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on 10 February 2013
Short conclusion: Asus has had to make some sacrifices to get the UX32A to this price point, but it's still worth every penny. Consider this, seriously, for your highly portable productivity companion on the go.


I have been interested in getting a thin and light laptop as a productivity companion on the go, when I'm away from my main machine at home. I had tried Asus' own Transformer Prime, that was an Android tablet with a keyboard dock, providing the capability for productivity while also giving the "play" aspects of a tablet. However, this did not prove too fruitful, as many productivity applications on there functioned slowly or we're just not as full featured as I needed them to be. So my return to Windows on a proper laptop came about. And my purchasing decision lands on the UX32A, the stripped back version of the full-on UX31A (AKA the Zenbook Prime).


Asus have a very good design team (though one could argue Apple are their largest influence). In the UX32A they have designed a beautiful, solid piece of work. The silver aluminium contrasted by black chiclet keys is certainly reminiscent of the Mac Book line of products, however the aluminium itself is vertically brushed instead of a matted feel that Apple's line gives. This actually gives a much cleaner look, as well as reinforcing the industrial design. The lid is a more contrasting gun-metal/grey hue that is once again brushed aluminium, however it is orbitally brushed instead of in a straight line. This gives any light bouncing off the lid an interesting circular style reflection. The ASUS logo can be found on both the center of the lid, and centrally positioned underneath the screen, facing the user. This is in an unbrushed, polished metal.

The laptop isn't the thinnest Intel's Ultrabook collection has to offer (the Samsung Series 9 being thinner), however it still can hold its own. It measures, at the spine, just a few millimeters thicker than the Mac Book Air and tapers off as it moves to the foot of the laptop. Despite the ultra thinness, Asus has still managed to engineer three USB 3.0 ports, a full sized HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort, and a SD Card reader, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a proprietary looking power connection into the thin frame. This gives a gamut of connection options, in general storage, devices, and displays. Interestingly, no mini Ethernet port is present, and neither is it present in the UX31A. Asus have obviously made the assumption that buyers are going "all wireless" with this laptop. USB adapters are easily obtainable, however. This should be apparent, by now, but there is no optical drive with this laptop, as it is just too thin to accomodate one. If you are wanting a thin(ish) laptop that has an optical drive, Asus' own S56CM will be the next port of call for you.

The chiclet keys are nicely spaced, and are backlit. They key travel could be a little further to really give the feeling of the key being pressed. However this niggle is forgiven with how thin a frame we are talking about in the UX32A. The trackpad will be covered in hardware.


The Asus UX32A is a stripped back version of the UX31, which is the big daddy Asus sells for £1500. Obviously, to cut the price by over half, Asus have had to make some sacrifices.

Instead of the I7 found in the UX31, the UX32A see's an I5 clocked for a top speed of 2.6 GHz, and can operate as low as 800MHz. This isn't a huge deal, both chips are Ivy Bridge architecture, meaning that you are getting the very low power operation this architecture affords. You only lose a more aggressive clock speed management paradigm, and hyperthreading. Hyperthreading is an ability of Intel's I7 chips to run two simultaneous threads into each core of the processor at once. The long and short of this means that you're going to lose performance if CAD/CAM or other heavily processor dependent applications are your thing. Still, the I5 performs admirably, to the level you can expect from an Intel chip.

Instead of a 256GB SSD, the UX32A get's a conventional 5400RPM hard drive with 500GB of capacity. Also, you get a 24GB SSD that acts as a sort of cache between the hard drive and the processor/memory. While this will theoretically speed up the laptop by not needing to access the physical drive as much, it is questionable just how much of a performance benefit this gives. However this cache is what Asus deems responsible for it's "instant on" technology. While a conventional hard drive (and a 5400RPM one at that, come on Asus, it isn't 2011 anymore) may be a hard pill to swallow when compared to what it replaced, the extra capacity means you can store more media and programs on there. And you don't need to worry about the hard drive "wearing out" as SSD's will inevitably do over time. The sugar coating on the bitter pill, however, is that hard drive is swappable. Meaning that if you fancy making an upgrade later down the line, you are totally green-lit to slip in an SSD of your own. At the time of writing this review, a 256 GB SSD can go for as little as £130, while a decent quality one usually goes for £150. They are expected to drop even further this year (2013), so do keep that in mind.

