The second half of 2017 is finally the right time to buy an all-round ultra-portable laptop that can handle standard everyday activities such as browsing, movies or music, but also games, graphics editing, and some other more demanding chores.
And that’s because Intel has unveiled their
first quad-core ULV platforms and Nvidia has updated their base-level dedicated graphics. The Asus Zenbook UX331UN is one of the better devices that put both these hardware novelties in a compact and light 13-inch body, and the results are a significant step-up from anything similar available in the last years. We’ve spent some time with the Zenbook UX331 and you can find all our impressions below.
You should know from the beginning that Asus will offer this laptop in a multitude of hardware variants. We’re talking about a pre-production base-level model in the article, with a matte FHD IPS screen, a Core i5-8250U processor and Nvidia MX150 graphics. Read on to find out where this laptop shines and where it comes short.
Specs as reviewed
Asus Zenbook 13 UX331UN
Screen 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, matte
Processor Intel Kaby Lake-R Core i5-8250U CPU
Video Intel UHD 620 + Nvidia MX150 2 GB GDDR5
Memory 8 GB DDR4 (soldered)
Storage 512 GB SATA SSD (M.2 80 mm)
Connectivity Wireless AC (Intel Dual Band 8265), Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C 3.1 gen 1, HDMI, microSD card-reader, headphone/mic jack
Battery 50 Wh, 65W charger
OS Windows 10
Size 310 mm or 12.20” (w) x 216 mm or 8.50” (d) x 13.9 mm or 0.54” (h)
Weight 2.49 lbs (1.13 kg)+ .53 lbs (.24 kg) European charger and cables
Extras backlit keyboard, VGA webcam, stereo speakers
The UX331UN will be available with either Core i5-8250U or Core i7-8550U processors (both quad-core KabyLake-R low-voltage), 8 or 16 GB of DDR4 memory (soldered on the motherboard), with or without the Nvidia graphics, with M.2 SATA or M.2 NVMe storage, and with three screen options to choose from: matte and touch FHD panels, as well as an UHD IPS touchscreen.
The best buy in our opinion is the Core i5-8250U model with MX150 graphics, 16 GB of RAM, NVMe storage and the matte FHD IPS screen. Our test unit gets only 8 GB of RAM and SATA storage, but is otherwise identical to the ideal configuration, especially since the SSD can be replaced with a faster unit if wanted.
Update: In the meantime, our review of the 2022 Asus ZenBook S 13 update is available here, built on the newer Ryzen 7 6800U hardware platform.
Design and first look
This laptop is thinner and lighter than the Dell XPS 13 and the reduced weight is the first thing you’ll notice when you’ll take it out of the box. It’s not as compact as the XPS 13 though, and not at sturdily built either. You might wonder why I’m comparing it
to the XPS 13? Well, I’m very familiar with the XPS that has been my ultra-portable of choice for the last years, and the XPS is for many the standard in the 13-inch niche of thin-and-light notebooks where the Zenbook UX331 plans to compete as well.
Anyway, while there’s some flex in the lid and in the main body of the UX331UN, I don’t think potential buyers should worry about that. The build quality is good, just not as solid as with a few of the alternatives. Metal is used for the entire case, with a glossy finishing for the lid-cover (Asus calls it gloss-like, but it’s not that shinny) and the classic smooth finishing for the interior, sides, and underbelly that we’ve seen on previous Zenbooks. The inner chassis is still made out of plastic, which partially takes the blame for the flex, alongside Asus’s choice of using a thin sheet of metal on the hood. These two on the other hand help lower the weight, so it’s a lose some, win some (little, though) situation here.
Our sample is overall carefully crafted and finished, except for the fact that the bottom still doesn’t attach flush to the sides, leaving some gaps and sharp edges, as you can see in the pics below.
You should note that our unit is a pre-production sample, but I’ve noticed this similar issue on the vast majority of Zenbooks I’ve got my hands on in the last years, so I expect it will be there on the retail UX331s as well. For some reason, Asus has a hard time joining these two parts properly together. You might say I’m nitpicking, and perhaps I am, but when these edges bite into your fingers you’ll understand why this small aspect is actually quite annoying in daily use.
Back to the form-factor, this Zenbook is still one of the most compact 13-inchers available out there, and the extra mm in length and width over the XPS 13 actually leave room for slightly bigger palm-rest and enough space on the top bezel to actually put the webcam on top of the screen, where it should be.
Before we move to the impressions gathered from using this laptop in the last weeks, I should also add that Asus offers it in two color options, both nice and rather unique: the Slate Grey that we have here, and the Royal Blue we’ve seen on
the Zenbook UX370 tested recently, as well as on other Zenbooks. Although that Blue model looks gorgeous, I believe smudges and fingerprints will show a lot easier on the gloss-like lid of this version, so I’d personally opt for the Grey model if possible.
BTW, it’s beyond me why Asus keep pushing these glossy lid coatings. Perhaps they don’t scratch as easy as a standard metal surface, at least that’s my impression, but otherwise, they show a lot of smudges and are difficult to keep clean. At least it’s a step-up on this unit from the NIL plastic used on the
Zenbook UX430, but personally, I do prefer standard metallic finishings, like on the Macbooks, the XPS lines, or the Zenbook UX550.
