Asus: 2019 Brand Report Card
As they say, fortune favors the bold. Asus shot to second place this year, thanks to the innovations it brought to the table, including the ScreenPad and ErgoLift hinge. The design of Asus' laptops continues to impress and the company offers a wide selection of products.
Asus surprised us with the ZenBook Pro 15, the first laptop with a ScreenPad, or a touchpad that doubles as a secondary display. But like last year, the company lost points on tech support because some of its agents couldn't offer help.
Asus' Key Strengths
- Innovative features: Between the ScreenPad (a touchpad that doubles as a secondary screen) and ErgoLyft hinge, Asus took some serious risks this year, and reaped the rewards.
- Gorgeous designs: Asus puts serious thought into the design of each of its laptops.
Asus' Key Weaknesses
- Support and warranty: Asus' support once again failed to deliver. The support team we spoke to on the phone had difficulty answering our questions and the company doesn't (yet) offer any extended warranty programs.
- Few standout laptops: While we liked the majority of Asus laptop we reviewed this year, only one received a 4.5-star rating and our Editor's Choice award.
Top-Rated Asus Laptops
- Best Gaming: Asus ROG Strix Hero II
- Best for Students: Asus ZenBook UX333FA
- Best Budget Laptop: Asus Chromebook C523NA
Asus offers some great laptops across a wide range of categories, from affordable Chromebooks to premium gaming rigs. The average Asus laptop scored a solid 3.8 out of 5-star rating, and only two devices we reviewed this year earned below a 3.5. Those high scores result from the stunning designs and reasonable prices Asus is known for. But as much as we like Asus' latest offering of laptops, only one earned an Editor's Choice award.
The one Asus laptop worthy of our EC, the 4.5-star ROG Strix Hero II, has a striking design with dark aluminum surfaces highlighted by a glowing RGB light bar. Gamers will also appreciate the Strix Hero II's 144-Hz panel and GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. The $850 ZenBook 13 UX333FA is another standout laptop that has outstanding battery life, along with a compact design and strong performance. An even more affordable option is the $699 VivoBook S15, which comes in a variety of beautiful color options.
Asus is like a fashion house in that it offers a variety of designs at any given time. ZenBooks, like the ZenBook S UX391UA, ZenBook Pro and ZenBook 13 UX333FA, are the company's classic look, complete with the intricate concentric circles gently etched into an aluminum lid. And while the Chromebook C523NA and the VivoBook Flip 14 were described as "rather bland," the VivoBook S15 stunned with its beautiful Firmament Green chassis that’s both metal and plastic.
Gaming laptops like the TUF Gaming FX705 and the FX504 is where Asus gets avant- garde with some of its more outlandish designs, including a large, stylized X. The Zephyrus (ROG Zephyrus S) line of laptops is more refined, offering a two-toned metal lid with an exhaust vent that remains hidden until you open the system. Some laptops, like the ROG Strix Scar II, are a bit polarizing despite the Zephyrus exterior chassis, thanks to its camouflage-inspired interior.
Support and Warranty (14/20)
Asus' online tech support (on social media and live chat) proved a reliable avenue for finding correct answers to our undercover questions. Unfortunately, though, the Asus team members we talked to on the phone were not well-versed in the company's own applications, and kept sending us in the wrong direction.
Asus offers a standard one-year warranty with its laptops, which sometimes includes accidental damage protection, depending on your laptop. It doesn't offer extended warranty programs (maybe that will change near the end of this year), but one upside is that you can upgrade memory or storage without voiding your warranty.
When it comes to innovation, Asus is the most aggressive brand around. The company took a risk with the ScreenPad on the Asus ZenBook Pro 15, and it paid off. This LCD is a touchpad, music-player controller, productivity-shortcut toolbar and second display all in one. And the improved ScreenPad Plus is coming soon to more laptops.
Asus is also experimenting with dual-screen laptops with its Project Precog, which will be hitting the market in a shipping device this year. And the new ZenBook S13 (UX392FN), which is out now, is the slimmest laptop with discrete graphics on the market.
Asus has serious game, too, as evidenced by the ROG Mothership. This gaming rig reinvents the desktop replacement with serious power and a detachable keyboard.
Value and Selection (14/15)
Asus has a broad selection of laptops, but there are some gaps. For $209, you can get the Asus Chromebook C523NA, which features a sharp display and solid performance tucked neatly into an aluminum chassis. There’s also the rugged Chromebook C202SA available for $218. Not a fan of Chromebooks? The VivoBook L203MA ($249) runs on Windows 10. A step up from that is the VivoBook Flip 14 ($449); this machine wasn't necessarily a hit, but we enjoyed its stylish 2-in-1 design and stylus. The $699 VivoBook S15 earned 4 stars thanks to its colorful chassis and good performance.
MORE: Best Asus Laptops
The company peeks into premium territory with the ZenBook 13 UX333FA, which offers a strong Core i5 CPU and excellent battery life, all for a reasonable $849. If you're a big spender, consider the ZenBook Pro 15 ($1,199 starting), which nets you up to a Core i9, a GTX 1050 Ti and a gorgeous 4K display. That machine also features a wild touchpad with an LCD screen that functions as a customizable second display.
Asus has a tiered gaming-laptop lineup, starting with the entry-level Tuf Gaming FX504 ($679), ROG Strix Scar II ($1,699) and ROG Zephyrus S ($1,399), which we praised for their strong overall performance. And with the ROG G703 ($3,999) refreshed, the company even dipped into the premium gaming scene.