as dark as its bezel. This reflected our low black level reading of 0.34cd/m². Whites were bright and uniformly lit across the screen.
Unfortunately, its colour accuracy was very lacklustre. Our colour calibrator showed it was displaying just 67.7 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, with its blue and purple coverage being particularly poor. Reds and greens were better represented, but both fell quite short of their full gamut coverage.
This showed in our high contrast test photos, where colours were noticeably warmer and cooler than those on our reference screen. Its contrast levels were also average. Despite recording a contrast ratio of 1,018:1, its deep blacks often obscured areas of shadow detail, making it difficult to see night-time photos.
This was a shame, as its wide viewing angles meant we were able to see the screen clearly no matter where we positioned it on our work surface. The responsive ten-point touchscreen was also easy to use, despite its 1,920×1,080 resolution. We were able to open and close fiddly internet tabs with no trouble, and tap individual files when navigating the desktop.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3632QM|
|Processor clock speed||2.2GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Bang & Olufsen ICEpower|
|Pointing device||touchpad and touchscreen|
|Viewable size||15.6 in|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce GT 650M|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, VGA via adaptor|
|Total storage capacity||256GB|
|Optical drive type||none|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11a/g/n|
|PC Card slots||N/A|
|Supported memory cards||SD, SDHC, MMC|
|Other ports||headphone, microphone, mini VGA adapter|
|Operating system||Windows 8|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Warranty||two years RTB|