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Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA-AS51review: A thin, light, and peppy budget laptop with battery life to spare

Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA-AS51review: A thin, light, and peppy budget laptop with battery life to spare

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Sure, you’ll be able to depart the AC adapter at house.

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA is a skinny, mild, budget-minded laptop with a spring in its step when it comes to on a regular basis computing duties, and it’s received all-day battery life to boot.

Execs
  • Skinny and mild shell
  • Strong productiveness efficiency
  • Cozy keyboard
  • Nice battery life
Cons
  • Dim, non touch-sensitive show
  • So-so efficiency throughout prolonged CPU-intensive duties
  • No discrete graphics for gaming

The Asus ZenBook 13 is simply the ticket for productivity-minded street warriors on a budget. It weighs lower than three kilos, measures just a little greater than a half-inch thick, and boasts a quad-core processor and all-day battery life.

This specific mannequin of the ZenBook 13 has downsides: It lacks discrete graphics for gaming, it chugs throughout prolonged CPU-intensive duties, and it’s saddled with a dim, non-touch-sensitive show. Nonetheless, it shines when it comes to on a regular basis computing chores, and its battery retains going and going.

Worth and specs

We reviewed the model of the ZenBook 13 (UX331UA-AS51) that’s presently about $799 on Amazon. It comes with an Eighth-generation quad-core Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of low-power DDR3 RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, a 13.Three-inch full-HD show and built-in Intel 620 UHD graphics. On paper, that makes for a strong productivity-minded laptop for dealing with on a regular basis duties like net shopping, phrase processing, spreadsheets, mild photograph administration, and perhaps even some informal gaming.

For about $100 extra on Amazon, you’ll be able to step up to a model of the ZenBook 13 (UX331UA-DS71) with a beefier Core i7-8550U processor. A higher-end model (the UX331UN-WS51T), which we reviewed earlier this yr (out there on Amazon), provides discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics, good for many who need to dive into Adobe Premiere or bask in just a little Fortnite (playable at a clean 60 fps in case you accept the “Medium” graphics preset).

Design

Measuring 12.2 x eight.5 x zero.55 inches and weighing about 2.7 kilos (or three kilos for those who embrace the compact 45-watt AC adapter), the Acer ZenBook 13 UX331UA feels pleasingly slim and mild.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua lid
The Asus ZenBook 13’s “icicle white” lid doesn’t attact fingerprints the best way the pricier “royal blue” mannequin does.

Whereas its shell isn’t terribly distinctive, except for Asus’ signature concentric circles etched into the lid, the ZenBook manages to look modern and skilled. The “icicle gold” (assume silver) taste of our ZenBook 13 evaluation unit lacks the beautiful shiny “royal blue” end of the pricier discrete-graphics model; then once more, it additionally attracts far fewer fingerprints.

Open the lid and you’ll discover a slim 6.86mm bezel across the 13.Three-inch show, whereas the icicle gold end covers your complete palm relaxation.

Show

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA’s 13.Three-inch, 1920×1080 screens seems to be as sharp and colourful as different full-HD shows we’ve seen on this worth vary. Viewing angles on the ZenBook’s “WideView” AHVA show panel (AHVA is Asus’s proprietary tackle IPS, by the best way) are additionally strong, with the display dimming barely close to the 45-degree mark—once more, normal stuff.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua
The Asus ZenBook 13’s show is on the dim aspect (no shock given its budget price ticket), however at the least the display boasts strong viewing angles.

Given the ZenBook 13’s comparatively low worth, although, corners had to be minimize someplace. On this case we’re speaking display brightness—simply 226 nits (or candelas), considerably in need of our 250-nit normal for snug indoor studying. Whereas the ZenBook’s show was comparatively straightforward to view in my workplace, I discovered myself squinting a bit when utilizing the laptop close to a shiny window.

It’s additionally value noting that the ZenBook 13 UX331UA lacks a key function current in its sibling, the marginally pricier (and discrete graphics-equipped) UX331UN: a touch-sensitive show with lively pen and Home windows Ink help.

