Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review

What do you call a laptop with no keyboard? It sounds like the set-up to a joke but the actual answer is a tablet and yet the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is indeed a laptop with no keyboard – so long as you ignore the separate, Bluetooth keyboard that comes with it. WTF are we talking about? We’re still not sure… is it a keyboard-less laptop or a folding tablet? Let’s find out in this Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review.

Specs

Screen17-inch, glossy, 60Hz, 2,560 x 1,920 OLED display
Processor3.5-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1250U CPU
Memory16GB LPDDR5 RAM
GraphicsIntel Xe 0.95G Hz
Hard drive1TB PCIe NVMe
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
2 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio
Speakers“Built-in speaker”
Extra SecurityTPM
WebcamUHD
Battery75Wh
Dimensions379 x 288 x 13mm
Weight1.5 KG
SKUUX9702AA
Full specs here.

Features, Ergonomics and Design

If you pictured a futuristic folding, keyboard-less laptop, you might picture a prop from Star Trek. The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED isn’t quite that as the folding screen is supported by a large clasp that takes away from, what we’d hope would be, more-elegant simplicity. It’s less of a refined solution and more like a Gen 1, interim fix that’s akin to an orthopedic boot. But… just look at it when you open it up!

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED RGB review
The bright, colourful, OLED screen impresses us like an RGB gaming laptop when it’s all lit up.

The revelation of the 17-inch OLED screen is the technology equivalent of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. The hinge mechanism also becomes as relevant as the wall-mounting. We kept wanting the screensaver to come on because it stopped everyone in the room in their tracks – a swirl of incredibly vibrant colours on the pure-black, glossy, OLED screen. This thing has wow factor. But, how practical is it?

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review oblique
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s on-screen keyboard almost looks like a regular keyboard. One gripe is that open Windows regularly open across the fold, making them a little awkward to interact with.

Generally, the screen acts like a laptop in that a crisp and clear Windows Desktop is displayed and, when you need it, the keyboard is displayed where you’d expect. Typing is responsive and we didn’t miss having a physical version for many casual computing tasks. We wouldn’t want to do extended typing on the hard surface though. There’s no virtual trackpad as that would be crazy on a touchscreen [Or would it? – Ed].

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review rear
Straight-from-behind, the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s clasp doesn’t look so bulky. It’s a shame it masks the metallic Zenbook sheen (seen on the right), though.

The 17-inch display displays amazing OLED colours and contrast in all environments. Just note that the 60Hz refresh rate marries with a slow pixel response time to keep fast-moving objects looking blurry. This is no device for gaming even if you can jury-rig it with a gaming keyboard and mouse (which is difficult with the lack of peripheral ports – see below). Also, as with many OLED screens, it can become a black mirror in low light.

Meanwhile, the UHD, 5-megapixel webcam is very impressive with its native, portrait orientation and ability to capture a crisp-and-clear image that’s also impressive in low light. There’s no Windows Hello facial recognition, though. The array microphones do a good job of capturing clear voice(s) in noisy environments.

The unspecified “Built-in speaker” sounds inhumanely stunning. It’s very loud, has punchy bass and has great, all-round fidelity. Amazing!

The thin, plastic Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad operate as you’d expect: they’re functional but not ideal for day-to-day work. You can simply place them on the lower half of the screen and use it more like a traditional laptop, though.

Performance

Inside the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is a 3.5 – 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1250U processor which has 2 Performance cores, 8 Efficiency cores and 12 threads. It’s supported by 16GB of low-powered LPDDR5 RAM and a fast, 1TB NVMe hard drive.

These combined to score a reasonable 5,219 in PCMark 10 benchmark which demonstrates it can function adequately for most, general computing tasks. It also scored 1,175 in the Cinebench R15 rendering test and 6,562 in the longer Cinebench R23 rendering test. These are ultimately scores we’d associate with current-gen, ultraportable laptops which eschew power for portability: don’t buy it for hardcore computational work.

