Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW Review Editor's Choice

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Attractive all-metal chassis; Impressive battery life; Great value; Very good Nvidia graphics performance; Colorful 15.6-inch UHD touch screen; USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3

The Cons

Slightly heavier than competing machines; Superglossy screen; No configuration options


Asus' ZenBook Pro offers top-tier performance and design at a fraction of the price of other pro-level 15-inch laptops from Apple and Dell.

Whether you're a future architect working on the next Fallingwater or a budding director trying to cut the next Citizen Kane, sometimes you just need more PC than what the traditional mainstream laptop has to offer. But that doesn't mean you need to shell out in excess of $2,000 to get one. Asus' ZenBook Pro UX501VW offers an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and Nvidia 960M discrete graphics, all for just $1499, more than $500 less than an equivalent MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 15. It even has a high-res UHD touch screen, which makes this an ideal machine for editing photos or videos. The ZenBook Pro is so good it feels like there should be a catch or secret hidden beneath its sturdy aluminum unibody frame, but aside from a few minor nitpicks, Asus' 15-inch multimedia machine is almost flawless.

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On the 15-inch ZenBook Pro, Asus takes a simple, almost stately approach to design. The machine features an all-aluminum chassis topped by the company's signature concentric ring finish on the metallic gray lid, with subtle, polished edges on the sides. When you pry open the lid, there are more concentric rings set near the rear of the keyboard, and an ample, brushed metal deck where you can rest your palms.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW Size
Weight 5 pounds
Dimensions 15.1 x 10.0 x 0.80 inches


Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW Lid DesignWhile the ZenBook Pro's lid and palm rest have a little more flex than you get from other aluminum-bodied systems, like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, it's not enough to cause concern, and overall the UX501VW feels quite solid.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VWWeighing 5 pounds, Asus' ZenBook Pro (15.1 x 10 x 0.8 inches) is about half a pound heavier and slightly larger and thicker than other 15-inch multimedia machines. That includes the 2015 MacBook Pro (14. x 9.7 x 0.71 inches and 4.49 pounds), the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro (14. x 9.8 x 0.70 and 4.45 pounds) especially Dell's sleek XPS 15 (14.01 x 9.23 x 0.45-0.66-inches and 4.4 pounds).

Keyboard and Touchpad

With a travel distance of 2.1 millimeters, the ZenBook Pro's keyboard features a long stroke, which, when combined with the keyboard's 62 grams of required actuation force, makes for a comfy typing experience. However, if you're used to boards with short key travel, like I am, it can take a little while to adjust to pressing down all the way in order for keys to register. I hit 76 words per minute on's typing test, which is was on the slow side of my typical 75-80 wpm range, but not annoyingly so. 

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW KeyboardThe one trade-off Asus makes on the keyboard is a half-size Right Shift key in return for a set of full-size arrow keys. While this can make typing a little slower at first, it's a sacrifice that really benefits video pros, who often use those keys to navigate to different frames of while editing.

The ZenBook Pro' s ample, 4 x 2.75-inch touchpad features a smooth, silver-matte finish that blends in with the metal deck. As expected, the touchpad responded quickly and accurately to both clicking and multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom.


With its 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 UHD touch screen, the ZenBook Pro's display is ideal for photo and video editors who aren't wedded to Apple. Aside from a very subtle blue tint, both videos and pictures looked almost exactly the same on the ZenBook Pro's display as they did on my professionally calibrated NEC desktop monitor. I just wish the coating were less shiny, as I spent a little too much time staring back at myself.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW DisplayWhen I watched the Warcraft movie trailer at 4K, I loved the supersharp detail on the humans' swords, which made them look like they might cut right through the screen. However, I did notice that the icy Blizzard logo at the beginning of the clip had a faintly deeper blue hue than I saw on other displays.

Asus ZenBook pro UX501VW Display: Test Results
Benchmark Score How it Compares
Brightness 289 nits Strong
Color Gamut (sRGB) 111 percent Very Srrong
Color Accuracy (Delta e) 4.37 Below Average

At 289 nits of brightness, the ZenBook Pro's screen was about as bright as the display on Dell's XPS 15 (285 nits), slightly dimmer than the one on Apple's 2015 MacBook Pro (303 nits) and a good deal behind the screen on Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Pro (405 nits).

