ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 Review

I’ve had the opportunity to review a number of laptops from ASUS over the past several months, including my favourite laptop of 2018, the ZenBook S. But as the holidays wrapped up, I got to spend some quality time with one of the coolest and most powerful laptops on the market. The ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 even brings its own second display! If you’re a creative professional—or just someone who wants the best mobile computing experience possible—this is a laptop that’s well worth considering.

Premium design 

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 Review

As befits its target demographic, the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 is an attractive laptop with a premium design. Despite the full-sized 15.6-inch display and powerful components, it manages to look relatively sleek, coming in at 1.89-cm thick and weighing 1.88 kg. It’s a solid laptop, made of anodized aluminum that stands out thanks to its Deep Dive Blue spun metal finish and Rose Gold trim. The net result is a laptop that’s professional looking, without being bland. 

ScreenPad is like having a second display

You don’t really get a sense of what makes this laptop special until you open it up. The display is excellent (I’ll touch on that in a moment), but what immediately grabs your attention is the trackpad. Or what’s occupying the space where a trackpad should be. This is what ASUS calls the ScreenPad.

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 review

How to describe the ScreenPad … This is a 5.5-inch touchscreen display with a full 1080p resolution. It does everything a standard trackpad does in terms of navigation. In fact, you can choose to have it look like a plain Jane trackpad if you choose. But why would you do that? The ScreenPad can act as an extended display for the laptop, effectively functioning like an external monitor. The ScreenPad can also function as its own standalone device, running apps like a calculator, calendar or music player. It can also be used with supported software to display shortcuts for common tasks—for example Microsoft Office supports ScreenPad with functions for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The ScreenPad adds an undeniable cool factor to the ZenBook Pro 15. And it offers some real productivity gains as well, especially for those who want to use it as a laptop—without an external monitor connected.


ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 specs (as tested):

  • 15.6-inch 4K LED backlit NanoEdge touchscreen display with 100% Adobe RGB colour gamut, PANTONE validation, 178-degree viewing
  • Intel Core i9-8950HK hexa-core CPU @ 2.9GHz
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card with 4GB DDR5 VRAM
  • 1TB PCIe SSD
  • Full-sized backlit keyboard
  • 5.5-inch Full HD Super IPS+ ScreenPad
  • Fingerprint sensor with Windows Hello support
  • 2 x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), 2 x Type-A USB 3.1, HDMI, audio combo jack, SD card slot
  • Dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Harman Kardon certified audio
  • Array microphone with Cortana voice recognition, VGA webcam
  • 71Wh 8-cell lithium polymer battery rated at up to 9.5 hours use
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 36.5 x 24.1 x 1.89-cm, weighs 1.88kg
  • Includes 150W power adapter, USB to Ethernet dongle

An incredible display

The NanoEdge display is one of the key features that makes the ZenBook Pro 15 ideal for creative professionals. It’s big, bright and has 4K resolution. Combined with the Harman Kardon tuned audio, this makes for a pretty sweet multimedia setup, perfect for streaming 4K video.

But really—using it to watch movies is almost criminal given the pedigree of this display …

ASUS says it offers 100% Adobe RGB gamut coverage and features PANTONE validated factory colour calibration. The Low Delta E value (<2) means you can count on the colours onscreen being accurately true to life. With 178-degree wide view technology, associates and clients can see what’s onscreen while sitting beside you instead of having to face the display head-on. It also supports touch and stylus input. When you’re working late, ASUS Eye Care tech reduces blue light by 30% to prevent eye strain. 

Driving this display is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card with 4GB of DDR5 RAM. This gives the ZenBook Pro 15 the graphics processing power to render 3D and drive 4K displays. It also means you can sneak in some video gaming when you need a break.

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 review

While the ScreenPad is pretty amazing, if you want to go with a larger external monitor, the ZenBook Pro 15 has both HDMI and USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports. Connecting and driving an external monitor is going to be no problem with this laptop.

Plenty of power on tap 

So far the ZenBook Pro 15 is sounding like an impressive laptop, but it gets even better. Most high end and gaming laptops will be equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor. My Zenbook Pro 15 review unit was not … Instead, it was equipped with an optional 8th generation Intel Core i9 CPU, the first laptop I’ve ever tested with a processor this powerful under the hood. The Core i9 has six cores, 12 threads and it’s clocked at 2.9 GHz. Feeding that processor, my review unit had 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Storage was the optional, massive 1TB PCIe SSD (the standard retail version is equipped with a 512GB SSD).

This is a laptop that is a “multitasking, dozens of windows open, huge file copying” beast. It’s snappy at everything and I can’t image many situations where someone would find themselves wishing they had a desktop workstation instead.

There are also lots of ports, both old and new. A pair of Type-A USB 3.1 ports ensure compatibility with older accessories and peripherals. Two USB-C ports offer ultra high-speed connectivity going forward. There’s also an SD card slot for photographers.

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 review

One of the best laptops out there for creative professionals

While you could make a case for the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 as a gaming laptop or a high performance “everyday” laptop with premium features and cool tech, it’s really aimed at creative professionals. Designers, photographers, publishers, video editors, that sort of thing. But if you want one just for the looks, killer display and the ScreenPad, no-one from ASUS is going to complain … Check out the full ASUS lineup, and a compelling selection of the latest high performance laptops at Best Buy.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.