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First Impressions: Asus Zenbook NX500JK in Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 11/25/2014

Alluring. Asus aims at tech enthusiasts with its new 15-inch Zenbook generation. The flat aluminum unibody houses a standard-voltage i7 processor paired with an upper middle-class Nvidia graphics card. The highlight of this model seems to be the 4K panel. It offers high resolutions, great colors, high contrast and wide viewing angles. Is this the winner?

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The 15-inch case of the Zenbook NX500JK is slim and stylish. It is one of the few 15-inch laptops, alongside the Dell XPS 15 (9530, Late 2013) and the Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15-Inch, which exceeds Full HD. There may already be a few 3K or 4k notebooks on the market, but few of them come close to the workmanship and sturdiness of our test model. For example, we recently tested the Toshiba Satellite P50t-B-10T (4K).

The price of 2,200 Euros (~$2743) for the NX500JK-DR018H (available in Germany) is ambitious. Is this price fair for a Core i7-4712HQ, a GeForce GTX 850M and a 256GB SSD? If you only want this hardware, then the Aspire V 15 Nitro (VN7-591G-77A9) from our recent tests makes a better deal, especially as it offers a GeForce GTX 860M. However, the display does not offer 4K. So are the advantages the 4K panel of the Zenbook NX500JK offers worth the price difference? In a few days, we will find out in an in-depth review.

First Impression

Asus uses the unibody employed in Zenbooks and upgrades the design, as can be seen by the amazing sturdiness of the 15-inch base: at no point can it be bent inwards. The display cover is equally tough.

The input devices offer surprisingly good feedback, especially the keyboard with its medium stroke distance. However, the keys are a little smooth and not curved, which means the fingers slide over them a little too much.

Size Comparison

Display

The VisualMaster display in the Zenbook NX500 offers a wide color spectrum.
The VisualMaster display in the Zenbook NX500 offers a wide color spectrum.

As expected of its flagship, Asus provides the best it has to offer in the Zenbook NX500, at least in terms of resolution. 3840x2160 pixels is provided, which is 4x the Full HD resolution. In comparison: the Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 offers 2880x1800 pixels, and the Dell XPS 15 brings 3200x1800 pixels. In terms of picture clarity, there is barely any difference and all three models will offer an amazing degree of sharpness. The reflective IPS display with touch functionality can reach a max of 309 Candela (in our test) and has a good distribution of brightness at 86%. The black value is quite low, resulting in a high contrast of 1188:1.

The display garners good scores in our display color coverage test as well. The deviation from the sRGB color space is quite small (in colors and in grayscale) although the nigh perfect level of the MacBook Pro Retina 15 is not reached here. The display covers a large portion of the color spectrum: 83% of the AdobeRGB color space according to our preliminary test values.

278
cd/m²
282
cd/m²
266
cd/m²
290
cd/m²
309
cd/m²
285
cd/m²
305
cd/m²
289
cd/m²
308
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 309 cd/m² Average: 290.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 309 cd/m²
Contrast: 1188:1 (Black: 0.26 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.69 | 0.8-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 3.35 | 0.64-98 Ø6.6
83% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.33
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4712HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
GeForce GT 750M, 4850HQ, Apple SSD SM0512F
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
Asus N550JK-CN109H
GeForce GTX 850M, 4200H, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
HP Envy 15-k010ng
GeForce GTX 850M, 4510U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
Screen
4%
-19%
-37%
-27%
-77%
Brightness middle
309
332
7%
349
13%
284
-8%
317
3%
343
11%
Brightness
290
302
4%
322
11%
264
-9%
319
10%
330
14%
Brightness Distribution
86
83
-3%
83
-3%
80
-7%
87
1%
84
-2%
Black Level *
0.26
0.3326
-28%
0.21
19%
0.388
-49%
0.46
-77%
0.75
-188%
Contrast
1188
998
-16%
1662
40%
732
-38%
689
-42%
457
-62%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.69
1.95
58%
8.27
-76%
5.24
-12%
5.79
-23%
9.72
-107%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.35
2.11
37%
7.99
-139%
7.7
-130%
5.01
-50%
11.24
-236%
Gamma
2.33 103%
2.34 103%
3.42 70%
2.63 91%
2.35 102%
2.3 104%
CCT
6400 102%
6489 100%
8117 80%
6119 106%
7347 88%
11010 59%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
83
60.6
-27%
69.08
-17%
47
-43%
55
-34%
46
-45%

* ... smaller is better

Performance

The performance has two sides: on the one hand, we have a fast SSD and a fast GTX graphics card, but on the other hand we have a Core i7 which does not exceed its base clock speed of 2.3 GHz. How does this affect games and CPU-intensive applications? Will this just be a standard-voltage CPU, which cannot perform higher than a 15 W Haswell? The preliminary Cinebench scores hint toward weak performance due to the lacking Turbo mode.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
1.41 Points ∼60%
Clevo W355SSQ
1.46 Points ∼62% +4%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
1.46 Points ∼62% +4%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
1.38 Points ∼59% -2%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
1.53 Points ∼65% +9%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
1.48 Points ∼63% +5%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
5.11 Points ∼21%
Clevo W355SSQ
6.54 Points ∼27% +28%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
6.23 Points ∼26% +22%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
6.29 Points ∼26% +23%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
7.22 Points ∼30% +41%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
6.17 Points ∼26% +21%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
118 Points ∼57%
Clevo W355SSQ
131 Points ∼64% +11%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
130 Points ∼63% +10%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
137 Points ∼67% +16%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
133 Points ∼65% +13%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
470 Points ∼16%
Clevo W355SSQ
602 Points ∼20% +28%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
579 Points ∼20% +23%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
657 Points ∼22% +40%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
578 Points ∼20% +23%

Legend

 
Asus NX500JK-DR018H Intel Core i7-4712HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
 
Clevo W355SSQ Intel Core i7-4712MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Kingston HyperX Fury SHFS37A240G
 
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL Intel Core i7-4712MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
 
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013) Intel Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
 
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i7-4850HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Apple SSD SM0512F

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The Asus Zenbook NX500 fails to reach our expectations in the PCMark 8 test too. The previously mentioned CPU weakness is to blame. A detailed report will be provided in our in-depth review in a few days.

