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

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

59 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.

  13. Ken

    September 21, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Thought you might want to know that a YouTube channel has ripped off your entire review wholesale. Not sure if this qualifies as copyright infringement but I hate to see your great reviews go without acknowledgement.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 21, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Thanks. I removed the link from the comment, the shit some people do is funny. I've seen plenty scraping the content and pictures in the past, but making a video with a robotic voice, that's a first. Still, no worth the hassle of reporting. Funny side story, I actually had my Youtube account closed in the past because I reported a copycat and some smart guy from Youtube decided to close all the accounts who listed the clip, included mine which had the original. That was a major pain in the ass to reinstate, so I decided never to bother with any of this anymore.

  14. Saj

    September 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Hi, Great review and answered alot of questions for me. One thing I really need to now before purchasing however is, can I charge this laptop using just USB-C or do I need to carry the proprietary power brick around?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I don't know. I'd say probably not, but I haven't tried it so can't tell for sure.

    • mikro

      September 22, 2017 at 3:12 am

      Defintely not.
      Because if it would, then asus would mention it on their website as they did for example for Zenbook 3 UX390UA

  15. Kyle

    September 22, 2017 at 6:47 am

    I'm curious about how you test battery life. What does 'light browsing' and 'heavy browsing' involve? Do you tweak the Windows power profiles prior to testing or use the default modes untouched? Does '30% screen brightness' mean different nits of brightness for every unit tested? I ask because personally my own usage seems to be pretty even with your heavy browsing results, despite setting lots of things differently (e.g. I set my brightness at 70% and use google chrome with lots of extensions).
    Btw, I think google chrome is easier on battery than edge according to this video, though really I can't tell for sure. – youtube.com/watch?v=q0112lYQBPE

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 22, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Hi. I should have a an article better explaining this, but in few words:

      1.Light browsing means loading Ulrabookreview.com once a minute and at the same time performing the typing test from typingtest.com .
      2. Heavy browsing means having 10 tabs open (Ultrabookreview, Facebook, Engadget, theverge, cnn, Huff Post, etc) and a Youtube clip running in the background and constantly moving between tabs and loading different pages. I try to simulate how I'd normally use the computer with browsing.
      3. I set up the screen as close as possible to 120 nits, which in this case was 30%. That differs from review to review, based on how bright the screen is.
      4. Google Chrome is more taxing imo than Edge.

      For each scenario I perform the test for 10-15 min and measure the average Wattage discharge recorded with HWinfo. Based on that I estimate the runtime. It's not entirely precise, but I found it a close enough estimate. At the end of the day though, there are estimates nonetheless and real life resutls might differ for you.

      Hope this helps.

      • Kyle

        September 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm

        Thanks!

  16. Anon

    September 22, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Do you know when exactly this will be released for markets?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 23, 2017 at 3:01 am

      I'd expect Q4, but I don't have anything more specific

  17. Jacob

    October 7, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Hello, quick question because I am having a difficult time. Is it possible for me to get this laptop without the graphics chip installed and a 15 inch screen? Has Asus just not come out with one yet?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      The Zenbook UX550 is the closest thing with a 15-inch screen, but it's a different laptop with more powerful hardware. I'd look at something like the LG Gram 15 if you're after an ultraportable with a big screen and Core U hardware.

  18. Andry

    October 20, 2017 at 4:48 am

    Thanks for the review, Andrei.

    It's interesting to read this –> "…I didn’t notice any coil whining or electrical noise either."

    I bought Dell Latitude 5289, and experience this coil whine issue. Upon further research, it seems that its a common, and persistent issue with Dell laptops (even for their XPS line).

    I wonder if you have reviewed other Dell laptops and found same issue (coil whine)?
    And also, have you reviewed other manufacturer (Lenovo)?

    Thanks.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

      Coil whining is a lottery and the fact that I didn't get it in my sample is no guarantee you won't on yours. Also, coil winning is a known problem for the Dell XPS lines, but even so my particular XPS 13 unit doesn't get any trace of whining. I won the lottery :P

      • Andry

        October 20, 2017 at 9:59 pm

        Thanks for your prompt response.
        I guess I better try the unit at store before commiting to buy.. :D

        In my case, the coil whine is very audible when I touch the screen. It seems like something to do with the intel display driver..anw I'm gonna return it.

        Have you tried Lenovo laptop? Esp the thinkpad yoga line?

