New Year, New Devious Plans. I don’t usually go into the whole “Oh wow, I need some fabulous resolutions to start my calendar year with a bang.” However, I have noted a distinct lacking in world domination during 2016. And I will be first to admit I need some new hardware to spice it up. But with all the changes happening in our little Evil Genius family, I really wasn’t sure which laptop would best suit our Evil Genius needs.
So, ASUS sent me two. *grin*
Gaming computer or professional computer? Work or play? When you only have the budget and space for one computer, how do you make the comparison? Everyone has different priorities and expectations for their use, so you really need to test out which elements you can do without.
In the Professional Corner, we have the ASUS Zenbook Flip UX 360UA. Sleek design, light as a feather, and super quiet. It is both laptop and tablet, allowing your work to easily flow from typing to touch-screen with the mere click (or touch) of a button. Even with 20 tabs open on Chrome, plus ABC iView streaming video of the NYE Fireworks, this beauty didn’t skip a beat. The battery warning was enough for me to save each of my articles over the last month (about 8hrs battery power with Spotify, Chrome, games, and Word open at various times).
In the Gaming Corner, we have the Republic of Gaming Strix GL502VS. Out of the three gaming computers shown to me at PAX Australia, this lovely laptop was considered ‘Good’ in comparison with its siblings ‘Better’ and ‘The Beast’. Don’t let that fool you: This baby comes with a bigger screen, more battery power, a far more powerful processor(CPU), and a separate GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) while monitoring every element of your computer at any time on the Battlefield.
I’m not here to feed you all the pretty specs. You can check out all the details for both computers on the ASUS website (see the links above). I’m going straight to the nitty-gritty and telling you how they perform in our home-testing environment. I’m here to compare how each laptop fits into our real-life family.
Meet your testers: Evil Genius Mum; Evil Genius Dad; 10-year-old Sinister; 7-year-old Nefarious; 3-year-old Zaltu.
First Round: Professional Writing
Let’s start with the primary, and most important, laptop user in the family: Me. If I’m not able to comfortably and productively write on the laptop, then it kind of defeats the purpose of upgrading my Evil Genius Lair.
|Tester||Zenbook Flip UX360UA||ROG Strix GL502|
|EG Mum||Light enough to simply pick-up and move anywhere I like while I am writing. If I want to sit on the couch, I can||Much larger, and louder|
|Super-quiet, and not distracting||Keyboard layout is slightly off-putting and takes a little while to adjust|
|Screen is smaller at 13″, but not an issue while working||More powerful cooling feature (noticeable over long periods of use)|
|Can handle 20 tabs open in Chrome, plus Netflix, without any strain on the computer||Screen is bigger and more responsive to whatever changes I require in settings|
Preference: Zenbook Flip UX360. I have enough distractions in my life. When I want to sit down and write, I just want to be able to sit down and write. Same thing goes with the spawnlings doing their homework. Sinister tested out both with his assignments and found the Zenbook easier to navigate and less distracting. Nefarious wrote his first article on both laptops, with a preference to the Zenbook due to size and navigation.
Second Round: Programming
ASUS provided the laptops at the perfect time for some programming during the Hour of Code. Great opportunity to test out the value of these computers beyond the simple “Type Here” environment. Both computers were tested by the older spawnlings using Scratch and Python. In the new school year, both spawnlings are looking to extend their coding skills and start looking at bigger projects, like the STEM Video Game Challenge. This round of testing is super-important in our purchase decision.
|Tester||Zenbook Flip UX360UA||ROG Strix GL502|
|Sinister||Screen is small for some of the finer details||More responsive: less lag between each step in the Hour of Code activities|
|A lot of trouble using any touch screen feature in Scratch||Screen is bigger for finer detail in the graphics|
|Touchpad for ‘mouse’-control is very responsive and easy to navigate around the screen||Better management of multiple features open while coding|
|Nefarious||Didn’t like the touchscreen / tablet feature as it was not as responsive to his touch||Less interruption with his activities (I think he was talking about the lag between activities)|
|Touchpad is super-responsive, sometimes too much when he was coding||Graphics are far better and helped by bigger screen|
Preference: ROG Strix GL502. The older spawnlings really preferred the Gaming Computer. I loaded exactly the same activities on the two computers simultaneously, and they were both able to point out how the bigger screen and graphic detail are useful in the details of their coding. Sinister has some big ideas for his potential STEM Video Game Challenge entry, and he feels more confident using the ROG Strix GL502 for both coding and testing the game out. I may not have programmed much lately, but I definitely see their point. Their programming needs are only going to increase over time, so if the ROG Strix GL502 is the preference now, the difference between the two computers will be even more pronounced by the end of the year.
