Review unit on loan from ASUS Singapore
The ASUS Zenbook 15 OLED (UM3504) is the bigger brother of the ASUS Zenbook S 13 OLED (UX5304) that I've reviewed recently. The two share the port selection and same design and are available in Ponder Blue and the gorgeous ceramic Basalt Gray. Unfortunately here in Singapore, only the Ponder Blue version is available. If you can get the one with ceramic cover, get that model because that looks and feels so much better.
The main differences between the two models are:
- 15.6-inch, 16:9, 120Hz, OLED display vs the 13.3-inch, 16:10, 60Hz, OLED display
- 1.4kg vs 1kg
- AMD Ryzen™ 7 7735U 2.7GHz(8-core/16-thread, 16MB cache, up to 4.75 GHz max boost) vs Intel® Core™ i7-1355U 1.7 GHz (12MB Cache, up to 5.0 GHz, 10 cores, 12 Threads)
- SGD 2098 vs SGD 2399 (currently SGD 2241 on ASUS Singapore online store), USD 1299 vs USD 1279
I find it interesting the bigger laptop is much cheaper in Singapore, possibly because it's using AMD instead of Intel processor. By the way, the 15.3-inch M2 Macbook Air with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage is 1.51kg and cost SGD 2199, USD 1499.
According to the benckmarks I've seen online, the AMD chip has lower single-core performance but higher multi-core performance. Anyway, both are non-gaming laptops so that's that.
I would personally place priority on the 1kg portability over the larger 15-inch display because I can connect the laptop to a larger external monitor. However if you're looking at laptop as your main and only computer, then perhaps getting a larger display is better.
Here are the specifications for the review unit I received:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen™ 7 7735U Mobile Processor 2.7GHz(8-core/16-thread, 16MB cache, up to 4.75 GHz max boost)
- Graphics: AMD Radeon™ Graphics (integrated)
- Memory: 16GB LPDDR5
- Storage: 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
- Display: 15.6-inch 2880 x 1620 OLED, 120Hz, 400 nits brightness, 600 nits HDR
- Networking: Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211, Bluetooth 5.3
- Ports: 1x USB 4 Type C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 gen 1 Type-A, HDMI 2.1 (TDMS), 3.5 mm combo audio jack
- Camera: 1080p, IR
- Battery: 67 WHr
- Power: Adapter 65W
- OS: Windows 11 Home
- Dimensions: (WxDxH): 35.48 x 22.66 x 1.49 ~ 1.58 cm (13.97" x 8.92" x 0.59" ~ 0.62")
- Weight: 3.09 pounds / 1.4 kg
- Price: SGD 2,099, USD 1299 on Amazon US
- USB-A to RJ45 gigabit ethernet adapter
- USB-C Charger
The colour of this review unit is Ponder Blue with some shimmer to the matte textured surface. The colour looks like a dark Prussian Blue to me.
The surface is quite susceptible to fingerprints. See the photo of the back below.
The ceramic Basalt Gray colour (above) from the Zenbook S 13 OLED just looks and feels better. This colour unfortunately is not available for the UM3504 model.
The weight of 1.4kg is considered lightweight for a tablet this size. Built quality is surprisingly solid with minimal flex to body and keyboard deck. The laptop is quite thin too. The bottom of the left and right sides are angled for your fingers to pick up the laptop easily.
The back has many vents for the air intake. Fans only come on when you're pushing the processor, e.g. exporting photos and videos. Full fan speed is loud but not too loud.
The downward facing speakers are loud but audio quality sounds slightly hollow since they are facing downwards. The speakers from the Zenbook S 13 OLED also face downwards but they also face the side and hence have better audio quality.
There's just one USB 3.2 gen 1 Type-A port on the left side, just beside the fan exhaust.
Ports on the right are full-size HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, USB 4 and USB 3.2 gen 2 Type-C.
The 15.6-inch OLED non-touchscreen display has 100% DCI-P3 colour support and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. This is a colour accurate display that's suitable for colour critical visual content work such as graphic design and photography.
Brightness is 400 nits with HDR brightness at 600 nits.
Resolution is 2880 x 1620 with no visible pixelation. Refresh rate is 120Hz so animation such as scrolling, zoom, are very smooth.
I'm personally not a fan of displays with 16:9 aspect ratio though. 16:10 or 3:2 would be better for productivity especially for laptops because given the fixed width, you get more vertical pixels to show more content.
In the photo above, I've used Adobe Lightroom and the 3:2 photo has empty space by the sides due to the 16:9 aspect ratio. A 16:10 display would have utilised the unused space to show the photo bigger.
The keyboard is standard sized with backlight. Typing experience is good. Keys have good travel and feedback.
Touchpad is big, accurate, sensitive and supports finger gesture shortcuts.
The 3-col numpad will take some time to get used to though.
Overall performance is fast and smooth. I was able to play Hades, which isn't too demanding on graphics, at 120 FPS at 1080 resolution.
With Red Dead Redemption 2, I was able to get 38 FPS with 720P resolution and that's actually smooth enough for gameplay. With the resolution at 1080P, frame rate varies from 25 to 35FPS so there will be the occasional lag.
The system is quick to boot up and apps launch fast. Face unlock is effective. Download speed with Wifi 6E is speedy. Multi-tasking is responsive.
I was able to edit and playback simple cut-and-join 4K videos without lag using DaVinci Resolve. If your work revolves around editing video, there are probably more powerful laptops you can get for the same price. The selling point of this laptop is the weight and the price is reflected for that. Heavier laptops have more space for cooling and are cheaper than slim laptops.
Battery life is about 8 hours and that's decent for a Windows laptop.
The ASUS Zenbook 15 OLED (UM3504) is a well built laptop with a beautiful display and decent lag-free performance for general use.
I like almost everything about this non-gaming laptop except for the 16:9 aspect ratio display and the downward facing speakers.
Personally, I would go with the Zenbook S 13 OLED (UX5304) just because I prefer 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio displays, and the ceramic Basalt Gray colour looks and feels better.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ Lightweight at 1kg
+ Slim at 1cm
+ Surprisingly solid build quality despite the lightweight material
+ Good typing experience
+ Touchpad is accurate and responsive
+ Face unlock is effective and fast
+ Useful ports included
+ Bright, vibrant, high resolution OLED display
+ Lifting design makes it comfortable to use it on the lap
+ Decent performance for non-gaming laptop
+ Good audio quality
+ 8hrs battery life
+ Competitive price with other laptops in the extreme portable category
+ Can handle light gaming
- Volume does not get much louder beyond 50%
- A few bloatware that can be uninstalled easily