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Asus ZenBook Prime UX31A review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1500
inc VAT

A gorgeous screen and plenty of refinements make the Prime a worthy successor to the original ZenBook


13.3 in 1,920×1,080 display, 1.4kg, 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U, 4.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Asus was one of the first manufacturers to embrace Intel’s Ultrabook specification when it launched the Asus ZenBook UX31 last year. It was easily one of the best Windows ultraportables you could buy, although it wasn’t without its faults. One year Later, Asus is looking to address those faults with the ZenBook Prime, the first 13in laptop we’ve seen with a Full HD IPS display.

Asus ZenBook prime UX31A

It’s impressive enough that Asus has managed to squeeze a 1,920×1,080-resolution screen into a 13in laptop, but the real star is the IPS panel. It has near-unlimited viewing angles, regardless of where you sit, and image quality is fantastic. Colours look vivid and there’s plenty of contrast, even with the brightness turned up to its maximum. There’s plenty of screen tilt, and the semi-gloss finish does an excellent job of keeping light reflections to a minimum while still keeping colours vibrant. We were worried that a resolution this high on a screen this small would make text and icons look too small in Windows, but with text scaling set to 125% we had no problems with legibility. It’s easily up there with the best laptop displays we’ve seen.

Asus ZenBook prime UX31A

Asus has also made big improvements to the keyboard. The old, slightly unresponsive silver keys are gone, replaced with much more responsive black models. The Chiclet-style layout is the same, but each bouncy key has plenty of travel to make typing feel far more natural than on the old design. The entire keyboard tray is now backlit, helping you keep working even in poor light.

Asus has also upgraded the touchpad, which we found had flaky accuracy in the original ZenBook. It’s still an all-in-one design, with the buttons integrated into the pad itself, but it’s now far more accurate and responsive. Multi-touch gestures are now recognised correctly, whereas before they often triggered accidentally, and the touchpad is sensitive enough to let you traverse the expansive desktop in a single swipe.

Asus ZenBook prime UX31A

Like the original ZenBook, the Prime has an aluminium chassis, but there have been some tweaks. Asus has finally seen sense and removed the tacky italicised ZenBook logo from the screen hinge, giving the whole laptop a more professional feel, and the screen itself feels much sturdier than before. Our only criticism with the wedge-shaped chassis is that it leaves little room for connections – you only get two USB3 ports, Micro HDMI, Mini VGA, a multi-format card reader and a headset audio jack. There’s also an Ethernet adaptor in the box, but the selection is still less than you might find on other Ultrabooks.

Asus ZenBook prime UX31A

As you might expect, the internal components have also been updated. The older Sandy Bridge processor has been replaced with a new Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7-3517U running at 1.9GHz. With Turbo Boost, it can reach a lofty 3GHz, and Windows will see four separate CPU cores thanks to Hyper-Threading. The ZenBook Prime sped through our multimedia benchmarks, scoring 58 overall, and the 256GB SSD helps speed up boot times and leads to snappy performance.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
Processor Intel Core i7-3517U
Processor clock speed 1.9GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 8GB
Size 325x223x18mm
Weight 1.4kg
Sound Realtek HD Audio
Pointing device touchpad


Viewable size 13.3 in
Native resolution 1,920×1,080
Graphics Processor Intel HD 4000
Graphics/video ports micro-HDMI, mini VGA
Graphics Memory 384MB


Total storage capacity 256GB
Optical drive type none

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 2
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000 via adaptor
Wireless networking support 802.11n
PC Card slots none
Supported memory cards SDXC, Memory stick Pro, MMC
Other ports minijack headset port, 2x USB 3.0


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included Microsoft Office 2010 Starter edition
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £1,500