ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A - review of the second attempt to create the perfect ultrabook

As in the case with the first generation of ultrabooks with Intel
Sandy Bridge
processors
, I’m starting
with the second wave of ultra-light and compact
laptop computers, I start with a model from ASUS - Zenbook
Prime UX31A. Outwardly, it practically does not differ from the first-born - ASUS
Zenbook UX31E
, but the filling ... Here lies a lot of surprises
and amenities.




And again, the formal part: the introduction and description of the package.
Before telling you that the ultrabook is packed in a stylish
black cardboard box with the manufacturer's logo and
image
the device itself, I will make a digression.
Each ultrabook is doomed to comparison with the MacBook Air (in part, I myself
also warm up this interest), but what a thing. The
Ultrabook brand is
promoted by Intel, not Microsoft. Intel processors are installed
, which means that processor sales are
not falling, and the iron part in any case will be profitable for
Intel.
What is the advantage of ultrabooks - in a faster update of the
line, in a wider model range, in a variety of colors and shapes.
How many MacBook Air models have been released? 7 models since the beginning of 2008
of the year. There is no point in talking about the number of ultrabooks, they have appeared
much more over the past year. You can also talk about the fact that new
technologies appear faster on “ordinary” ultrabooks, but I think I
have said enough to wake the volcano in the hearts of
Apple lovers (by the way, I own iPhone and iPad and have
nothing against the company from Cupertino )

Well, now about the ASUS Zenbook UX31A. As I already said, the model looks almost the
same as the debut version - the ZenBook UX31E, so
I won’t focus on the exterior
.

The delivery package completely repeats the predecessor: the power adapter,
Ultrabook case, USB-Ethernet adapter, miniVGA-VGA adapter and a
special accessory case.

The power adapter is still compact, a
sticker with a Windows license
is still stuck on it
, but ... the power connector does not match the ASUS
ZenBook UX31E. Of course, I understand that not everyone
wants to buy two different ZenBooks and use the same memory, but
it’s logical to make the same chargers for the entire series of devices. In
this regard, Apple is far ahead with its MagSafe.


The aluminum case has not changed. The same dimensions
thickness is 18 mm. ASUS offers three color options for the UX31A - gray, light blue and pink.


What is inside?

CPU Intel Core i7 3517U (1.9 GHz, in TurboBoost mode - up to
3 GHz), 2 cores, L3 cache 4 MB, NT,
TDP 17 W
Chipset Intel HM76 Express
RAM 4 GB DDR3 1333 MHz in dual channel mode
(soldered to the board)
Video card Intel HD Graphics 4000, the core frequency is dynamically
changed from 350 MHz to 1150 MHz
Network devices Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n, Bluetooth
Storage System SSD: 256 Gb ADATA XM11 SATA III
Integrated devices Webcam 1.3 MP, microphone
Ports for connecting devices Two USB 3.0 ports, one micro HDMI port,
one
combo audio jack (headphones and microphone), one mini
VGA port
, SDXC / SDHC / SD / MMC card reader
Display 13.3 ", resolution 1920 * 1080, IPS, matte
Battery Li-Ion, 6840 mAh
Weight 1.3 kg




The display is the most important difference between the UX31E and UX31A. The new
ultrabook has a FullHD IPS matrix. The matrix is ​​matte. It's
just some kind of holiday! Despite the slight uneven
illumination (visible on the lower edge of the screen), the impressions are exceptionally
positive. ASUS used a little focus so that the font does not
seem too small. The default font and icon size is set to
125%, and below in the screenshots you will see that this slightly changes the
usual look of programs. After installing 100% of the scale, the icons and font
took on their usual appearance, but some users will surely
uncomfortable working.

One of the key changes is the keyboard backlight. Below are two photos with
the backlight on (at slow shutter speed) and off, at night
to work comfortably, the light is soft, not dazzling. The engraving of the Russian
layout is done with high quality, the letters are also highlighted.



The location of the power button has not changed, as well as the location of other "organs" of the ultrabook.

Stickers added, added Ultrabook. Inspired by Intel. " Apparently,
to remember who the initiator (or copy-paste) of the direction of thin and
light laptops.

Touchpad with multi-touch support (yes, three fingers down - minimize
the application in the taskbar, and three paples up will display the
"carousel" as if you press the Win + Tab combination. The dimensions of the touchpad are
preserved, it is large and comfortable.

