Asus ZenBook

The ZenBook, from Asus, is a Windows 7 "ultrabook" hewing closely to the MacBook Air's mold: an 11" or 13" display, teardrop shape, SSD as standard, and i5 or i7 processors from Intel. Previous challengers to Apple's popular laptop (and subnotebooks of yore) suffered from uncompetitive prices; this one, however, matches it at $999 for the base model -- albeit with a slower processor.


  1. According to the Asus site from the link you supplied, Rob, it is i3 and i5 processors, not i5 and i7. So while it does match the Air in price, it does it by using lesser processors. You truly do get what you pay for.

    1. No. The 11″ is available in i3, i5 or i7 flavors while the 13″ comes in either i5 or i7. I can’t even find any of the North American retailers who sell the i3 version. This is definitely comperable with the hardware in a MacBook Air.

  2. you didn’t look hard enough :)

    11″ has Intel Core i3-2367 / i5-2467 / i7-2677
    13″ has Intel Core i5-2557 / i7-2677

    1. No, I did see that. I was looking at distribution pricing, and for $999 you get the i3, and the Apple starts at i5. I do see Amazon is selling the i7 at $1,199 which does undercut Apple 11″ i7 Air. The question is : for how long?

        1. I get my computers from the same place Best Buy does, and they pay the same price I do. I do not show that in distribution at this time, so either Best Buy is jumping the gun or I will be getting my rep on the phone and ripping him a new one. That being said, anyone who buys a computer from Best Buy gets exactly what they so richly deserve.

          UPDATE : Went to Best Buy’s site. They have zero availability, and they are showing a lesser processor than the 13″ i7 Air. BB is showing a 1.6 GHz i5 to the Air’s 1.7 GHz i7. So, again, the details show it very difficult to match Apple.

          1. I’m not sure I’d want to spend an extra $226 for a .1Ghz faster processor, all other things being equal.  (comparing the 13″ 1.6Ghz i5 UX31 to the 13″ 1.7Ghz i5 MBA)

            Of course, being a Mac vs Windows things, we’re talking apples and oranges.. but overall, when looking at equivalent systems, the details appear pretty darn close.

          2. Hmm, Newegg claims a 13″ 1.7Ghz i5 rather than 1.6Ghz, though they’re out of stock as well.  Higher price than BestBuy’s listing, but still lower than BestBuy’s price for the 13″ 1.7Ghz i5 MBA (yeah, that’s not a great place to do price comparisons with, but Newegg doesn’t appear to carry new MBAs).  I wonder which specs are actually correct.

          3. Sadly, Non, this is not the case. 

            There is a magnitude of difference in performance between the i5 and the i7. Not that the i5 is slow, but the i7 thrown at the same task is just breathtaking. To use a car analogy, it’s the difference between a Corvette and a Ferrari. Sure, both will get your license yanked and you clapped in jail in about ten seconds. Nobody to be taken seriously would chose the ‘Vette over the Ferrari if they were $200 apart in price. 

            I just witnessed this recently by seeing an i7 powered Air go from dead to the world to fully booted with a working desktop in 12 seconds. That’s not sleep, that’s fully powered off to fully working in under 12 seconds. Nobody could believe it, so we did it several times. All the boots were a tenth or so shy of 12 seconds. So who needs sleep modes?

            The point is that .1 represents a lot more than a smidgen of power. 

          4. Agreed, the power of my MacBook Pro i7 shocks me.  I will run massive amounts of stuff that would cripple most laptops AND many desktop computers… and the fan in the thing is barely running.

            I’ll run Window 7 in Parallels and Windows XP on top of running Mac OS X on top of running Safari and several large apps from Adobe Creative Suite and about 10 other things and it doesn’t even break a sweat.  A friend of mine who was interested in switching asked me to play an HD blu ray (digital not stupid disk) movie on top of all that to see if it would slow it down.  It didn’t at all and the fan was still much, much quieter than the one on his relatively new HP laptop just running IE and some widgets.  A lot of this also has to do with the specialized Mac OS/hardware synergy as well.

            I’ve used Windows i7 machines and they run much hotter with fans ‘a blazing and that’s just running a web browser.

