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Asus Zenbook UX303LN – initial impressions

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on August 27, 2015

I’ve got my hands on an Asus Zenbook UX303LN and played with it in the last days. This one will be officially released later this year (around July-August) as probably the most powerful 13 inch Zenbook of the 2014 line, with the updated Intel Haswell processors and Nivida GT 840M graphics, plus other top of the line specs.

That makes it a direct successor for the much hyped Asus Zenbook UX302LG and the more recently launched and only scarcely available Asus Zenbook UX32LN.

My full review is going to be available in a few days. For now, I’ll just share some impressions gathered in the last days and I’ll be waiting for your questions in the comment section at the end of the post, in case you want me to test anything in particular. I’m going to have this unit for long, so be hasty :)

I also have to add that this is an engineering sample (thus, a pre-production unit) I was offered for tests by Asus, so it’s not a final retail unit. Even so, with the exception of raw performance, which might actually improve with new drivers, by the time the UX303LN will actually hit the stores, most of the other aspects are pretty much what you should expect from the retail versions.

My detailed review of the Zenbook UX303LN is up and you can find it in here. Have a look!

Update: There are some newer versions of this laptop available in stores, the Zenbook UX303LB (with Broadwell hardware and Nvidia 940M graphics) and the Zenbook UX303UB (with Skylake hardware and Nvidia 940M graphics).

The Asus Zenbook UX303LN packs beastly hardware and top features

The Asus Zenbook UX303LN packs beastly hardware and top features

Looks and design

The Asus Zenbook UX302LN borrows its lines from the Asus UX32VD, with a fully metallic body. Aluminum covers the lid, the inner case and the underbelly. However, this new unit got a more subtle finishing. Older Zenbooks sported those pronouced concentric circles on the hood and a brushed patern on the palm rest. On the UX303LN, the palm-rest is no longer bruched, but simple, plain, like a Macbook, while the circles on the hood seem to have been toned down as well. At the same time, the sheet of metal covering the belly feel sturdier, thicker than on the older UX32VD, which gives the entire laptop a more solid feel when grabbed and carried around.

The UX303LN is pretty much as thick and solid as the older Zenbooks. I’ll have the exact numbers in the review. It also sports a solid selection of ports, with 3xUSBs, Full Size HDMI, mini-DP and a card-reader, plus the adapters included in the package, so nothing has changed on this front.

Screen

The screen however is a novelty for a Zenbook, as the UX303LN gets a 13/3 inch 3200 x 1800 px panel (hardware ID SDC424A). That’s the same panel we’ve seen on some Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and some Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus ultrabooks, and it comes with pros and cons.

For the pros, it’s a fairly bright and sharp panel. Actually using the laptop at full resolution with the fonts scaled to 200% results in crisp and sharp interfaces and fonts. The same panel was a lot fuzzier on the Yoga 2 pro that I tested a while ago, and that may be due to Windows 8.1s scalling improvements, or maybe the glass coating on top? Not sure, but the experience is clearly better, although I no longer have the Yoga 2 Pro for a side by side comparison.

On the other hand, the murky yellow problems that a lot of Lenovo users have been complaining about is still here. Simply put, this unit will not display proper yellows no matter of the Power Mode picked, but some sort of mustard-like color. The pic below should give you an idea. That’s bad, but Lenovo actually solved this problem with a BIOS update (for all profiles except Power Saver), so hopefully Asus will do the same thing by the time the UX303LN will hit the stores.

Colors are problematic, as shown when compared to the iPad Air (left)

Colors are problematic, as shown when compared to the iPad Air (left)

Keyboard and trackpad

Not much has changed here from the previous generations. In fact, both the keyboard and the trackpad look a lot like the ones on the UX302LG. I feel that the keys travel a bit more into the chassis than they did on the UX302 though, if I remember correctly. May be wrong here, I don’t know. Oh, and there’s another thing worth mentioning: there’s some flex when pressing the middle of the keyboard which was not that pronounced on the previous UX302, but again, I’m not entirely sure here, as I don’t have the two side by side for a proper comparison.

The keyboard and trackpad we're already used with on Zenbooks

The keyboard and trackpad we’re already used with on Zenbooks

Everyday use experience

Hardware wise, this unit comes with an Intel Core i7-4510U processor, 12 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD made by SanDisk and Nvidia’s GT 840M dedicated graphics chip. I other words, it’s quite a beast.

Nvidia’s drivers are still fresh and I couldn’t get anything newer than 332.50 to work on this unit. So I’m not really sure this laptop is running at the best of its abilities. Even so, the numbers I’ve got in both benchmarks and games show an improvement over the Asus UX302LG. I’ll tell you more about those in the review.