The ZenBook Pro's screen can reproduce 110 percent of the sRGB color gamut. Anything above 100 percent is great, and the Asus bested the MacBook Pro by quite a bit (86 percent). However, this notebook's panel lost out to the super-rich displays on the XPS 15 (191 percent) and the Ativ Book 9 Pro (130 percent), although its colors looked more true to life.

Color accuracy also lagged a little behind similar systems, as the ZenBook Pro earned a Delta-E rating of 4.37. (Numbers closer to zero are better.) Dell's XPS 15 (0.7) and Apple's MacBook Pro (2.1) both scored better, while Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Pro was a fair bit away, at 9.5.


At first glance, the ZenBook Pro looks like it's hiding its speakers behind the circular patterns on its deck, but in fact, sound comes from a set of Bang & Olufsens located on opposite sides of the laptop's bottom. When listening to Ratatat's "Neckbrace," I liked the system's clear highs and its reproduction of the wailing guitars, although I found its low-end thump lacking as I missed the headbanging bass I was really looking for.


Discrete graphics often make it difficult for a system to keep its heat properly bottled up. But the ZenBook Pro didn't suffer from this problem. After we streamed a video for 15 minutes, the hottest spot on the system (the underside, in between the two middle fans) measured just 91 degrees Fahrenheit, safely below our 95-degree comfort threshold.

The space between the G and H keys was even cooler, at 88 degrees, and the touchpad didn't register much above room temperature, at 80 degrees.

Ports and Webcam

In addition to three regular USB 3.0 ports, the ZenBook Pro now features a superfast USB-C connection with support for Thunderbolt 3.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW PortsThat means the port can be used to hook up an external display, or for making blazing-fast data transfers at up to 40 Gbps. You also get a combo microphone/headphone jack, HDMI 2.0 and an SD card reader.

The HD webcam is less impressive, though. The picture I snapped in our well-lit office came out too dark, grainy and soft for me to really appreciate it.


The ZenBook Pro comes out of the box ready to tackle all of your productivity and multimedia needs, featuring an Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. That's a good thing, because right now, this is the only config you can buy. 

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW (Core i7 / 16GB / 512GB): Performance Tests
Benchmark Score How it Compares
Geekbench 3 11,472 Below Average
Spreadsheet Macro Test 3:41 Strong
File Transfer Test 462.66 MBps Strong


In everyday use, the ZenBook Pro flies through tasks such as sorting through spreadsheets or simply running a bunch of browser tabs. Even with 15 tabs open in Edge, the UX501VW had no trouble streaming multiple 1080p videos from YouTube.

When we ran Geekbench 3 to measure overall system performance, the ZenBook Pro scored 11,472. That's slightly behind numbers from the $2,130 Dell XPS 15 (13,502), $1,599 Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro (12,334) and $2,500 Apple MacBook Pro (14,423), despite those systems featuring the same, or older versions of the ZenBook Pro's Core i7 CPU.

The UX501VW's PCIe 512GB SSD was pretty speedy, registering a transfer rate of 462.66 MBps, which was significantly faster than showings by the Ativ Book 9 Pro's 256GB SSD (133.9 MBps) and the Dell XPS 15's 512GB SSD (254 MBps), but not quite as fast as the time for the MacBook Pro's 512 solid state drive (636 MBps).

Lastly, on our productivity test, the ZenBook Pro matched 20,000 names and addresses in OpenOffice in just 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Dell's XPS 15 and Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Pro were both in the same range, at 3:36 each, while the MacBook Pro was a little more lethargic, with a time of 4:14.


Featuring an Nvidia 960M GPU with 2GB of vRAM, the ZenBook Pro expectedly kept pace with the graphics power of the Dell XPS 15 (which features the same Nvidia 960M GPU) and outdid the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro (which features an older and less potent Nvidia 950M GPU).

