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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons
Andrei Girbea Rating: 4 out of 5

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A review – the best ultrabook out there right now

33 Comments

  1. FW

    August 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Nice article buddy! I have a question, if you could answer. How long do you think it will take before Ultrabooks step into their mature period of the life cycle? I am not in a rush for one, but I am definitely interested in getting one at some point. Another question is, do you think Ultrabooks will become the standard for portable computers like notebooks today soon enough? Thanks for your time!

    • Mike

      August 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Hey FW.

      First of all, ultrabooks are still fresh and I think we’ll see mature products by next year. There are some 2nd gen ultrabooks that are quite good, like this Asus or the Samsung Series 9 Ultra. But most have their issues.

      Anyway, these guys at Intel were optimistic about ultrabooks, claiming 40% of the laptops sold this year will be ultrabooks. That proved to be so wrong, as recent estimations point to something like 2% of the market being ultrabooks with Windows (with another 2-4% for the MBA). There’s one big reason for that: the PRICE. And some secondary ones: most ultrabooks are 13.3 inchers, most ultrabooks have various issues.

      Basically, people want not very expensive 15.6 inch laptops that will run decently. They don’t need very fast computers, they don’t want 3 pounds 13.3 inchers, etc. So, if ultrabooks will drop to let’s say 500-600 on 15.6 inch model, I’m sure they’ll be a lot more interesting. Because the idea behind them is cool: a thin, light laptop that runs for hours on a single charge and is fast enough for your daily tasks. Who wouldn’t want to replace the old bulky laptop with a sleeker one, if it’s not way way more expensive, right?

      Bottom point, I’m sure thin and light laptops are the way to go. But it will take a time before they’ll become very popular, as this will happen only when the prices are going to drop considerably.

      • FW

        August 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        Thanks a lot for the answer! I currently have a Dell XPS 15 which is extremely powerful with i7 plus nVidia card. I quite enjoy the speed of it as well as its sound system (it has a subwoofer!). I am afraid I will not be able to see either on an Ultrabook for a while due to the size limitation (as far as I know some Ultrabooks even dropped the optical drive to reduce its size) as well as heating issues. What do you think?

        • Mike

          August 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm

          Well, no, you can get the graphics on the bigger 15 inch ultrabooks, like the new 2012 XPS 15. Also, most 14 inch ultrabooks have dedicated graphics as well.

          But that subwoofer, no, you won’t find any on such a thin laptop

      • Alex

        August 19, 2012 at 6:30 am

        What would be really nice is if they offered more customization in terms of DIY. Give the ultrabooks standard internals (hopefully premium display, craftsmanship and etc. would be continued) like either a low memory SSD (128 GB) or a hybrid drive and non-soldered RAM. The majority wouldn’t notice while others wouldn’t have to pay hundreds of extra dollars for a 256 GB SSD and 4 more GB of RAM that would cost 200-250 USD to do on your own. It’s especially annoying when companies give reviewers laptops with good SSD’s then later on continue production with cheap and terrible SSD’s like the Sandisk U100.

        • Alex

          August 19, 2012 at 6:33 am

          And nice review! Covered all the important details that other review sites like Engadget miss like specific benchmarks in terms of FPS in games, 3DMark and other details.

  2. FW

    August 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Another question: Are there any 15-inch Ultrabooks out there at all (say, is the new XPS 15 considered an Ultrabook?) or the screen is too big to be packed into an Ultrabook? I am asking this because 1080P screen on my current 2011 XPS 15 makes reading a bit painful already, and I have to scale all the fonts up to compensate for it. It is difficult for me to imagine 1080P on a 13.3-inch screen. 15-15.6 seems to me the good screen size for surfing the internet and typing (as the readability is still ok even if I open two pages next to each other).

    Thanks!

    • Mike

      August 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      Yes, the Dell XPS 15, the Samsung Galaxy 9 Ultra 15 and the HP Envy 6 are some of the 15 inch ultrabook available right now.

  3. FCM

    August 15, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Mike Im trying to buy the UX31A-DB72 Zenbook but I find that it has been discontinued in several webs (i.e. b&h), do you have any new info?
    Do you recommend any other similar ultrabook?