            Just goes to show architecture and engineering is everything.

          5. Hi, Pat.  Perhaps you’d like to re-read what you’re replying to, and then go look at the specs again.  Because, you see, I very specifically compared two models that (according to the listed specs on the store page) both had i5 processors.  Since Best Buy’s website doesn’t list an Air with an i7 processor.

            So, as I said, .1Ghz really doesn’t seem like $220+ worth of power, all other things being equal.

    1. No, Rob, it’s simple economics and business. 

      Apple is the largest consumer of flash memory and microprocessors, and has been for three years. If current speculation is correct, Apple is purchasing in excess of 40% of the total production of flash memory made on this planet. As such, Apple is in a position to not only dictate what they will pay, but what everyone else pays as well.

      Then Apple twisted the knife but good.

      If you peruse Apples Q3 ’11 10-Q filing, you will see Apple has options on flash memory, and one can assume microprocessors, ranging out to the year 2022 for which they have already pre-paid. So not only have they purchased a near majority of the total production of mankind’s microprocessing and storage technology, they have also put a downpayment on what will – in all probability – be most of the future production as well. 

      The days of Apple’s being overpriced are done. To be glib – 1997 called and they want their myth back.

      1. Amazing in a general haha wow OMG sense. The supply-chain mastery that’s made it possible is, at this point, an unknown to only the most clueless has-beens of the Microsoft punditry corps.

    2. Amazing how the PC industry can’t match Apple on prices.

      Looking at the online prices, it actually does look like the Asus UX is competitive with the MacBook Air on price. In fact on paper, the Asus looks to have better specs than the MBA for the same price.

      $999 MacBook Air
      11″ display, 2GB RAM, 1.6GHz i5 CPU, 64GB SSD
      $999 Asus UX31 (Best Buy)
      13″ display, 4GB RAM, 1.6GHz i5 CPU, 128GB SSD

      $1199 MacBook Air
      11″ display, 4GB RAM, 1.6GHz i5 CPU, 128GB SSD
      $1199 Asus UX21 (NewEgg)
      11″ display, 4GB RAM, 1.8GHz i7 CPU, 128GB SSD

      1. Links to your sources with more specs please.

        Update: Ah, you either added the sources by editing your post or I just didn’t see (Best Buy and NewEgg) – thanks. I’m going to check them out.

        Update – I looked closer and Apple still has you beat
        Well it only took almost 4 years for someone to finally “catch up” (sort of) to Apple’s MacBook Air. That’s certainly much better than Microsoft’s track record of being behind OS X a decade at times.

        But, upon a closer look at the specs, you pay only slightly more ($60) for the MacBook Air i7, but you get MUCH more too:
        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
        $1349 MacBook Air
        11.6″ display, 4GB RAM, 1.8GHz i7 CPU, 128GB SSD
        PLUS: Backlit keyboard, MagSafe power adapter, thunderbolt port, HD camera versus the Asus very weak 0.3-megapixel webcam, instant-on with stand-by time of 1 month versus Asus only 2 weeks of standby time, built-in omni directional microphone, multi-touch trackpad, better keyboard and more higher quality stuff, but this is ENOUGH to blow away the Asus already.

        Comes with Mac OS X Lion which isn’t crippled in way, while the UX21 comes with the crippled Windows 7 “Home” version. Not to mention the Mac comes with free apps (not crapware) like Garageband, iMovie, Time Machine, (and now free Cloud services), etc.
        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
        $1289 Asus UX21 (NewEgg)
        11.6″ display, 4GB RAM, 1.8GHz i7 CPU, 128GB SSD
        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

        Note: $1289 is the REAL PRICE for the UX21 once you include 1 year warranty (to match 1 year Applecare) and basic shipping. Newegg’s “free” shipping makes you sign up to crap that costs $80.00 per year so I left that hassle out.

        Sorry guys, Apple still has you beat by far. If you add up the costs for everything you get included with your MacBook Air. It’s clearly a MUCH better value than the Asus. The devil is in the details.

        Research. Research. Research.

