Prizefight: Asus UX31 vs. Apple MacBook Air

In this edition of CNET Prizefight, we compare Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air with the suspiciously similar (but less expensive) Asus Zenbook UX31.


Our latest Prizefight pits one of the new generation of superthin Ultrabook laptops, the Asus Zenbook UX31 , against the system it was clearly designed to emulate, Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air.

The Prizefight scoring system is as follows: Each judge rates on a zero to five scale. At the end of each round, we will take an average of the three judges' scores. The final score for each laptop will be an average of all five rounds.

Round 1: Design
Asus UX31: Amazing design, which could almost be mistaken for the MacBook Air, but difficulty opening the lid smoothly put us off; its touch pad and keyboard aren't as good. Score: 4.3

Apple MacBook Air: That everyone is now trying to copy it says a lot about this product; it's still the benchmark for the best design in the business. Score: 5

Round 2: Features
Asus UX31: The ZenBook brings more features to the table, with USB 3.0, an included dongle for Ethernet, a high-res screen, and Micro-HDMI. Score: 4.7

Apple MacBook Air: The Air's got a multipurpose, high-speed Thunderbolt port, but not much else, save for a best-in-the-biz trackpad. Score: 4

Round 3: Performance
Asus UX31: This Zenbook's got plenty of speed, but the 13-inch MacBook Air beats it in benchmark tests. Score: 3.7

Apple MacBook Air: The latest-generation Air stands side by side with the entry-level MacBook Pro; the performance tests speak for themselves. Score: 4.7

Round 4: Battery life
Asus UX31: Reasonably good; a little under 5 hours of battery life is OK, but we expected more. Score: 3

Apple MacBook Air: The Air's 7 hours of battery life is an industry leader for the category, and standby time is also excellent. The clear victor. Score: 5

Round 5: Value
Asus UX31: For $1,099, Asus throws everything in here except the kitchen sink; the $200 savings over the Air makes it seem like a real bargain. Score: 4

Apple MacBook Air: Apple's premium product comes at a premium price; there's no way around it--the Air's expensive. At least you still get a couple of Apple stickers in the box. Score: 3

The final score:

Asus Zenbook UX31: 5.9 points
Apple MacBook Air: 6.5 points

The MacBook Air took this contest on account of its better battery life and performance, but the Zenbook comes close, thanks to better ports and connections, and a lower price. Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Share your take in the comments section below.

About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired,, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

Brian Tong

Brian brings his high energy and edgy style to the CNET family, showcasing the latest and greatest in the tech world with substance to back up his style. Brian regularly appears on CBS, CNN, Headline News, and local TV stations and radio networks while hosting several of CNET's popular franchises. See full bio

Dan Ackerman

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal. See full bio


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