We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Laptops Reviews
15,502 Reviews

Asus ZenBook Prime Touch review

£1499.97

Manufacturer: Asus

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The ZenBook Prime Touch looks great, and combines desktop-level performance with a slimline design that is extremely portable. Read our Asus ZenBook Prime Touch to find out more.

Asus ZenBook Prime Touch

This gleaming, slimline laptop garnered rave reviews in its original incarnation as the ZenBook UX31E, and quickly emerged as one of the leading lights of the first wave of Ultrabooks back in early 2012. But, having made such a big splash, Asus has been a little slow to update the ZenBook and keep it ahead of the pack. See all high-end laptop reviews.

In fact, one of the biggest changes with this latest model is its new name. That boring old model number has been relegated to a sticker on the base of the machine while the packaging now proclaims this as the ZenBook Prime Touch (a small detail that still hasn’t been updated on the Asus web site). See also: what's the best high-end laptop?

That’s the only visibly obvious change, though, and the basic design of the ZenBook remains essentially unchanged. But, to be fair, that design remains very striking even after almost two years. The ZenBook measures a maximum of 11mm thick along the back edge where the screen and keyboard panels hinge together, and tapers to a mere 3mm on the front edge. It only weighs 1.3Kg, and the weight is so well balanced that you can easily pick it up and spin it around with one hand as you admire the sleek, metallic design. Take a look at our review of the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus too. 

The brushed metal casing might owe an obvious debt to the MacBook Air, but the dark, silvery-grey top panel looks impeccably classy, while the edge-to-edge glass on the screen panel makes the chunky metal bezel of the MacBook Air look rather dated. The keyboard and the large trackpad both feel comfortable to use, and although there’s no Ethernet interface Asus does include a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor for wired networks. My only real complaint about the design is that the metallic edges of the unit are a little sharp, especially on the front edges of the keyboard section.

But that’s all business as usual for the ZenBook. The main improvement with this model is that the 13.3-inch screen now provides touch-sensitive controls for Windows 8. The top-of-the-range model that we review here also includes an IPS display with 1920x1080 resolution, and a minor – 0.1GHz – speedbump to its Ivy Bridge processor.

The display is excellent, and definitely an improvement over its predecessor. The image is clear and detailed, with bright, vivid colours and wide viewing angles that will work well for streaming video, photo-editing, or business presentations. The Bang and Olufsen speakers don’t provide much bass, but they produce a clear, detailed sound and enough volume to let you listen to a few tunes without reaching for your headphones.

However, the rest of the machine's specification remains virtually unchanged from last summer's edition. That little speedbump we mentioned boosts the clock speed of the Ivy Bridge i7 processor from 1.9GHz to 2.0GHz, along with 4GB of memory and 256GB solid-state storage for a total price of £1499.97. There's also an older model still on sale that includes an i5 processor and 1600x900 LED display without touch controls for around £1000.00.

The lack of a Haswell upgrade is disappointing, though, mainly because of the battery life improvement that it might have offered. The ZenBook's five hours (305 minutes) of streaming video was impressive 18 months ago, but now looks rather disappointing when compared to the 12 hours you can get from Haswell rivals such as the MacBook Air.

Performance, too, is respectable rather than breath-taking. The ZenBook’s score of 5112 when running the PCMark 7 benchtest is certainly more than adequate for running Microsoft Office, as well as more demanding applications such as photo- or video-editing. The ZenBook also starts up very smoothly too, taking just 12 seconds to cold boot and only pausing for two seconds before waking from sleep.

However, that score isn’t particularly impressive for a laptop costing the best part of £1500.00. Even if the ZenBook can’t stretch to a Haswell processor then you might be entitled to expect a dedicated graphics card. As it is, the integrated HD 4000 was only able to run Stalker: Call Of Pripyat at a meagre 15fps with medium graphics settings at 1920x1080 resolution, and the ZenBook had to drop right down to 1280x720 in order to reach a playable 27fps.

Asus ZenBook Prime Touch Expert Verdict »
Specification: 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3537U (3.1GHz Turbo)
Windows 8 (64-bit)
4GB DDR3 SDRAM
256GB SSD
12.3-inch touch-sensitive IPS display with 1920x1080 resolution
Intel HD 4000
802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
1x micro-HDMI, 1x mini-VGA
2x USB 3.0
SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC
720p webcam with built-in mic
headphone/microphone socket
50Wh Lithium-Polymer battery
320x220x11mm
1.3Kg
  • Build Quality: We give this item 10 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 8 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The ZenBook Prime Touch still looks great, and combines desktop-level performance with a slimline design that is extremely portable. However, the failure to provide a battery-efficient Haswell update is a missed opportunity, and means that the ZenBook isn’t quite the leader that it used to be.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • Asus Zenbook UX31E review

    Asus Zenbook UX31E

    The Asus Zenbook UX31E is the Asus reply to Intel's plea to Windows laptop makers to copy the Apple MacBook Air – REVISED 01 MARCH 2012

  • Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A review

    Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A

    The updated Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A ultrabook ships with Ivy Bridge, a gorgeous full HD IPS display, and an improved trackpad. Here's our updated Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A review (updated 13 August 2012).

  • Asus Zenbook UX301LA review: a stylish 13.3-inch touchscreen Ultrabook

    Asus Zenbook UX301LA: a stylish 13.3-inch touchscreen Ultrabook

    The latest Asus Zenbook UX301LA packs a Haswell processor and 802.11ac wireless into an Ultrabook-sized chassis. Here's our Asus Zenbook UX301LA review.

  • Asus Zenbook UX21E review

    Asus Zenbook UX21E

    The Asus Zenbook UX21E is a shiny example of the modern 11in ultraportable notebook.

  • Asus Zenbook UX32A review

    Asus Zenbook UX32A

    The Asus Zenbook UX32A offers a familiar line-up of features for a cheaper Ultrabook. Read our review to find out more.


IDG UK Sites

Motorola Moto G2 release date, price and specs: Best budget smartphone gets upgrades

IDG UK Sites

How to join Apple's OS X Beta Seed Program: Get OS X Yosemite on your Mac before public release

IDG UK Sites

Why the BBC iPlayer outage was caused by a DDoS attack: Topsy and Tim isn't *that* popular

IDG UK Sites

How to make an 'Apple iWatch' using an iPod nano and a 3D printer