Review: ASUS ZenBook 13 Delivers Power and Portability
In the not-so-distant past, business travelers had to choose between the convenience of a lightweight notebook or the performance offered by much heavier models. With its ZenBook 13 UX331UA, ASUS delivers both.
The ZenBook 13 is light, coming in at just under 2.5 pounds. That often means a display that is unsuitable for presentations, but not in this case. Due to the ASUS nano-edge bezel technology, the ZenBook 13 is able to support a 13.3-inch display with a Full HD native resolution. And it’s configured into a 16:9 widescreen ratio that looks great for video or static displays. It even has Harman Kardon stereo speakers that tap into an internal amplifier for loud, accurate sound without distortion.
The test unit for this review had an Intel Core i7 processor that was able to outperform much larger notebooks and even many desktop systems in both benchmarking and with real-world applications. ASUS optimized the hard drive for speed by using a 256-gigabyte solid-state unit with no moving parts.
The ZenBook 13 is a workhorse too. Powered with a lithium-polymer four-cell battery, it was able to keep going for 9 hours and 43 minutes before the battery alarms began to chime — even with most of its power-saving features turned off.
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The ASUS ZenBook is Packed With Extras
There are also a lot of nice extra features tailored to businesses. One of the most powerful is an integrated fingerprint reader that combines with Windows Hello for secure, one-touch logins. Or it can be used in addition to a password for easy two-factor authentication.
In terms of usability, the new ASUS has a backlit keyboard, something rarely found on a super lightweight computer. Dim conference rooms or dark red-eye flights won’t stop someone from working. Even with the extra illumination, the ZenBook 13 still manages to squeeze more than 10 hours of battery life out of its power reserves most of the time.
The ASUS ZenBook 13 is a powerful and presentable business tool that will find a home in any office — or in the happy arms of any professional road warrior.
ZenBook's Light Weight Makes Portability a Breeze
To look at the tiny ASUS ZenBook 13 with its 2.5-pound frame is to be skeptical about its runtime. After all, batteries are typically very heavy, and the device also includes a processor, display, keyboard, frame, internal circuitry, Wi-Fi radios and more.
Yet somehow, ASUS has optimized the ZenBook 13 to the point where it can last quite a bit longer than the standard eight-hour workday.
On paper, there does not seem to be anything special about the four-cell lithium-polymer battery that powers the ZenBook 13. The secret is that the battery itself and all of the components it’s supporting, such as the solid-state hard drive, are optimized for high efficiency.
To get a worst-case scenario, we disabled as many of the power-saving functions as possible and then ran a presentation on the ZenBook 13 in a loop. It was able to keep going for nine hours and 43 minutes before the battery alarms began to chime.
ZenBook Battery Goes from Zero to 60 in Minutes
This led to the discovery of another impressive feature: the Zenbook 13’s ability to quickly refuel. Its battery is designed to rapidly charge to 60 percent, perfect for those times when travelers only have a few minutes during a layover or between meetings and need to cram in as much power as possible. The ZenBook went from almost no charge to a 60-percent charge in 46 minutes. Charging then slowed down, but that 60 percent was able to drive the ZenBook for another six hours in our testing.
Back up at a full charge, we reenabled all the power-saving features and ran a more real-world type of test that simulated a typical office workday. Here the ZenBook really shined, providing an astonishing 13 hours and 43 minutes of power.
It’s clear that battery life will vary with usage, but in any and all cases, the ASUS ZenBook is able to provide more runtime than most people would ever expect from an ultraportable — certainly more than enough to get through a full workday without stopping for a charge. And if the opportunity for a quick plug-in becomes available, the ZenBook 13 will make the most of it, rapidly filling its battery more than halfway in just a few minutes.
All of those features combine to make staying power one less thing that busy travelers need to worry about.