Today Asus announced their new ZenBook Pro UX501. The ZenBook Pro UX501 sits above all the other ZenBooks as a flagship laptop for people who need serious processing power when they're on the go. It could be called a workstation laptop or a desktop replacement, but whatever the case may be it certainly packs some potent hardware. I've organized its specifications in the chart below.

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501
Size 15.1 x 10.0 x 0.8”
38.4 x 25.4 x 2.03cm
Mass 5 lbs - 2.27 kg
Display 15.6" 1920x1080 IPS LCD or
15.6" 3840x2160 multi-touch IPS w/ 100% sRGB
Battery 60/96Wh battery rated for 6 hours of usage
Storage/DRAM 1TB 5400RPM HDD or
128/256GB SATA3 SSD or
512GB PCIe x4 SSD
CPU Intel Core i7-4720HQ (2.6GHz base, 3.6GHz turbo)
Wireless 2x2 802.11ac + BT 4.0
Ports 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 2.0/mDP, HDMI, SDXC,
3.5mm Headset Jack
Front Camera HD 720p
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Warranty 1-year limited
Price $1799 for UHD + 512GB SSD model

Starting with its appearance, we see that the UX501 features an aluminum chassis with the same spun metal finish that ASUS has put on most of their products. At 2.03cm thick at its thickest point and a mass of 2.27kg, it's definitely not an ultra portable laptop. The aluminum build and high end specs will inevitably draw comparison to the MacBook Pro, and the name ASUS has chosen certainly gives the impression that they're taking on Apple's flagship laptop as well. That being said, in my view the UX501 is distinctly an ASUS product with its slightly tapered chassis and brushed metal lid.

Just looking at the specs, it's clear that the UX501 is what one might call a desktop replacement laptop. The most notable point may be its display, which is a 15.6" 3840x2160 IPS panel. At 282ppi it's an extremely high resolution display, although I don't think anyone was unhappy with 3200x1800 panels and the lower power consumption that comes with them. ASUS is also reporting full sRGB gamut coverage, and hopefully high color accuracy is bundled with that gamut. The rest of the specs are equally impressive, with a 2.6GHz quad core Intel Core i7 CPU, and NVIDIA's GTX 960M GPU.

In terms of storage, ASUS is offering several options with the UX501. Buyers can opt for a 1TB 5400RPM HDD, a 128GB or 256GB SATA III SSD, or a 512GB PCIe x4 SSD. The PCIe SSD is definitely the most interesting option, with ASUS quoting maximum read/write speeds of 1400Mbps.

Battery life on the UX501 is a bit low, but hardly unexpected for a laptop with these specifications. With no Broadwell quad core i7 parts available, companies making desktop replacements are stuck using Intel's 22nm Haswell parts. The display is undoubtably the biggest consumer of power, and one can debate the merits of moving to 4K from QHD+ or other resolutions. With a 96Wh battery in the UHD model, ASUS is also pushing up against travel regulations that do not permit battery packs above 100Wh on airplanes. Regardless, any users interested in a desktop replacement should always be ready to keep their charger with them.

The I/O ports on the UX501 are fairly standard for a laptop of this class, but there's one port that is fairly unique among Windows laptops. ASUS has included a single Thunderbolt 2 port on the UHD model of the UX501. Thunderbolt never really took off like many had hoped, but it seems that there's enough adoption of it in the professional space to warrant ASUS putting it on their flagship laptop. The 1080p models will feature a Mini-DisplayPort output rather than the Thunderbolt 2 port.

The ASUS ZenBook UX501 is available now in the United States from the ASUS Online Store as well as from various retailers. The fully featured model with the UHD display and 512GB PCIe SSD will be $1799 USD.

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  • whitingjon - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Has anyone actually seen this device in person with Thunderbolt. I ordered one that arriv3ed today, but it didn't have the port. Still trying to figure out what model and where to get one with the port.
  • MrTeal - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Why wouldn't they offer the larger battery on the 1080P model? I'm not really looking to replace my N56VJ, but I might be next year when a Skylake refresh comes out. I'd much rather trade the UHD screen for FHD and longer battery life.

    Other than that, this is the laptop I've been waiting for from ASUS. I love my N-series notebooks, but I've always wanted a 15.6" full-power version of the Zenbooks.
  • extide - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    x2 it seems odd to force people into the lower spec battery with the 1080p screen. Personally I would probably opt for the 1080p with bigger battery option if I was going to buy this.

    Honestly what I want is a laptop with a 35-45w quad core CPU, and NO DGPU! Iris Pro would be a plus, too. 4 ram slots, and space for an m.2 + at least 1x 2.5" would be great, 2 would be better. I want a system with a lot of cpu horsepower, lots of ram, but I don't really care about games on it. I have other systems for that. Oh, and I want it to be in a durable case like the Dell/HP/Lenovo business lines, not an all plastic laptop like my Clevo. Why doesnt someone make this!! I essentially want a workstation but no GPU -- don't need it as I'd rather not spend the money on it and would like to have more battery time/capacity.
  • MrTeal - Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - link

    Yeah, Skylake with GT4e would be perfect for me. The 635m in my laptop is a complete waste; the only games I have installed are Minesweeper and the like. I don't want to swap out the ODD for a hard drive caddy, so I do miss not having an m.2 slot. I could probably live with just an m.2 actually, as long as it's a full length one that I can fit a 512MB SSD in the machine.
  • nerd1 - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Looks much better than current rMPB at least on paper. I wonder why they put that stupid touchscreen and glossy glass though... getting rid of it will shave 2-300gr of weight and make it as light as rMBP 15.
  • meacupla - Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - link

    If it uses Gorilla glass 4, then it's 2.42g/cm^3.
    So, doing some rough maths, a 15.6" has 671cm^2 surface area, adding in some extra space for the lips, let's just say 750cm^2...
    I think it's 310g?, if the thickness is 1mm.

    I don't think it absolutely needs to be a touchscreen, but having used a surface pro for a while now, there's really no downside to having glossy glass in front of the display. In fact, I can see the screen better than an ultrasharp type anti-glare coating, because the screen doesn't get washed out when there's a lot of sunlight in the room.
  • dragonsqrrl - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Surprisingly decent price for the specs and form factor. Happy to see a company FINALLY using the 860/960m in a thin performance notebook. Given its performance and TDP I find it hard to believe more companies aren't using it in their notebooks. If I were going for a notebook right now this would probably be at the top of the list.
  • randomlinh - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Am I the only one floored by the pricing? The NX500 is quite a bit more for seemingly similar specs?
  • Impulses - Monday, April 27, 2015 - link

    Sounding the thunderbolt death knell even as it makes it unto a semi mainstream laptop ehh... Ciao TB, bring on Type C.
  • der - Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - link

    sht im fokin late again

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