A 15-inch laptop for multimedia, 360-degree rotatable hinge, has great battery life and it’s conditionally suitable for gaming? Well, thanks to Intel’s new processors and NVIDIA’s undemanding but still powerful discrete GPUs, everything is possible. We once thought Lenovo’s Yoga notebooks are a great breakthrough in the industry and we are witnessing another big leap forward.
ASUS’ ZenBook Flip 15 UX561UD notebook aims to be a universal solution and in the past, this has always been tied with considerable trade-offs along the way. Not anymore, though. Packing a powerful, yet efficient Intel Core i7-8550U processor, gaming-ready NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU on board, crisp Full HD IPS display and at least 8GB of DDR4-2400 memory, the device seems to be ready for everything you throw at it. In addition, the ZenBook Flip 15 sports an all-aluminum chassis, 360-degree rotatable hinge and comfortable input devices for all the users out there who are looking for a reasonable office assistant. However, the notebook costs considerably more than its direct competitor – Acer’s Nitro 5 Spin so is it really worth it, especially when there’s a GeForce MX150 configuration that falls into the same price category as the latter? We find out in the full review below.
The laptop comes in a rather big box containing all the usual user manuals, AC adapter, power cord and a carrying bag.
Design and construction
The ZenBook Flip 15 features a sleek all-aluminum body with anodized finish. Fingerprints are rather visible but easy to clean. The device feels relatively light in the hand and sturdy at the same time except for the interior. Pressing the middle section between the hinges results in visible and noticeable bending, although this shouldn’t affect day to day use.
The sides feature chamfered edges giving the device the familiar ZenBook appearance and somehow a more sophisticated look. We didn’t’ find any inconsistencies, protruding edges or design flaws along the way. Moreover, the hinges are probably one of the best we’ve seen on a convertible, especially with a 15-inch screen. They do feel a bit stiff when opening the machine and requires both hands but ASUS was able to almost fully eliminate the sway of the lid when using the touchscreen in normal laptop mode.
Speaking of the screen, our only small complaint would be the bezels – the upper and lower bezels appear to be just a tad thicker to our taste but the side ones are just fine. They will also make the device more comfortable to hold in tablet mode. In any case, in terms of portability, the notebook is still a 15-incher and if 2.1 kg and 21 mm thickness, don’t suit you, then you should probably stick with the 14 and 13-inch convertibles.
Input devices and I/O
We were pleasantly surprised by the buttery-smooth clickpad that not only feels great but does its job perfectly. All gestures, swipes and clicks are registered so if you are on the go, the external mouse won’t be needed. Pretty much the same goes for the keyboard. It has a standard layout with along with the Numpad block. The key travel is decent and each keystroke is accompanied by prominent clicky feedback – ideal for typing.
Another big surprise is the range of I/O the ZenBook Flip 15 offers – along with the usual connectors, you can take advantage of the USB-C 3.1 port supporting the latest Thunderbolt 3 standard for speedy data transfer or you can use it as a display output. Anyway, the port distribution is concentrated on the right side where you can find the full-sized HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader and the 3.5 mm audio jack. On the right, you can see the power button, volume rocker and USB-C 3.1 connector that we mentioned earlier. And since this is a relatively powerful setup, the need for a dedicated exhaust vent is significant so ASUS placed it on the left.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
To access the internals, you have to remove the bottom plate. This requires all screws to be removed and then gently pry up the plate.
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
The device supports 2.5-inch drives and M.2 SSDs but our unit came with just the M.2 SSD installed. Be aware that some units ship with SATA SSDs instead of PCIe NVMe which is a bit of a letdown considering the price point.
|M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1||512GB Micron M.2 SATA SSD||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
|2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot||Free||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
The notebook sports just one RAM slot, which in our case is occupied by an 8GB DDR4-2400 chip. You can go up to 16GB if you like.
|Slot 1||8GB DDR4-2400 SK Hynix||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
The battery is placed under the wrist rest area and it’s rated at 52Wh.
The cooling design is simple, yet effective. It consists of two fans and two heatpipes (one big and one small) each connecting both heatsinks and the fans.
The ZenBook Flip 15 UX561 comes with a Full HD (1920×1080) IPS touchscreen manufactured by Innolus N156HCE-EN1. With a 15.6-icnh diagonal, the screen offers 142 ppi, 0.18 x 0.18 mm pixel pitch and can be considered as “Retina” from at least 60 cm.
Viewing angles are good.
We’ve recorded a peak brightness of just 286 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 265 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 16% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is a bit colder than it should be – 6920K and remains the same as we go along the grayscale. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (70% brightness) in the image below.
