ASUS today at Computex 2016 in Taiwan announced a wide range of new products, including the ZenBook 3, its third-generation ultraportable notebook that is thinner, lighter, and faster than Apple’s lookalike 12-inch Retina MacBook.
The 12.5-inch ZenBook 3 has an ultra-thin 11.9mm aerospace-grade aluminum alloy chassis that weights just 2 pounds and is “50% stronger than the standard alloy” used in competing notebooks. Comparatively, the Retina MacBook is 13.1mm thick and weighs 2.03 pounds.
ZenBook 3’s display is crafted from edge-to-edge, scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 4, with a 1,920×1,080 pixels resolution and wide 72% NTSC color gamut. The notebook has a slim bezel design that provides an 82% screen-to-body ratio for a maximum viewing experience with a minimal footprint.
The Windows-based notebook is powered by up to an Intel Core i7 processor and features 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, up to 1TB of PCIe 3.0-based flash storage, and quad-speaker audio by Harman Kardon. Like the Retina MacBook, the ZenBook 3 has a single USB-C port for charging and connecting peripherals.
ASUS includes a dongle with USB 3.0, USB-C, and HDMI ports in the box, while a larger universal dock is available with additional connectivity options.
ASUS sacrificed a fanless design like the Retina MacBook has in favor of increased performance, but the ZenBook 3 has an innovative cooling system that features the “world’s thinnest fan design” at just 3mm. The notebook delivers up to 9 hours of battery life with fast-charging technology for recharging up to 60% capacity in 49 minutes.
ZenBook 3 is available in three spun-metal finishes, Royal Blue, Rose Gold, and Quartz Grey, based on a two-phase anodizing process that creates golden highlights on the diamond-cut edges. Whereas the Retina MacBook’s keyboard is always black, the ZenBook 3’s keyboard matches the color of each finish.
The full-sized backlit keyboard also has 19.8mm key pitch and a slightly deeper 0.8mm key travel, compared to 0.5mm on the Retina MacBook’s ultra-thin butterfly mechanism keyboard that some have contested. Next to the keyboard is a glass trackpad with palm-rejection technology, Smart Gestures, and handwriting support.
An optional built-in fingerprint reader with Windows Hello support enables users to sign in and unlock the ZenBook 3 with one finger tap, in lieu of having to type their password or PIN. Similarly, the 2016 MacBook Pro may feature Touch ID as Apple works on an unlocking-via-iPhone feature for OS X 10.12.
ZenBook 3 will be available in the third quarter of 2016, starting at $999 in the U.S. for the base model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. A 512GB SSD model will sell for $1,499, while the top-range Intel Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD will cost $1,999.
ASUS also announced the Zenbo home robot, the ZenFone 3 Series, the ASUS Transformer 3 Series, and multiple other new products.