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Asus ZenBook 13 (UX331) Review

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Low-cost laptops are often not excellent, and good laptops are often very costly. In reality, the finances market is overrun with giant, cumbersome laptops which have weak specs and no trendy conveniences, and the state of affairs has truly develop into worse over the previous few years. Because the Indian rupee has fallen in worth, the standard of laptops in any respect worth ranges have declined. Helpful issues similar to giant SSDs, backlit keyboards and USB Sort-C ports shouldn’t be luxurious options, however it’s onerous to discover a whole lot on a laptop computer for beneath Rs. 60,000 today.

Moreoever, as individuals who commute with laptops day by day and sometimes journey with very heavy backpacks full of kit, we’ve actually come to understand low weight. With uncommon exceptions (such because the uncharacteristically low MacBook Air costs we’ve seen throughout current festive season gross sales), no laptop computer that’s each highly effective and reasonably priced weighs lower than 1.5kg.

Asus gave us almost all of the options we have been in search of in 2015 with its 1.2kg ZenBook UX305 priced at slightly below Rs. 50,000. Following that, although, the corporate went high-end with its ZenBook lineup. It’s solely now that we’ve got a real successor within the type of the ZenBook 13 (UX331). It’s sadly somewhat costlier, however it bridges the price range and premium classes with nice specs, helpful options, and a weight of simply zero.98kg. All of it sounds too good to be true, so we needed to name this mannequin in for a evaluate. Right here’s what we expect after spending some high quality time with it.

 

Asus ZenBook 13 (UX331) design

For a laptop computer with a 13.Three-inch display, the ZenBook 13 (UX331) is surprisingly small and lightweight. It’s one factor to know from studying Asus’s official description that this laptop computer weighs zero.98kg, however it’s worthwhile to truly decide it as much as perceive how mild that really is for a laptop computer. For the sake of comparability, the MacBook Air (2010-2017), which is most individuals’s concept of an ultraportable, weighs 1.35kg and can also be about 1cm wider and deeper. Most different laptop computer fashions that come anyplace near this type of weight, such because the Apple MacBook, use weaker hardware and are far more costly. Actually, the ZenBook 13 (UX331) is in roughly the identical weight class as the brand new 12.9-inch iPad Professional or Microsoft Floor Professional tablets with their respective keyboard instances.

You’d actually really feel an enormous weight off your shoulders in case you’re used to carrying a laptop computer day by day. That is one thing that ought to instantly attraction to individuals who journey or commute quite a bit. Nevertheless, in case you’re considering that there have to be a tradeoff, you’d be right. The ZenBook 13 (UX331) doesn’t really feel anyplace close to as sturdy as the opposite units we’ve simply in contrast it to. Regardless of having a metallic physique, this laptop computer bends and flexes to a disconcerting diploma. It isn’t flimsy, however we wouldn’t be snug placing any weight on it or tossing it in a bag with out loads of padding. The hinge isn’t very stiff and the lid doesn’t really feel prefer it might stand up to a lot tough remedy.

After spending time with this laptop computer, we now have to say that it’s rather less interesting in actual life than the outline made it out to be. Fortunately, you get a protecting sleeve within the retail field.

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The edges of the ZenBook 13 (UX331) look as if they’re tapered, however that’s simply intelligent moulding. Asus hasn’t tried to go razor-thin. The physique is nearly uniformly 139mm thick, and that leaves a variety of area for full-sized ports. You get a USB Three.zero Sort-A port on both aspect, one USB Three.1 (Gen 1, 5Gbps) Sort-C port, an HDMI video output, a Three.5mm audio socket, and an influence inlet. There’s additionally a microSD card slot — an SD slot would have been preferable, however contemplating that different ultraportables have ditched this function, we’ll take what we will get. Asus additionally kindly features a USB Ethernet dongle, which is nice to see.

Asus sells this laptop computer in two color choices in India — Rose Gold and Deep Dive Blue. The latter is extra impartial and could have wider attraction, however we didn’t discover our Rose Gold assessment unit too garish both. The trademark brushed metallic sample of concentric circles that we’ve seen on different ZenBook fashions is lacking right here, and there are not any bevelled edges or accent colors anyplace. It’s an understated and fewer premium look than what we’ve come to anticipate from the ZenBook line.

The physique color extends to the insides of the laptop computer, apart from the black plastic body surrounding the display and the keyboard keys. The display just isn’t shiny, which signifies that it isn’t annoyingly reflective beneath indoor lights. That is nice for productiveness, however colors don’t pop very a lot. The keyboard has a regular format, with nothing misplaced. Keyboard backlighting is all the time appreciated, however there are solely two brightness ranges to select from. The arrow keys are all squashed into one row however are wider than regular, which considerably makes up for that. The facility button has been built-in into the top-right nook, and as with different ZenBooks, it’s a bit stiffer than the opposite keys, to minimse the prospect of unintentional presses. One good contact is the fingerprint sensor slightly below the arrow keys.

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Asus ZenBook 13 (UX331) specs and software program

Laptops this small and lightweight often use Intel’s sub-5W Y-series CPUs, which don’t want followers and aren’t as highly effective as their mainstream counterparts. The ZenBook 13 (UX331) nevertheless someway manages to slot in a 15W U-series processor designed for extra typical thin-and-light laptops, in addition to the cooling equipment required for it. The one different laptop computer that manages that is the zero.97kg Acer Swift 5, which is a hair lighter, however fairly a bit costlier.

You’ve got a selection between the Core i5-8250U and the Core i7-8550U. We’re reviewing the entry-level configuration of this laptop computer, so we’ve got the previous, which has a base velocity of 1.6GHz and a most turbo velocity of three.4GHz briefly bursts. Each CPU choices are based mostly on the Kaby Lake Refresh platform and each have 4 cores with Hyper-Threading. Each even have the identical Intel UHD Graphics 620 built-in GPU.

