The new ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A might look exactly like the old Zenbook UX31E, but remember it is what is on the inside that really counts! ASUS appears to be all about consistency these days and have kept the sleek aluminum chassis the same on this razor thin Intel Ultrabook . The weight of this thin Ultrabook also remains the same, at 1.3 kg or about three pounds. It is only when you open the Zenbook Prime UX31A that you’ll start to see the improvements over the last model. For example you have an illuminated keyboard with a gorgeous 1080p IPS (in-plane switching) display for you to look at when you use it and on the inside you have a 3rd Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 ‘Ivy Bridge’ processor along with the new Intel HM76 Express chipset. The new processor is faster and also includes improved graphics thanks to the inclusion Intel HD Graphics 4000 technology. The new Intel HM76 Express Chipset brings native support for a pair of USB 3.0 ports, so both USB ports on the Zenbook Prime are SuperSpeed USB 3.0 enabled. ASUS didn’t stop there though and fixed a number of smaller issues that end users griped about on the original Zenbook. For example the power connector easily came out on the Zenbook, so it was changed to a different type that ‘clicks’ in and stays in place on the Zenbook Prime. Basically, ASUS fixed what needed to be fixed and left what was working alone! This is great news for consumers as you get a refined product that has been tried and tested by millions of people.
Before we dive into the Ultrabook that we will be reviewing we need to cover what an Ultrabook is. For starters, Intel has trademarked the Ultrabook name, so only certain laptops that meet the Ultrabook criteria can be called that. According to Intel, a laptop has to meet or exceed these five characteristics to be an Ultrabook.
Basically, The Intel Ultrabooks are Windows powered alternatives to the hot selling Apple MacBook Air! They are thinner, lighter and often faster than ultraportables that many have used in recent years. The thinner designs on Ultrabooks don’t look half bad either thanks to use of lightweight materials like aluminum and magnesium alloy for the housing. Inside you’ll find powerful 2nd or 3rd generation Intel Core processors and a solid-state drive to give you a laptop that is snappy and responsive.
The downside of Ultrabooks being so thin is that you have to give up a few features that most don’t need in 2012 and beyond. For starters the optical drive has been kicked to the curb, so if you want to run a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray you’ll need to invest in an external USB drive. Other features missing from most Ultrabooks are the ethernet port and DVI video outputs due to how large those connectors are and a removable battery. Most people are running just Wi-Fi now days, but we still run across a hotel or two that don’t have Wi-Fi and that wouldn’t be a good thing with an Ultrabook. You can always get adapter cables, but who wants to carry that around as that defeats the purpose of having something so light and portable.
Now that you have know what an Intel Ultrabook is all about, we can get back to the Ultrabook that we will be reviewing here today.
The ASUS Zenbook Prime is available in two sizes, the ASUS UX21A (11.6″ display) and the ASUS UX31A (13.3″ display). Both sizes come standard with a 16:9 HD display that runs at a screen resolution of 1600×900. If you are buying an Ultrabook we highly suggest spending a little extra and getting the by IPS FHD 1920×1080 pixel display. The 1080p display also includes an antiglare technology that looks much better than a high-gloss display. Once you figure out what size Zenbook Prime that you want and what display you want, you then get to pick the processor and how much storage capacity you want! You have your choice of 128GB or 256GB of SSD drives and either an Intel Core i5-3317U or Intel Core i7-3517UM processors.
The model that we are going to be reviewing today is the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A-DB51. This model is the 13.3-inch model with the 1080p IPS display, 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of DDR3 1600 MHz memory (RAM), and a 128GB solid-state drive.
ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A-DB51 Specifications:
The ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A-DB51 runs $1049.95 shipped, which is price competitive with other brands with similar specifications. Let’s take a closer look at this ultrabook!