On 3DMark's Fire Strike graphics test, the ZenBook Pro scored 4,308, versus 3,949 for the XPS 15 and 3,236 for the Ativ Book 9 Pro. The ZenBook Pro also held a slight edge in gaming, as it pushed 38 fps in Rainbow Six Siege at 1920 x 1080 and high settings. The XPS 15 trailed slightly behind, at 32 fps, and the Ativ Book 9 Pro brought up the rear, at an unplayable 8 fps under the same settings.

Battery Life

Kudos to Asus for addressing one of the few issues we had with last year's ZenBook Pro. The UX501VW lasted a solid 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi) versus the pitiful 4:25 we got from this machine's predecessor. 

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

That's more than 2 hours longer than the typical mainstream laptop (5:37), and it beats Dell's XPS 15 (6:36) and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Pro (5:31). Only the MacBook Pro (9:08) lasted longer in this class of notebook.

Laptop Battery Life
Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW 8:00
Category Average 5:37


Currently, both Asus and third-party retailers offer only the single $1,500 model, which has an Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and an Nvidia 960m GPU. However, in the future, I wouldn't mind seeing a model with a more-powerful Nvidia 970M, or a less-expensive model with a 1920 x 1080 screen.

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW Config and Cost 
Screen CPU / GPU RAM / Storage Price
3840 x 2160 Core i7-6700HQ / Nvidia 960m 16GB / 512GB $1,500

Software and Warranty

The ZenBook Pro comes with Windows 10 Home and a handful of media-editing programs, such as Cyberlink's PhotoDirector and PowerDirector. But these apps seem like superfluous additions, since the laptop's target audience of Windows-based creative professionals tends to opt for Adobe's more-powerful editing apps. For those who don't already have access to something like Premiere or Photoshop, Asus conveniently provides a gift box featuring a 20 percent off coupon for Adobe Creative Cloud among other software deals. 

You also get helpful utilities such as Nvidia's GeForce Experience, along with Asus Live Update, which helps optimize and update your laptop to keep it running smoothly. The Zen Book Pro comes with an Asus' standard one-year warranty as well.

Bottom Line

I'm still trying to find the source of Asus' black magic that permitted the creation of a $1,499 machine that rivals the best from Dell and Apple but at a fraction of the cost and with nearly zero compromises. A similarly equipped XPS 15 runs $2,130 and has battery life that's an hour and a half shorter, while the closest MacBook Pro config costs a whopping $2,500 and features a lower-res display and no touch screen or Thunderbolt 3. And despite those other systems sky-high price tags, neither offers much of an advantage, if any, in performance.

The UX501VW's supershiny screen, somewhat-stiff keyboard and slightly greater heft are minor quibbles when you consider this laptop's solid 8-hour battery life, colorful UHD touch screen and beautiful aluminum unibody chassis. The ZenBook Pro is so good, it feels like theft, stealing wind and dollars out of Dell's and Apple's sails while saving you money at the same time. 

CPU 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 512GB
Hard Drive Speed n/a
Hard Drive Type SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 15.6
Native Resolution 3840 x 2160
Optical Drive None
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce 960M GPU with 2GB of RAM
Video Memory 2GB
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model Dual-band 2x2 802.11ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.1 x 2.8-inches
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) Thunderbolt 3
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) Combo Headphone/Mic Jack
Ports (excluding USB) USB-C
USB Ports 3
Card Slots SD memory reader
Warranty/Support one-year standard warranty
Size 15.1 x 10.0 x 0.80-inches
Weight 5 pounds
Company Website
Add a comment
  • Alicia Tan Says:

    I've purchased my Asus Zenbook Pro UX501V in January 2016 when i just released it for not long. The model i got was built in December 2015(shown at the back of the laptop itself).I still remember that when i first bought it and turned it on when i reached home, the touchpad is faulty. Had to send it back and get a brand new laptop. Was already losing a little confidence at the time.

    So since then I've been using that laptop. However in Late May 2018, my laptop died. Sent to the service centre and was told the motherboard is faulty, cost AUD $800 to get it replaced, excluding labour cost.

    I was in shock and disappointed!!! It's only been 2 1/2 years of using it! And I spent about AUD$2.7k when I bought it! I don't think I'm a heavy user as tasks I carry out are usually, Autocad, Sketchup, Done Lumion rendering few times and that's it! I dont use it for gaming at all!