The same 4GB of RAM you get in the UX31 is what you get here. To be precise, you get 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 at CAS 10. Interestingly, 2GB of this memory is freely upgrade-able, like the hard drive. The other 2GB is soldered to the mainboard, and is thus untouchable. So if you ever wished to upgrade the RAM, you only have 2GB to upgrade. Meaning that if you wanted to replace the 2GB stick with a 4GB stick, you could end up with 6GB overall. It's a bizarre situation, however one I suspect Asus wanted to make possible without sacrificing any of the thinness.

Now, to the big sacrifice. The 1080p IPS panel of the UX31 is replaced by a 1366 x 768 TN panel in the UX32A. Screen resolution and quality is a big thing for many people. If this is the case for you, then do consider yourself warned. This panel is distinctly average, 768p being a very common resolution at this screen size. The TN panel has worse viewing angle data than IPS displays, and isn't as bright as the UX31. Despite this, it functions fine, and when you think of the kind of price point Asus is wanting to hit with this laptop, it's an inevitable sacrifice.

Sound is handled by a Bang and Olufsen, most notable for their premium quality sound systems reserved for the very top end of buyers and audio enthusiasts. Sound is above average for a laptop of this thinness. The B&O speakers can really output some sound from them, and provide a bit of bass, too, which is uncommon.

Graphics are handled by the I5's inbuilt HD4000 graphics processor. You're not going to be gaming or using Photoshop on this thing, but you will be able to do most tasks without needing to worry about graphics processing power.

Wifi and Bluetooth is handled by an Intel 6235 card. This connects via a standard mini PCI-E slot, which is appreciated in a laptop as thin as this (you'd expect such things to be soldered to the board, and thus not upgrade-able).

The 2MP webcam is par for the course. It will provide an image when video conferencing, though for a laptop of this price, you would have expected something a little higher spec.

The battery is a 7.2V, 6520mAh, 48Whr Lithium Ion unit, weighing in at 280 grams (around 20% of the overall weight). In battery saving mode (CPU clocked at 800MHz, screen brightness low, keyboard backlight off), the laptop will give you between 4 and 5 hours use, which is average for laptops of this ilk. Cranking up to a performance mode will see this time cut by up to half depending on what you're doing.


Windows 7 is Windows 7. You get the 64 Bit iteration of Windows, which is good, it means you're accessing all 4GB of that memory, and are using the I5 to its fullest potential.

Asus packages a comprehensive, but mostly bloatware, software suite. This includes software that can access Asus' cloud service, useless connecting options, some facial recognition software for logon (that I wouldn't touch with a 10ft pole for security reasons), and many other things you'll never bother with. The only useful additions Asus add are a widget for switching power profiles, multi-touch gestures, and "Asus Tutor", which essentially shows you all the stuff you can do with the gestures etc. The instant on technology certainly does work, however a fast boot is native to Windows 7 anyway, so I'm unsure why they've added in something that's already there. The best multi-touch gesture Asus have built in is the three finger swipe upwards that goes into Window's Aero Flip mode. From there, a three finger swipe either left or right flips through previews all your open applications; and then a three finger swipe back down will bring on top the application you selected. It operates quite similar to Mac OS's "Expose" gesture, and is a great time saver. Two finger scrolling is a given, and is mostly accurate, with only some applications being funny with it. Talking about the trackpad, overall, it isn't as good as one found on one of Apple's products. However it is responsive in its own right, and mostly accurate. You only suffer from some inaccuracy and slowdown when trying to make some finer movements.

McAfee AV software is pre-installed, and you have a year's license. It is advised you get rid of McAfee immediately, as it truly does bloat down your laptop and make it feel very sluggish. As soon as I removed it (and installed another AV software, ESET Smart Security 6), the laptop sped up considerably. This could be seen not only in the responsiveness, but the hard drive access light didn't flicker half as much as it did with McAfee. While it's sad you're wasting a year's license by removing it, the benefits of doing so far outweigh the benefits of running the license through.

Bizarrely, the hard drive has two partitions, one for the OS, and one called "data". Why Asus didn't just leave the partition as one is a mystery. But you will have to deal with two partitions. A hidden recovery partition is accessible from the BIOS that restores your laptop to factory settings. If you ever chose to replace the hard drive or completely wipe the existing one, Asus' support site has a comprehensive and easy to access list of drivers for the UX32A available for free download. This ensures that even deleting the recovery partition will not render your laptop unusable, Asus are very good in that sense.

