Asus ZenBook UX302LA laptop review

Reviews 12 May, 2014

The UX302LA looks dazzling but can it deliver the goods as a reliable business computer?

4
Price: 
From £999 inc VAT
Pros: 
Beautiful design; Full HD IPS screen; Haswell i7 processor
Cons: 
Aging 5400rpm hard drive with only 16GB SSD cache; Lowly 4GB RAM
Verdict: 
The gleaming Gorilla Glass of the UX302LA will turn heads, and its performance, battery life and IPS display represent good value for money.

Coated in a beautiful dark blue metallic chassis, the Asus Zenbook oozes quality. The 13in size makes it portable and high-end components including a Core i7 Haswell processor promise performance. 

Despite the screen being 4mm thick, it’s supported by sturdy Gorilla Glass. The keyboard section is strong too with a firm comfortable keyboard and trackpad.

Folded flat, the laptop measures 17.2mm thick and weighs at 1.5kg. You can pick it up with one hand, and it’s easy to slip into a bag or briefcase. There are lighter alternatives – the 13.3in version of Apple’s MacBook Air weighs 1.35kg – but there’s no doubt that the UX302LA really is one of the most stylish, lightweight Windows Ultrabooks around.


Sound And vision

Asus has used an IPS display for the 13in panel and it produces a bright image with rich, strong colours, while full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 ensures excellent clarity and detail. 

Viewing angles are also good, so the UX302LA will be a good choice for presentations with clients or colleagues when you’re out of the office. The speakers lack bass, but they’re loud enough that you can share audio of video with others around a table.


The glossy Gorilla Glass causes a lot of reflection in bright daylight, or with overhead office lighting, and this can be rather annoying at times. 

In the UK, the UX302LA model comes with a conventional full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and starts at £999.99. Another model called the UX301LA ships with the WQHD resolution (2560 x 1440), but is £400 more at £1399.

Performance and price

Asus opted for a dual-core i7-4500U processor running at 1.8GHz with a Turboboost option that can rise to a full 3GHz. However, our review unit included just 4GB of RAM, which is likely to become outdated quickly as even Metro applications become resource hungry.

Asus is keen to highlight the device comes with an SSD but don't be fooled into thinking this is the main form of storage. Primary storage is provided by a 500GB hard drive and is accompanied by a 16GB SSD module.

The hard drive does have an effect on overall performance, slowing the device down to a reasonable score of 70/100 in our benchmark tests, placing it 6th out of 11 laptops.

Even so, the i7 processor will still provide enough horsepower to handle occasional photo/video-editing as well as more routine applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel. It’s no mobile workstation, but the UX302LA will earn its keep when you’re on the road.

Specifications: 

Processor: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U (3.0GHz Turboboost)
GPU: Intel HD 4400 (integrated)
Memory: 4GB DDR3L
Storage: 500GB hard disk (5400rpm) + 16GB SSD
Optical: n/a
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, WiDi
Ports: 3 x USB 3, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, SD card reader, 1 x headphone, Ethernet (via adaptor), VGA (via adaptor)
Dimensions: 325 x 226 x 17.2mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 1.5kg

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Disqus - noscript

Tell yer wot, though, it does make me laugh: everybody slangs off Apple for their expensive notebooks, but here's a machine costing the same as Apple's higher-end 13" MacBook Air, despite the fact it weighs more, has a conventional HDD, and has a lot less battery life. Okay, it's got the equivalent of a Retina display - nice. But not necessarily the advantage it appears, especially on Windows, with its notoriously poor scaling.

An Apple MacBook Air can also run Windows (very well, in fact) and with a couple of upgraded drivers for the touchpad/power settings (PowerPlan, TouchPad++), achieves much the same 'feel' as it does in MacOS. I'm certainly not a fanboi (working on Windows here, in fact), but a cost-benefit analysis suggests MacBooks are the obvious way to go - even if you're running Windows! - despite all the loud noises made by ultrabook manufacturers. The other attractive feature of MacBooks - for me, as an IT manager - is the rock-solid casing. Few if any ultrabooks are as robust. It's worth taking a really close look at costs vs benefits...

well, the Macbook Air has a slower processor, being an 1.4 GHz dual core i5, whereas the Asus has a 1.8 dual core i7. and even though the Air has an ssd, it still not as spacious as the Asus. And to be honest, its case also feels as rock solid. and also has higher resolution but even i will admit that the Air is lighter and it is still a very good ultrabook to get and also has better battery life (maybe because of slower processor and ssd energy consumption?). i'd say both are very good.

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