Our final ASUS IFA announcement for today is for their new Ultrabooks, which we’ve been waiting to see for a couple months now. I thought ASUS pretty much nailed it with their Ivy Bridge UX31A, with a good balance of style, battery life, and high-end features. The UX301 and UX302 look to take the core elements of the UX31A/UX32VD, the former of which earned an Editors’ Choice from us, and upgrade them the Haswell while tossing in some even better hardware and displays. Better than the 1080p IPS panel in the UX31A? It appears so (at least on some models).

The base display for either laptop is a 13.3” 1080p IPS touchscreen, so there’s no longer a 1366x768 “cheap” model muddying the waters. The UX301 takes things a step further and offers an upgrade to a 2560x1440 (WQHD) IPS panel, which should delight our readers that long for higher dpi displays. Of course, the display isn’t the only area to receive an upgrade.

At the core of the new Ultrabooks beats Intel’s Haswell heart, with some interesting twists. The UX301 is available with an i5-4200U or i7-4500U, which is standard fare, along with a third option: the i7-4558U. This is the famous 28W TDP Haswell chip that has a GT3 (40 EU) core, with the Iris Graphics 5100 providing performance that should be substantially higher than the GT2 15W Haswell SKUs. The UX302 skips the 28W Haswell CPU but instead includes a GeForce GT 730M 2GB dGPU to handle graphics duties. The GT 730M is basically the same as the GT 650M but with slightly lower clocks, so we can get at least some idea of the performance potential by looking at the ASUS UX51VZ; don’t expect the ability to max out graphics at playable frame rates, but medium to high detail at 1080p should be possible in many titles.

Moving on to the other areas, we get a few somewhat odd decisions. I’m guessing the RAM will be soldered onto the motherboard again, and the UX301 comes with either 4GB or 8GB while the UX302 will only be available in a 4GB form (possibly via an upgradable SO-DIMM). Storage on the UX301 will be pure SSD, up to 512GB RAID 0; on the UX302, we’ll get up to a 750GB HDD with a 16GB SSD cache. WiFi for both laptops is 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.0, with two USB 3.0 ports on the UX301 and three USB 3.0 ports on the UX302. Both models also include mini-DisplayPort and micro-HDMI 1.4, with an SD card reader and 3.5mm headphone/mic jack. Interestingly, ASUS doesn’t mention battery life, but the 50Wh battery combined with Haswell should prove suitable to all-day (light) computing.

The UX301 measures 325mm x 226mm x 15.5mm and weighs 1.38kg (3.04 lbs) while the UX302 measures 325mm x 226mm x 17.2mm and weighs 1.5kg (3.3 lbs). The slightly thicker chassis and increased weight on the UX302 are the result of including a conventional hard drive, which is probably a good idea for users that want to play games on the system. ASUS doesn’t mention the form factor of the SSD or SSD cache, so I’m guessing the UX301 will use the same proprietary connector as the current UX31A while the SSD cache on the UX302 is likely to be soldered onto the motherboard. However, the use of a standard 2.5” HDD in the UX302 means upgrading to a pure SSD solution is easy enough to do, provided you’re willing to buy the hardware.

Besides all of the core components, ASUS did make some changes in the industrial design this round. The UX301 and UX302 have the same metallic “spun” metal on the cover, a trademark of the Zenbook line, but there’s now a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top to provide increased resistance to scratching and other wear and tear. ASUS notes that “Gorilla Glass 3 has three times the scratch resistance of Gorilla Glass 2 and offers a 40% reduction in the number of highly visible scratches, with a 40% improvement in retained strength if a deep scratch does occur”, though I’m not sure how the high-gloss finish will handle fingerprints. Nevertheless, the new Ultrabooks look quite nice, and the “Moonstone White” and “Sapphire Blue” colors are a nice break from the black and silver that I’ve frankly seen too much of in recent years.

The new ASUS Ultrabooks should be shipping sometime in the next month or two, though pricing and availability are not yet finalized. I’m personally looking forward to both models, preferably with the i7-4558U in the UX301 with the WQHD display, but the UX302 is definitely worth a look as well. They’ll probably be in the $1000+ price range again, with fully loaded configurations hitting $1500 or more, but quality has a price.

Source: ASUS IFA Event

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  • stacey94 - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    Damn I'd love to replace my 2012 MBA 13" with a UX301 w./ the WQHD display. I want to see some benchmarks for the HD 5100 first though. I'm hoping it's significantly faster than the HD 5000.

    I'm also concerned about battery life. A 28W chip and a 2560x1440 screen will be quite difficult to support for an Ultrabook. If it can match or beat the 2012 MBA's battery life, I'm happy.
  • Infohawk - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    How were the keyboards on the prior models?
  • Electromikey - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    I'm a UX32VD owner. Personally, I think the keyboard is quite decent. I can hit about 90 WPM on it without much trouble, and typing long papers/blog posts/forum responses/etc. doesn't bother me at all.
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    HD5100 is just clocked a little bit higher than HD5000 - even Intel doesn't want you to expect any wonders from this. And yes, a larger pixel count will hurt battery life. And will be pretty much invisibly at 13".. but hey, it's hip!

    And yes again, if you actually use a 28 W CPU in an Ultrabook the fan is going to scream and CPU will most likely throttle. But battery life won't be affected much by the CPU being 28 W instead of 15 W, because it's idle most of the time anyway. And if it works it works faster, i.e. "races to idle".
  • stacey94 - Thursday, September 5, 2013 - link

    But without the 15W TDP limit, the HD 5100 won't have to throttle as much or compete with the CPU for resources like the HD 5000 does. Intel's charts showed a pretty big difference between the HD 5000 and HD 5100, and I'm pretty sure that's the reason why.
  • dylan522p - Saturday, September 7, 2013 - link

    Except that 5100 isn't OC'ed 5000, it is 5200-crystalwell.
  • n13L5 - Sunday, September 29, 2013 - link

    Your comment contradicts itself...
  • noeldillabough - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    I am looking for a portable (prolly not ultra book) laptop with iris graphics; it seems these are rare, any front runners ? I see this one has gt3 which rules but I want my cake and eat it too, I want dual core 35w or so with iris...is this possible?
  • stacey94 - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    The 28W is basically what you're looking for. It's got a dual core with a 2.8 GHz base clock, 3.3 GHz Turbo and Iris graphics.

    Apple will probably put it in the 13" Retina MBP refresh as well.
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    I'd love to see someone put crystalwell in an ultrabook. Yeah, it would need to be throttled unless plugged in, but once plugged in, and attached to a cooling unit (whatever happened to THAT initiative, Intel?) it would be great, with no need for a discrete gpu.
    Also, why gorilla glass? That thing falls on a corner and it shatters. Who cares about fingerprints or scratches?

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