The 13.Three-inch display has a decision of 1920×1080. Home windows 10 was set to scale to 150 % by default, which we felt was a bit too wasteful, so we modified it to 100 % and reclaimed lots of usable desktop area. The panel is meant to have 178-degree viewing angles, and that appeared about proper in our expertise. Asus claims that it may reproduce 72 % of the NTSC color gamut, which isn’t actually saying so much.

Our evaluate unit had 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SATA SSD which we expect is sort of beneficiant for the worth. One step up will get you a 512GB PCIe SSD with the identical CPU, and the top-end variant provides you the Core i7 CPU with the bigger SSD. The RAM is soldered down however at the least the SSD is upgradeable. You get dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth four.2. The battery capability is 50WHr, and promised runtime for workplace productiveness is a powerful 15 hours.

You get Home windows 10 Residence with demo variations of McAfee LiveSafe and Microsoft Workplace 365 and an entire bunch of Home windows Retailer apps. Asus additionally throws in WPS Workplace, a product registration app, a battery well being app, a fan velocity management app, an e-manual, a service centre locator, and the Giftbox app retailer. This app is filled with generally out there freeware but in addition provides Asus laptop computer consumers some potential helpful reductions and provides reminiscent of 25GB of free Dropbox area for a yr.

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Asus ZenBook 13 (UX331) efficiency

We used the ZenBook 13 (UX331) for a few week and it didn’t give us any hassle in any way. It was capable of deal with video streaming from common providers with none stuttering, and we might multitask between dozens of browser tabs and fairly a number of apps and not using a hitch. The Core i5 processor with its built-in GPU has greater than sufficient grunt for on a regular basis productiveness. The keyboard keys have been a bit stiff and the trackpad was simply barely too clean for our liking, however we received used to each after an hour or two of use.

Benchmark efficiency was fairly respectable. Cinebench R15’s single-core and multi-core scores have been 140 and 510 respectively. POVRay’s ray tracing benchmark ran in 5 minutes, 59 seconds. PCMark 10’s commonplace and prolonged check situations gave us 2,853 and a couple of,076 factors respectively. The SSD put up an honest present as nicely, with CrystalDiskMark reporting 560.5MBps sequential reads and 268.2MBps sequential writes. As for graphics exams, we obtained 941 factors within the 3DMark Hearth Strike check and 15.4fps in Unigine Valley at 1920×1080 utilizing the Medium preset, which displays the capabilities of built-in GPUs. You’ll be capable of run older or much less intense video games at round 30fps, utilizing 1280×720 because the decision and low to medium high quality settings.

The display isn’t of the very best high quality, when it comes to color vibrancy, gradients, and movement smoothness, and however it’s ok for informal leisure. 4K movies ran wonderful. Regardless of the Harman/Kardon co-branding, the audio system on the ZenBook 13 (UX331) have been very disappointing. The sound is loud however harsh, and we might hear distortion even on the 50 % quantity degree.

The left and center of the keyboard acquired a bit heat when operating lengthy benchmarks. Heavy duties akin to our real-world video encoding and file compression checks brought on the system fan spin up, producing a delicate however persistently grating whine. That stated, this was by no means an issue with odd day-to-day use. In the event you don’t do any heavy 3D rendering on this laptop computer — which might be the case for most individuals given its audience — you may by no means hear the fan in any respect.

Battery life is excellent. We simply made it via a full workday, most of which was spent on-line utilizing browser-based apps and instruments. We streamed an hour of video and noticed that the battery degree dipped by nearly 10 %. The heavy Battery Eater Professional check ran for Three hours, 10 minutes, which is excellent for such a transportable laptop computer. The 45W charger is fairly compact and straightforward to hold round, however it does take some time to get this laptop computer as much as 100 %, and it didn’t cost by means of its Sort-C port once we tried it.

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Verdict
We’ve been ready years for Asus to launch a successor to the ZenBook UX305, and now, right here it’s. The brand new ZenBook 13 (UX331) is costlier, however that’s according to how worldwide foreign money trade values have modified since then. It’s additionally thinner, lighter, and extra highly effective, however hasn’t misplaced any connectivity or flexibility. It has just about all the things you want for getting work accomplished, and you may carry it anyplace with out being weighed down. The one actual draw back is the shortage of bodily sturdiness, which suggests you must deal with this laptop computer with care.

Should you’ve all the time needed a Home windows-based various to the MacBook Air, the entry-level ZenBook 13 (UX331) has a beefier processor, twice the space for storing, and far more ports of varied sorts. It’s considerably lighter, although undoubtedly a lot much less premium when it comes to general really feel. Most significantly, it prices just a bit over half as a lot because the newly launched Retina MacBook Air. The Acer Swift 5 and Swift 7 are the one actual Home windows-based options when it comes to weight, but in addition value extra. If worth isn’t a priority in any respect, you’d be higher off with the costlier Dell XPS 13, Microsoft Floor Laptop computer, or Lenovo Yoga 730.

We hope different producers take observe and begin creating this area of interest — we like skinny and lightweight laptops, however they don’t should be super-expensive they usually don’t should go as far as to ditch tonnes of helpful options.

Worth (MRP): Rs. 66,990 (as reviewed)

Execs

  • Terribly mild
  • Good general efficiency
  • Giant SSD 
  • Numerous ports
  • Nice worth for cash

Cons

  • Feels flimsy and delicate
  • Common show high quality

Scores (out of 5)

  • Design: Three.5
  • Show: Three.5
  • Efficiency: four
  • Software program: four
  • Battery life: four.5
  • Worth for cash: four.5
  • General: four

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