    • Mike

      August 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      I don’t know anything about that. Amazon doesn’t seem to have it and they sell it for a third party shop. I’ll ask my guys at Asus but I’m not sure they will be able to tell me anything about the US models, they are a bit different over here. I’ll send you an email if I find anything…

  4. Michael

    August 18, 2012 at 2:40 am

    Hey Mike,
    Have you had wifi connectivity problems with the ux31a? I purchased mine recently and have experienced download speeds of around .7 mbps. Whether it be here at my house or anywhere else, the internet speeds remain atrocious. I sent it back to Asus and they said the problem was resolved, however it wasn’t – they sent it back as “repaired” even though it got even worse speeds than before. All the drivers etc. are current, and even I.T. people that I’ve called have been baffled. Do you think this is a hardware problem? Have any suggestions?

    • Mike

      August 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Michael, I’ve heard some buyers had problems with Internet speed on their Primes. However, my unit did not have any issue, it seems like only some units are affected.

      Anyway, I’m not sure what you should do… send it back to Asus and claim to have it fixed. If not, return it.

      You could go on notebookreview.com on the forums and read the Owner’s Lounge for the UX31A, you might find some proper advices there. But you’ll have to take your time, there are hundreds of posts there…

  5. Mohit Saxena

    September 7, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Hi Mike, found your review extremely useful. Planning to buy Asus Zenbook Prime UX 31A XB72. My question is … How easy or difficult will it be to load Windows 8 once it is available. Will it reduce / impair the efficacy of the Zenbook in any way if Windows 8 is loaded. How long before UX31A be available with windows 8.

    • Mike

      September 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      the laptop will sell in stores with windows 8 probably by November.

      On the other hand, you’ll be able to install win 8 on this one easily with an external optical drive or a flash drive, if you buy the upgrade.

  6. Daniel

    October 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I just recieved the ux31-db51. I love it, however, I have been working with Windows 8 since early beta. I looked everywhere for support for Windows 8 to no avail for this model.
    Is there a special or secret web site for Asus downloads for windows 8 that you could share with me?
    I appreciate it.
    And you’re article was spot on … although the sound and keyboard on mine are quite acceptable.
    Thanks,
    Daniel

    • Mike

      October 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Hey Daniel, you can either go ahead and install windows 8 and hope that everything will work fine (should work with win 7 drivers). or you can wait for win 8 to be official released and then asus will probably have official win 8 drivers for it. by the start of November, I’d say

  7. Dominik

    October 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I’m the proud owner of a UX31A-R4002V (256GB ADATA SSD) and here are some additional Informations I would like to share with you:

    Using the ElanTech-Touchpad Driver (V11.5.2.1 – can be obtained from the ASUS Homepage: http://support.asus.com/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en&m=Touchpad&os=30) works just better than the ASUS Driver, including gestures, back and forward swipe in FireFox and so on…

    I tested SC2: 1920×1080, Textures: medium, models: high, Terrain: medium, rest: low and it runs perfectly fine for a Ultrabook (means: 60-100 FPS with no action, avg. 40 FPS with maxed army in battle with drops to 35 sometimes, coukd drop to lower rates when 2 maxed armies show up, but still playable)

    Tested on Win7 x64 (clean install without bloatware)

    • Dominik

      October 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Edit: also the ElanTech Driver fixes the non-responsive top part of the touchpad.

  8. Angelynn

    November 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Mike–
    Helpful article! Wondering this: is the RAM expandable or stuck a 4GB? I’m guessing it’s not but maybe I missed something? I’m looking at the UX31A, but I’m wondering if you have suggestions for alternative. Something i7, with/without SSD, and possibly expandable (8/+) RAM?
    Thanks much!

    • Mike

      November 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      the RAM is soldered so upgrading it it’s going to be very difficult, if possible. so maybe if you can find an 8 GB config… but i didn’t find one :(

  9. Eddie

    December 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Andrei, I would like to buy a 14 inch ultrabook. Which is the best you recommend? Let’s say in a price of maximum 1200 euros.
    I saw very few reviews about Lenovo u410, for example – one of the models I was looking at. Also, I have an eye for Toshiba U840-10Q.