        1. Links to your sources with more specs please.

          Really?  I could understand this if he were listing something unusual that doesn’t often show up in listings, but specs for the Asus options are linked in TFA, and specs for the Apple offerings aren’t hard to find (straight from the manufacturer if you want).

          Asus even gives you direct links to multiple online stores at the site linked in the article above, which is probably where he found the pricing for those models.  It’s three clicks from where you’re at.  I’m not sure where he got the prices for the Mac offerings, but it’s not rocket science to check at the same stores Asus links you to or at

  3. We obviously see different things when we see the Asus logo – I know the logo from its association with their bulletproof premium motherboard range.  This notebook is directly aimed at me though and they hit the bullseye. 

  4. who would pay all that money for a buggy windows computer when they could get a solid no-virus mac for the same price???

    1. If it came installed with Linux, at a lower price without the Microsoft tax, I’d be more willing to consider it. It looks like a really nice machine, but I’m not blowing that kind of money just to wipe the OS and start over.

      1. Seconded. Windows looks like it’s turning into a smartphone videogame, and I won’t even consider a computer purchase unless the vendor or some trusted source certifies the whole computer will work with Linux. I’m not going to spend a week screwing around with it and compromising with a choice between crashy Linux display driver or slow Linux display driver when there’s other hardware that works.

  5. Funny that, Dave. Because elsewhere (Spec Sheet menu) they are claiming 5 hours just like Apple. I think they are pulling a switcheroo and comparing their 13″ battery life to the Apple 11″. 

    Also, one must consider that Apple abandoned the “just sitting there doing nothing” measurement of battery life couple of years ago. To my knowledge, no other PC manufacturer has done so. So when Apple claims 5 hours of battery life, it is actually five hours of doing things, like web surfing. Can Asus honestly make the same claim? I highly doubt it. If they can, it’s on a one-off machine you will never be able to buy, optimized in every way to give Asus the numbers they want the marketing department to run with. With the Air, the independent reports are now legion that you will see equal to or better numbers than Apple claims for battery life. 

    Simple fact : You can’t get something for nothing, and so far the Asus Zenbook looks like it is a blatant attempt to fool you into thinking you are getting just as much as with the genuine article, a MacBook Air. It simply isn’t so.

  6. While these are obviously shameless MacBook Air clones, the Air itself owes a great deal to crummy but pioneering models by Sony and Sharp, especially the Vaio X505. Sony’s total inability to keep making its good ideas long enough for them to become good products is astounding.

    1. hewing closely to the MacBook Air’s mold

      I’m glad you just now called it a “shameless MacBook Air clone”, because your initial statement I quoted above just seemed like it was whitewashing harsh reality for the sake a Asus.  If Asus had any dignity they’d call it the Asus MacBook instead of the ZenBook… in direct homage, at least, heh…

      Air itself owes a great deal to crummy but pioneering models by Sony and Sharp, especially the Vaio X505

      Agreed (to a point), but taken to another, much higher level of design and functionality. Let’s face it, as much as so many rag on Apple computers, it’s the one they all hypocritically copy, but they don’t even do as good a job as Apple does.  Actually, copy is too kind a word; as you said, they clone Apple products (to their best ability, anyway).

      It wouldn’t really bother me at all except for the fact that the same dillweeds that go a clamoring for things like this hardware will also try to claim I’m a idiot for using Macs.  Or eagerly run Windows 7 while blindly ragging on Macs… and meanwhile, having no clue how much Microsoft (attempted) to clone Mac OS X with it.  There they are buying the cheap knockoff of what I’m already using, and I’m the brainwashed idiot.

      Anyway, as others have mentioned, it will be interesting to see this thing’s actual performance (beyond the Asus hype/lies) compared to a MacBook Air and see how long the parts they use last in this thing.  In before people will tell me the hardware is the same, it’s not.  Apple gets custom Intel parts, etc. for its products.

      Lastly, the best OS it can run is Linux and a bad attempt of a clone of Mac OS X (Windows 7) so that’s a huge minus to me anyway.  In before people tell me it will run a hacked version of Mac OS X, I’m not interested for various reasons.