    Utter disappointment!!

    I WILL NEVER GET AN ASUS ZENBOOK AGAIN! Something for you guys to think about.

  • edit1754 Says:

    Prospective buyers be aware this laptop uses a PenTile (RG/BW) not-true-4K display. The RGB in each pixel is replaced with either only RG or only BW. This means you get all the risk for content scaling issues of 4K, without the full sharpness of 4K to "make up for it". ASUS does this on just about all their current high-res offerings, and it's commonly regarded to be deceptive marketing. See the sidebar on for more info.

    The mustard yellow issue this laptop is infamous for primarily pertains to the low-quality Samsung variant of the not-true-4K panel. It seems there is a lottery between Samsung and LG, neither of which are true 4K.

    If you're in it for the 4K, you might want to check out the following instead, which use true 4K displays.
    - Dell XPS 15 4K (refurbs can be a great deal, and the build quality is so good it doesn't matter)
    - Dell Precision series w/ 4K (same)
    - Lenovo Ideapad Y700 4K
    - Lenovo Legion Y720 4K
    - Lenovo Yoga 720 4K

  • Aashish Bhagavatula Says:

    I have this laptop it is a great performer if your are a heavy media consumer, want a number pad because of excel, and occasionally play games at 1080p.
    The biggest cons of this is absolutely the screen glare and weak speakers. overall though a really great value especially with the nvme ssd on it and thunderbolt 3 port.

  • Petar Says:

    Serious mustard yellow color problem. I returned it back for full refund in 3 days. Dont buy this if you are photographer

  • George Reimer Says:

    Why do so many people ask questions on this article?

  • Alex R. Says:

    This is a great laptop until it stops working properly, and then be prepared for potential multi-month repair delays and an inept and infuriating customer service experience. I'll share my experience as a warning to potential buyers: I bought this laptop, brand new on Amazon, for $1499. It was working great, but then the battery failed and my laptop said "plugged in, not charging". It could no longer be charged or hold a charge. So I mailed it back to ASUS since it's within my 1 year warranty, to get it repaired. I was told it would take 3 or 5 business days to get it back, but it took a MONTH to get it back in the mail. I then uploaded everything back onto my laptop (they had wiped it clean while installing a new battery), and a few days later, it broke down again and said the same thing: "plugged in, not charging". So, ASUS told me to mail it back and that they'd thoroughly investigate it and fix it ASAP. This second time around, it again took nearly a month to get it back in the mail. As soon as I got it back and plugged it in, it IMMEDIATELY said "plugged in, not charging" once again. So for a third time, I was forced to mail the laptop back to ASUS. I called them and requested a new laptop, since my laptop's obviously not repairable. After an hour on the phone (calls to ASUS customer service often taken an hour or longer given the frequent holds and dropped transfers), I was told that while they were unable to offer me a new laptop as a replacement, they MIGHT be able to offer me a REFURBISHED laptop with a 90 day warranty to compensate me for all my troubles. But first, they wanted me to fill out a verification form and submit proof of purchase, and I was told that then they would review everything and get back with me soon. A week passed, and after still not hearing an update, I called them back to get a status update. I asked to be transferred up to level 3 (senior management), as I've learned after countless hours on the phone with ASUS, that level 3 is who you want to talk with. Well, I was on hold for a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes for this most recent call, involving a dropped transfer, but I continued to hold because I was promised that their level 3 team doesn't close shop for the night until they've helped everyone on hold.... but after my 105 minutes on hold, I received an automated survey voice prompt asking about my customer service experience and if my issue was resolved. I pressed the number to indicate that my issue was still not resolved, and then the call was automatically ended. So I'm still here waiting to see if I'm going to be sent a refurbished laptop after all of this with a 90 day warranty, or perhaps if they can extend some level of customer support courtesy and at least extend the warranty on the refurbished model to 1 year like they warrant their new laptop models. It's embarrassing enough to be given a refurbished laptop when you bought a brand new laptop, but if they're going to suggest that they believe in their refurbished product just as much as their new product, then they really ought to offer the same type of warranty. ASUS: if you'd like to make this situation right, my RMA # is USG1716036. If you can make it right, I'll be happy to provide an update to this review.

