ASUS Zenbook Flip 15 UX561UD review

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What we liked:

* Premium and professional look
* Solid build quality
* Vibrant and color-accurate display
* Snappy and responsive touchscreen
* Good performance
* Very good sound quality
* Decent battery life
* Sturdy hinge for 360-degree flip
* Good CPU heat management
* Slim design

What we didn’t:

* Flawed exhaust vent design
* Slightly expensive
* Annoying power button positioning
* Only 2GB VRAM

ASUS is known to manufacture devices that can compete with other brands and come up on top. One of their creations is a 2-in-1 laptop with a powerful 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor paired with NVIDIA’s GTX 1050 GPU — The Zenbook Flip 15. We took it for a full spin to see if it’s worth the purchase. Here’s our full review!

Design and Construction

The Zenbook Flip 15 has a solid, elegant, and premium look thanks to its aluminum chassis with a scratch-resistant finish. Its simplistic design gives it the impression that it’s tailored for professional use. What we certainly like about the design is that it receives minimal smudges or fingerprints.

The 15.6-inch screen of the Flip 15 has a Glare Touchscreen with wide-viewing angles. It’s responsive, snappy upon touching, and quite accurate.

On the right, we have the charging port, HDMI, two USB 3.0 (Type-A), audio ports, and an SD card slot. Good thing they no longer use USB 2.0 ports since it has a significantly slower file transfer than 3.0 ports.

The left side has the air vents, USB 3.0 (Type-C) port, LED notification lights, volume rockers, and power button. Anyone who is not used to handling a 2-in-1 laptop may accidentally press the power button when lifting or adjusting the device. We find it as an annoyance especially when inserting something on the right side as people’s tendencies are to grip the left side for support.

The Flip 15 uses a standard layout chiclet keyboard with white white-colored keys and white backlighting. One thing that we noticed is that it doesn’t have the last column after the Numpad, where the “-“, “+”, and “enter” are usually located. Personally, I like typing on this keyboard since pressing on each key is easy.

The touchpad that also serves as a click-pad is smooth on the hands and we didn’t feel much resistance when gliding our fingers, which is good.

The Flip 15’s main feature is its capability of being a tablet with the flip of the screen. Its alloy steel hinges make the screen possible to flip at a 360-degree position with ease. We didn’t have any problems flipping the screen since it is sturdy and can be done even with only one hand. We noticed that after flipping the screen at the start of a certain angle, it will automatically lock the keyboard and touchpad and change into tablet mode.

One thing to note is that across the right hinge is the exhaust vent for its GPU. Like we said in our previous review of the Zenbook Pro, ASUS did a poor job in having a design placement for the said vent as it gets blocked by the screen, which affects heat dispersion and is just counter-intuitive.

One main accessory for the Flip 15 is the Asus pen, which is widely used in a number of their laptops with touchscreens. It is a stylus pen that is powered by a single AAAA battery and has 2 buttons (eraser and right-click function).

The pen feels slightly heavy but sturdy in the hands. The screen of the laptop is snappy and responsive to the pen’s touch. It can also be used for easier navigation if you choose to switch to tablet mode. For artists and users who like to draw, they don’t have to purchase a pen tablet anymore.

The Zenbook Flip 15 feels sturdy and slim in the hands. It is also slightly heavy but can be carried with only one hand. Flexes across the screen and keyboard are present but minimal, which indicates that the construction is good and well-made. We didn’t have any problems with opening the lid with only one hand. The screen and keyboard have little flex which is a good sign that they are solidly built.

Display and Multimedia

The Zenbook Flip 15 is equipped with a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080px display. Unlike the Zenbook Pro, it has slightly thicker bezels. Color accuracy is good and vibrant while the viewing angles are decent. ASUS Zenbooks have a history of having good color reproduction displays which is always a plus for any user. Users will have a great time watching and streaming videos on this ultrabook since they can switch to tablet mode. Users can also adjust the color temperature of the display using the ASUS Splendid Technology.

Audio quality is loud, clear, and crisp thanks to the Harman/Kardon loudspeakers. The highs, mids, and lows are more than decent enough. The AudioWizard app lets users choose which sound type they would prefer by picking on the presets or by just customizing their preferred quality.

Combining both display and audio qualities, we can say that the Flip 15 is more than capable of delivering a good watching and listening experience for users who are movie addicts and audiophiles.

