Asus Zenbook UX21 Ultrabook, The New Thin

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We're fortunate enough to get hands-on time with some pretty sexy hardware here at HH and we're not going to make any apologies for using the "s word" as it relates to this hot new notebook from Asus. Though some industry pundits might take issue with us describing this machine as "sexy," you'd have to agree this 12-inch slice of aluminum and cutting-edge technology is pretty damn sleek and pretty.

The Asus Zenbook UX21E is a new ultra-slim notebook by Asus, that fits into the new "Ultrabook" class of machines, to use a term coined by Intel. The Zenbook UX21E is an incredible 3mm thick at the front and 9mm at the rear and has spun metal and hairline aluminum for a strikingly sleek appearance. It's also built with Intel's new low-power Sandy Bridge Core i7 2677M mobile dual-core processor, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, a 128GB SATA 3 SSD and an 11.6-inch LCD with a native resolution of 1366x768. 

Here's a quick-take demo of the product in action, but be sure to journey on through the pages ahead for our detailed review with all the analysis and our usual benchmark gauntlet.

Asus Zenbook UX21E-DH71
Specifications & Features
Processor Intel® Core™ i7 2677M Processor
Operating System Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64bit
Chipset Intel® QS67 Express Chipset
Graphics Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000
Memory 4GB DDR3 1333 MHz DRAM
Display 11.6" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED Backlight
Storage SATA3 - 128GB SSD
Networking Integrated 802.11 b/g/n
Built-in Bluetooth™ V4.0
Interface 1 x Headphone-out jack (Audio-in Combo)
1 x USB 3.0 port
1 x USB 2.0 port
1 x micro HDMI
1 x Mini VGA
Battery 35 Whrs Polymer Battery
Power Adapter Output: 19 V DC, 2.37 A, 45 W
Dimensions 3mm at the front and 9mm rear - 29.9 x 19.6 x 0.3 ~1.7 cm (WxDxH)
Weight 1.1 kg (2.43 lbs.)
Manufacturer Warranty 2-year limited global hardware warranty, 1-year battery pack warranty
Pricing: $1199 as tested

Intel's QS67 Express chipset offers a power-optimized version of the Sandy Bridge 2nd generation Core mobile platform solutions that have been shipping in the market for some time.  Specifically, the chipset supports things like Intel's RST (Rapid Storage Technology) with SATA 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s support, as well as eSATA (though eSATA is not available on the UX21).  The chipset also doesn't support USB 3.0 technology natively, but Asus offers one port of SS USB 3.0 connectivity via a discrete controller. Other notables with the UX21 are Bluetooth v4.0 for high speed connectivity up to 24Mbit/s with low energy protocol support and the machine's 128GB SSD (other models ship with larger and smaller capacities). This SSD is a 6Gbps "SATA 3" drive, that as you'll see shortly, offers impressive performance.

Asus bundles a nice kit with the UX21E, that includes a nylon and leather carrying case, minimalistic literature pack, a tiny AC adapter that helps you appreciate just how little power this baby draws and a pair of external dongles for wired Gigabit Ethernet and VGA connectivity.

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acarzt 3 years ago

It would be PERFECT if it had a backlit keyboard.... *sigh*

Could you guys review the Toshiba U300 ultrabook? It has a backlit keyboard :-D

STorres 3 years ago

Put in a hot graphics card and then it would be perfect.

JDiaz 3 years ago

Ultrabooks are not intended as a gaming platform, specification even excludes discrete graphics, though with the Ivy Bridge update the GMA should get about 30% performance boost along with the 20-30% CPU performance boost.

We should also see more power saving technology like Self Refreshing screens. So the GPU only wakes when screen content actually changes instead of constantly generating the same image over and over, among other power saving optimizations Intel will be introducing with 22nm chip production. Combined with the power savings from going 22nm, should boost the run times to more acceptable ranges. Not to mention lower system cost and that should start making Ultrabooks more appealing.

More traditional laptops will of course still be available and AMD will likely start offering their own version of Ultrabooks, they just can't call them Ultrabooks, sometime during 2012 when they start pushing their own 28nm ULV solutions.