Keyboard, trackpad, audio system and extras

Again on the plus aspect, the ZenBook 13 comes with a snug, snappy keyboard, full with three-step backlighting, barely concave key caps, about 1.4mm of key journey and a pleasant, tactile actuation bump. A lot of the commonplace function-enabled hotkeys can be found, together with airplane mode, sleep, brightness, quantity, and show preferences, though media playback and settings hotkeys are lacking.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua keyboard
The Asus ZenBook 13’s cozy, tactile keyboard comes with three-step backlighting, whereas a fingerprint reader sits simply beneath on the proper.

The ZenBook 13’s glass-coated trackpad did its obligation with a good quantity of precision, though I observed a little bit of herky-jerkiness on the cursor’s half, in addition to a number of unintentional inputs from my palms whereas I used to be typing.

Sitting slightly below the bottom-right nook of the keyboard is the ZenBook 13’s fingerprint sensor, good for unlocking your Home windows profile and shortly logging in to Home windows Good day-compliant apps. Whereas I’ve had hassle with finicky fingerprint sensors prior to now, this one usually let me in on the primary or second try.

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA’s down-firing Harman Kardon audio system are literally fairly respectable for a budget laptop, with crisp, detailed sounds and a tiny little bit of bass (higher than nothing, which is what you often get). The ZenBook 13’s audio system are additionally impressively loud, as I found once I cranked “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings. The ZenBook’s audio system are not any substitute for a set of devoted audio system, in fact, and you’ll usually get higher sound by plugging in a pair of headphones. That stated, I’ve undoubtedly heard worse.

In the meantime, the Asus ZenBook 13’s 480p webcam (which sits within the bezel above the show) capures blotchy, washed-out photographs that may disappoint all however probably the most indiscriminate Skype customers.

Ports

The Asus ZenBook 13’s assortment of ports ought to fulfill most budget-minded customers, beginning on the left aspect with a full HDMI port, the primary of two USB Three.zero ports, and a USB Three.zero Sort C Gen 1 port (up to 5Gbps). Additionally on the left: a barrel-shaped charging port, plus a pair of indicator lights for charging and standby.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua left side
Left-side ports on the Asus ZenBook 13 embrace full HDMI, USB Three.zero, and USB-C Gen 1.

On the correct aspect of the ZenBook 13, you’ll discover a second USB Three.zero port, a combo audio jack and a micro SD card reader. No Thunderbolt Three, sadly, however that’s not shocking given the ZenBook’s budget price ticket.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua right side
The Asus ZenBook 13 comes with a second USB Three.zero port on its proper aspect, plus a combo audio jack and a micro SD card reader.

Basic efficiency

As with any budget-priced ultraportable laptop, and notably one with an built-in graphics core, you’ll want to hold your expectations in examine when evaluating the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA’s efficiency. No, the ZenBook 13 isn’t a gaming machine, nor will it rattle any bones with it comes to processor-intensive duties like video encoding. That stated, the ZenBook has strong productiveness chops, and its spectacular battery life solely sweetened the deal.

PCMark eight Work Typical

First, we needed to affirm that the Asus ZenBook 13 can carry out on a regular basis duties with a spring in its step. To do that, we fired up PCMark eight, a benchmark that simulates such day by day computing chores as searching the online, composing phrase paperwork, tinkering with spreadsheets and video chatting. Sometimes, we’re on the lookout for a minimal PCMark eight rating of two,000, whereas the peppiest laptops typically rating Three,000 or higher.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua pcmark 8
You possibly can anticipate clean Workplace efficiency from the Asus ZenBook 13 given its spectacular PCMark eight rating.

Excellent news: the ZenBook 13 and its quad-core, eighth-generation CPU clears the three,000 mark with ease, alongside with its equally outfitted competitors. Don’t get too hung up on who obtained first place and who got here in final. For our functions, any rating over 2,000 deserves a passing grade, and quibbling over a couple of hundred factors within the Three,000 vary is simply splitting hairs.

HandBrake

Right here’s the place issues get fascinating. In our subsequent benchmark, we use the free HandBrake device to convert a 40GB video file into an Android tablet-compatible format. This prolonged (typically an hour or extra) and CPU-intensive activity tells us so much about how a given laptop manages warmth buildup. When it comes to quad-core laptops, a Handbrake rating under four,000 seconds is fairly good; four,000 to 5,000 seconds is common, whereas greater than 5,000 seconds is decidedly meh. When you’re within the 6,000 vary, you’re usually within the land of cheaper dual-core laptops.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua handbrake
With its conservative strategy to thermals, the Asus ZenBook 13 lags its rivals when it comes to prolonged CPU-intensive duties.

