Review: ASUS Zenbook UX31
February 2, 2012, updated February 10, 2012
In October 2011, ASUS announced the Zenbook in both 11.6-inch (UX21) and 13.3-inch (UX31) sizes. The Zenbook was one of the first Ultrabooks to reach market and is reasonably representative of this first generation.
The Zenbook UX31 weighs 3.1 pounds with a travel weight (including a small power adapter) of 3.5 pounds. The aluminum case feels sturdy and rigid and is 0.35 inches thick at its thickest point. Keys are the now expected "chiclet" style and keyboard feel is average.
Base RAM on all Zenbook models is 4.0 GB. An SSD (either 128 GB or 256 GB) and a web-cam is standard. The Zenbook does not include an optical drive or a wired Ethernet port, though a USB to Ethernet adapter is included.
The Zenbook UX31 includes a class-leading high resolution 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The 138 pixel per inch display is glossy and the backlight appears bright. Video connectivity includes mini-VGA and mini-HDMI outputs (a mini-VGA to VGA adapter is included but users must provide their own HDMI converter).
Other standard Zenbook connectivity includes a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port (the USB 3.0 port is marked by a bright blue tab), Bluetooth 4.0, and a 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi card. There's also a Secure Digital card slot and a headphone jack.
Configuration and Ordering Notes
The Zenbook is available with Intel's current Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes that the Core i5 is appropriate for most users.
See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for more configuration suggestions. As of February 2012, configuring a Zenbook UX31 to the Lightweight Notebook specification is approximately $1,250. The University's Computer Connection has a Zenbook UX31 configuration available for order.
ISC tested a Zenbook UX31 with a 1.7 GHz Core i5, 1333 MHz 4.0 GB RAM, integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, a 128 GB SSD, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. It received a Windows Experience Index base score of 5.6, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows 7 performance will be excellent for most users on a Zenbook UX31 configured in this manner. In testing, the Zenbook seemed quite responsive.
ISC sees the Zenbook UX31 as being an interesting and attractive choice among lightweight notebooks available in early 2012, with the pixel dense display being its primary differentiator (many competing systems have a 1366 x 768 screen). However, many other competitive Ultrabooks will be coming to market shortly, including models from Dell and Lenovo.
When correctly configured to the lightweight notebook specification in the Notebook Purchasing Guide, the Zenbook UX31 is approved for general use at the University.
Zenbook graphic courtesy of ASUS
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (February 2, 2012, updated February 10, 2012)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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