- Why buy an Asus rather than a Macbook, Dell, HP, or Toshiba?
All images courtesy of press.asus.com.
Every now and then your hardware needs upgrading. For me, this was the year to update my laptop. I noticed increasingly over the last few years that I was hesitant to bring my laptop on trips and, more often than not, opted to take the iPad instead. The iPad is perfect for many tasks on the road, but it does not equal the power and productivity of a laptop. My hang-up was mostly on the weight of the laptop, 9.2 lbs., before you add in the weight of the charger and any other peripherals. So my goal when it was time to upgrade was to find a power-packed Windows machine that was as light as a feather and as much of a productivity heavyweight as a desktop. Originally I set out with the mindset of purchasing an ultrabook. I envisioned the Windows equivalent of the Macbook Air. During my research, though, I found that neither the Windows-based ultrabooks nor the Macbook Air possessed all the power or features I was really looking for: thin, lightweight, dedicated graphics, fast processor, and solid state hard drive.
My solution was the Asus Zenbook UX51VZ.
Why did I choose Asus over popular brands for lawyers such as HP, Dell, or Toshiba? Aside from my prior positive experience with the Asus brand, I found it was the product that matched all of the features I had in mind. The Zenbook fits a ton of premium features into a trim package, with the only major drawback being the premium price tag. The UX51VZ starts at $1,769, although there isn’t much you can (or would need to) upgrade. Is it worth the hefty price? For me, yes. But I wanted as close to a desktop replacement as I could get at a weight that can be truly mobile. What follows is a breakdown of what I was looking for.
The Runway Model of PC Laptops . . . Thin and Light Configuration
At around 4.0 lbs., this model fits under the 5 lb. limit I had in mind with plenty to spare. Asus refers to it as an ultraportable book, which may be a bit of a stretch given the weight and the 13"–15" display range, but it probably won’t break your back. It is heavier than the Macbook Air, which weighs in around 2.5 lbs., but the sacrifice is worth it for the increased processor and dedicated graphics. When closed, the Macbook Air comes is 0.68" thick, whereas the Asus Zenbook is 1.0" thick. Not as thin as the Air, but certainly not bulky. The Zenbook also comes with a 15" display, which provides more viewing real estate than the Air’s 11.6" or 13.3" displays.
Take a Second Look at the Dedicated Graphics
When you purchase a laptop, you usually have to choose between an integrated graphics card and a discrete dedicated graphics card. Integrated graphics rely on your system’s memory to operate, while discrete dedicated graphics cards have their own memory to access during usage. This criterion is more of a personal preference. You pay a premium for dedicated graphics, so anyone looking to save money can find a variety of good alternatives with integrated graphics cards. I use some graphics-intensive software and find a laptop with dedicated graphics performs better in those circumstances.
Think Fast . . . With the 3rd Generation Quad-Core i7 Processor
If you are going to spend money upgrading hardware, the more advanced processor you can buy, the longer your hardware will stay current. It is sort of like buying the older model iPhone when a new generation launches. The price drops not only because it is older technology, but also because it will not be maintained with updates and patches as long. Its lifespan is inherently shorter than the newer model. The processor supports all the computational functions of your machine. The Asus Zenbook comes with the 3rd Generation Quad-Core i7 processor. You can find more budget-friendly alternatives in the 3rd generation i5 processor, but these tend to be dual-core. The greater number of cores you have, the better your machine will be at multitasking. Generally speaking, i7 processors tend to be quad-core, and i5 processors tend to be dual-core. That being said, you may come across some laptops with dual-core i7 processors and some desktops with quad-core i5 processors, so check before you purchase.
Get Up and Running Lightning Fast With the Solid State Hard Drive
Solid-state hard drives (SSD) are becoming increasingly popular with laptop computers. SSDs use flash memory, similar to what you find in an iPhone. Earlier generations of laptops use a traditional spinning hard drive (HDD). HDD drives are large (storage capacity) and much less expensive than SSD drives. Both drives perform the same function, booting your system and storing your programs and files, so why opt for the SSD drive? Speed. Serious, noteworthy speed. Anyone who has stared painfully at the windows loading logo will be elated by the instant-on technology of a solid-state drive. There are manufacturers who offer hybrid models, which give you the best of both worlds. The SSD will boot your system lightning fast, and the HDD will store your heftier data files.
The Asus Zenbook UX51VZ comes with dual 128 GB drives (256 GB total) or dual 256 GB drives (512 GB total) configurations. The Zenbook does currently offer some hybrid drive configurations, but they are heavier models.
So there you have it. Asus has created a lean, mean, workhorse in a sleek and slim package: proof that you can have it all, if you’re willing to pay for it.
Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services. This review should not be construed as an endorsement.