The ZenBook 17 Fold from ASUS is the world’s first 17” foldable OLED laptop! There are 6 different ways you can use it, and ASUS have sponsored this video so that I can show you all about it! Let’s start out with desktop mode, where you use the kickstand on the back to get full use of that beautiful 17.3” OLED touchscreen with the included Bluetooth keyboard. With a 2560 by 1920 resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio, this is great for consuming content.
The angle of the kickstand can be adjusted to change the angle of the screen, but I found it most sturdy when fully extended. Next there’s laptop mode. With the screen folded the keyboard attaches to the bottom half with magnets and it basically becomes a traditional laptop with a 12.5” screen. The resolution gets cut in half, so we’re looking at 1920 by 1280 now with a 3:2 aspect ratio.
You can also remove the physical keyboard and use the touchscreen as the keyboard. Personally I thought it was way easier to type with the physical keyboard, but hey it’s good to have options.
ASUS calls this one extended mode, where you use the Bluetooth keyboard but get more screen space. Reader mode basically looks like a book with the screen folded a bit, and then of course we’ve got tablet mode, where you can just use it as a huge 17 inch Windows tablet. The screen automatically adjusts quickly based on what mode you’re in.
If we pull off the keyboard then the lower half quickly turns on from being off to extend Windows. Open apps might move around a bit depending on where you’ve got them on screen, but I never found it annoying when adding or removing the keyboard.
And just like a tablet, the screen rotates whichever way you turn it. The mode switcher pops up when changing the screen so you can select the layout you want the apps to take in Windows. The ASUS Screen Xpert software also helps you select where to place windows when you start dragging them around.
Honestly looking front on at the panel, I couldn’t really see where the screen bend is. It’s a bit more visible when looking at it on an angle like I am now, so I can see it right now, but if I was sitting in front of this and using it normally, I can’t really notice it.
So I didn’t find the bend to actually ruin immersion or anything when in practical use. That said, you can feel it a little bit when sliding your finger across the bend. The hinge feels nice and smooth to open and close, but you need two hands to get it open, presumably because the hinge needs to be fairly stiff to keep the big screen sturdy, and it does a good job of that.
The hinge can hold any position, so the screen remains sturdy no matter what angle you bend it to, it doesn’t wobble when typing and there’s no flex at all to the screen, it feels rock solid.
According to the ASUS website, the hinge has been tested for durability through 30,000 opening cycles. Even if you opened it 16 times a day, that’s still 5 years, or 10 years at 8 opens a day. That might not be as many compared to say folding phones, but the screen is bigger here. There’s just more to move.
Not to mention I’d argue that you’d probably end up opening a folding phone more times a day compared to your folding laptop. Unless you’re just sitting here constantly opening and closing it for no reason whatsoever, then I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’d probably be after a hardware upgrade before you have problems with the hinge. The glossy touch screen has an excellent color gamut and it looks great thanks to the OLED panel. It gets bright enough when viewing regular SDR content, but it’s rated to hit 500 nits in HDR mode.
Now this isn’t a gaming laptop so I haven’t measured screen response time, but it is OLED and ASUS are claiming a 0.
2ms response time, which is extremely fast. It is still 60Hz though, so like just scrolling around and stuff isn’t as smooth compared to the regular gaming laptops that I normally test, but it’s not blurry either. There’s a bit of a gap with the lid closed to accommodate the screen bend, but this space means you can keep the keyboard inside with the lid closed, making it easy to travel with. The build quality and design just feels premium. It’s got a magnesium alloy finish with a dark blue glass logo.
It feels nice to carry due to the faux-leather covering that wraps around the hinge, and the included case is made out of the same material.
It’s a little thick when folded closed, but definitely portable at a similar size to a sheet of A4 paper. At least in terms of width and depth, though it’s quite a bit thinner in tablet mode. It felt a little heavy feeling, which was one of the first things I noticed when taking it out of the box, but the total weight will vary depending on what you’re taking with you. The 65 watt Type-C charger is quite small and portable though, and it’s used to charge both the fold as well as the keyboard.
I think it would have been preferable if the keyboard was powered while it was connected to the device, but at least you don’t need to carry around a separate charger for it or anything. Maybe we’ll see that next gen.. The keyboard actually felt nice to type with. It’s got 1.
4mm of key travel and the keys just have a nice clicky feel. Unfortunately there’s no key backlighting as that would have made it thicker, but if you really need that you could use the touchscreen instead.
Though as mentioned, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as nice. The magnets are only down the front of the keyboard, so it’s easier to take off by lifting towards the back. The small touchpad is extremely smooth to the touch.
It only clicks down a little, but feels nice to use. There’s a little flex to the middle of the keyboard if you push down hard, as it is kind of just sitting above the screen, but I thought it felt perfectly fine when typing normally on it. Most of the ports are found on the right. There’s a Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port, 3.5mm audio combo jack, an air exhaust vent, and the power input at the top.
