Ultrabook reviews 2014, scoops and comparisons

Asus Zenbook UX301LA, UX31LA, UX31A, UX32LA, UX32LN, UX302LA and UX302LG quickly compared

By Andrei Girbea - @andreigirbea , updated on May 6, 2014

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 6 different lines of Intel Haswell ultrabooks available in stores these days the UX301LA, the UX31LA, the UX32LA, the UX32LN, the UX302LA and the UX302LG. They all pack Intel Haswell hardware, but share a few different designs, configurations and features (some offer touchscreens, others don’t, some are lighter and more compact than others, etc. ).

On top of these 6, I wouldn’t be surprised to see others as well in the near future, so I’ll upgrade the post if anything new pops up.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Asus Zenbook UX301LA

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.

UX301LA - the top Haswell ultrabooks, with sleek looks, awesome screens and powerful hardware

UX301LA – the top Haswell ultrabooks, with sleek looks, awesome screens and powerful hardware

Asus Zenbook UX31LA

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 (and you can find it even cheaper online).

Asus Zenbook UX31LA - last year's UX31A, with Haswell hardware inside

Asus Zenbook UX31LA – last year’s UX31A, with Haswell hardware inside

Asus Zenbook UX302LA and UX302LG

The Zenbook UX302LA succeeds last year’s UX32A as the most affordable Haswell Zenbook (not anymore, see the UX32LA mentioned below).

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.

Asus Zenbok UX302 series - bulkier, but cheaper and more versatile

Asus Zenbok UX302 series – bulkier, but cheaper and more versatile

Asus Zenbook UX32LA and UX32LN

The Zenbooks UX32LA/LN are the latest additions to Asus’s Haswell line. They share the frame, body, ports, keyboards and most design elements with the Asus UX32A / UX32VD line, and that means the entire chassis is covered in aluminum, with a metal and plastic frame. That also makes these two devices somewhat thicker and heavier than the other Haswell Zenbooks (18mm with, without the feet, edge shape, 3.1 pounds).

But that comes with pros as well: there’s more space for ports around the edges (3 x USB 3.0 slots, HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader) and there’s room for user upgrades. Both the UX32LA and the UX32LN pack either Core i3 / i5 or i7 Haswell processors, 4 GB of RAM soldered on the motherboard and standard 2.5 inch 7 mm storage units, either SSDs or HDDs. The storage units are easily replaceable, and there’s also an extra memory DIMM that cna take an up to 8 GB module, for a total on 12 GB.

But what’s the difference between these two lines? Well, the Asus UX32LA is a direct successor of the popular UX32A and comes with a HD (1366 x 768 px) TN panel. It’s not a touchscreen, but a matte display. On the other hand, the UX32LA starts at under 800 euros over here and should be available in the US for under $900. No word whether it is going to be available there yet, as for the moment, it’s only sold in Europe and Asia.

The Zenbook UX32LN packs a non-glare non-touch 1920 x 1080 px IPS panel and dedicated graphics: an Nvidia 840M chip, which is the fastest graphics chip I’ve seen on a 13 inch ultrabook, about 15-20% faster than the Nvidia 730M chip inside the Asus Zenbook UX302LG. This one starts at around $1000 and is also available in Europe/Asia for the time being.

So which one is the best pick between all of these?

Well, this question spurs multiple answers.

If you’re into gaming, either the UX32LN or the UX302LG are the ones for you, as two of the very few 13 inch gaming ultrabooks of the moment (more about these in here). The UX32LN is bulkier and more expensive, but packs faster graphics, while the UX302LG is sleeker and offers a touchscreen, but sells for a few hundreds of dollars more than then UX32LN.

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, the UX301LA or the cheaper UX32LA are definitely worth a look.

In fact, all these Zenbooks are solid devices, meant to address different needs. 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.

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Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.

36 Comments

  1. gadgetingadget

    October 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Do you know what would the equivalent laptop be to the older Asus U35JC? This laptop is obviously from even before the term ultrabook was created, just curious on what your thoughts are.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      the vivobook s301 could be considered a successor for that one

  2. Ariel

    October 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

    What happened to the 15 inch Zenbooks? Did Asus abandon that line?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      haven’t heard anything about an upgrade yet

  3. Erik Reppen

    November 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Wow, I much appreciate these Asus comparisons (both these and the older zenbook ones). Your articles are the first that have actually helped me make sense of all the options. I particularly appreciate you listing the soldered-in parts. Asus’s aversion to sensible branding is about as silly as Apple’s refusal to acknowledge right-clicking.

  4. jerry

    November 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Great comparison, but are these models available to buy right now? I can’t seem to find them in any online stores.

    • Theo

      November 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Yes, I’m curious about this also. I can’t seem to find them being sold anywhere in Europe. In case you are restricted from saying here, I would greatly appreciate an email with hints on where these can be found right now :)

      As always, a great comparison, much detailed and so helpful!

      • Andrei Girbea

        November 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm

        They are already available in Romania, where I’m based right now

        • Edwin Peguero

          November 18, 2013 at 4:14 am

          Do you know if they’ll be available in the United States by any chance?

        • Lucian

          November 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm

          Pentru Dumnezeu, Andrei, unde gasesc 302lg la noi ??!

          • Andrei Girbea

            November 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm

            IL vazusem prin niste magazine, nu m-am mai uitat in ultima vreme. Cred ca la pcgarage era

          • Lucian

            November 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

            Andrei, nu este nicaieri in Romania, de o luna scanez zilnic toate magazinele online… dar poate ma insel, daca-l vezi undeva lasa-mi si mie un raspuns, te rog! Multumesc!

