Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53 review: Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53

The 13-inch Zenbook UX31 (there's also an 11-inch model, the UX21) comes in three configuration varieties, starting at $1,099 for the UX31E-DH52 this review unit: a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD storage. That's $200 less than the equivalent 13-inch MacBook Air, or $100 less than a comparable Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. The 256GB SSD configuration bumps the price to $1,349, and upgrading to a Core i7 CPU brings the price to $1,449. Still, even at that lofty price, it beats the top-end MacBook Air by $100 while offering a better processor, and gives more bang for the buck than the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. You can't argue that the Asus Zenbook isn't a relative value.

A 1.7 GHz Core i5-2557M processor is technically a low-voltage CPU, but it's the same generation of processor that's in laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, Acer Aspire S3, and Apple MacBook Air. In performance tests, the entry-level Zenbook managed to outperform both the Acer Aspire S3 and Lenovo IdeaPad U300s in general, even though the gains were sometimes slight. Experientially, I found it was an excellent experience for all-around computing. Unless you're doing heavy video editing, graphics work, or gaming, you won't notice the processing compromise. Multitasking and video streaming in HD were all excellent, as would be expected.

With the included Intel integrated graphics, I didn't expect this system to be used for much gaming, and neither should you, if by gaming you're thinking of Call of Duty. With the higher-resolution 1,600x900-pixel screen, you should expect basic casual games and mainstream gaming with settings turned down, but not much more.

Juice box
Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH52 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.44
Sleep (10 percent) 0.70
Idle (25 percent) 7.56
Load (5 percent) 35.89
Raw kWh 35.20
Annual energy cost $4.00

With its integrated battery, the Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH52 lasted through four hours and 45 minutes of video playback before needing a recharge. That's not bad at all, but I expected a little more. The battery outperformed the Acer Aspire S3, but the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s fared a little better. Battery life expectations have been blown open by laptops like the Toshiba Portege and Apple MacBook Air, which each exceeded seven hours on the same test. While you could get a lot of computing done on roughly five hours of battery life (more if you adjust battery modes and usage), you would be justified in envying any laptop that bested it, like the Air.

Asus offers a two-year warranty on parts and labor and one year of accidental damage protection with the Zenbook UX31E-DH52, which easily bests the minimal warranty service on the average consumer laptop. Asus' Web site can get a little confusing to navigate, but 24/7 phone support is also available.

Windows owners hoping for their own MacBook Air get closer than ever with the Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH2, with the added benefit of a greater variety of ports and a lower price. The Zenbook is less expensive on a pure processor/spec comparison than the MacBook Air. The Zenbook's underwhelming keyboard, battery life, and webcam could be turn-offs for some, while the higher-resolution screen and high-quality onboard speakers might seal the deal for others.

System configurations
Asus UX31E-DH52
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-2557M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 128GB Solid State Drive

Toshiba Portege R835-P56X
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 640GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-2677M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 256GB JMicron 616 Solid State Drive

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 128MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm + 20GB Solid State Drive

Apple Macbook Air 13.3-inch - Summer 2011
OS X 10.7 Lion; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-2557M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 128GB Apple Solid State Drive

Dell XPS 14z
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2640M; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 520M / 1GB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 750GB Western Digital 7,200rpm

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Editors' Top Picks

 

ARTICLE DISCUSSION

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53

Part Number: CNETUX31E-DH53

MSRP: $1,349.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Resolution 1600 x 900 ( HD+ )
  • Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Installed Size 4 GB
  • Color silver aluminum
  • Weight 2.86 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000
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, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.