A new high-end laptop from ASUS is shaking the internet today. It goes by the name of ASUS ZenBook Pro, and it comes with the best materials, design and specs available in this highly competitive industry. It is for the “pros”, after all, so you best be sure we will compare it against its direct Apple competitor – the MacBook Pro.
This new laptop is amazing, which is why we are putting it up against Apple’s very best. Any other Apple computer would not endure in a fight against this bad boy, so it will have to be the 15-inch MacBook with Retina Display that steps into the ring.
It’s also worth mentioning this is the base version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the $1799 ZenBook Pro with a $2,499 MacBook, right? Which is the computer best fit for the professional geeks who need a good-looking, powerful and reliable machine? Let’s jump into the specs first.
15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display specs
- Mac OS X Yosemite
- 15.4-inch 2880x1800p LED Retina Display
- 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
- Intel Iris Pro Graphics
- 16 GB of DDR3L RAM
- 256 GB of PCIe-based internal storage
- 720p camera
- 95 Wh battery (8 hours of web browsing)
- 35.89×24.71×1.8 cm
- 2.02 kg
ASUS ZenBook Pro specs
- Windows 8.1
- 15.6-inch 3840x2160p IPS display
- 2.6 Ghz quad-core Intel Core i7 4720HQ processor
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2G GDDR5 VRAM GPU
- 16 GB of DDR3L RAM
- 512 GB of PCIe-based internal storage
- 1.2 MP camera
- 96 Wh battery
- 38.35×25.4×2.03 cm
- 2.27 kg
The battle of the display
Needless to say this will be one of the most important factors to consider here. The screen is what you interact with the most, and it is also one of the main reasons why anyone would choose a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. How does the ASUS ZenBook Pro screen stack up?
We can’t say anything on the panel’s quality yet, at least in terms of color accuracy, brightness and the like. We would need to check it out first-hand to tell you more about that. Things are looking promising, though. The ASUS ZenBook Pro comes with a 15.6-inch 4K IPS display. By the way, 4K means 3840x2160p, and IPS panels are known for offering more natural colors than LED (which is what Apple’s computer touts). This leaves the MacBook Pro’s Retina Display (2880×1800) in shame.
Some of you may still argue these are insignificant improvements, though. And this could be true, depending on your needs, so let’s jump over to the next point and consider other factors.
Design & build quality
Apple is known for its design and build quality. It always has been, and it probably always will be. Now, this doesn’t mean ASUS is falling far behind. In fact, they have done amazing things with previous laptops and Ultrabooks.
Many say the ASUS ZenBook Pro aims to look like a MacBook Pro, but I really don’t feel that’s the case. The ZenBook features that brushed aluminum design that is now so characteristic of the Taiwanese manufacturer.
Regardless, this laptop really is up to standards with Apple, which is why I will call this a tie. It’s really a matter of preference to say which one is more good-looking. And in terms of build quality, they are both made with an aluminum uni-body and offer an outstanding keyboard.
Power & performance
Do you smell dirt? Because ASUS just left Apple in the dust here. In terms of raw power, there’s simply no competition here. The ASUS ZenBook Pro has a slightly stronger processor and the same amount of RAM, but what makes a big difference here is the GPU.
In terms of graphics performance, the ZenBook will run laps around the MacBook. This is because the base MacBook Pro comes with a measly Intel Iris Pro GPU. Now I am not saying this is a bad GPU, but it’s not meant for heavy graphics performance.
On the other hand, the ZenBook Pro packs a strong NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU with 2G GDDR5 VRAM. This thing is powerful, and it can run the most hard-core of games (even if not all at top settings). Now, you could have a similar GPU on a MacBook Pro if you shell out an extra $500. But even then, it would be the 750M, an older, weaker GPU.
This one is an easy one. The ASUS ZenBook Pro comes with 512 GB of internal storage and the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display sports 256 GB. Not much to say here, right?
OK, so don’t quote me on this one, because we haven’t tested this computer’s battery performance and ASUS is not saying much about it. Nevertheless, my educated guess would be that the MacBook Pro lasts longer (about 8 hours of web browsing).
Why is this? Well, the ASUS ZenBook Pro is a more powerful machine and only has 1 more Wh of juice compared to the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The ZenBook has to run a slightly more powerful processor, more pixels in the screen and a beefy GPU. This will likely make for less usage time per charge.
Pricing and conclusion
Really, the results were probably known from the start. The smartest choice would probably be to go with the ASUS ZenBook Pro, which is more powerful and happens to cost less ($1799 vs. $1999). The price doesn’t even compare if you try to upgrade the MacBook Pro to the level of the ZenBook Pro. Not to mention, in some ways it’s impossible for the MacBook Pro to reach the level of ASUS’ latest high-end laptop.
I will say there are other factors to consider, though. Some of you happen to prefer Mac OS X, which is a totally valid point to make. Some of you may even be dependant on some Mac-only software. If this is the case, that extra investment on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display may be worth it to you. Plus, I am a bit more fond of Apple’s design. The ASUS ZenBook Pro just happens to offer the most bang for your buck, and is a more capable laptop.
By the way, the ASUS ZenBook Pro is now available straight from ASUS’ website. And of course, you can also get the MacBook Pro from the Apple Store.