The global marketplace is filled with hundreds of notebooks that try to beat Apple at its own game. While the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501JW might look like just another one of those laptops, this is a genuinely likable alternative to the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The premium hardware and the correspondingly speedy performance are a prerequisite for competing in this space, but the ZenBook Pro isn’t the only notebook PC that offers this level of performance. What sets the UX501JW apart is that wonderful 4K resolution touchscreen and the fact that ASUS was smart enough to include things like a laptop bag and all the USB adapters that some manufacturers make you purchase separately.
Despite those strengths, we struggled with the decision whether or not to give this notebook our Editor’s Choice Award because of things like a touchpad that was more “meh” than mighty and speakers that sound like they belong in a $500 laptop rather than a $1700 premium notebook. On a similar note, although we loved using the 4K display indoors we found the limited screen brightness and the reflections from the glossy surface made it far less enjoyable outdoors.
At the end of the day the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501JW is one of the nicest premium Windows notebooks you’ll find in stores this year … but it isn’t perfect and we think it’s fair to look for perfection when you’re paying more than $1500 for a laptop. When other premium 15-inch systems like the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro and the MSI PE60 Prestige offer similar performance for between $500 and $700 less we start to have trouble justifying the higher price of the ZenBook Pro even if this notebook has a nicer screen and more durable build quality. If 4K resolution and a premium fit and finish are things you must have in a 15-inch notebook then the UX501JW is an excellent choice.
- Comes with everything a premium laptop needs
- Fantastic 4K touchscreen for indoor use
- Solid performance for the money
- Unimpressive touchpad
- Poor screen visibility outdoors
- Weak speakers with lackluster sound