OS, Apps, and Storage

The Zenbook Flip 15 runs on Windows 10 Home, which is the standard operating system nowadays. There is no bloatware in the laptop and pre-installed applications are useful for users. The pre-installed applications include Battery Health Charging, Install, Live Update, USB Charger Plus, Splendid Utility, and Microsoft Office 365. Another plus here is the included McAfee anti-virus software.

The only storage that it has is the 512GB of SSD from Micron. With this, transfer speeds and task executions are significantly faster than a traditional HDD. The 512GB may not be enough for some users especially those who like to play games, watch videos, and listen to music so we suggest using an external hard drive for additional space.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Flip 15 is one powerful 2-in1 ultrabook since it’s rocking an Intel Core i7-8550U, NVIDIA GTX 1050 (2GB), 512GB SSD, and 8GB RAM that is expandable up to 16GB. This kind of setup is viable for gaming, photo, and video editing. We have tested the laptop in various gaming benchmarks in the highest graphics settings (except for one).

The results showed that the Flip 15 is at a playable state but should be played under lower graphics settings especially in Crysis 3. Thanks to its 8GB RAM, users can still multitask even when playing games.

We then subjected the Zenbook Flip 15 in Unigine’s benchmarking applications but we opted to skip the Superposition since it failed to run due to low VRAM.

Compared from what he had with the GTX 1050 Ti of the Zenbook Pro, it is apparent that the performance between the two is significantly far from each other.

Connectivity and Battery Life

As said earlier, the Zenbook Flip 15 has two USB 3.0 Type A ports, SD card reader, Type C thunderbolt port, and HDMI port. The existence of a USB 3.1 Type C port is a good advantage since we are now transitioning to faster data transfer speeds. We did not encounter any problems with testing all the ports. Bluetooth and WiFi connections are fast and we didn’t encounter any interruptions or connection drops.

The Flip 15 did an impressive job of having a long-lasting battery life. We did a video loop test on the laptop (1080p video, 50% brightness, and 50% sound) and it yielded 8 hours and 15 minutes. For a 2-in-1 ultrabook, this is quite impressive since it hoards more power than usual laptops. Charging took us around 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours to go from 0-100%.

Thermals

Since the Flip 15 didn’t change its exhaust vent placement for the GPU, we expected bad thermal management on the laptop. The screen itself blocks the vent so when we tested its temperature in FurMark, the laptop reached 85-degrees for the GPU which is quite high and hot. The screen is also in danger of overheating since the air flowing out of the vent directly hits it.

A redeeming quality for its thermals, however, is its CPU. The Flip 15 is equipped with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor which is more optimized and efficient than the previous generation. When tested in the Prime95 stress test, the maximum temp of the CPU only reached 80-degrees. a 12-degree difference from the Zenbook Pro that we reviewed before. Do note however that these are stress tests and do not reflect real-world usage.

The fans are strong but it is not fully utilized for the GPU vents, unfortunately.

Conclusion

The ASUS Zenbook Flip 15 UX561UD has promising specs and features for a 2-in-1 ultrabook. It is solid and well-built, it has a responsive and snappy touchscreen, a vibrant and color accurate display, loud, and clear sound speakers. The performance is pretty good since the device uses an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor. One major issue though is heat management due to bad exhaust vent placement. Other than that, its advantages more than outweigh its disadvantages. Now, is this laptop worth it? The answer is a yes especially for people whose purpose is for professional use.

ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 UX561UD key specs:
  • 15.6-inch 16:9 LED backlit FHD/4K UHD (1920×1080) Glare Touchscreen with 72% NTSC with 178-degree wide-viewing angle display
  • Intel Core i7 8550U 1.8GHz Processor
  • 8GB DDR4 2400MHz SDRAM Onboard Memory, up to 16 GB SDRAM
  • Nvidia GTX1050 GPU with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • Windows 10 Home
  • WiFi 802.11 AC (2×2)
  • IR Camera1 x COMBO audio jack
  • 1 x Type C Thunderbolt
  • 2 x USB 3.0 port(s) Type A
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x Fingerprint
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x AC adapter plug
  • 1 x Volume up/down
  • Chiclet keyboard with isolated Num key
  • Built-in Stereo 16 W Speakers And Array Microphone
  • Harman Kardon speaker
  • Alloy steel 360° hinge mechanism
  • 3 Cells 52 Whrs Polymer Battery
  • BIOS Booting User Password Protection
  • fTPM (Firmware-based Trusted Platform Module)
  • 364 x 246 x 21 mm (w/ 3cell battery) (WxDxH)
  • 2.1kg with battery

(yugatech.com, http://bit.ly/2IWpA3U)

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