Asus Zenbook UX32A review
Asus’ Zenbook UX32A manages to be both gorgeous and affordable, but it’s far from being the perfect Ultrabook
The allure of the Ultrabook is simple: reducing the laptop to a mere sliver, these dainty portables punch above their weight for performance, last hours on a single charge and are devilishly handsome. One thing they’re not, however, is cheap. Now, hot on the heels of Asus’ money-no-object Zenbook Prime UX31A, comes its most affordable Ultrabook yet, the Zenbook UX32A.
It’s hard not to do a double-take when you first see the new Zenbook. Barring a slight bulge on its underside, and a slightly thicker profile, it looks almost identical to its award-winning predecessor, the Zenbook UX31E. Asus hasn’t skimped on the build quality, either – the Zenbook UX32A’s attractive brushed metal body feels stiff and sturdy, and while it’s a little heavier than its stable-mates at 1.48kg, it’s just as portable as ever.
The thicker chassis has its benefits, too. The thicker chassis affords room for three USB 3 ports, an SD/MMC card reader and a full-sized HDMI output. D-SUB and Ethernet adapters, meanwhile, are included in the box, and Bluetooth 4 and dual-band 802.11n wireless networking are present.
Elsewhere, it’s taken some judicious budgeting to build the Zenbook UX32A. The most obvious compromise is Asus’ choice of storage: rather than the SSD of Asus’ pricier Zenbooks, the UX32A makes do with a 5,400rpm Hitachi HDD equipped with a single 500GB platter. To fulfil Intel’s Ultrabook requirements, the Hitachi HDD buddies up with a 24GB SanDisk i100 SSD to take care of the high-speed caching and hibernation duties.
The Core i5-3317U processor is a familiar face – it’s the same Ivy Bridge CPU that we’ve seen in Samsung’s 15in laptop, the Series 9 900X4C, amongst others – and it’s partnered with 4GB of memory. It’s not top-flight hardware, but it’s a solid combination, and the result of 0.65 in our benchmarks proves that there’s power enough for most applications. The only thing lacking is gaming performance: Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 improves on the Sandy Bridge generation, but an average of 38fps even in our least demanding Crysis test speaks volumes – this is far from a slimline gaming machine.
Battery life is also down on the last generation. We’d be inclined to point the finger at the Asus’ HDD and SSD combination – they’re almost certainly greedier than a single SSD – and the result is that the Zenbook UX32A’s battery runs flat after just 7hrs 25mins. That’s some way behind the Zenbook UX31A, which managed a Herculean 8hrs 53mins.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||325 x 223 x 18mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM77|
|SODIMM sockets free||1|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||465GB|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 25min|
|Battery life, heavy use||2hr 9min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||38fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.65|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|