Asus UX31A and UX21A – Ivy Bridge processors and matte Full HD IPS displays

While they should probably look about the same as the old UX21 and 31, the UX31A and 21A will come with much better hardware.
By Adrian Diaconescu , last updated on September 18, 2021

Now that the first ultrabook wave, featuring such products as the Asus Zenbook UX31, the Lenovo U300S or the Toshiba Portege Z835, is pretty much history, it’s time to concentrate on the second wave, started with the unveilings of Acer’s S5, M3 and M5, as well as with some other notable additions to the market from Lenovo, Samsung and Gigabyte.

However, the guys at Asus have been unusually quiet about their ultrabooks’ second generation, which made us think for a moment or two that they want out of this game. We couldn’t have been farther from the truth, though, as the UX31A and UX21A are supposedly coming soon with a bang.

Update: Here’s my review for the Asus Zenbook UX31A .

While you may be fooled by the future ultrabooks’ names as to believe that they are simply rehashed versions of the original UX31 and UX21, in reality both devices come with some big time upgrades.

While they should probably look about the same as the old UX21 and 31, the UX31A and 21A will come with much better hardware.

While they should probably look about the same as the old UX21 and 31, the UX31A and 21A will come with much better hardware.

First off, the UX31A and UX21A will feature Intel’s new low-voltage Ivy Bridge processors. As with the first generation of ultrabooks, Asus will offer the choice of Core i3, i5 and i7 chips, all three being dual-core and clocked at 1.8 GHz (no Turbo Boost), 2.6 GHz max Turbo Boost and 3 GHz max Turbo boost respectively.

The displays should also be much better than the ones sported by the original UX21 and 31. The new high-end ultrabooks’ IPS screens will feature 1920 x 1080 pixels resolutions and will also come with anti-glare capabilities. However, if the high-end models will prove too expensive for you, you could always choose the 1600 x 900 pix res or the 1366 x 768 pix res versions.

The rest of the tech specs unveiled exclusively by The Verge earlier today are themselves impressive and include a choice of 2 or 4 GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics cards, as well as 256 GB SSDs.

As far as connectivity goes, the future Zenbooks will come with WiDi media streaming technology, as well as WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0. The number of ports should be generous enough for the regular technology geek and include two USB 3.0 connectors, micro HDMI and an SDXC card reader.

The keyboards will most likely be backlit, which is like the tenth thing I am excited for at these ultrabooks, while the battery life expected is of around six or seven hours for the 13-inch UX31A and no more than five hours for the 11-inch UX21A.

Finally, in terms of pricing and availability, if The Verge’s still unconfirmed speculations prove true, the laptops should start selling sometime in early summer for as less as 1,050 dollars (the UX21A) and $1,100 (the UX31A). Of course, the higher-end models will cost significantly more, but we don’t know exactly how much.

All in all, I for one must say that I have been caught off guard by these impressive spec sheets, despite the fact that I was waiting for something special from Asus. What do you guys think, could anyone come up with better products than the UX31A and 21A or are we heading towards a 2012 dominated by Asus when talking about ultrabooks?

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Adrian has a passion for technology and portable computers and he's been writing about mobile devices for many years now. He is in charge with the news here on the site, but sporadically he also contributes with tests and reviews.

23 Comments

  1. Henrik

    March 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Seems awesome.

    Awesome enough to make me wait til this has been released before buying an ultrabook :)

    • Jason

      March 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      I agree with henrick.

  2. Doug

    March 25, 2012 at 4:19 am

    In the article it states “First off, the UX31A and UX21A will feature Intel’s new low-voltage Sandy Bridge processors.” Did you mean Ivy Bridge Processors?

    • Mike

      March 26, 2012 at 7:01 am

      Indeed, thanks for noticing that. I’ve modified it in the article

  3. Todd K.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Nice, but 4 GB RAM is an absolute minimum, making this a problem.
    Hope they improved the audio from the current generation Zenbooks.

    I bought an Asus netbook a couple of years ago that had major problems with the AC adapter pin breaking, hopefully they ditched that fatally flawed design.