Round 3: Game Play
And now the fun begins. The ROG Strix GL502 has the distinct advantage of being BUILT for gaming. I was unable to test Battlefield One on both computers *sad panda* but if you are specifically looking at playing lots of games like that, then let’s face it. You are already in favor of the ROG Strix GL502. It is even VR-ready. So, let’s compare a couple of more moderate games from PAX Australia. For full game reviews, check out the link for each game.
|Game||Zenbook Flip UX360UA||ROG Strix GL502|
|Mallow Drops||Really light on graphics, sound, and strategy. Due for release for iPhone in 2017, which might work in tablet format for UX360. Otherwise, cute little game to have on the computer without taxing it too much.||No noticeable impact on this computer. This game is hardly even a snack. If anything, the bigger screen made me feel a little motion-sickness with the screen flipping and movement|
|Goat Punks||Multi-person game which starts eating at the battery power of the UX360; Definitely would benefit from a larger screen.||Sound is brilliant, with the warnings for incoming missiles more noticeable; Again, no effort to present the game.|
|Forts||Another example of monitor-size matters; You can’t appreciate the graphics on the smaller screen||Far more immersive experience with better sound and images; Easier to use the strategic tools and physics|
|Minecraft||Both in game-mode and programming with the Hour of Code, the graphics were suitable; However, drains the battery if you have any other apps open||Absolutely no problems; We didn’t test it in VR-mode, the ROG Strix GL502 is VR-ready and would be fantastic for Minecraft VR|
Preference: ROG Strix GL502, which is no real surprise. As I said above, it is a computer designed for computer games. The thing is, our spawnlings are still fairly young and green. They are not into heavy hitting games yet… but they will be, and soon. Possibly even this year. If we are even toying with the idea of a computer which supports gaming (both for play and development), then the Strix GL502 wins clearly.
Final Round: Artistic Design
This was a tricky one to test. It really came down to photo editing and digital artwork. Why is this even important? Because I need all the help I can get with photos for my blog articles. And 10-year-old Sinister is fairly artistic, looking for more opportunities to express this in his school work and his personal art.
|Tester||Zenbook Flip UX360UA||ROG Strix GL502|
|Sinister||Absolutely loved the touchscreen function; Allowed more control over finer details and trying new techniques||Hated the touchpad: I was asked to review the laptops exactly as they are (no peripherals), but Sinister hated using the touchpad for any control over the artwork–Like, really hated; Touchpad click is a heavy click and the touch-click is not sensitive enough for the exact detail he was looking for|
|EG Mum||Touchscreen element was very useful for photo editing; I used Pixlr for my photo work and I could easily manage between both touch-screen and touchpad/mouse||Click element for the touchpad is a bit ‘clunky’ and takes additional effort to line-up for an exact required response|
Preference: Zenbook Flip UX360, based purely on what comes with the laptop. The touchscreen is a real bonus for making the most of your digital techniques. Sinister is definitely interested in exploring more with the range of possibilities. And as much as he loves the larger screen and more detailed graphic display on the Strix GL502, he concedes the interface is much better on the UX360. Less “clunker-clunker” sounds.
I am really torn on this. Personally, I fell in love with the Zenbook Flip UX 360. It is absolutely perfect for my needs. But that is the problem: It is perfect for MY needs. I am reviewing these computers for a family. A dynamic, multi-functioning family with diverse needs. And the UX360 just doesn’t cover all of the needs enough in comparison with what’s on offer in the ROG Strix GL502.
If you are looking for a personal laptop you can take with you for your own use, then I recommend the UX360. It’s the type of computer you could easily take to high school or university, traveling, or just into your lounge room with a good cup of tea. It is sleek and sexy, without compromising on performance. Oh My Geekiness, I want this computer so bad.
However, if you are reading this review for your family, then you want to look at the ROG Strix GL502. It is more powerful, it provides more detail, it is more prepared for the ever-changing technological environment we are throwing our kids into every day. The Strix GL502 is the type of computer you can have all your serious fun with, and still be familiar enough with it to work when you need to. It is the type of computer I feel confident in allowing our spawnlings to expand their tech skillz and not drain it of … well, everything. It is still light enough to move around, but sturdy enough to handle the kids moving it around. And just because my review wasn’t allowed to include any add-ons like ‘graphic tablets’, doesn’t mean you can’t consider it.
Damn. My review just made my spawnlings very happy. Sometimes I wonder who I am really working for.
ASUS sent me both the Zenbook Flip UX360UA and the ROG Strix GL502VS for a short period of time for the purpose of this review. Yes, I had to send them back *very sad panda*
The Zenbook Flip UX360UA is available at most major retailers and the ASUS online shop. Retails for about AUD$1700 / USD$700.
The ROG Strix GL502VS is also available, though a little more selectively. Retails for about AUD$2,100 / USD$1,500.