Asus Zenbook UX21 Ultrabook, The New Thin

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Conclusion and The Wrap-up

Performance Summary: The Asus UX21E-DH71 surprised us more than once in our assortment of tests. The machine offered some of the best standard application and multimedia performance scores we've seen from an ultralight machine to date. The UX21's PCMark Vantage and PCMark 7 scores exceeded (by a long shot) even some heavy-duty desktop replacement machines, thanks to its ultra-fast SSD. In other areas, the Core i7-2677M and its 4GB DDR3-1333 complement held its own versus similarly equipped machines, though it fell short a bit in more strenuous gaming scenarios, which of course is to be expected in this class of machines that aren't designed or marketed as gaming systems. That said, the UX21 does have some capability under the hood for light-weight DX9/10 gaming at more modest image quality settings.

From one point of view, the Asus Zenbook UX21's closest competitor would be the 11-inch Apple MacBook Air. Looking at specifications and features alone, the UX21 lines up quite nicely versus Apple's offering.  In about the same price range (as our machine was configured), you get additional wired Ethernet connectivity and standard external display output, both of which aren't options for Apple's product. Sure, you can tap into a Thunderbolt-enabled display or storage array with the new MacBook Air, but you can be sure it'll be more expensive. Then again, you're only getting standard VGA output with the UX21, so this could be thought of as a trade-off.  The bottom line is, Asus has delivered a very competitive product in the UX21 versus the latest update to the MacBook Air, and that's a watermark that's difficult to measure up to.

Consider also that you have options with the UX21 series.  You could opt for a UX21E-DH52, which comes equipped with a Core i5-2467M at 1.6GHz and Turbo Boosts to 2.3GHz, for $200 less, or around $1000 total.  Then there is the UX31 series that offers a larger 13.3-inch screen with similar specs to the 13-inch Air.  Either way, Asus delivers a whole lot of style, substance and ultra-portability with their new ultrabook U series line.  While some of us around the HH lab would opt for the larger UX31 Zenbook, others feel the UX21 is ideal.  You really can't go wrong either way though.  We're thoroughly impressed with the Asus UX21 Zenbook.  The "Zen" namesake feels almost fitting, and not just marketing.  In some corny sense you might say that Asus has demonstrated the attainment of "enlightenment" through their years of notebook design experience and the Zenbook UX21 delivers with the wisdom of those years.

  • Gorgeous good looks
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Light as a 2.4lb feather
  • Top-shelf ultra-low power components
  • Solid battery life
  • Great performance
  • No DVI or HDMI output
  • No backlit keyboard
  • Key cap travel is a bit shallow, takes getting use to

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