Asus DB71 review:

Asus DB71

One important part of this latest generation of Zenbook laptops is the jump to Intel's third-generation Core i-series processors. But not all the current Zenbooks have that, nor do they have similar storage or graphics hardware. The $1,299 UX32VD has a 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-3517U along with a 500GB HDD/24GB SSD combo drive, and Nvidia GeForce 620M graphics. The $779 UX32A has a previous-generation 1.4GHz Intel i3-2367M CPU, a 320GB HDD/24GB SSD, and Intel HD 3000 graphics, and finally the $1,079 UX31A has a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U CPU, a 128GB SSD, and Intel HD 4000 graphics, plus a slightly thinner body.

Of those three, the UX32VD is the most expensive, but also by far the most universally useful. And it was much faster at running our benchmark tests, beating out the other two Zenbooks, but falling behind an Intel Core i5 MacBook Air. In everyday use, I found all three to be more than responsive enough for common computer tasks, from social networking, to working in Microsoft Office, to running Photoshop. The faster processor in the UX32VD model probably won't affect everyday use, but can offer an edge in gaming and other intensive tasks.

If you're at all interested in gaming, the UX32VD is the Zenbook for you. Even then, the Nvidia GeForce 620M GPU is an entry-level part, and not suited for high-detail settings at full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. Still, in casual use it was perfectly fine, and able to play recent games such as Skyrim with settings set to medium. In our Street Fighter IV test, the UX32VD ran at 42.4 frames per second at 1,920x,1080-pixel resolution, while the UX31A ran the same test at the same resolution at 16.3fps. The UX32A has a native 1,366x768 resolution, and ran Street Fighter IV at 19.9fps at that lower resolution.

Juice box
Asus Zenbook UX32VD Average watts/hour
Off (60%) $0.34
Sleep (10%) $0.43
Idle (25%) $8.33
Load (05%) $29.68
Raw kWh number $33.41
Annual power consumption cost $3.79

Annual power consumption cost

All three of the Asus Zenbook models we tested had very solid battery life, but not spectacular. The UX32VD has higher-end components, so it may be forgiven for only running for 5 hours and 13 minutes in our video playback battery drain test (it will certainly run less when the GPU is engaged). The UX32A and UX31A ran for 5 hours and 16 minutes and 6 hours and 16 minutes, respectively. Other ultrabooks can run for 1 to 2 hours longer, but these times should get you through a full day if you close the lid and put the laptop to sleep when not actively using it.

Asus offers a one-year mail-in warranty on each of these ultrabooks. The Asus Web site can get a little confusing to navigate, but 24-7 phone support is available at 888-678-3688. The simplest way to find the Asus support section for your specific model is to ignore the frustrating pop-up navigation menus and simply type the model number into the support page search box.

The Asus Zenbook UX32VD comes close to being an ideal ultrabook. It has most of the high-end components you could wish for (although a better GPU would be welcome), but is held back by its heftier body, tricky touch pad, and high price. Still, I can't think of a better all-around slim 13-inch laptop right now that balances portability, battery life, and gaming.

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

Adobe Photoshop CS5 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)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 620M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm / 24GB SSD

Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch (Summer 2012)
OS X 10.7.4 Lion; 1.8GHz Intel Core i5; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Apple SSD

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Adata XM11 SSD

Asus Zenbook Prime UX32A
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2367M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB(Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm / 24GB SSD

Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 256GB Lite-On IT SSD (2x RAID 0)

What you'll pay

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