Dave_HH 3 years ago

Yeah, what JDiaz said. :-D

AKwyn 3 years ago

I have to agree. I mean these aren't supposed to be gaming machines, they're supposed to be general purpose laptops that are marginally powerful and have a slim form factor. I can see people using this to write documents, watch movies, and generally look stylish and the charts in the review shows that; it's hella powerful for what it is.

Also I love your ideas on power saving technology, you should give those ideas to all the major tech companies stat! The self-refreshing screen is something I would love to see that on a laptop in the near future.

rapid1 3 years ago

Really it depends on what the main usage aim is for the machine. The main aim for these is mobility and for that this one looks about perfect.

ThunderBird 3 years ago

I just wish Asus also like Dell would step up their game on the LCD panel used in these machines.

A good screen makes all the difference.

schmich 3 years ago

$1000 for barely mediocre performance :/ Size and style really costs. I don't see myself recommending this to anyone who isn't bathing in money.

Dave_HH 3 years ago

Schmich, not sure which review you read but it must not have been ours. This machine offered way better than mediocre performance. In fact, it offered surprisingly good performance for its form-factor especially.

realneil 3 years ago

I liked the video, and I like the Zenbook too.

If I had the cash, I would buy it. Smile

It really DOES look great, and the performance is completely acceptable too.

viv-livefortech 3 years ago

I love this ultrabook, using it now at school, and I can just see some people staring like they want one! XD

SHayes 3 years ago

That looks nice, but I've always felt the need of a bulkier machine to match my bulky self. It would take me months to stop worrying about shattering such a thin unit.


Still, it is so pretty.

Manduh 3 years ago

I wish this was around before I purchased mine! I would have went with this one for sure, better specs... And of course the price of laptops (non-gaming) these days are way better than what I paid for mine!! Sigh!

Mind you it's kind of small, but I always have mine hooked up to a 56" HDTV anyhow :)

Samar 3 years ago

No Bloatware..Gr8. Personally, Wud have preferred a discrete graphics of some sort with a little less SSD. but tht's OKay I guess.

DDeveaux 3 years ago

I think this would be a good upgrade to my tablet PC (which doesn't seem to get used as a tablet much).  Thinner, lighter, faster.  I can live without the gaming capabilities (cramming a discrete GPU in there would have been tough from a space & thermal standpoint.

markmiller9 2 years ago

I have the UX21 and despite all the bad reviews about the track pad I went ahead and bought one.

The track pad is bad, left clicking produces right click sometimes, clicking makes cursor jump to bottom of screen or on occasions no click at all.

Despite this still a lovely machine with great performance, I hope this can be solved with firmware and driver updates.

I have started a user forum for people to share ideas and tips about how to get the most from the UX21 and UX31

Come have a look if you have one and want to contribute.

JoshuaRichards one year ago

Update your trackpad drivers and the experience increases 10 fold. 

The touchpad is great with win8 now, supports gestures like charms and app switching etc.

JTk 2 years ago

It seems to me that the ultrabooks are going to be an accurate answer to the MacBook Air remains to be seen whether they have the style of these. One thing is for sure the price is much lower with the same capabilities. A brand that has always known class creating computers is Asus. I found the analysis to two new books in that seem to explain well with what we can hope level of equipment.

marc1978 one year ago
I will never by Asus again. I have one of the early models, with the Sentelic trackpad, and the mouse jumps around all over the place - if you double click, you never know what the second click is going to land because the mouse will have jumped somewhere completely different in between the two clicks, sometimes opening a completely new application in the process. I've downloaded new drivers and disabled some of the more advance features of the trackpad, but the problem remains. Anyway - I called Asus, and you know what? They didn't want to know. They refused to admit there was a problem, even though there are hundreds of posts about this exact issue on the net (their response to that was "Oh, you don't want to believe everything you read in the internet sir!". It sounded like a guy in the call centre reading from a script written by Asus and denying everything. Anyway, Asus - never again. This may be a sleek looking machine, but it was rushed out to market with insufficient testing. I wouldn't mind, but you refuse to admit that the machine with this trackpad is *completely* un-useable.
JoshuaRichards one year ago

^ that really sucks.


My experience with asus has been great, I bought a UX31e about a year or so ago, and it's awesome.

I did have 1 problem, but I sent it in and got it back within 3 weeks.

I do wish I had the backlit keyboard and an IPS display, but I was an eager beaver and grabbed it.


Their service was great from my experience, I guess not all their employees can be perfect.

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