Asus Zenbook Prime Review

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I recently happened across a discounted Asus Zenbook Prim UX31A for $600 new. I jumped at the chance, as I know quite a few people looking for just such a machine. Overall, I’m quite impressed with the system, though I still prefer the design of my Dell XPS 13. Read on for details.

The Asus Zenbook Prime UX31a I’m reviewing has the following:

  • 13″ 1920×1080 IPS matte display
  • Core i5 3317U 1.7GHz CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 2xUSB 3.0
  • 1xMicroHDMI
  • 1xMini VGA
  • SD slot
  • headphone/mic jack
  • Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio (Meaningless.)
  • Backlit US keyboard
  • ELAN trackpad with multi-touch gestures
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 3LBs laptop, up tp 8 hours of charge with light use

The Asus Zenbook Prime UX31a was one of the first Ultrabooks to have an optional 1080p IPS display. Moreover, it’s a matte display! It is absolutely one of the nicest features of the machine. It is a premium screen that fits in well with the rest of this clearly premium laptop.

Overall, the Zenbook Prime feels like a high-end machine. This isn’t some low-end junker. It’s all metal, has a beautifully spun metal lid, has a great keyboard, a great display, and a decent trackpad. (Why all trackpads are garbage these days is beyond me.)

I could easily see using a machine like this for years. It looks great, is fast, light, and checks all the right boxes for my feature wish list. at $600 it was an absolute bargain. Even at around $1000 it is a good value for the money. This is a tough machine with few moving parts. It would be an excellent travel companion.
I would have preferred Mini DisplayPort to Mini VGA, but having the option of both Micro HDMI and Mini VGA is a bonus, as is the SD slot.

One dissappointment is the B&O ICEpower speakers. I’d hoped for something decent with the B&O name on it, really this is just a marketing gimmick. The speakers on my Dell XPS 13 are much better.

The keyboard is pretty much perfect. The layout is ideal, as is travel and the overall feel of the keyboard. As a long-time ThinkPad user, I moved immediately without issue. I prefer the font on the Zenbook Prime keyboard to the one used on my Dell XPS 13, but both are fine. The backlight on the Prime is also excellent. This is just a great keyboard. (With a proper caps lock light, thank you very much.)

Lenovo should look closely at this and the XPS 13 when they’re designing their next ThinkPad keyboards. The Zenbook Prime keyboard is much better than the one found on the ThinkPad Yoga and newer ThinkPad laptops.

One odd thing about the Zenbook Prime is that the corners of the laptop are relatively sharp. My Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Airs have nicely rounded corners. The Zenbook Prime is a little painful to pick up by the corner, but this is a very minor complaint. It certainly looks sharp, and is a well balanced, light machine overall.

GoSaBe Blog - Jan 5, 2015 | Hardware, Linux