3D Performance comes via the integrated Intel Xe GPU which runs at 0.95GHz. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the best at gaming – not that you could easily play games on the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED in the first place thanks to the lack of ports for peripherals (see below).

It wouldn’t run the difficult, ray-tracing tests, 3DMark Port Royal and Speed Way. In the AAA-gaming-title-like 3DMark Time Spy test it scored 1,478 which is an average of 8fps. In the similar Fire Strike Extreme test, it scored 2,008 (average 8.7fps). So, forget about playing the latest and greatest games on the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.

However, in the easier 3DMark Night Raid test, which focuses on casual and competitive games, it scored 15,090 which is an average of 78.5fps, which is playable.

Just remember that you’ll need the cheap Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad to play anything. You can’t easily plug in a separate keyboard and mouse thanks to the connectivity – see below. It’s why we couldn’t run our CS:GO test – the Bluetooth keyboard ran out of battery and we couldn’t see how to charge it.

Meanwhile, the fans can make a low, high-pitched whir when under load. However, it’s not too distracting in anything other than a quiet environment.

Connectivity

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review bottom
There are no ports at the bottom of the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review top
At the top is a volume rocker and a Thunderbolt 4 port.
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review right
On the right is a Thunderbolt 4 port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review left
There are no ports on the left of the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. A USB-C to USB-A adapter is also included in the box. However, despite having the very latest Bluetooth and some of the fastest, current-gen connections, it’s not the most practical connectivity complement. Especially considering that one USB-C connector is needed for the power adapter.

Portability

Despite essentially being one, giant screen, the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is rather sturdy. The hinge feels bombproof and the frame is rigid. We didn’t want to punch-test the screen, but as a 17-inch tablet goes, this one should easily survive life on the road in its carry pouch. also note that it’s MIL-STD-810H certified for robustness.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED review sleeve
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED comes with a loose, Bluetooth keyboard with trackpad, plus a carry sleeve.

Not having a traditional chassis allows it to only weigh 1.5KG which is less than half the weight of some 17-inch rivals making this a unique selling point. (Pioneer we’re looking at you).

High Performance Laptops

The power adapter and cables only add an extra 340g to the mix.

Meanwhile, the 75Wh battery allowed it to run the PCMark Modern Office battery benchmark for a decent 13 hours 23 minutes. That’s easily more than a day out of the office. There are longer-lasting ultraportables, though.

Price and availability

The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED costs a whopping $6,999 and is available now. This makes it one of the most expensive laptops we’ve ever tested.

Alternative to the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED

So far, we’ve only been hands on with this Fold’s one rival, the Lenovo ThinkPad Fold X1. However, it’s currently unavailable and in the process of being updated.

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED: Conclusion

The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is a niche product before you see the astronomical price tag. It appears to be, in part, another of Asus‘ famous (and popular) technical experiments but it will also appeal to niche users – especially those who make presentations. While we’re not convinced that the bulky hinge/clasp is close to its final form (it’s more like a work-in-progress prototype) few potential clients, colleagues and managers won’t be impressed if you whipped out the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED and ran a presentation on the stunning screen.

We expect that future versions will become more practical and broaden the appeal. For now, we love looking at it, but anyone looking to buy any kind of laptop will find better practicality elsewhere. Meanwhile, anyone looking for a tablet or convertible will find better value elsewhere.

Still, none of that stops the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED being a show-stopping product that will appeal to those who benefit from utilising show-stopping tools and for whom price is just a number.

Pros

Looks stunning
Amazing speakers
Portable 17-inch PC

Cons

Very expensive
Too few ports
Bulky hinge

Results

Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED Results
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Features, Ergonomics & Design
  • Stability
  • Portability
  • Value
3.3

Summary

An early example of a show-stopping, future-esque, keyboard-less laptop with a stunning screen. But, it’s limited in practicality and hampered by a massive price tag.

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