Asus: 2018 Brand Report Card
Asus tied with Acer for fourth place this year, sitting squarely in the middle of the pack. The company impressed us with its incredible range of value, premium and gaming systems, as well as its stellar design at every price.
Asus stunned us with the ROG Zephyrus, a superthin gaming notebook with an innovative hinge and an Nvidia Max-Q GPU. But the company lost a lot of points on tech support, with a poorly designed website and long hold times.
Asus' Key Strengths
- Great design: Asus' metal, minimalist designs won our hearts on the consumer side, while the compact Zephyrus and other gaming laptops showcased how good a gaming rig can look.
- Strong value: Asus sells laptops at a wide range of prices, from entry-level VivoBooks to premium ZenBooks.
Asus' Main Weaknesses
- Poor support: The website isn't clear, and the wait times were long when we made tech support calls in our Tech Support Showdown.
- Pay for shipping: Need something fixed? You have to pay to send it to Asus' repair center.
Top-Rated Asus Laptops
Asus has some really strong value laptops, compelling premium Ultrabooks and innovative gaming notebooks. The main thing keeping Asus from scoring higher this year is that its laptops were rarely strong enough to get Editors' Choice awards. However, the average Asus laptop scored a solid 3.6 out of 5 stars during our evaluation period, while only one out of 19 laptops (about 5 percent) got a score of less than 3.
Standout Asus laptops include the ZenBook 13 UX331UN — which has a gorgeous blue design, strong performance and long battery life — and the sleek ROG Zephyrus, one of the first gaming laptops with Nvidia Max-Q technology. Asus also makes the most durable Chromebook around, the Flip C213SA, which can survive 4-foot drops onto concrete.
Plastic seems to be a dirty word over at Asus. Of the 19 laptops we reviewed from this brand, only five are made from plastic. And in the case of the VivoBook W202NA and the Chromebook Flip C213SA, those plastic-and-rubber chassis add to the machines' ruggedness, giving it the ability to resist falls from 4 feet. The majority of the remaining notebooks employ the company's favorite design feature: concentric circles for a sophisticated look.
While the silver or purplish-gray aluminum is lovely to look at and sturdy to boot, Asus laptops look best in blue, as the ZenBook 13 UX331UN, ZenBook 3 Deluxe and ZenBook Flip S demonstrate. But the company's biggest design success is the ROG Zephyrus, with its slim, brushed-aluminum chassis and the Active Aerodynamics System, which reveals a hidden rear exhaust panel when the laptop is open. The AsusPro B9440 also deserves kudos for its MIL-SPEC-tested chassis, which has a slightly longer lid than the laptop base, creating a nice upward slant when the notebook is opened.
Support and Warranty (15/20)
The phone support reps at Asus may offer kind, attentive service, but the calls took too long to complete during our Tech Support Showdown. The path to tech support success on the company's website isn't the clearest, either.
And while we like that Asus allows you to upgrade memory and storage without voiding your warranty, we're not 100 percent pleased with the policies. If you need Asus to service your laptop, you have to pay to ship it to the company's premises.
Asus' crowning innovation this year was the Asus ROG Zephyrus, a thin gaming laptop utilizing an Nvidia Max-Q GPU to create an incredibly thin, ultraquiet gaming PC.
Its touchpad doubles as a number pad, and it has a unique venting system that opens when the laptop is in use. But beyond that, Asus has mostly been adapting to modern standards like Thunderbolt 3, as seen in the ZenBook 3 Deluxe.
Value and Selection (15/15)
Asus offers a ton of variety and some of the best values around. In a market in which premium Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 usually cost over $1,000 when you buy them with decent specs, the ZenBook UX330UA offers a speedy Core i5 CPU, a 256GB SSD and an all-metal design, all for under $750. The VivoBook E403NA is another great deal, providing an aluminum chassis, a 1080p screen and a wide variety of ports, all for less than $400.
MORE: Best Asus Laptops
The company also sells Chromebooks, including the durable C213SA, which is aimed at the education market, and 2-in-1s like the Flip C101PA.
Asus is also a leader in gaming with its Republic of Gamers line. The company offers a wide range of value there, too, with the entry- and mid-level Strix line offering options like the $1,179 ROG Strix GL503 with a GTX 1050 and Core i7, while higher-end ROGs, like the $2,700 Zephyrus, bring a GTX 1080 Max-Q, G-Sync display and superslim design.
The only big disappointment is in the business category, where we saw just one AsusPro cross our bench, and it was a middling machine.