With a rating of 5,136 seconds (almost an hour and a half), the ZenBook 13 UX331UA’s Handbrake time lands it in final place, just some minutes forward of its pricier UX331UN sibling. It’s not an terrible rating, however it’s not nice both.

Wanting underneath the hood, we discover that the ZenBook 13 (the UA model) places the pedal to the metallic through the opening moments of the Handbrake benchmark, with its CPU package deal temperature hovering to 90 levels Celsius (approaching the Core i5-8250U’s operational limits) and its processor clock velocity cranking to about 2.8GHz. Inside a couple of minutes, a mixture of thermal throttling (which cuts CPU velocity to deal with the warmth) and power-limit throttling (which places a lid on processor wattage output) kicks in, slamming on the brakes till CPU temperatures fall to a a lot cooler 60 levels Celsius and clock speeds sluggish to about 1.85GHz, the place they settle in for the rest of the check.

To place the ZenBook 13’s last-place Handbrake efficiency in perspective, contemplate that the first-place end for the Dell XPS 13 comes with a hefty $1,200 price ticket, whereas the opposite laptops in our comparability chart are thicker and heavier, and thus simpler to cool. Certainly, the cheaper Acer Aspire E15 is almost twice as thick and heavy because the ZenBook.

Backside line: in the event you have been questioning how a laptop just like the Asus ZenBook 13 could possibly be so skinny and mild for simply $799, its iffy HandBrake rating tells you why.

Cinebench

Whereas our Handbrake benchmark measures a laptop’s efficiency over an hour or so, our subsequent check is usually over in a matter of minutes. Cinebench duties a system with rendering a 3D picture in real-time, a CPU-stressing chore that spins up cooling followers identical to HandBrake does, however just for a quick time period.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua cinebench
Brief busts of intense exercise are not any drawback for the Asus ZenBook 13, as its third-place Cinebench rating attests.

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA fares a lot better with Cinebench, coming in third behind the a lot pricier Dell XPS 13 and the discrete-graphics model of the ZenBook (the UX331UN).

Because it seems, Cinebench’s brief run time works to the ZenBook 13’s benefit. As within the Handbrake check, the ZenBook bursts out of the gate, flooring it when it comes to CPU efficiency whereas cranking out warmth within the course of. By the point thermal throttling kicks in, the Cinebench check is virtually over.

3DMark Sky Diver

A laptop with an built-in graphics core just like the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331A can’t be anticipated to crank out buttery body charges when it comes to video games, and our 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark confirms our expectations.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua 3dmark sky diver
Saddled with an built-in graphics core, the $799 mannequin of the Asus ZenBook 13 can’t compete with laptops which have discrete graphics playing cards.

Bunched up within the center with different integrated-graphics laptops, the $799 ZenBook 13 will definitely do the trick when it comes to mild photograph modifying, Minecraft, or informal video games generally. However it may possibly’t sustain with laptops that boast discrete graphics playing cards, such because the Acer Aspire E15 (E5-576G-5762) and the ZenBook 13 mannequin with Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics.

Battery life

We check battery life by looping a 4K video utilizing the inventory Home windows 10 video participant, with display brightness set at about 250 nits (which meant cranking the brightness all the best way up on the ZenBook 13) and turning the quantity up to 50 %, headphones on.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua battery
The Asus ZenBook 13 squeezes a powerful quantity of juice out of its 50 watt-hour battery.

The Asus ZenBook 13’s results of 650 minutes (almost 11 hours) is spectacular contemplating its 50 watt-hour battery, outdistancing its discrete-graphics sibling and besting the Acer Aspire E15 and its bigger 62 watt-hour battery. Principally, we’re taking a look at all-day battery life, an excellent comfort should you’re working from the street.

Conclusion

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA is a skinny, mild, budget-minded laptop with a spring in its step when it comes to on a regular basis computing duties, and it’s obtained all-day battery life to boot. Its built-in graphics can’t compete with laptops which have discrete graphics playing cards, and it gained’t be breaking any data when it comes to video encoding or different CPU-intensive duties. That stated. the ZenBook 13 will please productiveness professionals preferring leaving AC adapters at house.

(pcworld.com, https://bit.ly/2NNvwOt)

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