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Asus Zenbook UX32A review

Verdict

Asus’ Zenbook UX32A manages to be both gorgeous and affordable, but it’s far from being the perfect Ultrabook

Review Date: 24 Aug 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £666 (£799 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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.

Asus Zenbook UX32A

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.

Asus Zenbook UX32A

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.

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User comments

UX32VD-DB71 ?

This 1920x1080 IPS Core I7 version is now available in the USA - but I can't find it here. I thought of buying it from the US but with a non UK keyboard its not much good. Any chance of finding out if Asus intend to release it here?

By RichardRRJ on 9 Oct 2012

Bruce Evans

I have also been trying to find a UK supplier, without success. Searches take you to some sites who list it, but state unavailable or out of stock. Asus seems to have been caught out by the high demand and is having difficulty supplying the VD i7 model. I have just ordered mine on Amazon, that is being shipped from Germany by a company called Avides. It is currently showing on the tracking system that it has left Germany so should be with me fairly soon. I apparently ordered the last one in stock, but I am sure they will be available again. You have to be careful when looking at the specification as searching for the i7 model often takes you to an i5 version, so make sure that it is the correct model. I know of some suppliers that advertise the i7 but send an i5, usually reflected in a cheaper quoted price. I paid a little over £1,250.

By bruceevans on 11 Oct 2012

UX32VD-DB71 keyboard

Hi Bruce
They seem to have some more stock, but my question is, what configuration keyboard did you get? Was it UK or German?

By JohnnieR on 7 Nov 2012

Argos have these at a great deal

You can buy one of these via Argos for £650 at the moment. I think it's the same model, specs seem to match up.

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Search/searchTerms/U
X32A.htm

By markbrown83 on 7 Dec 2012

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