What is the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U?
& # 39; The thinnest laptop on the planet & # 39; is how Asus describes the ZenBook 13 UX331U, a machine that has a thickness of only 13.9 mm at its most complicated point. And although that boast is not entirely accurate, the Acer Swift 7 has a shade less than 9 mm, for example, it can not be denied that this super thin machine is well designed for life on the road.
Despite that slim finish, the ZenBook still includes some decent specs and a 13-inch Full HD display. So, is it well suited for mobile professionals and anyone else who wants to stay productive on the move?
Related: Best Ultrabooks
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U – Design and construction
If portability is a priority in your priority list, then ZenBook 13 will be on your street. This 1.12kg laptop almost reaches the realms of the Ultrabook with its super lightweight chassis, which is also pleasantly slim. It's comparable to Huawei's MateBook X Pro, even if the screen frames are not that thin.
The glossy top offers a very different finish to the usual brushed metal constructions, with a dark color to help hide greasy marks and engravings. With only a slight pressure, the lid is bent by a quite worrying amount. Fortunately, the screen does not deform as a result, which is at least partially reassuring.
Open the ZenBook and you are presented with an intelligent matte chassis that feels much more robust. The edges are coated with a large number of ports, considering the thin finish. It also has two USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C dinky port. In addition, there is HDMI to connect screens and projectors, in addition to a microSD card reader to transfer files.
Asus has also added a fingerprint sensor, located on the palm rest to the right of the touchpad. This is a practical alternative to password security, allowing you to quickly unlock your laptop. It is a perfectly receptive scanner and I like the glossy finish that makes it easy to locate, even in low light.
Read next: Best laptops
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U – Keyboard and touch screen
That praiseworthy design continues with ZenBook's excellent touch screen and keyboard. Asus rarely disappoints when it comes to usability, and I immediately took over the chiclet keyboard, reaching maximum touch typing speeds in a very short time.
The travel distance takes a bit of success thanks to the thin structure, but this is not a decisive factor. Those keys are still pressed on the chassis when it hits, so you're sure you've scored a hit when your fingers are flying. Despite the compact 13-inch format, the keys are also well spaced. An erroneous blow was rare, even when using the cursor keys (which were crushed in a single row as usual).
The burners of that midnight oil can work all night long as the keyboard is fully illuminated. It has three brightness settings to choose from, or you can remove them completely to save your battery.
Laptop pads can be a complete source of frustration and anger, but the UX331U's pad is absolutely fine. Occasionally, a click on the integrated buttons will send your drunken cursor staggering across the screen, which is a very common complaint. However, the touch panel also responds perfectly to the movements of your fingers. Multitouch gesturing works beautifully, and you can simply touch the surface to make a left click when necessary.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U – Screen
Another of Zenbook's strengths are the images. That 13.3-inch compact screen features Full HD image playback to make photos, movies and everything else look nicely crisp. You practically have to smash your face against the panel to detect individual pixels.
The viewing angles are nice and wide, so you will not have a problem watching a movie with one or two friends. It is not necessary to group your heads clumsily. Visibility is not a problem on sunny days, either. At maximum brightness, the screen provides a lot of power, while the anti-glare coating also helps.
You can also expect reasonably realistic color reproduction. An impressive 95% of the sRGB range is covered by ZenBook 13, although it is reduced to 73% for Adobe RGB users.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U – Audio
My expectations are quite low when it comes to portable audio, especially from super compact machines like this ZenBook. After spending a lot of time consuming music and movies with the UX331U, my opinion has not changed.
The biggest problem is that those dual speakers are on the bottom of the device, so any output is muffled by the desktop or its spin, or whatever the device is resting. However, even if you lift the laptop, the sound is still weak. In a quiet environment, you will have difficulty understanding conversations in movies and television shows. The headphones are essential.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U – Performance
Although our review model was the most basic Core i5-8250U version, you can also take the UX331U with an updated Core i7. 8550U chipset. In any case, 8GB of RAM are located next to it so that things work without problems.
As a result, I had no problem performing multiple tasks at any time. That Core i5 platform handled office software effortlessly, while transmitting music or video at the same time.
Of course, since the priorities of this laptop are focused on size and weight, you will not find a dedicated graphics card inside of it. of that slender chassis. On the contrary, Asus has stayed with the Intel integrated graphics solution. That means that only the oldest or least demanding games will play with a respectable frame rate, while intensive tasks like the 4K video editing are a struggle.
At this price it is perfectly possible to find laptops with dedicated graphics. However, you will have to sacrifice some of that lightweight design.
For example, the Lenovo IdeaPad 520s has an Nvidia GTX GPU in some configurations, but it also weighs 1.7 kg and is significantly more bulky. The only way to solve this problem is to increase your budget for MateBook X Pro from Huawei, for example.
In the standard benchmarking tests of Trusted Reviews, the ZenBook 13 scored the following score:
PCMark 8: 3211
Geekbench single core: 4137  Geekbench multi-core: 14137
The 256 GB SSD also works as expected, with read speeds of 529.4MB / sec and write speeds of 446.9MB / sec.
Asus Zenbook 13 UX331U – Battery life
Thin laptops commonly suffer when it comes to battery life. Manufacturers often have to make sacrifices in this area to keep the device thin and light, although the use of more energy-efficient components generally helps.
The ZenBook 13 UX331U will not spend the entire workday on a single charge, but it's not far away. Usually, he would drive five to six hours of mixed use before the battery ran out. For the most part, it was about working in the browser while transmitting music, with occasional Netflix episodes, photo editing or application games.
In the standard Trusted Reviews battery test, this machine lasted less than six hours. That means running a continuous cycle of video playback and web browsing until the laptop dies.
Read next: The top ten tips when buying a laptop
Why buy the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U?  If you are looking for a professional laptop capable of taking the road every day, the ZenBook 13 certainly meets most of the necessary boxes. Not many laptops can claim to be so thin and thin, while still packing respectable specifications.
That being said, the likes of Acer Swift 5 offer a configuration similar to this Asus machine for around £ 200 less. So, if you are willing to buy a little, you will find comparable experiences for a price that will not empty your wallet so fast.
The Asus ZenBook 13 is impressively thin and lightweight, which makes it suitable for mobile professionals.