Solid specs for a 13 incher

Solid specs for a 13 incher

That aside, the UX303LN is running quiet and mostly cool. With daily use, the fans are barely audible in a silent room and the aluminum body gets merely warm on the belly and just on top of the keyboard. The exhaust is still pushing hot air towards the screen, which I was hoping Asus will change, as the bottom side of the panel can get quite hot when running games and that might have a negative impact on the long term.

On top of all these, I should also add that this laptop is rather slow to charge when used. In fact, it barely charges when playing games or running other demanding software, but that was expected. The charger’s tip is also a bit loose in its place, but given the same tip has been used on most recent Zenbooks, that’s probably an issue with my unit.

As for battery life expectations, well, I’ve yet to finish my tests, but based on BatteryBar v3.6.3, the UX303LN discharges with an average of 8-10 Wh while performing casual daily activities (browsing with several tabs opened, watching some movies, listening to some music, with Wi-Fi ON, Balanced Mode, screen at about 50% and the Keyboard’s illumination set on the lowest level). That’s not bad.

You’ll find more about this laptop in the detailed review available here.

Wrap up and your questions

Anyway, these are the main things I wanted to tell you about the UX303LN for the time being. We’ll get more in depth on each important aspects in the final review though, including the screen, the keyboard and trackpad, the battery life, connectivity and of course the performance and temperatures.

Let me known if there's anything in particular you want me to test on this new Zenbook

Let me known if there’s anything in particular you want me to test on this new Zenbook

And if there’s anything else you might want to know about this laptop or anything in particular that I should try, go ahead and let me know in the comments below. I plan on posting the review by Monday, so I do have a few more days to test out stuff, before sending this Zenbook UX303LN back to Asus.

Update: The review is up and can be found here.

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.

47 Comments

  1. Falense

    May 22, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Hi!

    Any chance you could open it and have a look at the insides of this laptop?

    Thanks

  2. Matt

    May 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I’d be interested to see if it throttles while gaming. Perhaps run GPU-Z in the background and record the minimum core clock speed after an hour of gaming?

  3. jens

    May 22, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    The Maxwell series 840M seems to be surprisingly well cooled in the ux32LN, according to owners – and it thus would lend itself nicely to some overclocking. According to some guys at Notebookreview it could hit the level of a 760m.
    I know its much to ask, but would try overclock it? Just a litle bit?

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

      not sure if I’m allowed to do that. I’ll consider it, but can’t promise anything

  4. TL

    May 23, 2014 at 1:20 am

    1800 looks awesome! But isn’t it FHD? looks the color needs further calibration

    The touchpad is the most interesting part to me

    Screen again, I see the mirror reflection in your review. So I suppose it’s touchpad just like ux302lg right?

    • TL

      May 23, 2014 at 1:22 am

      I mean touch screen, sorry for the mistype…

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 23, 2014 at 6:58 am

      it’s not FHD, and it is a touchscreen

  5. ibra

    May 23, 2014 at 6:31 am

    is Asus Zenbook UX32LN LOUD Fan ?
    i think this is one of the best laptop right? where can i buy it ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

      it runs pretty quiet, even in games. It’s not available yet, it will be launched around July/August and hopefully it will be available worldwide

      • ibra

        May 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

        ah, I`m so tired if waiting :( any saggestion of other laptop ?
        i really like quiet / anti glare, 13-14
        have you heard of sager/clevo NP7338 it come with 860gtx i think but i dont know if its good brand and quiet fan or not

  6. ibra

    May 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    check this site

    az-europe.eu/en/asus-zenbook-ux32ln-r4015h-i5-4200-1-60ghz-4-gigabytes-500-gigabytes-13-3-fhd-matte-silver-gt840-p593997/e

    they said its available

  7. ibra

    May 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    sorry i mean UX32LN not UX303ln :) my bad

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      theux32LN lacks the high res screen and the updated haswell processors and some design tweaks. but the two are mostly the same

  8. Pierre

    May 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Any given price for North America yet?
    and… any words on power button not being next to the delete button?

    Thank you

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 23, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      the keyboard layout is just as before, so the power button is still there. As for prices, I don’t have any details right now. I do know that this will be available by July

  9. Ibra

    May 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    What best site to buy it online from us or uk

  10. ivan starostin

    May 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Dear Author,

    Please test any statistical package if available.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      can you be more precise? What does a “statistical package” mean?

