This year has seen a revolution in laptops, various brands have launched their notebooks with powerpack internals with extremely portable chassis. We have seen a general trend of portable laptops to be either overpriced or underpowered. But, it seems to change with ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL, a laptop that weighs under a kilo.
At CES 2018, ASUS debuted the ZenBook 13 UX331UAL, a refreshed version of their last year’s model. The laptop comes packed with some incredible specifications and lands against the likes of Acer’s Swift 3 ultrabook, Dell Inspiron 13 5000 series, and HP’s Envy 13-inch notebook.
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL Review
The ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL packs in a 13.3-inch FHD LED display, powered by Intel Core i7-8550U along with Intel UHD Graphics 620, coupled with 8GB RAM, paired with 512GB PCIe SSD, backed by a 3-cell 50Wh battery and all crammed into a stylish chassis.
From the specs on paper, the Zenbook 13 looks pretty good in terms of overall performance and is on par with most 13-inch Ultrabooks out there in the market. But does the specs on paper translate to the real world performance and usability? let’s find out.
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL Specs Overview
- 13.3-inch FHD LED display
- Intel Core i7-8550U processor
- Intel UHD Graphics 620
- 8GB DDR3 @2133MHz
- 512GB PCIe SSD storage
- 3-cell 50Wh battery
- Windows 10
- 2×2 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL: Design
The Zenbook 13 has an elegant design with a smaller and much lighter form factor which clearly fits it into a business and a social environment. The Zenbook 13 comes in dark blue and rose gold colour. The higher-end model is only available in blue and this is what we received for review.
The matte-finished exterior with soft corners from the usual glossy metallic surfaced adds a good in-hand feel to it and what we mean by that is if you carry around this laptop, this laptop won’t scream out loud, but it certainly manages to catch the eye. When you hold it in hand, it feels ridiculously light and it kinda is at 985g, especially when it an all-metal chassis with unibody construction
Featuring an all-metallic body, the lid is extremely sturdy but there was a minimal wobble observed. We obviously could not batter this review unit, but Asus promises MIL-STD 810G protection for military-grade durability. Overall the built of Zenbook 13 is great and fit perfect in the daily usage.
The Zenbook 13 gets a full-sized USB Type-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1) port on either side, a USB Type-C port (USB 3.1 Gen 1; no, not Thunderbolt 3) on the left, along with a full-sized HDMI and the barrel plug input for power. On the right side is the 3.5 mm jack and a microSD card reader.
There’s no ethernet port which is understandable but the company could have added USB Type A to Ethernet dongle in the box. Another let down is the microSD card slot, ASUS should have gone with the full-sized SD card, considering the quad-core i7 chip can help in some basic photo editing on the go.
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL: Display
The Zenbook packs in a 13.3-inch full HD LED-backlit display panel featuring ASUS’s NanoEdge display that sports ultra-thin bezels that offer an 80 percent screen-to-body-ratio. The display produces bright, crisp and vibrant colours with a slight jingle of contrast.
The display also includes anti-glare properties which let you work in bright sunlight (if you wish for) or on fluorescent tube lights. In addition to that, the laptop offers a 178-degree viewing angle, which counters the degradation of the image quality when viewing it at acute angles. Even though this laptop doesn’t feature 4K resolution, the overall display pleasing to view.
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL: Keyboard, TrackPad, Fingerprint Sensor, Audio and Webcam
The Zenbook 13 has a Chicklet-styled backlit keyboard which offers a good typing experience with the fair amount of key travel (1.4mm) making it extremely comfortable and convenient for working longer periods. There’s also an option to customize the lights depending on the lighting environment the laptop is used in.
Coming to the trackpad, the machine has well laid out trackpad with Microsoft’s Windows Precision Drivers. The accuracy and the gestures worked really well. No complaints here.
Speaking of speakers, ASUS has added 1W speakers tuned by Harman Kardon which gives out a clear crisp sound that is great on a laptop of this size. ASUS has used its SonicMaster technology that offers deeper bass and improved audio clarity which improves the overall audio experience.
Just beside the trackpad rests a capacitive fingerprint sensor which you can use to log into the machine (under Windows Hello). The sensor worked really well without any glitches.
The camera used here has a VGA sensor which is just sufficient enough for standard video calling, not the best in class but does the job.
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL: Performance
Though the build and design are the main USP (unique selling point) of this laptop, but the Intel Core i7-8550, 8GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM won’t let you down in terms of overall power to run for most regular apps and software. We have received the top-end of Zenbook 13, it is also available in a variety of configurations aimed at different users with varying budgets.
In my daily usage which includes 10 to 15 Chrome tabs open, with live or updating content, a slight Photoshop and Lightroom, and a few other Windows apps running simultaneously, the ZenBook 13 never really gave up on me. In addition to that, the laptop boots up really fast thanks to SSD inside that helps the laptop run pretty fast throughout.
ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331UAL: Battery And Thermals
The Zenbook 13 UX331UAL is backed by a 3-cell 50Whrs polymer battery and they rate it at an average of 15 hours. Well, in our daily usage with streaming videos on Netflix/YouTube and slight documentation with 70-80% brightness, the battery lasted us around 7 hours on average.
As far as the thermal area goes, the laptop remains pretty cool even during continuous usage and the heat management is taken care of well. It does get a bit hotter whilst charging, but it cools off petty quickly as well.
- Amazing display
- Good performance
- Great battery life
- No SD card slot
- Sound output could have been better
The ASUS ZenBook 13 UX331UAL is a great ultralight laptop that packs in some serious hardware and is also priced competitively. With nano-bezel display, powerpack hardware with an array of connectivity options and the small form factor gives this laptop a step-up over its rivals.
If you are looking for a laptop that looks great for professional without breaking your break your back while lugging it around, then the ZenBook 13 UX331UAL is a good choice. The ASUS Zenbook 13 is priced at Rs 76,990 (at the time of writing) and other variants are available for a starting price of Rs 68,990 onwards.