The audio system is still developed with the participation of Bang & Olufsen.

The left side of the ultrabook contains a USB 3.0 port, an audio jack and a card reader. Nothing new except a change in the USB standard.

The right side is identical to the Zenbook UX31E, while retaining the same drawback - the power connector is too close to the USB 3.0 port, which can
cause difficulties when connecting large USB devices.


Inside the most interesting thing, huh? To spin an ultrabook business 15 seconds,
all you need is an asterisk screwdriver. Most of the ultrabook area
is battery.


The active part of the cooling system consists of one turbine, which is located in the upper right.


The SSD in the Zenbook UX31A is different from what was used
in the Zenbook UX31E. Instead of the SanDisk U100, ADATA XM11 is installed, which
should differ for the better in its characteristics.

The basis of the SSD is the SandForce SF-2281 controller, which has proven itself in desktop solid-state drives.

Micron memory was used in the production of SSDs. The
network card also differs from the first version of the ultrabook. At asus
Zenbook UX31A installed a model from Intel with support for Intel
Wireless Display Technology
. Unfortunately,
I don’t have a
mating part that connects to the
TV, so
I couldn’t personally verify the operation of fashionable
technology.

The battery is flat and large =) But I think where its capacity is more important - 6840
mAh, this allows us to hope for a long battery life, even
taking into account the fact that you need to feed the new processor and FullHD display.

But those same speakers that meet the standards of Bang & Olufsen
Now in detail about the filling. The processor Intel Core i7 3517U belongs to
Ivy Bridge family and is made on 22 nm technology. The base frequency of the
processor is 1900 MHz (19 * 100), in TurboBoost mode the multiplier can
rise to a value of 30, and the frequency of one of the cores will be equal to 3000
MHz.






RAM operates at a frequency of 1600 MHz with CAS Latency 11. The
graphics subsystem has full DirectX 11 support,
an increased number of shader processors (from 12 to 16), twice the
number (from 1 to 2) of raster units. The GPU
frequencies remained the same - 350 MHz in idle, in TurboBoost mode up to
1150 MHz. In addition, the increased frequency of RAM
also gives an increase, because the built-in graphics use it.

Information about the SSD drive: temperature monitoring is supported, the data transfer interface is SATA III or SATA 6 Gb / s. We
will begin the test part of the review with a comprehensive assessment of Windows 7 - the indicator is 5.9 - the highest rating from the
ultrabooks tested earlier
. The weak point, oddly enough, is RAM.

The new generation memory controller and the increased frequency of
RAM operation are doing their dirty deed. Reading from memory
hardly reaches 17,000 MB / s, while in ultrabooks on
Intel Sandy Bridge and 13,000 were considered a good indicator.



In the SSD test, CrystalDiskMark draws attention to the high result
when reading and writing small blocks. Obviously, the
ADATA SSD in the UX31A is significantly faster than the SanDisk in the UX31E.


The results of PC Mark Vantage and PC Mark 7 are simply stunning. Fast
SSD gives a huge increase to the final score and the new Zenbook
becomes the leader of (my personal) rating ultrabooks.


Battery life is not
Zenbook's greatest strength. The result is not bad, but not a record. In office mode
(typing in Word) it lasted about 8 hours at 30%
screen brightness
.




Summary thoughts.
ASUS is again on top, again almost everything is perfect. In minuses, it’s probably worth
recording only the processor’s warming up to 72 degrees (although maybe I
find fault) and the uneven illumination. There are much more pluses - firstly, it is an ultrafast SSD drive, secondly, two USB 3.0 ports,
thirdly, a new fast processor and new fast integrated
graphics. Keyboard illumination, support for Intel Wireless Display - these are
also undeniable positive qualities. And finally, the price. Similar
MacBook Air will cost more than 60 000 rubles, and ASUS Zenbook UX31A costs 52 800 rubles ,
that is, almost 10 kilo rubles cheaper. Of course, there is no
apple on the lid
, but inside the lion, but does everyone need them? Expensive ultrabooks are becoming
more and
more
popular, and if on CeBit I looked like a black sheep with the only
Zenbook among MacBook Air and Pro, now the percentage of
ultrabooks among colleagues is already 25 to 75, so far in favor of
Apple products
, but there will be more.