          • Andrei Girbea

            November 20, 2013 at 8:19 am

            incerc sa ma interesez la asus de el

  5. Luca

    November 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Does the ux302la really look different than the ux301? In many shops only the ux302lg has a different colour design..

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      haven’t seen it in person, but given how it’s build on the same chassis as the UX302LG, it should look like it

  6. Joe

    November 21, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Do you know if there’ll be a white version of the ux302?

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      not from what I know, but I’m not 100% sure on that

  7. mg

    November 23, 2013 at 2:57 am

    I found the UX302LA at my local Best Buy. I may buy it tomorrow. Its $999 with an i5 cpu and 500gb drive. I need to make sure i can upgrade that drive to an SSD before i buy it.

  8. Joe

    November 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I’m in a dilemma between the ux31la and the ux302la. I don’t really get the big difference. I have one question thou. I’m very much into looks, and the ux31la looks so thin because the front is tapered down to I think 9 mm & it makes it look incredibly good cuz u don’t really see that much that in the back it gets to 17mm. Is the ux302 also thin in the front? Cuz looking on pics & video to me it looked much thicker. Is that true?
    What do u think is the nicer & better one between these 2? Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Both get thin towards the front, but the UX31LA is a bit slimmer than the UX301LA. By 2-3 mm tops, so there’s not a big difference between them. However, when having it on a desk, the UX31LA will probably feel thinner than the UX302LA, due to how the bodies are built (on the UX31LA there’s a slight inclination towards the front) Hopefully this comments shed some light, it’s quite difficult to explain these tiny differences.

  9. r3act

    November 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Hello, I guess I’m going to go with a UX302.
    But there is one mistake difference between the C4004P model and C4004H.
    Do you know the difference ?

    Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      mistake difference? what do you mean?

      • r3act

        November 30, 2013 at 5:51 pm

        sorry, I just wanted to know the differences between the 2 models P and H.

  10. r3act

    November 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Hello, I guess I’m going to go with a UX302.
    But there is one mistake : what is the difference between the C4004P model and C4004H ?

    Thanks

  11. Taylor

    December 24, 2013 at 5:32 am

    This has been very helpful and I wanted to know what would upgrading the drive to an SSD or HDD on the ux302la do. Would it increase the processing speed? Is this a good choice to play games like sky rim on and is there a way to make it better at gaming. Sorry kinda just getting into this stuff. Thanks for the help

  12. Taylor

    December 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Is the ux302la good for gaming too?

  13. Randy

    January 22, 2014 at 2:25 am

    The UX302 LA/LG are no longer on Asus global or usa site??

  14. Maverick

    January 23, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Hi Andrei,
    You’re awesome! and thanks for your reviews. it was very helpful. i just want to wait for the white version of the UX302. Thanks!

  15. juan

    January 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Is the UX31LA available everywere in the world or still has to be released in some countries? I’ve been looking for it for a long time in Spain and I’m not able to find it anywere. However in the US seems to be the end of this model since many distributors ran out of stock and doesn’t seem to have it again. The only one available in all countries is the UX301LA which is quite more expensive…

  16. Zack Sullivan

    January 29, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the review, really appreciated as I’m about to decide to buy which ultrabook. Frankly I’m on Zenbook for long time but the prices still high. I found UX302LA affordable considering I might upgrade few years later. BUT, how about the build quality? That is the only thing I wonder about UX302LA. It’s as good as UX31 and UX301 models? If I will pay like $1000 I definitely want to buy something solid and fully aluminum.

    Thanks in advance,

  17. Jane

    August 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Found the ASUS zenbook UX31 at a decent price recently ($999) and I was torn between it and a more expensive Lenovo Yoga. I went with the Asus and within two weeks was experiencing problems with it. It had a faulty hard drive and had issues “waking up” after hibernation giving me a setup utility screen it was impossible to get out of. Looked online and found this was a common, well documented issue with this model. It was within exchange period, so I went back, paid the extra $200 for the Lenovo and never looked back. The model looked good but was flimsy. The screen has too much glare and the touch feature was flawed. It just wasn’t worth it.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 2, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      hi Jane, your feedback in much appreciated. I’ve been reading about quality-control problems with these Asus laptops, mostly regarding the storage units and wi-fi modules. Which Lenovo did you get instead? the Yoga 2 pro? And which UX31 model are you talking about?

  18. Peter

    August 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Great summary of a rather chaotic product line. I really love the UX32LN series with the dedicated 840M graphics card. However, here in Norway it’s getting really troublesome to find the product in stores. It seems like they are dropping out of production? Do you have any idea why this might happen, and if Asus is on to something new that will replace the UX32LN series?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 20, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      they are replacing the UX32LN with the UX303LN. You should look into this one

  19. abrahamvbs

    August 26, 2014 at 5:28 am

    best site ever… the only one that i can realy understand.
    i am an architect using 3ds max + vray, autocad revit and PhotoShop, i dont want to spend more than 1500 usd and i am wondering wich one of these options would fit best for me… also if it would be rational to include de N550 LF or de N550 JK in my search.
    Thanks for your time man!

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      I’d personally get a computer with a quad-core full-voltage processor like the Core I7-4700HQ or the 4710HQ, 16 GB of RAM and some sort of SSD storage. The N550JK is a good pick, as it also has a fairly good screen and powerful graphics that will help in 3DS and Maya. You can than use external storage devices to store most of your work, as the space on the SSD is going to run out quickly

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