  11. Hermit

    May 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Glad you are really up on early releases. I’d appreciate if in your review you could (hopefully begin a trend) to mention as many of the various options–such as availability of pen input, keyboard compared to say the Thinkpad gold standard, responsiveness to touch input, weight & battery life, and as you’ve been doing, detailing the hi-res screen–which are now multiplying with different form factors of ultrabooks, convertibles, 2-in-one, etc. I think that far too little is mentioned about how useful the touch is with machines (is the screen stable/stiff enough or does the entire thing bounce when you poke it, etc) and whether or not pen/stylus input works well. Some of these items really can make a system much more useful or fun than for example a Mac or less versatile laptop.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll keep them in mind for this and my future reviews

  12. Андрей

    May 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Добрый день, Андрей.
    Есть несколько вопросов по этому ноутбуку. Давно хочу сменить свой старенький Асус на новый.
    1) Экран сенсорный?
    2) Будет ли модификация с экраном 1920 x 1080?
    3) Есть ли возможность расширить оперативку?
    4) Жесткий диск в форм-факторе 2,5 дюйма?
    5) Интересует так же, экран глянцевый или матовый?
    Заранее спасибо за ответы.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 24, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Hey, I’d appreciate if you’d post your questions in English next time. Still, I got your text through G translate and here are my answers:

      1. Yes.
      2. Not sure what you’re asking here, but if it’s there will be a 1920 x 1080 px version, the answer is I don’t know.
      3. Yes, I’ll have details in the review.
      4. Yes
      5. glossy, since it’s a touchscreen.

  13. Filson

    May 26, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Hi, I’d like if you could comment on the durability of the model as compared to the macbook air. Does it have a unibody construction? Also, how well the screen hold up in direct sunlight. Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 27, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Yes, it has a unibody-like conctruction and it feels generaly solid. Still, the lid cover flexes more than it does on the Macbook Air when grabbing the laptop or when directly pressing it. Other from that, I’d say the two are on par in terms of sturdiness and build quality.

  14. Jorge Ferrándiz

    May 26, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Mike:

    So if I get it correctly: this is the successor to the UX32LN that is at the same time the successor to the UX32VD right?

    If that´s correct: Aesthetically is it the same as the UX32VD? (I Bought this one 2 years ago because of your review and advice)

    One last thing: I´m quite confused with the codes of the machines since the UX3#LN(G) are same design as the older zenbooks (aluminum and no glass cover) and the UX30#LN(G) features glass for the chassis BUT this one on the contrary codes as UX303 and has no glass on it, am I getting it right?

    Please enlight me :(

    Thanks in advance

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Hey Jorge. You’re right, the UX32LN and the UX303LN both have an aluminum case and have a bigger hinge stretching over most the the screen’s lower part. The UX302 and the UX301 are the only series with Gorilla Glass on the lid and on the palm-rest, plus the redesigned two smaller hinges.

      The UX303LN is not identical to the UX32Vd, but it’s close. the brushed aluminum texture on the UX303LN is a bit more subtle than on the UX32VD, and the concentric circles on the lid as well. Except for that though, they are nearly the same

  15. Андрей

    May 26, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Sorry. I think you know in Russian. Your name Russian or Ukrainian. So I thought that in Russian will understand :)

    • Ibra

      May 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      I hope i can speak lil russian
      Kak dila?:p

      • Андрей

        May 27, 2014 at 5:25 am

        your Russian is very good :)

  16. Luke

    May 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve seen this online saying that they’re waiting for availability, however the price is always like$1250 for the i7 12 gig 256gig ssd variation. That seems to good to be true. What kind of price have you heard?

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      I have not details on prices just yet. I’ve seen those listings as well but I highly doubt that config is going to be that cheap.

  17. Andrei Girbea

    May 27, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Guys, I think I’ve answered all your questions in the detailed review: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/4274-asus-zenbook-ux303ln-review/ . Have a look and let me know if there’s anything I missed.

  18. B

    July 17, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    You mention the price in EUR in your review but I am having a hard time finding it in Europe. Can you let us know the source where you obtained those prices?

    Thanks for the review.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Asus officials are my sources.

      • ibra

        July 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm

        hi
        i think i will not buy this one because its glossy not anti glare
        what alternative laptop ? 13-14 inch full hd or more, good gpu and Low fan noise ? / anti glare

  19. Zeal

    July 25, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Does this zenbook come with a free cover case like previous generations? If so, what color and material? btw, great review, thanks for the info.

  20. Cody Sayre

    July 28, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    It’s a shame ASUS doesn’t provide any release dates or information on configurations that will be coming out beforehand. You just have to kind of wait and see…bummer.

  21. Joshua Ramsamooj

    August 25, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Is the screen covered with gorilla glass?

  22. Adrian

    December 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Did they fix the yellow thing problem yet ?
    What is actually causing it !? How can it be fixed ? ( I heart the lenovo users got it fixed but costs more battery ? Why ? )

  23. razvan

    September 30, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Does it have an IPS Display? How is the view from the angles?

    altex.ro/ultrabook-asus-zenbook-ux303ln-dq283p-intelr-coretm-i7-5500u-pana-la-3-0ghz-13-3-qhd-touch-screen-12gb-256gb-nvidia-geforce-gt-840m-2gb-windows-8-1-pro – Only here it says it has IPS screen.

    But in all other places it doesn’t.

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