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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons
Asus Zenbook UX331UN Andrei Girbea Rating: 4 out of 5

Asus Zenbook 13 UX331UN impressions – Core i5-8250U CPU and Nvidia MX150 graphics

30 Comments

  1. mystiq

    September 11, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    andrei, would you mind to review the MSI GE63VR raider please ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 12, 2017 at 4:06 am

      Hi, I have very few contacts with MSI so I don't know if I can get my hands on that one. Will try, but chances are pretty slim.

      • mystiq

        September 12, 2017 at 4:38 am

        oh okay then,

        btw, next day dell inspiron 15 7577 (GTX 1060-MAX-Q) will available, did you plan to get review on it too ?

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 12, 2017 at 5:13 am

          Probably not either. Dell, HP are other OEMs that I have little contact with over here. Sry.

  2. Jarecki

    September 12, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Finally!! I was waiting for that review. Thanks.

    How would you compare it to Xiaomi Air 13? Is Xiaomi updating anytime soon?
    Also, is there only one SSD slot? On Asus website it looks like there are two.

    Do you have to send that model back to Asus? If not I'm happy to buy it back from you. ;)

    Cheers

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 12, 2017 at 4:09 am

      Not sure about the Xiaomi, I don't have access to their products over here and never got to test any of their units. They're usually fast with upgrades though.

      There's one M.2 SSD slot. the officials pecs are a bit confusing, what they mean is that this laptop comes with either SATA or PCIe 4x storage.

      And yes, this has already gone back to Asus, I don't keep any of the review units, it's against our ethics policy :)

  3. John

    September 12, 2017 at 5:01 am

    You do know you can change the fan setting to be Active or Passive right?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 12, 2017 at 5:17 am

      Hmmm, yes, good point, but I actually didn't think about trying it out on this laptop though. Based on my experience with other laptops it doesn't do much. Is yours different?

      Also, I would expect the laptop to run the way it should on the default settings. Just for the sake of comparison, the fan on my XPS remains idle with light browsing, movies on Active.

  4. A.

    September 12, 2017 at 5:42 am

    1) Are you planning to revisit this review once the laptop gets commercially released, with stable firmware?

    2) The VGA camera does have an advantage, though: it takes less bandwith, therefore is usable over slow internet connections too (think of rural areas). When I spend time in the countryside, even 360p YouTube videos stutter, and the quality automatically drops to 240p or even 144p. And this is downstream, which is always faster than upstream! Therefore, I find a VGA camera to be a very pragmatic choice.

    And frankly, why would I need HD quality for a simple phone call or videoconference?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 12, 2017 at 7:18 am

      1. Maybe.
      2. I agree this is just a minor details, at least for me. For others it might not be. With an HD cam you'd have the option to switch to lower res if needed, without you're just stuck with the crappy option. And it's not like HD is groundbreaking by any means, it's just barely decent.

  5. Aleksey

    September 12, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Any idea if USB-C is DisplayPort-capable?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 14, 2017 at 4:24 am

      It can output video, if that's what you're asking, but up to 30Hz 4K as far as I can tell.

      • Aleksey

        September 14, 2017 at 7:42 am

        Normal display port is 60p capable.
        It is sad if this laptop is limited to 30p

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 14, 2017 at 7:47 am

          I can't confirm this for sure, I haven't tried it. But USB-C gen1 is usually limited to 30 Hz if I'm not mistaken.

          • Aleksey

            September 14, 2017 at 7:58 am

            Latest Macbooks are usb-c gen1 still but they support 4K at 60p

          • Andrei Girbea

            September 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm

            True

  6. Ken

    September 12, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I've been refreshing this page a couple of time a day just to read this review!

    I think you've absolutely right with your assessment of Asus products as a brand. They do a lot of things right and offer exceptional value for specs, but they often fall short on details that would make the product really outstanding. Things like the so-so keyboard and the lack of TB3 support, though I think the latter may be due to licensing or technical wizardry that cannot be easily resolved (correct me if I am wrong).

    Still, I can't wait to get my hands on this when it finally launches. If they price it in the same range as the previous ultrabooks with discrete GPUs, I can live with the less than stellar keyboard and under-clocked GPU. I guess you really have to live with some compromises if you want such a sleek form factor.