    • Mike

      March 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Todd, the current Zenbooks are the best ultrabooks in terms of audio. As of that pin, I don’t know, I’ve owned a bunch of Asus netbooks over time and had no problems with it

  4. George

    March 28, 2012 at 2:57 am

    I am so excited for this! I was holding back on buying an Asus zenbook UX31 because I had a feeling Asus would unveil a new and incredibly improved ultrabook and I guess I was right! As soon as it comes out, I am buying one! Extremely stoked for this!

  5. Rodolfo

    March 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I’ll be selling my UX31 when the new UX31A be available. More than satisfied with the current one, this specs are awesome. I’m a new fan of Asus products. Will try the Padfone too.

  6. Amin

    April 2, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I bought the UX31E i5 with the slower sandisk ssd 2 weeks ago and must say this thing is a joy to use. At the time I already new asus would soon release an impressive upgrade to the UX31-21 series. Later on I learned that pegatron, the manufacturer of the zenbook happens to be the same company that makes apple devices. This same company was supposedly pressured by apple to drop production of zenbooks. So asus is likely to be looking for new manufacturers. If true, this means that build quality is likely to suffer. How many companys out there are able to deliver the level of quality of a macbook air ?

  7. john19

    April 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    will there be no thunderbolt in these ultrabooks? I thought it was build in to the ivy bridge controller?

    • Mike

      April 5, 2012 at 7:38 am

      There might, but there are no exact details on those for the time being

  8. Mike Johnson

    April 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Hey all!
    I`m also looking forward for new, awesome UX31A!

    Andy Idea when it will out for what date sure?

    Best regards from Germany :)

    • Mike

      April 10, 2012 at 6:51 am

      there are no exact details right now but I’d reckon around June/July

  9. Bill Carroll

    April 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I have a UX31 and other than the trackpad and keyboard, I love it. Keyboard sometimes doesn’t register keystrokes; trackpad is jumpy. I understand I’m not the only one to notice. Did ASUS get the message and fix them?

    • Mike

      April 10, 2012 at 6:50 am

      They did get the message but nothing can be done at this stage. Hopefully they’ll fix the issues with their next gen ultrabooks

  10. Diego

    April 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    When its the commercial release of the UX31A?

  11. Ges

    April 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Still 4GB of RAM? It’s useless for serious Lightroom and Photoshop uses.

    Asus is becoming the next Apple, preferring forms over functions.

    Useless upgrade and machine.

  12. Kenneth Tang

    May 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Glad I saw this post. I was considering the Dell XPS 13, but the lack of SD card slot turned it off for me, the original UX31 was the most decent choice but research showed me that the new Ivy Bridge processors with HD4000 graphics are significantly better than HD3000, you can do gaming with medium graphics on those.

    I didn’t plan to wait but since your post mentioned it will be released in summer (late June?), I guess I’ll wait. Gives me more time to save up for the premium IPS display versions.

    Typing on my old Asus X59SR with Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 and *gasp*…Windows Vista…

    • Mike

      May 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Kenneth, the new Zenbooks will be released around early June, so I’d say they should hit the stores by late June, maybe early July. There might be delays though…

  13. Robert

    June 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you for the great news.
    Does any ultrabook offers the possibilty of having an extra battery that can be easily instaled? Any plans on that? Thank you

    • Mike

      June 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Robert, not right now. Except for the Lenovo X1. But there will be others in the next months, like the HP Folio Elitebook (scheduled for late Fall though)

  14. Shaun

    June 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    @ Mike – any idea if the RAM on the UX31A will be user upgradeable? I’m not certain but I thought the spec shows 1 empty slot for the 4 gig RAM. Also , is the built in video card sufficient to do lots of video editing if one does not play games? I wanted to know if I need to go with the UX32vd model with a dedicated vid card or the hd4000 would suffice? No games but hi def video editing. Thanks

    • Mike

      June 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Well, I for one do most of my video editing on a Lenovo X220 and am quite satisfied with it. CPU raw power seems to be more important in this case.

      However, I can’t say how much faster the UX32VD will be over the UX31A until I’ll test it. My reckon, not a lot faster (maybe 5-10%), but take this with a grain of salt.

      As for the RAM, I don’t have an answer right now, the guys at Asus couldn’t comment on that. I don’t think there will be two memory slots in there though. And the big issue is whether the memory is soldered on the motherboard or not.

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