There’s a second Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port on top, along with volume adjustments on the opposite corner. Either of those two Type-C ports can be used to charge the device, and they both offer DisplayPort support, so you can connect two external 4K screens at once. It also comes with a Type-C to Type-A adapter for any older devices you need to connect. It’s got quad-speakers with Dolby Atmos, and I thought it sounded pretty good, better compared to a lot of other laptops I’ve tested. There’s some bass, and it sounds even better in desktop mode compared to laptop mode.
In terms of tech specs, my configuration has a 10 core 12 thread Intel i7 processor, 16 gigs of LPDDR5 memory and 1TB SSD. This is the first time I’ve had any machine with Intel’s new 12th gen U series processors. It’s got two P cores, but also 8 E cores, and with a 4.7GHz single core turbo boost speed I still found Windows and opening apps to be pretty snappy.
These are the type of gains we’re looking at for both single and multi threaded performance when comparing to the sort of 11th gen processors from last year that were typically found in thinner designs like this. Here’s how it looks inside. Wi-Fi 6E and memory are soldered to the motherboard which is just a tradeoff for the thin design, but it is possible to upgrade the single PCIe Gen 4 M.2 SSD, which is the standard 2280 size.
The speed of the installed 1TB SSD is already quite good though, so no need to upgrade unless you’re after more space. The Wi-Fi speed was also looking pretty decent, which seems to be the case any time we have Killer or Intel Wi-Fi.
The fold has a 75Wh battery, which basically takes up one side of the machine. Despite this though, I never thought one side felt any heavier than the other. The MyASUS software allows us to limit the battery charge level to 80% to help improve battery lifespan. In laptop mode, my usual video playback test nearly lasted for 10 hours, which is an excellent result for an Intel based machine compared to the higher powered H series gaming laptops that I normally cover. Laptop mode has half the screen disabled though, so less run time is expected if you’re using the full 17 inch screen. The MyASUS software has 3 different performance profiles, whisper mode, standard mode and performance mode, and we can see the effect these have on processor performance here. Obviously higher modes equal more performance, but honestly even maxing it out in performance mode it didn’t really get loud at all. It was quiet when just using the device normally or, say browsing content.
Basically I never heard the fan unless I was doing some kind of stress test. That’s not too surprising as it only has one little fan inside, and it doesn’t even need to work too hard as the i7-1250U maxes out at 29 watts, Even with that CPU maxed out for half an hour in an all core CPU stress test, the temperature never rose above 54 degrees Celsius.
The back area where the processor is hardly felt warm, and don’t forget this is basically a worst case with all 10 cores fully loaded up for an extended period of time. This machine just isn’t really capable of getting hot due to the U series processor. Now with an OLED screen there are some extra things that we do need to be aware of, such as screen burn-on. But the MyASUS software has some nice features built-in to counter this. Pixel Refresh runs a screen saver after 30 minutes of idle time, Pixel Shift moves the pixels around slightly over time, we can automatically hide the taskbar to avoid static elements from Windows, and make the taskbar semi-transparent. Dark mode is also enabled by default in Windows to help further, as it should always be! Unrelated to burn-in settings, you also get some control over OLED flickering at lower brightness levels if you’re sensitive to that.
I’m not sensitive to that, but I know some people are, and I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen this feature on any laptop with an OLED screen. So hopefully it’s something we see more of going forward, as there does generally tend to be more flicker to OLED screens at lower brightness levels under normal conditions.
And that’s just because they typically use PWM when adjusting the brightness level. There’s also this setting under the Adaptive Lock settings, if you look away from the screen for a bit the brightness will dim down, and the lower brightness should be better for reducing burn-in, but also saving battery. I guess I should note at this point that when I did my battery tests, I actually had all these features disabled because I didn’t want the screen randomly dimming or turning off while doing my test. So if you did actually use of these features which are on by default, then expect the battery life to last even longer than what I’ve shown in this video. You can also configure it to automatically lock or sleep when you step away from the machine, and it’s got IR for Windows Hello face unlock.
There are 2 cameras on the front. The left one is 5 megapixel in photos and records video at 1080p, while the right camera does 720p and is used for those adaptive lock and security features. The main camera actually looks pretty good, but when you’ve got it in laptop mode you’re going to have this sort of aspect ratio. But then if you actually rotate it into desktop mode the camera ends up on the left hand side, so although I’m sitting in the middle of the tablet right now, this is what it looks like. Starting at $3500 USD, ASUS are well aware that the fold isn’t for everyone. The simple fact is, it just costs more money to produce something like this. If you’re after just one device that you can use as both a laptop and then fold it out into a larger tablet for consuming content, this is kind of the best option at the moment. The only other folding laptop that I’m currently aware of was Lenovo’s X1 Fold from a year or two ago, but I think that was only a 13 inch screen, so obviously 17 inches is significantly larger. So definitely something different from ASUS here, and I’m interested to hear how many of you would actually go for something like this? Let me know in the comments below the video!
And of course check out that sponsored link for more information on the Fold 17. Otherwise you can check out some new laptops from ASUS that are coming out this year in this video next, so I’ll see you over in that one..