The Asus ZenBook S UX391U looks every bit the part of a premium ultraportable. Clad in deep blue or burgundy metal with rose gold edges, the 13.3-inch laptop is only 13mm thick (0.51 inch) and 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg). It's the right size if you spend more time working in tight spaces such as coffee shops and airport lounges than at a desk.
Open it up and you'll notice the key design feature that separates it from most of the others in this category: The lid's hinge lifts the back of the keyboard up for a more comfortable typing angle. It also helps keep your legs and the laptop's eighth-gen Intel Core i7 processor from getting too hot. This isn't the first time this design's been done -- has a similar feature -- but it's still a cool touch.
The current configuration in the US is priced at $1,499 and includes a 4K UHD-resolution touchscreen, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. In the UK, you'll currently find it with a Core i5 or i7, but with half the memory and storage, for £1,199 or £1,299, and in Australia it'll set you back AU$2,699 with a Core i7, 16GB of memory and a 256GB SSD.
Asus ZenBook S UX391UA
|Price as reviewed||$1,499|
|Display size/resolution||13.3-inch, 3,840x2,160-pixel touchscreen|
|CPU||1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U|
|Memory||16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz|
|Graphics||128MB (shared) Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Storage||512GB PCIe SSD|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Professional (64-bit)|
Those prices are competitive for the category, but models such as, and offer designs that potentially make them better choices depending on your needs. Even might be a better choice because of its discrete graphics.
Rising above the competition
The biggest hurdle for the ZenBook S is that it has plenty of competition including from its stablemates at Asus, and with its ErgoLift hinge as the main design feature, it's not an easy recommendation. The Dell XPS 13, for example, is the world's smallest 13.3-inch laptop, comes in multiple configurations starting at less than $1,000 and is just a generally excellent laptop. The same goes for the HP Spectre ($1,399 at Amazon.com), which along with being thin and light, has a unique privacy screen feature to give you more peace of mind while working in public. Then there's the regular that looks similar -- minus the ErgoLift hinge -- but is less expensive and has better graphics performance.
The hinge is definitely nice to have because, combined with the excellent backlit keyboard, it does make typing more comfortable. Also, since the bottom hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celcius) under load in my testing, it keeps the heat up off your lap and allows for better air circulation.