Asus Zenbook UX51Vz-DH71 review:

Good looks, strong performance, not cheap

The two SSDs are an important part of this system's generally excellent performance. Boot time averaged 11 seconds and resuming from sleep was about 2 seconds. Along with those, you get a quad-core standard-voltage Intel i7 processor (so it's not technically an ultrabook), 8GB of RAM, and, the aforementioned Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

The combination makes it a fine multitasker, well suited for day-to-day stuff like e-mail and Web surfing as well as basic video and photo editing and streaming movies and music. Compared with a similarly configured Apple MacBook Pro (which, let's face it, is what Asus is targeting with this machine), the UX51Vz completed our Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test in 164 seconds and the MacBook Pro completed it in 125 seconds. It's up to you if 40 seconds is a big enough difference to make you go with a Mac; for us, it's not.

Gaming at 1080p isn't completely out of the question, but you'll probably want to turn down some other settings to keep frame rates playable. You'll also want to keep this thing off your lap when doing anything that needs high performance; it gets pretty hot. This will also crank up fan speeds, which you'll be able to hear pretty easily. Overall, though, if you want to do more than just basic computing, this laptop is an excellent choice. (Benchmark test results are at the end of this review.)

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Considering all that's in this system, its battery life is respectable. In our video playback drain test, the UX51Vz didn't manage 5 hours, coming in at 4.5 hours. Under more typical use, though, it regularly lasted about 5.5 hours. If you need "all-day" battery life, you'll have to go with something else.

The warranty for the Asus Zenbook UX51Vz-DH71 is slightly above average. You get the standard one-year parts and labor with 24-7 tech support. On top of that, though, there's a one-year accidental damage warranty and a 30-day zero-bright-dot panel warranty.

The Asus Zenbook UX51Vz-DH71 is definitely one of the best Windows 8 competitors to Apple's MacBook Pro line, both in design and performance. Yes, it's expensive, but it's not overpriced.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Load test (average watts)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

System configurations:

Asus Zenbook UX51Vz
Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 512GB Adata XM11 SSD (256GB x 2)

Toshiba Satellite P845t-S4310
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio E17
Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7650M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire S7-391-9886
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 128MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 256GB Intel SSD

HP Envy 4-1102
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

What you'll pay

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