Anyway, I had a great time using this compact notebook. I didn’t actually notice the weight loss over my XPS 13, but if you’re coming from an older laptop you’ll enjoy only having to carry around a 2.5 lbs computer (and the extra .25 charger). The screen, on the other hand, is very easy to lift with a single hand and has a nice mechanical sound when shutting off. There’s a crease on the front for your fingers to grab it from and the edges are blunt and friendly, both around the screen and around the interior. The hinge allows to easily adjust the display, but also keep it in place firmly. It only goes back to about 145 degrees though, and that can be limiting when using the laptop on the lap or on the thighs as I do. It’s good enough for desk use though, where the rubber feet on the bottom also help to keep the computer well anchored in place, despite its reduced weight.
Speaking of the bottom, it’s pretty simple, with some air intake cuts on the laterals and speaker cuts on the front. Given the hardware inside and the overall height of just 13.9 mm, those intake cuts are not ideal imo and can spell trouble, but we’ll get to that in a further section. Hot air is blown out through the grills behind the hinge, and at least there’s enough space here to allow proper airflow.
The ports selection is alright, but not great for this day and age. You’ll find two USB A slots and full-size HDMI connector on the sides (1.4 according to the official website, so that means it won’t power a 60 Hz 4K screen). There’s also a USB-C port, but without Thunderbolt 3 support, and the cherry on top is the lack of a full-size SD card-reader, replaced by only a microSD card reader.
Regular users won’t have an issue with this kind of IO, there’s HDMI for video output and there are enough USB slots for everyday use. The lack of Thunderbolt 3, the lack of an HDMI 2.0 connection and the lack of a full-size card-reader, on the other hand, might steer professionals towards something else and that’s a problem, because there are 13-inch devices out there that offer some, if not all of them.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on this laptop has a lot in common with the keyboard on my XPS 13 and that’s a mixed bag. The keys are well spaced and sized and the layout is good, with the arrows keys a little bigger than on most other laptops in this class. We got to test the European model with the tiny Left Shift key and tall Enter, but that’s, of course, different with each region.
My gripe is with how this keyboard feels: the feedback is mostly alright, but there’s something about it that’s not right for me. The keys travel 1.4 mm into the frame according to the official page, but they feel shorter, like on the Zenbook UX550. They’re also a little spongy and at the same time require a firm hit to actuate, which in some cases means they won’t register a click that’s not perfectly aimed and pressed. In other words, this keyboard is unforgiving, which for me meant I could only type averagely fast and with average precision, even with a few thousands words in the bag.
So all in all, if you’re a heavy typist, there are ultraportables with better keyboards out there. The average user should get along fine with this one though.
Compared to my XPS 13, the Zenbook UX331’s keyboard was for me a little slower, but similar in terms of inaccuracy, just for different reasons. With the XPS it’s the shallow feedback, with this one it’s the high resistance and also the slight flex in the body that takes a toll. The UX331 types very quietly though and the keys are of course backlit, with three levels of brightness to choose from. The illumination is activated by hitting a key or swiping fingers on top of the trackpad.
For mouse, Asus went with one of their standard clickpads with Asus TouchPad drivers, which means there are very few customization options available. It’s a smooth and glidy class covered surface with nicely beveled edges around, so it feels nice to the touch and is easy to find in the dark.
The experience provided is pretty good out of the box, and even precise swipes work very well. The performance when keeping one finger on the surface and swiping with another is sometimes lackluster though, with the cursor getting sluggish and light taps not always registering properly in this case. That aside, because the lip between the clickpad and the front of the laptop is very narrow, it’s easy for parts of your clothes to get in contact with the surface when using this device on the lap and especially on the thighs, and when that happens the experience gets very erratic.
The physical clicks are nice and responsive, with the entire surface being clickable, just with less resistance towards the bottom corners.
There’s also a finger-sensor on this Zenbook, placed underneath the arrow keys, on the top-right part of the palm-rest. It’s responsive and works well with Windows Hello.
The Zenbook UX331 gets a 13.3-inch screen with fairly small bezels around and three panel choices: IPS FHD in a non-touch and a touch version, as well as IPS UHD touch. Our sample gets the former: the non-touch IPS FHD panel and it’s a pretty good option.
What I noticed from the first moment I got this notebook out of the box is that this screen is not completely matte like on the previous Zenbooks, it’s a little shinier and more reflective. That translates in extra glare when used outside or in bright rooms, but also less of the graininess usually associated with matte panels, so while I’m not necessarily a fan of this type of finishing, I believe most of you might actually like it better than the standard matte screens, especially if you mostly use your laptop indoor.
For the panel itself, Asus went with a rather average AU Optronics option, capable of roughly 275 nits of maximum brightness and mid-range contrast and color reproduction, as you can see below (data taken with the Sypder4 Sensor). We’ve seen variants of this panel on a few other mid-range ultraportables like the
Zenbook UX330, Acer Aspire S13 or the Lenovo ThinkPad 13.
