Graphics and Storage Performance
In graphics-heavy workloads, I wasn’t expecting to see any significant performance gains, and that’s exactly the case here. In fact, in 3DMark I observed a regression in performance relative to Skylake, although in the small handful of games I tested performance was roughly the same as what Skylake provided.
While I was hoping to see at least a small improvement here, the simple fact is the ZenBook 3 is not fast enough to play some popular games on even the lowest settings. Civilization VI, which would be a great game for low-power laptops, runs at sub-20 FPS on the ZenBook, even on the lowest possible quality settings. Similarly, GTA V averages less than 30 FPS even when everything is turned down and the resolution is set to 720p.
The ZenBook also has a habit of spinning up its fans even under relatively light workloads, which can be annoying due to the high-pitched jet engine whine that these fans produce. There’s not a lot of room within the ZenBook’s chassis for thermal management, and the 15W processor still requires active cooling, so fan noise will be present in most situations.
The 512 GB solid state drive in my review unit was a Hynix SATA M.2 model with rather uninspiring performance. While other laptops of this class are moving to PCIe storage, Asus has stuck with a SATA drive that falls behind some of its competitors, including the HP Spectre, the latest MacBook, and the Dell XPS 13. Performance isn’t bad, it’s just not overly spectacular.