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ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-FB239T review

michalbryxi profile image Michal Bryxí Updated on ・3 min read

Abstract

I don't own a computer. All my side projects and fun time activities, I'm able and allowed to do on my work laptop.

For years I've been using Apple products:

  • MacBook Air 11" (cca 2014)
  • MacBook Pro 15" retina (cca 2015)
  • MacBook Pro 13" retina + touch bar (cca 2017)

But because recently I quit my job without any immediate "next step" plan, I ended in a situation without any computer. So here is an honest review of the machine I bought.

Specs

Requirements

  1. Portability - I'm always on the move. The size & weight of the stuff I'm carrying matters a lot.
  2. Battery life - Binds to the previous point. I don't need anything extreme, but 3 hours without worrying is a must.
  3. RAM - The stuff I'm doing is nothing crazy, but tends to be memory heavy.
  4. SSD - Frontend web development uses hard drive a lot.
  5. Good embedded peripherals - I rarely use an external keyboard and/or mouse.

Don't care

  1. CPU - Whatever I'm doing I'm not really restricted by CPU.
  2. Hard drive size - Everything I work on lives somewhere in the cloud. I can comfortably fit in 128GB HDD.
  3. Display size - So far my eyes are fine for 13".
  4. Ports - VGA / HDMI / 7x USB / SD card reader / ... most of them I don't use at all. And with the rest, I can simply improvise.
  5. Graphics card - I don't even know what kind this one has.

The good

  1. Price - Since this is just a temporary solution, I'm not happy paying 2 grand for something I'm not planning to use extensively / for a long time.
  2. Portability - The size & weight of the laptop really met my expectation.
  3. Backlit keyboard - Really helps when working at night.
  4. The battery is well over 4 hours when not doing heavy development work. But advertised 12 hours? Maybe when you run screensaver the whole time.

The bad

  1. Keyboard layout - Over the years I got used to the Mac one without all those nonsense keys: pause/break, print screen/sysrq, delete, win, right click, function keys. What I'm seriously lacking are multimedia keys and command key & related shortcuts.
  2. Resolution. 3200x1800 renders everything simply too small for me. Playing around with HiDPi in linux I quickly abandoned that option - you can very clearly feel the performance hit, and every application has its own quirks in HiDPi mode. So, in the end, I'm using 1920x1080, which is not native to the display but suits my workflow best.
  3. RAM - I could not find a reasonably priced portable laptop with 16GB of RAM, so I thought that 8GB will be enough. Nope, it's not. It is definitely worth the extra money.
  4. Build - The whole feeling of the laptop is so ... plasticky and cheap. For most cases, it's not a problem, but since I'm always in the move, I am seriously concerned that I will break it easily.

The ugly

  1. Sound - Seriously it is bad. First thing is that the speakers are from the bottom. And since the laptop sits on my lap quite often, the sound is seriously quiet by lying directly on a fabric. Second is the quality itself. Even my phone can produce less distorted sounds of the same loudness.
  2. Touchpad - I think every Mac user that tried to work on a PC laptop would confirm that the difference is huge. I never had a need to connect a mouse to my MacBook, working with touchpad was a breeze. Whereas the sensitivity and precision of this one are just terrible.

Verdict

I got what I paid for. For the price, it is a decent laptop, that will just work. But the (hardware) downgrade from a MacBook is pretty significant. It is not a good fit for a (travelling) developer, but would nicely work for people doing office work or just for fun.

For the same amount of money, I could have used MBP 13" retina late 2015. But the question is what will be the downsides of a used laptop?.

Posted on by:

michalbryxi profile

Michal Bryxí

@michalbryxi

Cycle 🚴 , climb 🗻 , run 🏃 , travel 🌍 , enjoy life ♥. IT guy with the need to live fully.

Discussion

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Editor guide
 

If you install linux, you can set 1.5x scaling.

 

Yep. Thanks for the note. I am in fact using Linux. Tried to enable it (again) and unfortunately, this will be a no for a while. Most apps I'm using are electron based and they behave weirdly when using HiDPI - font sizes are completely wrong, cursor size jumps from app to app, etc...
And it's not only about electron apps.

 

I find Ctrl + works on electron apps. :Shrug: