Anirudh RegidiDec 18, 2020 11:05:12 IST
If you’re anything like me, simply opening the lid of the UX371 will leave you with your jaw hanging limp and your eyes popping out of their sockets. The UX371 features the most stunning laptop display I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
That inky-black 4K OLED is simply stunning to behold, and if you care even slightly about the quality of the screen you’re going to spend at least half your day staring at, there’s no way you won’t fall for that OLED.
OLED aside, this laptop also features a 360-degree hinge — so you can use it in tent or tablet mode — and is powered by Intel’s newest, 11th-gen laptop CPU with its brand-spanking-new Xe graphics chip. Paired with this is a 1 TB NVMe SSD and 16 GB of RAM. The laptop also supports Thunderbolt 4 and comes equipped with a full-size USB-A port as well as an HDMI out.
If that wasn’t enough, the trackpad doubles as a number pad. And you get a free stylus.
Oh, and the UX371 also earns that critical Intel ‘Evo’ badge, which basically certifies that this laptop can deliver at least 10 hrs of battery life in certain standardised test conditions.
At Rs 1,49,990, this laptop seems like a steal…
… but is it?
Well, that’s something you’ll have to make up your own mind about, and here’s why.
Compared to regular Ultrabooks in the same price range, the UX371’s Intel Xe graphics chip means that it’s nearly twice as powerful. Though that’s not really saying much, given that Intel’s integrated UHD graphics chip has long held a reputation for being particularly wimpy.
Still, twice as good is twice as good, and because of that Xe chip, you can now enjoy esports titles like Counter Strike Global Offensive or Rocket League at a stable 60 fps. A more demanding game like Shadow of the Tomb Raider also ran at 52 fps at its lowest settings. Basically, Xe means that you’ve gone from not being able to game, to now being able to game. That’s a win in my book.
The additional graphical horsepower also means that it’s a little bit more capable when it comes to photo editing. Though video editing is still not something that’s feasible on these low-power Intel machines.
Speaking of, it is nice to see Intel finally stepping up a bit and actually showing some meaningful progress, but it’s also hard to get excited about an Xe graphics chip and fractionally faster CPU in a world where Apple’s M1 exists.
Intel’s so excited about offering 10 hrs of battery life that they made a badge for it. Apple is claiming something nearer to 20 hrs, and on a device that doesn’t get hot, can handle 4K video edits, and allow you to indulge in higher resolution 3D gaming, while also outperforming Intel’s best in translated apps.
Then there’s Windows 10. On new hardware, like the UX371’s 11th Gen CPU and Xe graphics, Windows 10 is a buggy mess. On updating to the latest version of Windows — a routine step in our testing process — performance dropped by nearly 40 percent. It took some mucking about with individual driver files and a call with ASUS to sort these issues out.
While I’m sure the bugs will be ironed out eventually, it’s incredibly frustrating to have to deal with such silly bugs in what should have been a very mature and stable OS to begin with. Anyway, this isn’t ASUS’s fault and you’re going to face these issues on any Windows 10 device you purchase.
Windows 10 is also frustrating because it’s pretty terrible when it comes to handling HDR content. The OLED display, which supports 115 percent of the DCI-P3 colour gamut — the same colour range that you’ll find on an OLED iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device — and 400 nits of brightness, can’t actually render anything in DCI-P3 by default. You need to enable HDR mode manually in display settings, which, for some reason, you can’t do unless the laptop is plugged in.
If you want to watch HDR content on Netflix or YouTube, you can’t do so without plugging in the laptop and manually enabling HDR mode in display settings.
You cannot enjoy HDR content on the go with this device.
One could make the argument that enabling HDR consumes a lot of power and so the laptop can’t run on DC power, but I’d make the counter argument that MacBooks and iPads have no issues handling HDR content on their power-hungry 500-nit LCD displays. You also don’t need to switch colour modes every time you view HDR content. The OS is intelligent enough to figure these things out on its own.
The speakers are not too loud, but they’re alright in a quiet room. The keyboard and trackpad are great to use, though I think the trackpad-turning-into-a-numpad thingy is just a gimmick and not very useful given its poor response time and lack of tactile feedback.
Verdict: That display is phenomenal, Windows 10 is not
You have a choice: you either spend Rs 1.5 lakhs on this Windows 10-based laptop with a stunning display, decent performance, average speakers, and decent battery life, or you spend the same on a MacBook Air/Pro with an excellent display, phenomenal performance, unmatched speakers, and two-day battery life.
If you do decide to stick with Windows and are willing to spend Rs 1.5 lakhs on a laptop, the UX371 is easily among my top picks. That display alone justifies the price tag.