    On the other hand (and on topic) presuming that I want to buy a 13 inch model, what is your opinion, between ASUS UX31A, Toshiba Z830 and Acer Aspire S7?
    Thanks!

    Excellent site! Chapeau bas!

    • Mike

      December 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      I’d probably go with the Lenovo for a 14 incher, although the screen is rather poor.

      For 13.3 inchers, if you don’t want a touchscreen, then go for the Asus. If you do want the touchscreen, see the Aspire S7 instead. IN either cases, i wouldn’t go for the Toshiba (the Z930 is their latest model) because that one has a rather flimsy screen and I’ve heard several complaints that it can easily crack

  10. Harsh

    February 6, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Would you recommend buying this model used for around $600? Amazon has it for $685 and I have $100 Gift cards to use @ amazon… or should I go with the first gen model brand new for about the same price? The 1080 is really the only reason I am considering used.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Mike

      February 6, 2013 at 10:08 am

      for that kind of money it’s a good deal. that’s the core i5 config with the 128 gb ssd, right?

      • Harsh

        February 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm

        Yes Mike that is the configuration. Also for the HD it says Hard Drive Interface — Serial ATA

        • Mike

          February 7, 2013 at 11:51 am

          sounds good then. i believe that’s a nice deal for the money

          • Harsh

            February 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

            Thank you!

  11. jai

    February 19, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Hello Mike,

    What is the differences between Asus Zenbook UX31A-R4005H and Asus Zenbook UX31A-R3001H. I use laptop mainly for work eg: use of mathematical softwares eg matlab etc. Which is one would you suggest? Tq.

    • Mike

      February 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Jai, ar eyou sure there’s a UX31A-R3001H ? From what I’ve seen, there are some shops listing it (very few) and the specs are identical to what you’re getting on the UX32VD-R3001H (1366 x 768 px screen, hybrid storage and Nvidia 620M graphics).

      ON the other hand, the UX31A-R4005H comes with 1920 x 1080 px screen, 128 GB SSD and integrated graphics. Both have the same cpu, amount of ram, etc etc

  12. lbstrat

    June 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Mike, I need an ultrabook, would like a touchscreen, for a medical practice where I will be using the device mainly for electronic documentation and word processing. I was looking at the Asus 11.6 model, but am not sure the i3 will be fast enough. I think I am leaning towards a 13.3″ size. What is your recommendation?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      for word and documents, the i3 should be enough. The 11.6 inch model is available with i5 and i7 processors as well though

  13. John Swint

    August 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Mike,

    After almost waiting for a year, I finally made the decision. It is the Zenbook Touch with i7 and 256 GB. I was actually thinking of waiting for the Infinity which should be on the market 31 October, but seeing the first prices in Europe (2200 euro), I couldn’t see the benefit in that kind of extra money. The Zenbook Touch has been 1500 euro so far, since the beginning of this year and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that it came down to 1300 euro. Now how much more should you get for 900 euro between the Touch and the Infinity? Since my previous notebook was more then 5 years old and needed replacing, although that Acer Clamshell still works (not the battery though), I really wanted slimmer, lighter, faster etc. I have managed with the old Vista, but it was never perfect. The Touch with Win8 will need some getting used to. I do like the looks though and everything works fine to me. Keyboard, battery life (I charge it like a phone, every once in a while), screen. When I saw it the first time out of the box in a shop, I noticed also the sleek sleeve. And the matching pouch for the adapters. Maybe a pouch for the charger would have made it all complete, then you could actually disconnect the power connections to prevent it from getting bend. All-in-all nice looking and well working machine, it weighs half of my old one and is a third of the thickness. Speaking about mobility. Working mostly just on the battery anywhere any time.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Hey John, thanks for your feedback, I’m glad you like it.

      The best part about Infinity is the Haswell platform powering it, which will make it more powerful and more efficient. YOu then get the very high resolution screen and all the others, but like you said, it’s hard to justify paying over 2G for a laptop

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