      Welp, I’m going to get back to my brainwashed, sheeple life and continue getting work done with my Apple product.

  7. I haven’t read all the comments here, but I can’t see how you can claim that it has a slower processor to “make up for” the price. At least according to Gizmodo UK: The base Asus 13″ costs the same as the midrange MBA 11″ (£999) – with a faster i7 processor, the same memory and SSD, and 2″ extra screen (at 1600×900). The cheapest 13″ MBA is £1099, with a slower i5 processor and a lower-res screen (otherwise the same specs). The cheapest 11″ MBA and UX21 are matched at £849, but the Zenbook doubles the MBAs memory and SSD for the price (the processor is the same 1.6GHz i5).


    Of course this doesn’t mention things like real-world battery life, build quality, actual SSD performance, screen image quality and so on, so it’ll still be interesting to see how they match up. Apple’s greatest strength in the PC space is their rock solid hardware, which few consumer laptops match, after all.

    1. The base Asus in the US appears to be the 11″ i3 at $999;  the base MacBook Air is the 11″ i5 at $999. However, the Asus has more RAM and storage. Time for some TESTS.


    Pick what you like, and buy it.  Your consumer electronics do not define you as a person, despite what advertisers want you to believe. 

    1. Pick what you like, and buy it.  Your consumer electronics do not define you as a person, despite what advertisers want you to believe.

      How about you don’t tell us what to do?  Some of us just don’t “pick what we like” without getting educated on products and exchanging ideas.

      Some of us make a living with our computers and want to use the best products for our needs.  Figuring out which one is best is helpful to our businesses and helpful to others as well.  I want to hear if this is better than Apple products or not.  And, there’s others that can benefit from finding out if it’s not.

      I would use this Asus with Linux in a heartbeat if it was the best option.  I have no allegiance to Apple as they have none for me.  So get ahold of yourself, it’ll be ok. You’re posting in a thread about an Asus product that’s attempting to clone an Apple product; don’t be shocked if you see comparisons.

      If you don’t like it, you’re free to not participate.  Or, you can just keep whining, it’s up to you.

  9. This looks very nice, and I need a new laptop.

    wait a minute, is that a chiclet keyboard i see?

    NO SALE.

    Also, one must consider that Apple abandoned the “just sitting there
    doing nothing” measurement of battery life couple of years ago. To my
    knowledge, no other PC manufacturer has done so.

    It says right on the battery life page that they’re comparing battery life while playing “HD video”.  not much information (1080p? 720p? are they using uncompressed audio?), but they are at least claiming they aren’t just testing it while sitting there doing nothing.

    1. Yes, it is sitting there doing nothing. Please stop and think about it. How much interaction is there to playing a video? 

      You are not using Wi-Fi, , you are not using the trackpad, you are not changing the state of the machine in any fashion – you are winding it up and letting it go. I am sure you could get the Air to better Asus’ numbers if you optimized it and just let it sit there playing video, never touching it. But what’s the point? That’s why Apple changed the way they did things, and that’s why everyone who tested the claims is pleasantly surprised to see battery life in equal to or in excess of Apple’s representations. I have not seen any evidence that would give me the confidence to say that of the Asus.

      Quick aside : I personally think consumers should be able to sue for false advertising if you cannot grab a unit off the shelf and duplicate the exact claim the manufacturer makes. Asus (and Apple for that matter) should be required to disclose the exact testing circumstances they used to arrive at the 5 hours of battery life. One should then be able to duplicate the testing exactly and precisely at home. If not, hello small claims court!

      At the very least, anyone knowledgeable should be taking Asus’ HD performance claims with a block of salt the size of the Titanic. Performance varies widely even in the same drives coming off the same assembly lines! There is simply no way they can be claiming superior performance to anyone (let alone Apple) when all the manufacturers are buying the drives from the same place. If a supplier is holding out on Apple by selling “hot” SSD drives to someone else, I am sure Apple will not take it lightly.

      The phrase ‘crush them like a grape’ comes to mind.

