There are accepted affidavit to absorb over a thousand bucks on a laptop, whether it’s cutting-edge automated architecture or abiding body quality. But anniversary year, the affidavit are beneath and fewer.
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA, which starts at $800, is yet addition point adjoin abundantly big-ticket laptops.
Its predecessors accept continued been our go-to advocacy at this amount point, and Asus has followed it up with a aces successor. With a quad-core processor, a failing build, and aggressive arrangement activity claims, is the UX331UA the little ZenBook that could?
Set the ZenBook 13 UX331UA aing to a Surface Laptop 2, MacBook Pro, or Dell XPS 13, and you’ll anon see the difference. All three ability be attenuate and argent on the outside, but a acute eye will atom breadth Asus cut costs. Everything from the shiny, concentric appearance of the lid to the artificial bezels feels, well, bargain – because it is beneath expensive.
But that’s comparing apples and oranges.
Unlike those big-ticket devices, the ZenBook 13 acreage at aloof $800, which happens to be appropriate in the amount ambit best bodies accede affordable. At that price, the ZenBook 13 fits in with its contemporaries, alms a avant-garde design. We like the attending of the Lenovo Yoga S730 and IdeaPad 530S better, but the ZenBook is appropriate abaft them.
Asus delivered a absurd accounting experience; we begin ourselves accounting quicker and added accurately on the UX330A
Weight and arrangement are breadth this ZenBook absolutely shines. At aloof 2.5 pounds and 0.55 inches thick, the ZenBook 13 is lighter and thinner than a MacBook Pro! It’s not the best in this area. Compared to competitors in the aforementioned price, the $800 Lenovo Yoga S730 is hardly thinner and lighter. However, the Zenbook calmly beats the affordable HP Envy 13t, or the Dell Inspiron 13 7000. It’s additionally lighter than the Dell XPS 13, admitting alone just.
Though attenuate and light, the ZenBook 13 doesn’t feel flimsy. There are spots in the keyboard accouter breadth there’s some angle if you advance hard, but you accept to go attractive for this blemish to apprehension it. The hinge, meanwhile, feels athletic and can be opened with one finger.
The ZenBook 13 has a accepted arrangement of ports, including an HDMI port, USB-C port, two USB-A 3.1 ports, and a miniSD agenda slot. That’s a bit of article for everyone. We’d adopt a USB-C charging anchorage over the proprietary plug, but that’s our alone complaint, and it’s not one best its competitors solve.
The keyboard is a acute breadth of the laptop breadth Asus could accept cut quality. Instead, Asus has delivered a absurd accounting experience. We begin ourselves accounting quicker and added accurately than on lower-travel keyboards like the MacBook Pro. The bottoming activity feels appropriate in the candied atom of aing after actuality stiff.
As abundant as we enjoyed the keyboard, we do accept one complaint. The action row of keys at the top of the accouter crave captivation bottomward one of the action keys to work. It’s a nitpick, but it appropriate for accessing things like aggregate and accurateness control. This is a accepted laptop tactic that makes adventitious presses beneath likely, but we adopt actual admission after accepting to tap the action key.
The touchpad lets the keyboard bottomward and is the laptop’s bigger flaw. It’s useable, but the tracking of absolute movement generally feels off. The touchpad seems to abridgement brittle response, abrogation an cryptic blah breadth amid a tap, a drag, and a click. While it’s a Windows Precision touchpad, gestures like two-finger swipes acquainted clumsy, as did absolute controls like selecting text.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA Compared To
The ZenBook 13 UX331UA does not accommodate a touchscreen, a 360 display, or stylus support, instead opting for a adequate laptop experience.
Displays on laptops beneath $1,000 tend to be dull, and over-saturated. Best of the ZenBook 13 UX331UA’s aeon do poorly, whether that’s the Acer Swift 3 or the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S. Asus has, on the added hand, continues to baffle the allowance and accommodate accomplished displays in its ZenBook 13 laptops. In fact, this 13.3-inch, Abounding HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS affectation is one of the bigger screens we’ve anytime tested, abnormally in several key categories.
The aboriginal is contrast. The UX331UA has a aerial adverse arrangement and absurd atramentous levels. That makes it a absolute awning for watching movies, as the lighting appears aloof as the administrator of the blur advised it to be. Go advanced and watch a abhorrence blur with the lights angry out on this laptop — we cartel you.
The blush breadth and accurateness additionally impress. In fact, it’s not a bad advantage for an abecedarian columnist attractive for a affectation they can trust. That’s not article we can say about best mid-range laptops.
The alone absolute botheration with the UX331UA’s affectation is brightness. It maxed out at 256 nits in our reading, which is a bit beneath our adopted minimum of 300. Best competitors action a brighter display. That said, we begin accurateness able in best situations, alike beneath the ablaze lights of our office. Credit the matte screen, which reduces glare.
The speakers are weaker. They’re down-firing, which isn’t ideal for accuracy or volume, and the ZenBook 13 has botheration alms abundant of either. Best owners will appetite to await on headphones or alien speakers.
The ZenBook 13 UX331UA comes with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, which is the aforementioned dent we saw in the antecedent UX330UA. It’s a fast, active processor, and the absolute fit for a $800 laptop like this one. It multitasks like a champ, alike if your archetypal workload includes dozens of accessible tabs, active applications, and alive music simultaneously. At no point did we ambition for a Core i7 instead.
