ASUS's new ZenBook S is thin and light without skimping on specs

The new ASUS ZenBook S leverages a confluence of technologies to create a laptop that is balances power and portability in a way that was unfathomable just a few years ago. It barely weighs 2.3 pounds and measures just a hair over half and inch thick, but it still packs the latest processors, more than enough RAM, and enough battery to easily get through a whole day of work and play.

Let's run down the specs. We're looking at Intel's 8th Gen processors in a Core i5 or i7 variety, a 13.3-inch 4K or FHD display with slim 5.9mm bezels, Intel HD Graphics 620, a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, up to 16GB of RAM, and a full terabyte of PCIe SSD storage — all in a thin-and-light metal unibody package. ASUS is playing up comparisons with other laptops; at 2.3 pounds it's significantly lighter than the 2.67-pound Dell XPS 13, and at 12.9mm thick it's just a hair slimmer than Apple's MacBook laptop (and far more impressive of a machine).

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CategoryASUS ZenBook S
Display13.3-inch 4K (3840x2160) touch display13.3-inch FHD (1920x1080)
CPUIntel Core i5-8250UIntel Core i7-8550U
GPUIntel HD Graphics 620
RAMUp to 16GB LPDDR3 21333Mhz
StorageUp to 1TB PCIe SSD
Wireless802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports2x USB-C Thunderbolt 31x USB-C 3.1Audio jack
Power50Whr lithium-polymer battery, 13.5-hour battery life65W USB-C charger
Dimensions12.24 x 8.39 x 0.51 inches (311 x 213 x 12.9 mm)
Weight2.31 lbs (1.05 kg)

The ZenBook S also brings literal leverage to the ASUS laptop line, with a new "ErgoLift" hinge — basically, the hinge for the display lid is moved in by half an inch, creating a support that lifts up the base by 5.5 degrees when opened, offering a better ergonomic typing angle and improved ventilation. Speaking of ventilation, ASUS is touting the laptop's new cooling system, which includes a 71-blade "liquid-crystal-polymer fan impeller" that moves 13.4% more air than before for a 5° C reduction in system temperature.

Even at this small size and thin build, the ZenBook S has a decent keyboard. You're looking at a 19.05 mm pitch (the spacing of the keys, measured center-to-center) with 1.2mm of travel. The glass touchpad is decently sized with an embedded Windows Hello fingerprint sensor and Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers.

And I hope you like bold colors, because ASUS is only offering those for the ZenBook S. You'll have your choice of "Burgundy Red" or "Deep Dive Blue", both adorned with ASUS's signature etched concentric circle lid and sporting rose gold edge accents. Just because it's thin and light and pretty doesn't mean it can't be tough; ASUS designed the ZenBook S to pass the rigorous MIL-STD 810G durability testing for drops, extreme temperatures, and more. It's not waterproof, nor would I intentionally go tossing it about (that shiny etched lid will scratch up pretty easily), but if it does happen to slip off your lap or fall out of your bag, it should be okay.

If a thin, light, and modern ASUS laptop in a dark red or blue is speaking your language, you'll be able to buy one starting June 11th at a starting price of $1199.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.