Panel Hardware-ID: AU Optronics AUO492D (B133HAN04.0);
Coverage: 98% sRGB, 71% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
Measured gamma: 2.4;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 275 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: 650:1;
White point: 8700 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.42 cd/m2.
The white point is greatly tilted towards Blue out of the box, but calibration will mostly fix that and balance the gray-levels. You can also use
our calibrated profile available over here.
All in all, most will probably find this screen good enough for daily use. On top of all the aspects mentioned already, I’ll also add that I didn’t notice any obvious light bleeding and pinching around the bezel. But even so, this is not as bright or as rich as what you can get on other laptops in the segment, and you’ll especially notice the limited brightness when using the laptop in bright places, where the slightly reflective finishing won’t help either.
That aside, for now, I can’t tell you anything about the panels on the touch FHD and UHD versions, but I’ll update this section once I know more. Whether a touchscreen is useful on a clamshell laptop is entirely up to you, but what I can tell for sure is that the UHD screen is going to be expensive and will take a major toll on battery life. But at the end of the day, choose what best rocks your boat, just be aware of what each option implies.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
The hardware inside is what actually puts this laptop on the map and the main reason you’d want to buy it.
As we mentioned earlier, the Zenbook UX331UN will be available in a bunch of configurations and we got to test one with an Intel KabyLake-R Core i5-8250U processor and Nvidia MX150 graphics, as well as 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512 GB SATA SSD. That’s one of the base level models, but as you’ll see below, it’s also one of the better value ones.
The amount of RAM is the single issue here, as it’s soldered on the motherboard and non-upgradeable, and while 8 GB of memory are enough for daily use today, if you plan to push this computer through heavier loads or keep it along a for a few years, you’ll probably want to opt for the 16 GB configurations instead. Hopefully Asus will offer Core i5 models with 16 GB of RAM, as in the past that has only been reserved for their i7 models that are more expensive, without adding much in terms of performance. We’ll see.
The storage is upgradeable though and for that you’ll need to get past the entire back panel. It’s hold in place by T5 screws that are visible around the laterals (careful they’re not the same size, take note where each comes from for reassembly), but also two more Philips screws hidden underneath the rear rubber feet. You’ll notice the 80 mm M.2 slot inside, but also the battery, the plastic inner frame, the hinges’ mechanism and the fact that the Wireless chip is one of those newer compact veriants, and not the M.2 models used with most ultraportables.
Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s turn our attention on the hardware and how this laptop performs.
The Intel Core i5-8250U processor is a quad-core 15 W model,
part of the Intel KabyLake-R series. Intel dropped the base clock speeds from their dual-core models in order to get four cores within this kind of TDP, but compensate with high Turbo Boost speeds, and as you’ll see below and in this detailed analysis on the Core i5-8250U CPU, this processor is a little faster than an i5-7200U in single-core loads and a major step-up from both the i5-7200U and the i7-7500U CPUs in multi-thread loads.
The images below show details on the speeds and temperatures registered with everyday activities. The CPU clocks-down to where it has to, so it performs well while staying efficient.
When it comes to high-load chores, you’ll notice that the CPU’s Turbo drops to 2.2 GHz in continuous loads. While the maximum Turbo Boost is advertised at 3.4 GHz, that’s for a single core, when all cores work simultaneously that kind of speeds can only be maintained for a few seconds and then the frequency stabilizes at 2.2 GHz (corroborated with the TDP limit of around 15 W). The Core i7-8550U behaves very similarly and due to the same TDP limitation, won’t run much faster, that’s why I find it hard to justify paying extra for it given it’s at least $100 more expensive then the i5. You might be forced to in order to get the 16 GB of RAM, as mentioned earlier.
This configuration also comes with Nvidia MX150 graphics, but there’s a catch: it’s down-clocked. GPU-Z mentions default clock speeds of only 937 MHz, with Boost Speeds up to 1038 MHz, but in games the Clock Speed averages about 1250-1300 MHz. That’s still around 250 MHz under a regular MX150 chip, as
mentioned here or as observed on the Acer Swift 3 we tested a while ago. As a result, the GPU scores are lower on this implementation than on other laptops with Nvidia MX150 graphics.
Keep in mind we’re dealing with a pre-production sample here and things might change on the final retail units. However, a down-clocked version of the MX150 chip makes sense on such thin and compact laptop that would probably otherwise struggle to cool a full-speed version. And even down-clocked, the MX150 is a significant step-up from the integrated Intel chips and the Nvidia 940MX solutions that are available on some other 13 and 14 inch thin-and-lights. Still, let’s not jump to conclusions yet.
The pics below show more details on how the CPU and GPU performs in benchmarks and games on this unit, both when plugged in and when on battery. You’ll notice that everything looks solid as long as the laptop is plugged in, but the CPU throttles on battery, both in Cinebench and in games.
Anyway, as far as benchmarks go, we ran tests on our sample and here’s what we got.
