Dubbed MacBook killer, this UX51VZ Zenbook sets a tone in hardware, workmanship, performance and price.
Asus’s new Zenbook UX51VZ notebook sports a powerful quad-core CPU-GPU pairing and an outstanding brace of SSDs hooked up in RAID config for lightning access times and system performance. The chassis is titanium-colored brushed metal and measuring 15- x 10- x 1-1.5-inches. It wieghs around 2.1kg, about right for a mid-to-high end gaming notebook. We would describe workmanship on the Zenbook UX51Z as decent, but obviously a unibody shell would have been preferable to the two sheets of metal here for withstanding knocks and also for extra rigidity, though there is actually not too much flex when typing frantically on the Zenbook UX51VZ.
The main workload in the Zenbook UX51Z is handled by the i7-3612QM quad-core CPU clocked at 2.1GHz, Turbo Boosting to 3.1GHz across a single core and with 6MB of L3 cache in reserve, all squeezed into a 35W thermal envelope. For graphics there’s an NVidia GT 650M with its own 2GB of dedicated VRAM, as well as the 8GB system RAM. Max RAM is 12GB since one of the modules is welded to the board.
For storage we have a pair of 128GB solid state drives yoked together in a RAID configuration.
Display-wise the 15.6-inch IPS screen features a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and 141 ppi pixel density – great viewing angles, and twice the pixels of mid-range 1366 x 768 pixel displays. However, there is just no comparison to retina display of MacBook Pro featuring 2880 x 1800 pixels (221 dpi). The brightness and contrast ratio are superior in MacBook Pro Retina as well.
For text entry the Zenbook UX51Z’s backlit keyboard ensures rapid and precise typing; the adjustable white backlight will aid those late-night sessions, with keys featuring good travel and a definite pressure point, and a rubberized texture for quicker typing and less typos. Keyboard clack is minimal too, making the Zenbook suitable for use in quiet environments. The clickpad is responsive and faithful to user gestures, but we realize many people would have preferred a touchscreen to better get along with Windows 8.
Portwise HDMI and miniDisplay Port allow for multi-screened gaming or working, and there are 3 USB ports (who could ask for more?), headphone/microphone socket, audio jack, Gigabit Ethernet port.
Gaming prowess speaks volumes about general system computing, and the GeForce GT 650M GPU gives enough grunt to manage the most demanding titles, although either res or detail settings might need lowering a notch for the big boys. Complex office suites run swiftly, as does every aspect of everyday Windows 8 use. The UX51VZ outperforms most machines in its price bracket, including the Dell XPS 15. It also excels in the audio department, courtesy of its Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio system – deep, well-rounded tones enhance the gaming experience and suffice for immersive movie-watching too.
Asus Zenbook UX51Z will boot from cold to Desktop in less than 30 seconds. Asus have provided a measly 12-month guarantee free of charge; a warranty upgrade is recommended on a near-$2000 notebook – you should be able to get one at the store. Otherwise the Zenbook UX51VZ is an eminently capable machine. If you aren’t planning on playing the latest games, you maybe should consider swapping out one of the GPU bays for an optical drive at purchase, but all told this is another strong showing from Asus.
ASUS UX51Vz Zenbook can be picked up at Amazon for $1799.
If you’re interested in various benchmark tests result for Zenbook UX51Z, check out notebookcheck.
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