  • Koray Akyel Says:

    Hi I've recently been given this laptop as a present and it's perfect other than the fact I can't put any of my headphones into the combo headphone/Mic Jack. I've tried pushing the cable with force but any harder and I'm afraid it my break. Any help please?

  • Paul Yue Says:

    The spec says 4.4 lb. weight, not 5 lb.

  • Ted Escober Says:

    I need to buy cash either one of Asus X556UF-XX082T to X556UF-XX085T. Is any of these available and at what best price?

  • Addicted to after effects Says:

    Bought this laptop recently, it's pretty insane as far as quality goes for the price. For some reason, at where I live (China), the only model that's available is the matte non-touch one, but losing touch is fine for matte, as it fixes one of the biggest issues of this thing: the super reflective screen. Battery life also somehow improved a lot as well with the matte version, I was able to get 9 hours web browsing. Not sure how but... I guess Chinese versions of this thing get overpowered.

  • Muhammad Says:

    does it switch from battery to Direct current when you connect the cable ?

  • AdarshKumar.H Says:

    Asus zenbook pro UX501VW over price
    Low cost Indian market all sold

  • Emmanuel Ntol Says:

    When get to the dearler how will you know that this is best and durable.

  • Juan GarcĂ­a Says:

    How is this better than the Dell XPS 15 (late 2015)for photo work? Worse gamut and color accuracy BY FAR. Who writes this stuff?

  • Daniel S. Says:

    The text of the review is for a Dell Inspiron laptop, not the ASUS Zenbook Pro!

  • Kalaiselvan Says:

    Is it possible to add a 1T HDD in this laptop?

  • andrew Says:

    It is business class i real like it.

  • Todd Klassy Says:

    This is NOT a good computer for photo and video editors. It is rubbish. I am returning mine today. Why? It claims to be 100% sRGB accurate, but it is nothing of the sort. The best you can achieve if 95% accurate. And what's more, it renders the color yellow HORRIBLY. It is dull and looks more like mustard no matter how much you try to calibrate the monitor. PLUS if you try to return it ASUS will charge you a 15% restocking fee just because they can. Run, don't walk, away from this computer. ESPECIALLY if you are going to edit photos or videos on it. Horrible. Just horrible.

  • Anthony Says:

    Do you know when/where the nontouch version of this laptop with the matte screen will be available? Lots of reviews reference it, but I can't actually find any documentation of it existing. Just that it might not be available everywhere and it, supposedly, will exist.

  • Robert Brooks Says:

    1...What is the maximum Ram that can be installed on this Asus Laptop Model.

    2...Can a optical drive/ secondary drive be installed on this Laptop.

  • Arvid Says:

    Is it possible to add a 1T HDD in this laptop?

  • David Says:

    Not sure how an Asus Zen can make a top list of PC's with their horrible hinge on these devices. Within months you will find it sticking when you open the display to use your computer and shortly after that you will find the hinge is broken. Support will tell you that engineering has done a bad design and if you get it repaired it will simply break again.

  • Shuaibu Suleiman. Says:

    Hi, I recently bought this model of asus zenbook pro UX501VW to specifically use it for my revit software but i dont know what is wrong with it, if i lunch the application it stop working it just free. am really frustrated with the laptop because the purpose of buying it is not achieved. please can someone help me solve this problem.

  • Michael Says:

    Why don't any of these laptops have an Intel RealSense 3D camera? They all have good hardware except really old, cheap and useless webcam cameras. Can you use these cheap cameras for Windows 10 'Hello' security?

  • Niko S Says:

    I also had electrical noise coming from the center of this laptop when i touched touchpad or did some work with it. Returned it and now waiting for new one.

  • Brian Says:

    on Asus website it says it has a 2.5" bay for an additional HD, did you happen to pop the back off and locate it?

  • Mike Ellman Says:

    Did you notice any electrical noise coming from the center of this laptop ? I just returned one that had this issue along with a persistent feedback issue.

  • Vincent Says:

    I own both this and the MacBook Pro 15. This is a much better value.

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