3DMark 11: P3736 (Graphics: 3507, Physics: 5700);
3DMark 13: Sky Driver – 8507, Fire Strike – 2610, TimeSpy – 925;
3DMark 13 Graphics: Sky Driver – 8944, Fire Strike – 2848, TimeSpy – 829;
PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3216;
PCMark 10: 3465;
PassMark: Rating: 3520, CPU mark: 7945, 3D Graphics Mark: 1832;
GeekBench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3354, Multi-core: 12684;
GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4092, Multi-core: 13210;
CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 62.51 fps, CPU 5.70 pts, CPU Single Core 1.64 pts;
CineBench R15: OpenGL 86.39 fps, CPU 527 cb, CPU Single Core 143 cb;
x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 139.17 fps, Pass 2 – 31.41 fps.
However, I’d reckon this laptop might also be available without the Nvidia graphics, and in order to simulate that we disabled the Nvidia chip and reran benchmarks on what could potentially be a Zenbook UX331UA Core i5-8250U configuration. Here’s what we got:
3DMark 11: P1862 (Graphics: 1664, Physics: 6250);
3DMark 13: Fire Strike – 1041, Time Spy – 405;
3DMark 13 Graphics: Fire Strike – 1130, Time Spy – 353;
GeekBench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3452, Multi-core: 13335;
GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4053, Multi-core: 13220;
CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 44.36 fps, CPU 5.98 pts, CPU Single Core 1.63 pts;
CineBench R15: OpenGL 47.93 fps, CPU 488 cb, CPU Single Core 124 cb;
We also ran a couple of games on our sample and here’s what we got.
FHD Ultra – MX150
FHD High – MX150
Grid: Autosport 33 fps
Bioshock Infinite 28 fps
Far Cry 4 24 fps
Shadow of Mordor 24 fps
NFS: Most Wanted 27 fps
Tomb Raider 24 fps
Total War: Atilla 8 fps
As expected, these results are roughly 10-20% under what we measured on
the Acer Swift 3 with the regular version of the MX150 chip, but even so the Zenbook UX331 can handle FHD gaming with High settings well and doesn’t throttle in any of the titles we tried on it.
I also tried to run the same games on the integrated UHD 620 graphics, by again disabling the Nvidia chip, but our sample Blue-screened fast in this scenarios so I don’t have any conclusions to share. There’s more about the
performance of the Intel UHD 620 chip in this article, but all in all you should expect marginal gains over the regular Intel HD 620 on the Intel Core i7-7500U CPU.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers and others
There’s limited space inside the Zenbook UX331, but despite that the cooling solution implemented is different from anything we’ve seen on previous Zenbooks with entry-level dedicated graphics. There’s still a single fan and a single heatpipe, but the fan and radiator are actually placed in the middle, between the components, which means there’s a shorter distance between the components and the fins than on the older implementations and that should be a more efficient method of cooling them both. I still believe the airflow is sub-optimal with the limited intake cuts on the bottom, but even so, given how thin this laptop is, its thermal and acoustics behavior is better than I was expecting.
The fan is active all the time with daily use, but is quiet. At 37-38 dB, you’ll hear it in a perfectly quiet room (33dB room noise level), yet not that much otherwise. I didn’t notice any coil whining or electrical noise either. The fan remains surprisingly quiet with gaming as well, averaging 41-42 dB at head level, while most other laptops go above 45 dB in similar conditions.
The outer case temperatures average within normal margins as well. The laptop runs cool with daily use and although some parts of the interior get to high 40s and even low 50s with gaming, that’s not unexpected or unusual for a computer with this kind of build and hardware. The fact that the interior gets hotter than the underbelly is a little annoying though, as this causes sweaty hands while playing games for a longer period of time.
I still wish Asus would do something to improve the fan’s behavior with low-level use and allow a fanless experience. While the fan on the UX331 actually spins quieter than on other Zenbooks we’ve reviewed in the past, it’s still too aggressive and kicks-in unnecessarily early with everyday use.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing FaCry 4 for 30 minutes
For radios Asus went with an Intel Dual Band 8256 chip that’s usually a very good performer. It performed well in our tests too as long as the notebook was kept close to the router or at least had a direct-line connection with it, but the performance dropped to barely usable levels at 30 feet with 2 walls in between. Keep in mind our sample is a pre-production unit with early drivers, so you might not run into this issue with retail models, but you should nonetheless keep an eye on this aspect and make sure your unit performs well when you get it.
The speakers are placed on the bottom and they are similar to the ones on the
Zenbook UX430 and UX370. The Audio Wizard software didn’t work as it should on our unit though and as a result I can’t draw final conclusions on either volume or sound quality. You should however read our reviews of those other two Zenbooks to find out what to expect.
The last thing we’ll mention here is the webcam. It’s placed on top of the screen and flanked my microphones, but it’s the same crappy VGA camera that we’ve seen on the Zenbook UX490 and UX390, one that I wouldn’t want to use unless I had no other option. That’s another one of those things I cannot understand about these laptops: it would probably cost Asus a few dollars to put a decent HD camera on the Zenbooks, and yet they continue not to, so at the end of the day nobody will care that the camera is placed where it has to be,if it’s as bad as this one is.