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. But in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for office work, web browsing and multimedia, a deviation of 4.25 in the lower right corner is somehow acceptable. The contrast ratio is high – 1240:1 before calibration and 1020:1 after calibration.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The display covers 94% of the sRGB color space.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 27 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
We’ve detected PWM only below 74 cd/m2 and at really high frequency so even if you have sensitive eyes, keeping the slider above 30% won’t fatigue you.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
The presented IPS display offers wide viewing angles, high contrast, wide sRGB coverage and doesn’t use PWM (above 30%) for regulating screen brightness. It’s suitable not only for work but for multimedia too. The maximum brightness combined with the glossy finish might get in the way when using the device outdoors but won’t be an issue most of the time.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 configurations with 15.6″ Innolux N156HCE-EN1 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
The sound quality is good – there are no noticeable distortions in the low, mid and high frequencies.
The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region
ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 (UX561UD) technical specifications table
ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 configurations
We used the pre-installed Windows 10 for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from ASUS’ official support page.
The notebook comes with a generous 52Wh battery that appears to be more than enough to support the Full HD IPS display and the Core i7-8550U processor when working away from the plug. It scored impressive runtimes on the web browsing and video playback tests putting to shame most of the 15-inch laptops we’ve tested so far.
All battery tests are run with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature turned on.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
CPU – Intel Core i7-8550U
The Intel Core i7-8550U is part of the new 8th Generation Kaby Lake Refresh and it’s a direct successor to the Intel Core i7-7500U from the Kaby Lake generation and the Intel Core i7-6500U from the 6th Skylake generation. With the latest alteration to the ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors, Intel doubles the core count from 2 to 4 and retaining the so-called Hyper-Threading technology, keeping the same 14nm manufacturing process and feature the same 15W TDP.
However, due to the core count change, the base frequency of the Core i7-8550U is lowered to only 1.8 GHz while Turbo Boost frequencies remain pretty high – somewhere between 3.7 – 4.0 GHz. This ensures considerably higher multi-core and single-core performance during short workloads before going back to more bearable frequencies considering the 15W TDP but most of the other specs and features remain the same.
The chip also incorporates a newer Intel Gen 9.5 integrated graphics called Intel UHD Graphics 620. The support for Google’s VP9 codec and H.265/HEVC Main 10 is still the most notable feature of the iGPU. Intel claims that the new UHD 620 chips improve the overall power consumption compared to the previous one.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-8550u/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5)
The GeForce GTX 1050 GPU for laptops is part of the latest NVIDIA Pascal lineup of GPUs featuring a brand new architecture design but on contrary to the rest of the GPUs from NVIDIA’s lineup, the GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti feature a Samsung-made FinFET 14nm chip instead of the TSMC 16nm found in the GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080. The graphics card is based on the GP107 chip paired with 2GB of GDDR5 memory via 128-bit interface.
Since the GTX 1050 is quite dependent on the cooling design, its performance may vary but if the laptop handles the GPU well and shouldn’t be much different from its desktop counterpart. Anyway, the GPU operates at relatively high frequencies (1354 – 1493 MHz) but incorporates the same amount of CUDA cores (640) while the memory is clocked at 7000 MHz (effective). These specs ensure a huge performance boost over the previous generation of Maxwell GPUs. For instance, the GTX 1050 performs better than the GTX 960M and can be compared to the GTX 965M’s capabilities while running at similar to the GTX 960M’s TDP of around 40-50W.
However, along with all the power consumption and performance improvements, the GPU now supports essential features like DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, HDR, improved H.265 encoding, and decoding.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1050-2gb-gddr5/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
|Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)||Full HD, Low (Check settings)||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||114 fps||52 fps||29 fps|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||64 fps||44 fps||15 fps|
|Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, High (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||29 fps||24 fps||19 fps|
A great 15-inch all-rounder that can be used for work, multimedia and even casual gaming from time to time thanks to its rather powerful GeForce GTX 1050 GPU on board. What’s not to like? Well, just like every product out there, it has its quirks, although they are far from being considered as deal-breakers.
The ZenBook Flip 15 carries the usual all-aluminum sturdy and elegant build like most ZenBooks, it features excellent input devices for flawless working experience on the go and a sleek and portable design to impress. This, however, hasn’t limited the ZenBook Flip 15’s performance or endurance by any means. In fact, the 15-inch device easily overtakes some of the 14-inch and 13-inch devices in terms of battery life.
The display is also one of its strongest suits. It delivers excellent image quality and doesn’t use PWM below 30% brightness making it safe to use in this regard. The only issue with the panel is the glossy finish combined with not so great maximum brightness. It will pose an issue to users spending much of their time outdoors. And finally, beware of units with M.2 SATA SSDs instead of PCIe NVMe drives. The latter should be a standard for such highly-priced device.
So is it worth it? Most definitely yes but make sure to check out the Acer Nitro 5 Spin as well because it delivers similar but not better overall experience for way less. The performance is on par.
- Sturdy and high-quality build
- Portable despite the 15-inch footprint
- Excellent keyboard and touchpad
- Great screen
- No PWM above 30% brightness
- Long battery life
- Pretty powerful despite its size
- Some units ship with M.2 SATA SSD instead of PCIe NVMe drives
- Glossy finish and slightly below average maximum brightness make it hard to use outdoors