Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA review: A thin, light, and peppy budget laptop with battery life to spare

The Asus ZenBook 13 is just the ticket for productivity-minded road warriors on a budget. It weighs less than three pounds, measures a little more than a half-inch thick, and boasts a quad-core processor and all-day battery life.

This particular model of the ZenBook 13 has downsides: It lacks discrete graphics for gaming, it chugs during lengthy CPU-intensive tasks, and it’s saddled with a dim, non-touch-sensitive display. Still, it shines when it comes to everyday computing chores, and its battery keeps going and going.

Price and specifications

We reviewed the version of the ZenBook 13 (UX331UA-AS51) that’s currently about $799 on Amazon. It comes with an 8th-generation quad-core Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of low-power DDR3 RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, a 13.3-inch full-HD display and integrated Intel 620 UHD graphics. On paper, that makes for a solid productivity-minded laptop for handling everyday tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, light photo management, and maybe even some casual gaming.

For about $100 more on AmazonRemove non-product link, you can step up to a version of the ZenBook 13 (UX331UA-DS71) with a beefier Core i7-8550U processor. A higher-end version (the UX331UN-WS51T), which we reviewed earlier this year (available on Amazon), adds discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics, good for those who want to dive into Adobe Premiere or indulge in a little Fortnite (playable at a smooth 60 fps if you settle for the “Medium” graphics preset).

Design

Measuring 12.2 x 8.5 x 0.55 inches and weighing about 2.7 pounds (or three pounds if you include the compact 45-watt AC adapter), the Acer ZenBook 13 UX331UA feels pleasingly slim and light.

asus zenbook 13 ux331ua lidAdam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Asus ZenBook 13’s “icicle white” lid doesn’t attact fingerprints the way the pricier “royal blue” model does.

While its shell isn’t terribly distinctive, aside from Asus’ signature concentric circles etched into the lid, the ZenBook manages to look sleek and professional. The “icicle gold” (think silver) flavor of our ZenBook 13 review unit lacks the gorgeous glossy “royal blue” finish of the pricier discrete-graphics version; then again, it also attracts far fewer fingerprints.

Open the lid and you’ll find a slim 6.86mm bezel around the 13.3-inch display, while the icicle gold finish covers the entire palm rest.

Display

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA’s 13.3-inch, 1920×1080 screens looks as sharp and colorful as other full-HD displays we’ve seen in this price range. Viewing angles on the ZenBook’s “WideView” AHVA display panel (AHVA is Asus’s proprietary take on IPS, by the way) are also solid, with the screen dimming slightly near the 45-degree mark—again, standard stuff.

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