There’s a 50 Wh battery inside the Zenbook UX331UN and that’s about average sized for this day and age. Since the battery life does not disappoint and this laptop is so thin and light, I’d reckon most potential buyers won’t probably complain about it. Here’s what to expect, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~30 brightness).
7.4 W (~6 h 45 min of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
6.4 W (~7 h 45 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
4.8 W (~10 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
5.1 W (~10 h of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
12.6 W (~4 h of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
27.5 W (~1 h 45 min of use) – gaming, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
I for one would have loved to see a bigger battery, even if that would have added a little extra to the weight and thickness. 50Wh is just too close to the bare minimum I’m willing to accept on an ultraportable and actually a step backwards from the older Zenbook UX330, which got a 57 Wh battery.
BTW, you shouldn’t forget this is the base level Zenbook UX331N. The i7 processor and the FHD touchscreen will take a toll on these numbers, and if you opt for the UHD display you can expect an extra drop of at least 25% if not more, which is one more reason why the UHD configurations are unbalanced and not worth getting, at least in my opinion.
The laptop comes with a 65 Wh charger with quick-charging and a full-recharge takes around 1 hours and 30 minutes. The wall plug is integrated withing the power brick, with non-retractable prongs, like on most other modern Zenbooks.
Price and availability
The Zenbook UX331UN is available worldwide and starts at around $999 in the US and 1000 EUR in Europe. This kind of money will get you the Core i5-8250U configuration with the Nvidia MX150 graphics, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Higher-end models are also available.
Follow this link for updated info on configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.
There’s plenty to like about this Zenbook UX331UN and no real deal-breakers.
It’s light and compact, it’s fairly well built, it gets a decent screen and trackpad, and it can squeeze plenty from the quad-core Intel processors with Nvidia MX150 graphics inside while running fairly quiet, fairly cool and fairly efficient.
But the truth is, much like the Zenbook UX550 in its class, this laptop is only average in many ways: the build, the screen, the typing experience, the fan’s behavior, the battery size or the IO are just some of the aspects that are alright, not bad, but nothing to brag about either. Some users might not accept all these aspects, while for others this Zenbook would have to compensate with proper pricing policy.
Those of you in the former category that don’t care about gaming will find better value in the
Dell XPS 13, with its brighter FHD matte screen, larger battery, and TB3 connectivity. Expect to pay more for it in most regions, though. There’s also the popular LG Gram 13 to consider, which doesn’t get the quad-core processors or the dedicated graphics, but it’s a nicely balanced ultraportable with a light build, 72 Wh battery, a fair price-point, and a pretty good QC record. The Lenovo IdeaPad 720s 13-inch is another interesting option out there, and if the budget allows, you could also aim for some of the Dell Latitude and Lenovo ThinkPad alternatives.
Those of you still in the former category that do care about gaming in a highly portable laptop, well, you’ll hardly find another alternative with a similar weight and silhouette, but
you will find 13 and 14-inchers with a fully clocked Nvidia MX150 chip, as long as you’re willing to live with a larger and heavier build. The updated Acer Swift 3, the MSI Prestige PS42 and the Zenbook UX333 and UX433 lines (reviewed here and here) are the ones you should check out.
All in all, I believe the Zenbook UX331 is going to be a solid buy in the months to come for those of you that actually need the quad-core hardware and dedicated graphics, those of you interested in an all-round ultraportable that can handle multitasking and gaming as well. I expect Asus to push it in front of the crowd with a solid pricing policy as well, making some of its lacks easier to accept this way. Just make sure you understand what you’re getting here and where the competition might offer you better value for your needs and money.
That pretty much wraps this up, but the comments section is open and you should get in touch if you have anything to add to this review of the Asus Zenbook UX331UN, any feedback or any questions.
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Andrei Girbea Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief
. I've a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering and I've been covering mobile technology since the 2000s. You'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site, as well as some occasional first-impression articles.
September 11, 2017 at 9:45 pm
andrei, would you mind to review the MSI GE63VR raider please ?
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.
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 ?
September 12, 2017 at 5:13 am
Probably not either. Dell, HP are other OEMs that I have little contact with over here. Sry.
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. ;)
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 :)
September 12, 2017 at 5:01 am
You do know you can change the fan setting to be Active or Passive right?
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.
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?
September 12, 2017 at 7:18 am
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.
September 12, 2017 at 7:29 am
Any idea if USB-C is DisplayPort-capable?
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.
September 14, 2017 at 7:42 am
Normal display port is 60p capable.
It is sad if this laptop is limited to 30p
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.
September 14, 2017 at 7:58 am
Latest Macbooks are usb-c gen1 still but they support 4K at 60p
September 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm
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.
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?
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.
September 12, 2017 at 10:48 am
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?
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).
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
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!
September 12, 2017 at 4:35 pm
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
September 22, 2017 at 3:12 am
Because if it would, then asus would mention it on their website as they did for example for Zenbook 3 UX390UA
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
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.
September 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm
September 22, 2017 at 11:03 am
Do you know when exactly this will be released for markets?
