Asus ZenBook 3 review: This compact laptop puts the MacBook on the ropes, but doesn't deliver a KO

This 12-inch MacBook clone is a premium Windows ultraportable, but a few design choices keep it from rising above all its competition—MacOS and Windows alike.

Asus’s ZenBook 3 comes with just a single USB port -- a polarizing design we first saw in Apple's 12-inch MacBook. Sure, this ultraportable packs in great components, but it deserves the same complaints that were lobbed at Apple's notebook.


If you mostly work in the cloud and want something stylish, compact, and fast, the aluminum-coated ZenBook 3 delivers a premium experience in spades. Outside is a fingerprint reader that unlocks Windows as fast as a smartphone, and inside is a wealth of cutting-edge technology. A brand-new 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor, a PCIe solid state drive, and ultra-fast RAM make basic computing feel incredibly fast. And even with all this high-end hardware, you’ll get a little over 8 hours of video playback while watching movies on the ZenBook 3’s 12.5-inch full-HD screen.

Unfortunately, this laptop has only a single port for data and charging, and that can be a real drag. Even with the included Mini Dock, which provides a USB-C port for charging and a USB-A port for data, you’re still limited to one USB accessory at a time. You’re also capped at a last-generation 5 gigabit per second transfer rate between an external storage drive and the internal SSD. That’s a shame, given the top speeds possible over USB-C.

If you can live with the limitations of the lone USB-C port as well as a mediocre keyboard, you do get a 12-inch MacBook experience in a tidy Windows package. Just be prepared to make room in your bag for the cables and adapters you’ll need in a world that still requires external storage drives, displays, and two-factor authentication keys.