Looking at the after-effects of a constructed criterion like Geekbench, the UX331UA outpaces abounding laptops with the aforementioned processor, abnormally in multi-core performance. After-effects were middling in the Handbrake test, which measures how continued it takes the laptop to encode a 4K video. It’s in tasks like that breadth the college alarm speeds of laptops with a Core i7 can angle their muscles.
You should agenda this ZenBook’s dent is allotment of the Kaby Lake-R series, appear in backward 2017, and not the Core i5-8265U from the newer Whisky Lake series. While we don’t apprehend that to abundantly change circadian performance, it’s missing a brace of appearance such as gigabyte Wi-Fi and a (supposed) added arrangement life.
Fortnite won’t comedy able-bodied after axis the settings all the way down, but you could comedy a ablaze d like Rocket League.
The accumulator included on the UX331UA is one breadth breadth a cede had to be made. Although it’s a solid-state drive, the Micron 1100 in our analysis assemblage affiliated over the SATA accepted instead of the faster PCIe connection. Compared to high-end laptops like the MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 13, the apprehend and address speeds are generally cut in half. It’s accepted to see SATA SSDs or alike old-school adamantine deejay drives on laptops in this amount range, but some laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad 530s accommodate a PCIe drive.
We ambition Asus could’ve done the same, but we additionally anticipate this is an adequate sacrifice. The solid-state drive charcoal quick abundant to action abrupt day to day performance, and you won’t apprehension a aberration unless you consistently handle actual ample files.
The UX331UA is not meant for games, as it lacks a GPU from AMD or Nvidia. You can’t adore Fortnite at playable framerates after axis settings all the way bottomward and alteration the resolution to 720p.
However, a ablaze d like Rocket League can comedy bland application aloof the laptop’s chip Intel 620 UHD cartoon at 1080p resolution. You’ll accept to about-face bottomward some of the cede quality, but we accomplished a bland 50 frames per additional already we did.
Because it doesn’t accommodate a Thundert 3 port, you can’t depend on the UX331UA to ability an alien GPU. Asus does action a archetypal with a Nvidia MX150 in it, accepted as the UX331UN, but that pushes the amount up to $1,000.
Excellent arrangement activity was a backbone this laptop’s predecessors offered, and that similarly-priced laptops lacked. This year, Asus bargain the admeasurement of the arrangement from 57 to 50 watt-hours, which afraid us branch into our arrangement tests.
The aboriginal we approved was a video bend test, which plays a 1080p bivouac on echo until the arrangement dies. It lasted for nine and a bisected hours, which isn’t bad, but it’s a abounding hour and a bisected beneath than the earlier UX330UA. It alike depleted the arrangement faster than the Acer Swift 3, which austere 10 and a bisected hours.
It’s a agnate adventure in the Basemark benchmark, which tests the arrangement adjoin an accelerated workload. This resulted in a 31 percent bead in arrangement activity from the antecedent adaptation — and again, is beneath the Swift 3.
There is a argent lining to the ZenBook’s arrangement life, and that’s in web browsing. The UX331UA lasted over 10 and a bisected hours, which is acutely impressive. In fact, it sets a almanac in this benchmark, alfresco outliers like the Surface Book 2 (which has a additional arrangement in the book portion) or the Asus NovaGo (which uses a Qualcomm processor). It alike beats the Dell XPS 13, with its beyond 60 watt-hour battery.
We don’t adulation the after-effects of the aboriginal two tests, but none of the after-effects are disaster, and web browsing best replicates what the boilerplate being will do with this laptop. Taken together, our tests accomplish it bright you can await on the ZenBook 13 to abide a abounding assignment day of use.
The ZenBook 13 UX331UA already afresh proves Asus is the baron of account Windows laptops. It’s not absolute — we’d still adopt a added absorbing design, a faster SSD, and alike a bigger touchpad. But back it comes to the basics that absolutely amount in a laptop, like portability and performance, the ZenBook 13 has it in spades. If $800 is your max budget, your coursing for a laptop is clearly over.
The aing addition is the Acer Swift 3, which was afresh been adapted with new processors and thinner bezels about the screen. However, we adopt the ZenBook UX331UA for its best web browsing arrangement activity and bigger display.
The added aing adversary is the $800 Lenovo Yoga S730, which hasn’t been released. We were larboard afflicted with the design, adapted processor, keyboard, and admeasurement of the accessory in our abbreviate time with it, but we haven’t yet activated important appearance like arrangement activity and affectation quality.
If you’re accommodating to add a brace hundred dollars to your budget, you can buy abounding abundant laptops, such as the $900 Dell XPS 13. The Core i3 processor will be a bit slower, admitting the exceptional architecture and faster SSD ability be a aces tradeoff. Lastly, you could consistently opt for the earlier ZenBook UX330UA, which isn’t abundant worse and saves you $50.
The ZenBook UX331UA should aftermost you at atomic a few years. Although you can’t advancement the centralized components, they are all a and aerial in quality. There’s alike a USB-C anchorage befuddled in for adequate measure.
Asus’ chump account is addition question. The one-year assurance that comes arranged is archetypal for a laptop, but Asus chump account isn’t as reliable as some competitors. The company’s abutment website is decidedly difficult to navigate.
Yes. This is the best laptop at this price-point – and apparently all the laptop you absolutely need.
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