September 23, 2017 at 3:01 am
I'd expect Q4, but I don't have anything more specific
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?
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.
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)?
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
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?
October 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm
Tried many of them, but not the latest Thinkpad Yogas. Used to be a ThinkPad user actually.
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).
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.
October 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Did you know this blog copy your article (short version, but shameful plagiarism) ?
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.
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.
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.
November 7, 2017 at 4:14 am
It's available on some French site with some pretty steep price.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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€.
November 21, 2017 at 1:15 pm
Hi, what do you think is the better ultrabook for students: The Asus Zenbook 13 UX331UA or the Lenovo 720s? Or can you recommend another one? I can spend around 1000€.
November 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm
Same configurations, same price? The UX331 is smaller and lighter, but I'd reckon the same amount of money gets you a better configured 720s, plus the 720s has a nicer keyboard imo?
November 21, 2017 at 4:20 pm
I'm taking a good look at the 720S. UX331UN isn't available in my neck of the woods yet.
720S can be had with an 8250U, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD for $799 or with an 8550U, 16 GB and 512 GB SSD for $999 around here.
From what I've gathered: The 720s pros include Thunderbolt and expandable RAM up to 16 GB. I believe the webcam is better too. Downside is that RAM is only single channel.
Not sure what the UX331UN will show up and how it will price out. Maybe we'll see this weekend?
November 22, 2017 at 12:20 pm
Well, both those sound good. I'd normally recommend the i5 for everyday use, but I'd rather have 16 GB of RAM, so then there's the question whether you're good with just a 256 GB SSD or not. It might be a while till the UX331 is widely available, so if in a hurry, the 720s should do. Just make sure you have good Internet in your house/office, the wireless performance gets pretty poor at 30+ feet.
November 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm
Which WiFi NIC is in the 720S? Lenovo's site's just saying 2×2 AC – so that could be a few different things.
Does it seem like it's more card related, or antenna related in your experience? Not sure if you found the same card in other models and saw different results?
November 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm
I didn't get to look into the matter, from what I'm hearing it might be a an antenna problem, you should dig into the matter on reddit and forums, perhaps you can find more about it. I was under the impression it came with a 1×1 antenna
November 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm
It's an Intel 8265 Tri band, so it'll be 2×2. So now it's a question of whether the 8265 sucks (Intel has released crappy adapters in the past) or if Lenovo's implementation is lacking.
November 23, 2017 at 4:29 am
The 8265 shouldn't suck. I had the 1×1 entry level Intel 3165 on my test unit, it looks like they offer a better implementation where you live. But again, check the forums/buyer reviews on Lenovo's website for any more info on the matter, could be helpful.
November 22, 2017 at 1:29 pm
Just in case you don't know, and I am not sure where you like and if you can get it, but the Costco has the Asus UX430UN today only for $999. Just go to their website and type in Asus, and scroll down to the $999 prices. I bought one.
November 22, 2017 at 4:22 pm
Roger that. I think I'm going to pop over to Micro Center and check it out on my way home from work. I'll see what it has and report back. If it's an Atheros, I'll compare it to my current ultrabook which also has an Atheros WiFi and see what we get.
That's a pretty good price on the UX430UN. With those specs, it's a solid contender at that price.
November 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm
Can you please say, is this laptop's screen has PWM flickering at some lower brightness?
November 27, 2017 at 2:12 pm
Has this laptop popped up anywhere yet?
December 5, 2017 at 8:44 am
Hello, first of all thanks for this review.
I want to either get the Asus Ux331ua or the Lenovo IdeaPad 720s. Both of them will cost 1000€ (or 950 with student discount) here in Germany, with i5-8250u, 8GB of RAM and 256 SSD (no discrete gpu, I'm fine with Intel 620).
Considering the exact same price for same specs, which one would you recommend? Availability isn't a factor since I will have to wait for either of them to be available.
How does the battery life compare? What about ssd speed, or ram upgrade possibility (I think you only get that with Lenovo?)?
Thanks in advance for any helpful input, you can also recommend other possible choices for a student within the same price range!
December 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm
1. Battery life should be a little better with the Lenovo, as it gets a slightly larger battery.
2. RAM upgradeable on the Lenovo, not on the Asus
3. SSD might differ, not sure if any of them comes with PCIe drives out of the box, but both support PCIe 4x SSDs if you want to upgrade them later on.
That aside, the Lenovo gets a nicer keyboard, better IO and slightly larger battery, but at the same time the Asus is lighter and gets a matte screen. Choose based on what better rocks your boat. Personally I'd probably choose the Asus just for the matte screen alone.
December 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm
So since the 720s comes with a PCIe NVMe SSD out of the box, the only plus on the side of the Asus would be the matte screen? Guess then I should see how bad the glare is for my taste.
By the way, I'm a bit confused regarding battery size and weight. The only German store that has both devices listed at the moment says the Lenovo got a 48Wh battery and weighs 1.14kg, while the Asus UX331UA is listed with a 50 Wh battery and 1.12kg. Not sure what to believe now, maybe the changes were made together with the switch to 8th gen processors?