  10. I looked carefully at the latest 11″ MacBook Air as my new Windows laptop (I must run Windows).   What’s most important to me is that I have great battery life.  A common scenario is to leave my laptop at work for days sans charger.  I settled on the Lenovo X220 with a 12-cell battery and overall haven’t been happier.
    Although it isn’t as sexy as a MacBook air, it has similar dimensions, and I was able to get for less $800 with a IPS display (although I opted for no SSD which I somewhat miss).  Compared to my previous 2006 14″ MacBook Pro, the improvement in battery life is amazing.
    Here’s the dirty secret for those that need to run Windows: the Boot Camp drivers are terrible for power.  I don’t know why Microsoft doesn’t make their own, but nonetheless running Boot Camp drivers on a new MacBook air I suspect would result in terrible battery life, unlike my X220 which has 10+ hours.

    1. Here’s the dirty secret for those that need to run Windows: the Boot Camp drivers are terrible for power.

      It might not just be the Boot Camp drivers, it could also be the Windows OS is draining more power than the much more efficient Mac OS (especially since Snow Leopard came out).

      Combine that with running non-stop malware protection, etc. on Windows and you’re not going to get the same battery life on the same product at all.  While I know plenty of people that happily run Windows on Mac laptops because in some cases, Windows even runs faster on Mac hardware, no one really expects the battery life to be near as good as running Mac OS X on it.  I guess that’s the tradeoff.

  11. Just six months ago I lamented repeatedly and online that the non-Apple laptop world is for shit and that there was a glaring lack of Win/Linux laptops that compete directly with Apple’s product line. Hopefully this is a good start.

    And really, complaining about the ASUS logo? Get a life.

  12. Why oh why is Zen, which is actually the name of an organized religion with actual temples, hierarchies, rituals, etc., and which is pretty clearly opposed to capitalist accumulation of goodies and gadgets, fair game for product names? When I see anything named “Zen” that doesn’t have to do with meditation, I immediately know I’m not going to buy it. Trader Joe’s Zen Bakery Fibercakes. Zen natural medicine. Zen software. Zen MP3 players. Ugh. How ’bout Jesus Acid Wash Boxer Shorts? Or Mohammed Mushroom Pizza? Or Rastafarian Nonstick Ovenware?

  13. I know it’s not really the same market…but just last week I bought a C2D Thinkpad on eBay for $100. No hard drive, but I have one sitting around.

    I’m looking at 4GB of RAM for $50. A basic SSD for $125. Linux for nothing. A couple hours of fiddling around.

    Sure, it fails on battery life and portability/size. And the chip is a couple generations back, still more than fine for all my uses. But I’m looking at $275 for a roughly equivalent work laptop.

    And it contributes a lot less to sweatshops, environmental pollution, etc.

  14. Although you could criticize Asus case designers for taking the late Steve Job’s mantra “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal” too  much to heart, competition pushes the art forward. Apple will be a better company if it can’t rest on its past successes. Currently, the Apple advantage, or disadvantage – depending on how you look at it – is vertical integration. They own the stores, the software distribution network, the hardware design, a cloud file storage service and the software design. Asus can make a similar looking computer, but they can’t duplicate the system.

    Windows 8 and Mac OSX Lion both look like they are designed to sing with touch screens. Both systems  seem a little awkward with a track pad or a mouse. Asus could show real innovation if they are the first to include a touch screen in this size computer.

    1. Although you could criticize Asus case designers for taking the late Steve Job’s mantra “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal” too  much to heart, competition pushes the art forward.

      Agreed.  I just wish it would be taken to the next level.  I actually want someone to best Apple and so it really pushes Apple to compete.  I guess what I’m saying is I wish there was more cutting edge competition, period.

      The only thing that annoys me is when people become indignant when I use a Mac product without doing much of any duly diligent research on the particular product I use; and then I watch them hankering to use a clone of it 4 years later or sometimes 10 years later and not bat an eye.

      And, to add insult to injury, they afterwards gaze over and mock the next Apple product I’m using that they will use a clone of 5-10 years later as well.  Like, it never sinks in.

      On the plus side, I’m ahead of a lot of my competition because of this stubborn resistance – so I really should just shut up about it and ignore people being dumb, I guess.

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