These guys at Asus have a talent for creating products with confusing, cryptic names. Their 13 inch Zenbook lines are a good example for that and in this post I’m going to shed some light on their latest Haswell entries.
From what we know right know, there are 4 different lines of Intel Haswell ultrabooks available in stores these days the UX301LA, the UX31LA, the UX302LA and the UX302LG. I wouldn’t be surprised to see others as well in the neat future though, but I’ll upgrade the post if anything new pops up.
Let’s take them one at a time.
The Zenbook UX301LA, or the so called Zenbook Infinity, is their latest top-of-the-line ultraportable and I’ve reviewed it in depth here on the site. It sports a sleek body weighing around 3.1 pounds, with a metal and glass body, a touchscreen, decent trackpad and keyboard and a larger selection of hardware configurations to choose from. Next to the standard Core i5-4200U and Core i7-4500U CPUs, there’s also the Core i7-4558U model, which is the fastest processor that can be fit inside ultrabooks right now.
The UX301LA comes with the memory soldered on the motherboard and either one or two NGFF SSDs. Besides that, it offers a touchscreen, with either a 1920 x 1080 px panel, or a higher resolution 2560 x 1440 px display, an IGZO panel made by sharp.
All these don’t come cheap though, as the UX301LA sells for between $1400 and $2200. Some discounts might be available over here.
The Zenbook UX31LA is last year’s Zenbook Touch UX31A (just to be sure you’ve spot the difference, it’s LA for the new version, A for the old one), with Intel Haswell hardware inside. That means that you’re getting the same 1920 x 1080 px touchscreen, the all-aluminum body, the keyboard and rather jumpy keyboard and the more limited selection of ports.
When compared to the UX301LA, the UX31 ditches the glass on the lid cover and on the interior for metal, is slightly lighter (0.1 of a pound), marginally thicker and lack the mini-DisplayPort connector, but instead offers a mini-VGA port. Internally, the memory is still soldered and there’s probably a single proprietary SSD pen-drive.
At the same time, the UX31LA is cheaper than the UX301LA, with the base version starting at around $1200.
The Zenbook UX302LA succeeds lat year’s UX32A as the most affordable Haswell Zenbook. Hardware wise, it packs either Core i5 or i7 Haswell processors, up to 10 GB of RAM (2 are soldered and there’s also a free slot that can take an up to 8 GB module) and either SSD or hybrid storage. To be more exact, on this laptop there’s a standard 7 mm 2.5 inch storage drive (either a HDD or an SSD), plus a mini-mSata connector that takes a caching SSD with the options Asus are offering in stores right now. All these make the UX302 model somewhat upgrade-friendly, which means that you can buy the cheapest option, and then buff it up by yourself to get a more versatile unit.
Those aside, the UX302LA is slightly thicker and heavier than the UX301LA, but that leaves room for more ports: an extra USB slot, for a total of three, and a full-size HDMI connector, on top of those available on the Zenbook Infinity. Aesthetically, both lines offer Gorilla Glass covered lids, but on the UX302LA the body and the bottom are made from silver aluminum.
Moving on,the UX302 line is only available with a 1920 x 1080 px touchscreen, as opposed to the higher resolution option on the UX301LA. As for prices, the UX302LA starts at around $1200 for the base configuration (and discounts are available via this link), so it’s cheaper than the UX301LA and on-par with the UX31LA, at least for the time being.
Last but not least in Asus’s Haswell line is the Zenbook UX302LG, a buffed up version of the UX302LA above. The two are identical, except for one aspect: the UX302LG packs an Nvidia GT 730M dedicated graphics chip, while the UX301LA relies solely on the Intel HD 4400 chip integrated with Haswell processors. As a result, the UX302LG is a superior gaming ultraportable, as you’ll see from my dedicated review of this unit. Despite all these, the UX302LG is only about $50 more expensive than its UX302LA counterpart, but I do expect prices to drop for the more basic model and the gap to get somewhat higher in the near future.
This unit is still not widely available at the moment I’m updating this post, but should be soon enough. See this post for up-to-date prices and some discounts.
Well, this question spurs multiple answers.
If you’re into gaming, then the UX302LG is the one for you, as one of the very few 13 inch gaming ultrabooks of the moment (more about these in here).
If you want a fast 13 inch laptop for serious tasks, like editing videos and photos, programming or even heavy multitasking, the Core i7-4558U version of the UX301LA is your best pick.
However, if you’re after a regular Haswell ultrabook, any of the options mentioned above should do alright. And it actually feels good to have all these options, with different colors and choices in materials, different screens, different selections of ports and hardware layouts. Thus, choose based on what matters more for you and on what gets within your budget.
And if none of these tick the right boxes for you, check out my list of the top ultrabooks of the moment and my post on all the available Haswell ultraportables you could find in stores these days, those should help you narrow down your options.