Asus Zenbook UX21 review

8 Mar 2012

Despite plenty of room for improvement, Asus' adorable Zenbook UX21 is an 11.6in Ultrabook with an obvious allure

Price when reviewed 
816
4

As the first 11.6in Ultrabook to hit the shelves, Asus’ Zenbook UX21 is deliciously petite.

It’s just as attractive as its larger sibling, the 13.3in UX31, with its all-metal construction tapering from 11mm at the front to 20mm at the rear, and the same swirl of dark-grey metal spinning across its lid. Asus’ shrinking ray has dropped the weight down to a barely there 1.15kg; in tandem with the smaller chassis, it makes for a more endearingly portable companion.

Asus Zenbook UX21

Build quality hasn’t suffered in the slightest either. Heaving at the base and lid reveals barely any flex at all, and compared to the rest of the current crop of Ultrabooks, nothing else comes close. In fact, only one other laptop matches it for build, and it has an Apple badge on it.

The Bang & Olufsen ICEpower logo hints at another talent: the sounds that emanate from the UX21’s slender frame are surprisingly solid. The tiny speaker drivers have their limitations – they don’t go particularly loud, for one – but there’s enough clarity and body to the presentation to make music and movie soundtracks entirely listenable.

Asus Zenbook UX21

The smaller chassis does bring with it certain compromises. The first is the mid-range Core i5 processor, the same model as found in most of the Ultrabooks we've seen. It’s still no slouch, though, and a result of 0.55 in our Real World Benchmarks keeps it competitive. Battery life suffers, though, with the Zenbook lasting 6hrs 37mins in our light-use test.

In everyday use, performance is a non-issue. The 4GB of memory and 128GB SSD keep the system punching well above its weight, and the speed of that SSD allows the system to boot from cold with unnerving haste.

Details

Price ex VAT £680
Price inc VAT £816
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 299 x 197 x 20mm (WDH)
Weight 1.150kg
Travelling weight 1.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Battery capacity 4,300mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
Fingerprint reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 37min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.62

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Partition