Asus' Zenbook range of Ultrabook laptops have a premium feel to them. In this case, the UX32A is a more affordable luxury. See all Laptop reviews.

The design, reminiscent of Apple's MacBook Air, tapers from back to front measuring 18mm to just 7mm respectively. It's not the lightest ultraportable we've seen but it won't break your back at 1.48kg. See Group test: what's the best ultrabook laptop?

We like the backlit keyboard with its rounded square black plastic keys. The smooth action makes the keyboard easy and fast to type on although there are certain keys which are a little on the small side such as Shift and Escape. Take a look at the HP Envy 4-1020ea review.

Asus has got it right with the trackpad which is large and responsive to the touch. The reason for its size is down to the integrated mouse buttons which, for once, work without sending the cursor flying round the screen when clicked.

Build quality is excellent and the UX32A feels strong and sturdy thanks to its aluminium chassis. We also like that you can open the lid using one hand without having to hold the keyboard down.

The £799 price seems like a great deal for thin Ultrabook, but look beneath the surface and it's clear that some savings have been made.

Compared to Ultrabooks costing over £1000, the UX32A packs less of a punch. It's equipped with an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, the least powerful Ivy Bridge i5 available. There's also just 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM. The 500GB hard disk is given a boost by a 24GB SSD.

Unfortunately we were unable to run our WorldBench 6 benchmark due, we suspect, to a GTP storage issue. We've estimated score at 123 placing it between the HP Envy 4 and Apple MacBook Air 11in because the specifications sit neatly between these rival laptops.

It's no surprise that the Zenbook relies on the CPU's integrated graphics, which in this case delivered 27fps in our FEAR benchmark.

The 13.3in screen has the typical 1366 x 768 resolution, but at least it has slightly better viewing angles than other laptops we've seen. The matt finish is welcome, though as it's not reflective at all.

All three USB ports support the latest standard and there's an HDMI output. A cable in the box converts a proprietary port to standard VGA, but there's no ethernet port.

Battery life is a big factor in any ultraportable and the UX32A chalked up just over seven hours in our MobileMark test.

Asus Zenbook UX32A: Specs

  • Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U (2.6GHz Turbo), dual-core
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000
  • Display size: 13.3in (1366 x 768) matt LCD
  • Operating system: Windows 8 64-bit
  • Storage: 500GB hard drive with 24GB SSD
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • Ethernet: None
  • Optical drive: None
  • Video out: HDMI, mini VGA
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n dual-band
  • Bluetooth: 4
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Speakers: Bang & Olufsen stereo speakers
  • Audio in: Built-in mic, 3.5mm line-in
  • Audio out: 3.5mm line-out combined with line-in
  • USB: 3x USB 3.0
  • Card slot: SDXC
  • Trackpad
  • 105 x 71mm, integrated two button, multi-touch
  • Other software: Asus preloaded software
  • Power adaptor: 45W adaptor
  • Battery: 48Wh lithium-ion, non-removable
  • Dimensions: 325 x 223 x 18.7 (rear) 7 (front)mm
  • Weight: 1.49kg
  • Warranty: 1 year return to base
  • PCMark 7 running Windows 8: 2,519
  • WorldBench 6: 123
  • MobileMark 2007: 428
  • FEAR: 27fps
  • Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U (2.6GHz Turbo), dual-core
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000
  • Display size: 13.3in (1366 x 768) matt LCD
  • Operating system: Windows 8 64-bit
  • Storage: 500GB hard drive with 24GB SSD
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • Ethernet: None
  • Optical drive: None
  • Video out: HDMI, mini VGA
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n dual-band
  • Bluetooth: 4
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Speakers: Bang & Olufsen stereo speakers
  • Audio in: Built-in mic, 3.5mm line-in
  • Audio out: 3.5mm line-out combined with line-in
  • USB: 3x USB 3.0
  • Card slot: SDXC
  • Trackpad
  • 105 x 71mm, integrated two button, multi-touch
  • Other software: Asus preloaded software
  • Power adaptor: 45W adaptor
  • Battery: 48Wh lithium-ion, non-removable
  • Dimensions: 325 x 223 x 18.7 (rear) 7 (front)mm
  • Weight: 1.49kg
  • Warranty: 1 year return to base
  • PCMark 7 running Windows 8: 2,519
  • WorldBench 6: 123
  • MobileMark 2007: 428
  • FEAR: 27fps

OUR VERDICT

The Asus UX32A offers a familiar line-up of features for a cheaper Ultrabook. There's nothing outstanding in terms of performance here but you do get a much more stylish and well-built laptop compared to some of the competition.

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