    Last thing:
    Any idea if the HP Envy 13 is going to be refreshed and when it is coming out? That also fits the bill of a small form factor w/ discrete GPU.

    Thanks and keep those reviews coming?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 12, 2017 at 8:15 am

      I've read there will be an Envy 13 with the quad-core processors and there's already one with MX150 graphics, so I'd reckon there will be a refresh with both. Can't tell when though, I don't have any insiders with HP.

      On TB3, the current KabyLake generation needs an extra chip to make it possible, and Asus have you to put TB3 on any of their compact devices. Cannon Lake should integrated TB3 on the SOC and at that point all laptops should get it.

  7. Kris

    September 12, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Hi Andrei,

    I enjoyed this review as it looks like I'm going to be trading in the ultrabook I bought last year for something this year. This was one of the models I was considering.

    I have a few questions, if you could answer.

    1) What chipset are these using? Are we still looking at the HM170/175 series? If so, that would explain the lack of TB3 – it requires an extra chip.

    2) Is there any ability to OC the graphics card within the Nvidia drivers? I know you said it runs a little hot, but I was wondering if there's any way to push it a bit – especially if newer firmware address issues that can help it run a little cooler.

    3) Is this laptop using Nvidia's Optimus – thus only switching the MX150 as needed and using the weaker Intel chip for web surfing, office apps, etc?

    Thanks!

  8. Angga

    September 12, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Hi Andrei, nice review as always.
    I'm wondering, between UX331 & UX430 what do you prefer?
    *assume both of them use same processor (8th Gen) & graphic (mx150).

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 12, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Probably the Ux430, for the larger screen. I might be getting a bit old, but a 13-inch screen is getting a little too small for me. A few years ago I wouldn't have touched anything about 12.5", soon enough I'll probably get to use a 15-inch laptop :P

  9. A.

    September 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Andrei Girbea, let me congratulate you for the design of your website: on my 2005-era laptop, the home page displays in at most 2 seconds, which is amazing given that this is not a minimalistic page. Since most web developers of today totally do not care about how many resources their web pages take to load, once again – congratulations!

  10. Wei

    September 12, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    The Mi Notebook Air 13 was getting surface temps of near 50 deg C when the GPU was full load. I can see why Asus decided to go with a downclocked version, although I am pretty disappointed. Here's hoping the UX461UN doesn't suffer the same fate…
    Thanks for the review Andrei!

    • Ken

      September 13, 2017 at 5:48 am

      Xiaomi tends to brute force specs into their devices (phones / laptops), so you end up with a lot of raw horsepower on a product that feels very unrefined. That's my take on the Air 13; great specs but poorly optimized. You do get a last gen CPU but I doubt we will notice much difference performance wise.

      Asus seems to have put more care into designing the end-user experience which I think is great. You get an sizable improvement over the last generation GPUs but with slightly hindered performance.

      I think the upcoming Envy 13 refresh is going to have the same heat problems too given how slim that device is.

      Key deciding factor now is the price point; if they land slightly above the Xiaomi, I'll be happy to pay that premium for that a more refined product. Plus, I have more faith in Asus customer support and commitment to support the device across the lifespan.

      All in all, an exciting time to be shopping for a new ultrabook.

  11. Nick

    September 13, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Man, I just can't used to these keyboards ever since I got too spoiled by latitude and thinkpads. It could be just me but oddly these feel so much worse than the one I used during UX301 era a few years ago.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      It's been a while since I had my hands on the UX301, but those keyboards weren't great either. What puzzles me is that Asus actually has some keyboards that I consider quite good on some of their ultraportables (like the UX370 or the UX360UA), but they don't have the same ones across the entire line, so it's actually hard to tell what you'd end up with without giving it a try.

      It took me a lot of time to get used to the shallow keyboard on the XPS after moving from the ThinkPad X220, but I mostly did after a few months. I'm usually very reluctant to such changes, so if I could do it, most should as well :P

  12. David

    September 15, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Is the ux331 a straight upgrade from the 330? How do they compare build wise? Does the 331 feel better or worse bult than the 330?
    Can't decide whether to buy the 330 now or wait for the 331 or 461.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 16, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Didn't have the two side by side, but as far as I remember, my impression is that the UX330's screen feels a little sturdier. The UX331 is lighter though and uses a different finishing that I don't like that much, so this could be totally subjective.

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