        • Andrei Girbea

          October 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

          Tried many of them, but not the latest Thinkpad Yogas. Used to be a ThinkPad user actually.

        • Tom Riddle

          November 13, 2017 at 3:54 pm

          My UX430UA (with 940m) had coil whine and the replacement unit too. The reports on multiple technical forums also reported coil whine so I wouldn't wonder if the new Asus Zenbooks have coil whine too (I guess a 14'' one like UX330 and UX430 will be released after the 13'' version).

          • Andrei Girbea

            November 15, 2017 at 4:30 am

            Coil whine is more or less a lottery these days with most ultraportables. You just "won" the draw twice :(

            I always mention if I notice coil whining on my test samples, but that doesn't mean the exact unit each buyer gets in the shop will be the same. So even if I get coil whinning on mine, you might get one without, and the other way around.

  19. Arnaud

    October 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Did you know this blog copy your article (short version, but shameful plagiarism) ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 30, 2017 at 5:02 am

      Thanks, I did not, but I don't even bother with this crap. Google will eventually ban it.

  20. Ben

    October 31, 2017 at 1:36 am

    Hi, would the i7-8550U 16gb ram 512ssd be ideal for video editing? Currently I'm editing on a macbook pro retina 16gb DDR3 ram 256gb PCIE ssd (early 2015 – 13inch i5 version) and I'm thinking if it'll be worth the upgrade to this. I'm hoping for faster rendering speeds, faster playback and scrubbing (without rendering) in premiere pro. Would love to hear your thoughts or maybe recommend any other laptops (15 inch included) you have in mind for better video editing.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 31, 2017 at 4:05 am

      As far as I know premiere values core speed more than the actual number of cores, and with these 15W quads the per-core speed with full loads is only 2.2 GHz. So while there should be a boost in performance over an i7-7500U, it's not as big as in most benchmarks imo. Haven't actually tested though, so you might want to further dig into this.

      As a side note, if you can go with a bigger laptop, I'd rather pick one with a 45W quad-core processor, like the Dell XPS 15 or even the Asus Zenbook UX550VD, if within your budget.

  21. mikro

    November 7, 2017 at 4:14 am

    It's available on some French site with some pretty steep price.

    fnac.com/PC-Ultra-Portable-Asus-ZenBook-UX331UN-EG015T-13-3/a11007707/w-4

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 7, 2017 at 5:14 am

      Given the older UX303 models sold for 1300 EUR over here, I'd reckon 1500 for the top config isn't that unrealistic. Expensive though, probably will get cheaper down the line.

      I'd like to see an i5 + 16 GB of RAM + 256 GB SSD config for around 1300 or less, but Asus will probably put 16 GB of memory on their top end configs only.

      • Green

        November 9, 2017 at 1:31 am

        the 512g 16g i7 model is 1998 Singapore dollar, so it will be around 1400 USD. It is slightly more expensive than what I expected compare to the price with ux430 with integrated graphic card. It would be fair with 1200-1300 price with the specs I mentioned above.
        Just curious, since I couldn't see any other reviewer to review ux331, how did you get your UX331 so early from ASUS. Just curious.

        • Andrei Girbea

          November 9, 2017 at 4:04 am

          Review loaner. As far as I know, the high end version will sell for close to 1600 EUR over here, and there are a few other reports of 1500 EUR in France. Prices in the US might differ though, they're usually much smaller over there, but I'd expect this to be at least as expensive as the UX430UN.

  22. HN

    November 8, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Great article thanks for the review. I'm just curious what your thoughts are regarding the ux331un in comparison to the UX430UA-DH74 w/ Core i7-8550U, 16GB, 512GB. It would seem that the internal specs are very similar and I'm wondering if the size of the UX430UA is truly that of a 14-inch screen within a 13in chassis. In terms of durability of the laptops are there any differences? I only ask because I travel a lot with my laptop and want something that feels a bit more sturdy

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 9, 2017 at 4:02 am

      The UX331 is a bit lighter, but the ux430 actually feels a little bit sturdier and it is indeed as compact as a 13-inch laptop, but with a 14-inch screen. It would depends on the price, but if similar I'd probably go with the UX430 due to being a little bit sturdier and having a nicer keyboard imo.

  23. Lawrance

    November 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I am really looking forward to buy this ultrabook. I plan to get the version with MX150, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and I have to decide between i5 and i7. I will use this ultrabook to music production and video making as hobby: what would you advise me? I hope it will be out before Christmas, around 1400€.

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