Asus ZenBook 13 UX331 billed as the ‘thinnest laptop with discrete graphics’

Asus ZenBook 13 UX331

Asus announced a new ZenBook 13 at CES 2018 that was fairly thin and fairly light, but also a bit similar to one of our favorite budget notebooks, the ZenBook UX330UA. Apparently, that similarity was a bit much, because now Asus has performed a little tap dance and is pushing out the ZenBook 13 UX331UN instead. Rather than just serve as a slightly premium version of essentially the same laptop, this ZenBook 13 has a meaningful difference.

Specifically, the ZenBook 13 UX331UN that Asus announced on February 13 is very much like the machine it previewed at CES, only it packs in a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU. According to Asus, that makes the ZenBook 13 UX331UN the “world’s thinnest laptop with discrete graphics.” We’re in the process of reviewing that notebook as we write this, and we’ll report soon on whether Asus managed to properly meld a thin and light design with the thermal requirements of the MX150.

In terms of its overall specifications, the ZenBook 13 is thin but not exceedingly so at 0.55 inches, which is a bit chunkier than competing machines like the Dell XPS 13. It weighs only 2.47 pounds, which is rather remarkable for such a potentially potent notebook. Equipped with an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, the ZenBook 13 UX331UN should provide solid productivity performance and some decent creativity performance in more demanding tasks like video editing. A 50 watt-hour battery should provide close to a full working day’s worth of work away from a plug.

Screen size: 13.3 inch touch display
Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U
Graphics: Intel UHD 620 Graphics
System memory: 8GB RAM
Storage: 256GB SATA SSD
Webcam: HD web camera (facing)
Connectivity: Wireless AC (2×2)
Bluetooth 4.1
Audio: Harmon Kardon audio system with 2x speakers and smart amplifier
Battery: 50 Watt-hour
Ports: 1x Micro SD card reader
1x Microphone/headphone combo jack
2x USB-A 3.1
1x USB-C 3.1 Gen1
1x HDMI
Size: 12.20 x 8.50 x 0.55 inches
Weight: 2.47 pounds

The ZenBook 13 follows the usual ZenBook aesthetic, with the same spun-metal finish adorning the Royal Blue all-aluminum chassis. A special nano-imprinted lithography (NIL) process was used to cover the notebook with a “crystal-like gloss coating” that adds some sophistication to the look. The bezels around the 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution display are 6.86mm on each side, creating an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Finally, connectivity comes by way of a USB-C 3.1 Gen1 port, two USB-A 3.1 Gen1 ports, an HDMI port, and a microSD card reader. Wireless connectivity comes via the usual 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

If the combination of a thin and light chassis with a discrete GPU tucked away inside appeals to you, then you can pick up the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN for $1,000. It’s available at Amazon, the Asus Store, Newegg, and other retailers.

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