December 6, 2017 at 8:52 am
More or less, yes. You should also look into wireless performance, we had some issues on our test unit, but from what I understand the final retail versions get a faster chip. Those specs are wrong though, the 720s gets a 56 Wh battery and weighs about 1.5 kg. At least the one we got did: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/17425-lenovo-ideapad-720s-review/
December 6, 2017 at 10:50 am
I can confirm mine came with Intel 8265 Oak Peak card as opposed to the 3165s that were going around in earlier reviews. I was using mine in the lab at work yesterday and didn't experience any speed issues. I'd chalk it up to the review samples having cheap cards as preproduction or different 720s variants.
As far as the screen goes, I really like it. It's quite bright and vibrant, and one of the easiest to read (indoors, anyway). I haven't used it outside yet, though. I prefer this one to my last matte MSI GT60 or Acer S13. Of course, the whole matte vs gloss thing is entirely subjective, so I'd suggest taking a look at some examples at a local shop and see which you prefer.
As far as performance … this thing is fast. Noticeable difference between this and my old 7200U Kaby with SATA SSD.
December 6, 2017 at 1:03 pm
Thanks, I'm sure others will much appreciate your feedback.
December 6, 2017 at 10:55 am
Oh, I have a shot of the device manager showing an 8265 on the ones for sale here, if you want me to email it.
December 6, 2017 at 1:04 pm
No need, but I updated the section accordingly.
December 9, 2017 at 11:37 am
Hey Mate, first of all thank you very much for all your helpful input so far.
I would like to hear your opinion once more.
Today, I stumbled upon the following offer: http://www.mediamarkt.de/de/product/_asus-zenbook-13-2359527.html#technische-daten (Of course you can delete the link before releasing the comment, sorry for german language, but I guess it doesn't matter for the the technical specs)
The absolute base version with i5, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD and intel HD graphics costs 1000€ here in Germany, so what do you think about this offer? Is it worth it to spend 1200€ for the i7, 512GB SSD, 16GB of ram and the dedicated graphics card? What battery life is to be expected in everyday unversity use with this configuration? And what about the kind of RAM? I found several online shops which state it's DDR3, while others claim it's DDR4 like you did in your review.
Thanks in advance for this final advice before I'll make my decision!
December 12, 2017 at 11:00 am
The RAM should be DDR4.
As far as the two variants go, you should ask yourself if 8 GB of RAM are enough for what you plan to do with the laptop. I'd normally suggest to get 16 GB, but in this case the i7 and the graphics don't really make sense. Still, 200 EUR extra for the RAM and larger SSD and the CPU/GPU is not a bad deal if you can afford it.
December 5, 2017 at 5:57 pm
I just bought the 720S and I'm VERY happy with it. While I can't speak for the UX331 as I haven't seen it anywhere, the 720S is a very nice notebook.
I have an 8550U version with 16 GB of RAM. I can tell you that this is much faster and smoother than my last ultrabook with a 7200U and 8 GB.
December 25, 2017 at 7:08 pm
i'm wondering what to choose from zenbook 13 ux331 or ideapad 720s 13inch or 14inch all with i5-8250u, but i'll must wait for the first two because they are not out yet.
December 27, 2017 at 10:49 am
The Ideapad 720S is a fine machine. I'm quite happy with mine. The 14" is actually quite compact as the bezels are small. So you end up getting a 14" screen in a 13" chassis. The 720S is the same size as my old 13" Acer S5-371 that went to the Mrs. I find the screen quite nice as well, but YMMV depending on whether you prefer matte or glossy screens (720s is glossy).
The 720S also has a little more flexibility for future upgrades as you can upgrade the RAM to 16 GB and it has Thunderbolt. RAM is single channel though. However, if you have any inkling of upgrading in the future, you may want to consider the 720S with the 8550U. The main selling points there are with only one DIMM slot and 1 M.2 slot, an upgrade to either is going to run you close to $200. At least in my area, there's only $200 USD difference between the 720S with 8250U/8G/256G vs 8550U/16G/512G. Processor aside, those upgrades are quite nice and reasonably priced – especially one you factor in the upgraded processor. And, you may get lucky and find an open box deal for around $899 like I did and then it's a no brainer. :)
With the UX331, you're going to have to buy all the RAM you want in it up front. 8 GB may be fine for general use, but if you start doing anything heavier like video editing or running VMs, you're going to want the extra RAM. Andrei also reported the MX150 was underclocked on the Asus models compared to other brands, so something to think about there as well.
I haven't noticed any throttling, but I will say the one annoying thing I notice is the fan spins up and down a lot. So it kinda reminds me of jerky, slow and go traffic on the freeway. I'd rather have it on with a consistent speed, as I can then tune it out. As far as I've seen, this is an issue on the 8250U version as well, though it might not be as pronounced the with the slower chip. I'm hoping either a new bios or some better drivers will help that down the road.
I don't think you'll go wrong with either system. A big question will be how long can you wait? If you're willing to wait, then it's worth it to see what comes out in the next month or two. If you need it now, the 720S is the machine to get at the moment, IMO.