PCMark 8
Storage Score (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
5009 Points ∼99%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
3250 Points ∼50%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
4318 Points ∼66% +33%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
3676 Points ∼39%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
4305 Points ∼45% +17%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
2822 Points ∼46%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
3603 Points ∼59% +28%
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
5565 Points ∼65%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
5937 Points ∼69% +7%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
5879 Points ∼68% +6%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
5842 Points ∼68% +5%

Legend

 
Asus NX500JK-DR018H Intel Core i7-4712HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
 
Clevo W355SSQ Intel Core i7-4712MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Kingston HyperX Fury SHFS37A240G
 
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL Intel Core i7-4712MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
 
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013) Intel Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
 
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i7-4850HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Apple SSD SM0512F

The first few 3DMark 2011 benchmarks are decent indicating that the GeForce GTX 850M with DDR3 memory performs well. However, there is room for improvement, as shown by the Asus GL550JK and the MSI GE70, which are both optimized for gaming, whereas the NX500 is a true multimedia laptop.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
4421 Points ∼15%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
4595 Points ∼15% +4%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
3829 Points ∼13% -13%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
4858 Points ∼16% +10%
MSI GE70-2PCi785
4716 Points ∼16% +7%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
5124 Points ∼17% +16%
Clevo W355SSQ
5284 Points ∼18% +20%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
2974 Points ∼10% -33%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
2692 Points ∼9% -39%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Score (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
3248 Points ∼12%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
3383 Points ∼13% +4%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
2391 Points ∼9% -26%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
2836 Points ∼11% -13%
MSI GE70-2PCi785
3404 Points ∼13% +5%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
3630 Points ∼14% +12%
Clevo W355SSQ
3690 Points ∼14% +14%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
1953 Points ∼7% -40%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
1800 Points ∼7% -45%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
Asus NX500JK-DR018H
12781 Points ∼26%
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL
14481 Points ∼29% +13%
HP Envy 15-k010ng
8259 Points ∼17% -35%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
14231 Points ∼29% +11%
Asus GL550JK-CN391H
14231 Points ∼29% +11%
MSI GE70-2PCi785
14681 Points ∼30% +15%
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9
16111 Points ∼33% +26%
Clevo W355SSQ
15694 Points ∼32% +23%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
9739 Points ∼20% -24%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10
10275 Points ∼21% -20%

Legend

 
Asus NX500JK-DR018H Intel Core i7-4712HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
 
MSI GE40 2PC-483XPL Intel Core i7-4712MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630
 
HP Envy 15-k010ng Intel Core i7-4510U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
 
Asus GL550JK-CN391H Intel Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, SanDisk SD6SB1M256G1002
 
MSI GE70-2PCi785 Intel Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
 
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-591G-77A9 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3128GD
 
Clevo W355SSQ Intel Core i7-4712MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Kingston HyperX Fury SHFS37A240G
 
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013) Intel Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i7-4850HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Apple SSD SM0512F

Emissions

Thankfully, the 15-inch model stays quiet when running normal programs (no games and no stress test), despite having two fans. Beside the HDD, they are the only other source of noise. The fans do their job well, keeping the temperatures within limits even at extreme load.

Noise Level

Idle
31 / 31 / 31 dB(A)
Load
39.7 / 43.8 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Max. Load
 41.2 °C44.6 °C42 °C 
 31.4 °C40.3 °C29.5 °C 
 32.5 °C30.2 °C30.5 °C 
Maximum: 44.6 °C
Average: 35.8 °C
37.9 °C43.7 °C28.6 °C
34.6 °C38.7 °C25.6 °C
32.1 °C33.1 °C32.3 °C
Maximum: 43.7 °C
Average: 34.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  50.8 °C | Room Temperature 21.8 °C | Voltcraft IR-360
Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.2 / 0.4 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 14.1 / 21.3 / 23.4 Watt
Load midlight 77.7 / 81.8 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 960

Preliminary Verdict

Asus Zenbook NX500JK
Asus Zenbook NX500JK

Asus did a great job with the design of this model: the workmanship is perfect. The quality and the material of the laptop meet the highest standards, but they are not all the model has to offer. Do the Core i7 quad-core and GTX 850M accompanied with a 4K panel grant the laptop the right to be a premium model? Of course, one could argue about how useful a 3840x2160 pixel resolution on a 15-inch screen is. The fact is that the IPS panel beats most competitors by a large margin, with the exception of the Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15. The brightness is not the best, but the contrast, color spectrum coverage and the color accuracy are top-notch.

The performance is good and there is no doubt that the laptop is a fast, gaming-ready notebook. The fast Samsung SSD helps score some extra points in performance for the NX500. The Core i7 could drag the overall performance down, as without Turbo the performance is not great in our first few tests. More information will be provided in the following days in our in-depth review.

Test model provided by: Notebooklieferant.de

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > First Impressions: Asus Zenbook NX500JK in Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2014-11-25 (Update: 2018-05-15)