December 27, 2017 at 4:53 pm
Thanks for your opinion. I think i'm going to buy laptop in january so i have some time(maybe in CES will be something interesting), but i've looked at 720s 14' and i think i preffer something lighter and thinner, I think that Lenovo 720s 13' is the perfect rival for xps 13 but cheaper. I wonder how long 48Wh battery will last… In other side there is ux331 (without discrete graphics) and i can't decide what to do…
December 28, 2017 at 10:57 am
I wholeheardetly recommend the Asus UX430UN. I bought it from Costco for $999 (it's back on sale again for that price) and with the 16 RAM and 512 SSD size it is better value than the Dell XPS line. It comes with a 14 matte screen, which UltraBookReview says is one of the best panels he has seen. Honestly you should check it out while the sale is on until 12/31! I am using it right now and I love it. Also, it has the MX150 graphics, which is a nice little boost along with the 8th gen i7.
January 2, 2018 at 7:01 am
Careful, the updated UX430UN doesn't get the same panel as on the UX430UQ I've tested and it's reported to suffer from visible PWM flickering, if you're sensitive to it.
February 4, 2018 at 12:45 pm
Will you test the new UX430 with Kaby-R and MX150 in the near future?
February 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm
I already did, but didn't yet finish the article. Should be up in a few days.
RIZA GUNTUR PRAKOSO
January 10, 2018 at 10:59 pm
Please review Asus Vivobook S410UN. I'm already ordering it anyway, so could you give suggestion to preserve the battery.
January 30, 2018 at 1:20 pm
Andrei, thnks for the explanation. Is there any forecast for when sales will start?
February 5, 2018 at 11:48 am
Hi, thank you for this review!
I've bought this laptop a couple of days ago and I'm kind of disappointed with the touchpad.
Mine rattles like it's not assembled properly when i just tap on it lightly. I assume it's not normal.
Andrei: did you experience anything like this on your review unit?
February 5, 2018 at 5:23 pm
Not that I remember.. Does it rattle when tapped firmer, like it's hollow underneath, or is it clunky and uneven?
February 6, 2018 at 5:30 am
Firm taps/clicks feels ok, but unfortunately I'm used to just tap for click so it is quite annoying in every day usage.
Made a video (hopefully :) )showcasing what i mean: youtube.com/watch?v=y0sP7_e2RxE
Best way to describe it would be that the screws (if any) securing the touchpad surface to the laptop base aren't tightened enough.
February 6, 2018 at 5:47 am
Got it. Well, that didn't occur on my unit as far as I remember. Not sure if there's anyway to fix this yourself though, as the trackpad is beneath the battery and would require a pretty serious disassembly. I'd ask for a replacement if still within the return window.
March 13, 2018 at 3:35 pm
Regarding your unit, i tried one out and it did that same issue. Question for you, does your spacebar not register presses if you press the far right of it? Mine would do that, and it was unbearable for me, so I ended up returning it.
April 24, 2018 at 8:20 pm
No, the spacebar is perfectly fine on my unit.
February 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm
Hi Andrei, i have just bought the UX331UN i7 with 16GB Ram and 512GB SSD with MX150 in Singapore for S$1698 (Factory Refreshed unit but is a brand new unit). Hope to see more comments here to share any potential teething problems with the fan running all the time. Very satisfied but I will be pasting a matte brushed metal skin over the glossy finishing soon….
March 1, 2018 at 8:25 am
Thanks for all your reviews. I have been considering a 13-14 inch laptop with the 2018 state-of-the art insides (i5-8250U / MX150), but the availability of those here in Poland leaves a lot to be desired.
I there any chance you might review ASUS Vivobook S14 S410UN in the not-too-far future? It seems to have good value for the price (especially compared to Lenovo Ideapad 720S-14, which is my other option right now), but it would be great to receive an opinion from someone trustworthy before buying.
March 21, 2018 at 9:38 am
Is it realistic to find a laptop at around 650 euros ($ 1000 CDN) where the fan can't be on most of the time, such as in the Asus AX331UN? From what I gather by reading reviews is that the fan can be bothering most of the time in models of that price range, including Asus.
Thank you in advance for your reply,
March 21, 2018 at 9:50 am
You might find some, but you'd have to read specific reviews for the models of interest to check details about the fan's behavior. Unfortunately there are so many options out there that I can't recommend something in that budget with a very quiet fan of the top of my mind. It would also depend on the hardware you're after, the size of the laptop, etc.
April 2, 2018 at 7:22 pm
I thought that the ux331un ran ram in LPDDR3 not DDR4. At least this is what I find on all sellers online.
November 29, 2018 at 1:30 pm
You're great but,
I tryied to install your colour profile on my ux331un with Microsoft Color Control Panel but it doesn't work!!!
November 30, 2018 at 4:58 pm
You shoudl search on google how to use .icc/.icm color profile files. This might help: https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/e0a76d0d-dcd8-4057-9403-59d9dd8c49dd/reinstall-update-color-profiles-iccicm-files?forum=w7itprogeneral