Be warned that I could not find the Windows Serial Key sticker anywhere on the outside of the laptop. Research has suggested that the sticker is actually on the inside, near the battery, however I have not confirmed that myself. If you want to know your key without having to open up the laptop, Google "KeyFinder" and you will find a freeware tool that accesses all of the serial keys for all programs on your system.

Remember, if you are ever going to re install Windows fresh, or even upgrade to 8, you will need to do it from a USB or an external DVD drive!

Extras and Peripherals:

The charging unit is not a plug-to-brick situation, it's a complete plug-and-transformer unit that goes straight into the wall. Leading out from that is a very thin power cable that goes into the right side of the laptop. Charging usually takes an hour or two from flat.

The UX31 comes with a full gamut of extras, including a brown leather case to go in a bag. The UX32A, however, only comes with a D-SUB display adapter for plugging into older monitors or projectors. Warrenty documentation and a quick manual are also included. So you'll need to get your own case for this.


The UX32A is clearly a product of sacrifice and price point targeting. However, the product Asus builds is, overall, incredibly good. The thin, solid aluminium frame means you're going to be turning heads and attracting questions from peers; and the performance means you can show it off with confidence. If you're wanting a good looking, well performing laptop as a productivity companion on the go that can slip nicely into a bad and not weigh you down, then the UX32A should be on your shortlist for consideration.
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on 7 October 2012
I was eyeing up the UX31A but deemed it too expensive and with image and text size issues due to the high (but not quite high enough!) resolution screen, I chose the cheaper option, the UX32A. The build quality is identical and feels very premium! There is no flex of any note in the casing, and it looks very aesthetically pleasing as any good Mac-clone should! The backlit keys are nice.

This laptop is a dream to use! It feels like a Macbook Air but with Windows instead of IOS! Just what I was looking for. The battery life, screen contrast and brightness are fantastic! The keyboard is very pleasurable to type on, with good size keys, good travel and nice surfaces and sound. The touchpad is excellently sized with a nice smooth surface and lovely drivers to produce mac-like smooth two-finger scrolling, two-finger tapping for right click etc. More control over the touchpad functions would be nice, however. Maybe future drivers will provide! The instant-on feature is nice to have but as the small SSD is only used for caching, is not quite as quick as advertised, but is quick nonetheless. The speakers give great boom for their buck considering the size of the laptop, perfect for watching movies or television from under 10 feet away.

The lack of SSD-only storage does irk at times when the constant albeit quiet clicking of the computer caching the HDD data onto the SSD makes noise during quiet times. This, however, is not a problem considering the lack of SSD is reflected in the price. Otherwise the bloatware is a minor inconvenience, but can be sorted with effort. Rather annoying is now when the non-Asus sleep mode is used, the touchpad's extra functions such as two-finger scrolling and three-finger swipes are not always reactivated on wake-up. The lack of a palm-check for the touchpad is definitely a problem that many will suffer from but I have been able to avoid it thus far, so it does not worry me to any great extent.

All in all a decent buy. To improve I would add an SSD, add a retina-screen and improve some of the above problems, but then it is the UX31A and £900 more expensive! Thus for the price it is very desirable when compared to the competition's equivalents.
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on 18 December 2012
I bought this laptop to take away travelling for 3 months, as I own a company, and need to be able to be online and potentially resolve any problems for clients.

It's lightweight, but feels absolutely solid, and the included case is actually quite good (although I'm probably going to get something a little more substantial).

I removed Windows and put Linux on (Ubuntu precise) and this was very painless indeed, with the only notable issue being the function keys for screen brightness. After having many issue in the past with various drivers (esp. wifi) it was very refreshing to have something work out of the box!

Screen quality is perfect, I've not had any light leakage as some have described.

Runs really smoothly, even when running virtual machines and other tasks which are resource heavy.

It was between this, a Samsung 9s, or an macbook air; but I felt that generally, for the money, the ASUS had the better spec. - certainly in the areas I was looking for.
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on 3 June 2013
Generally, I have been very impressed with this. Aside from the touchpad which is lacking and for some reason loses its extra gestures such as scrolling after waking from sleep (fixable in task scheduler by ending and re-launching AsusTPCenter.exe with a logon trigger), the physical aspects of the laptop, ie. size, weight, keyboard, screen and overall design are great, and I've not noticed any loud fan noise except on shut down.

I was disappointed in the overall speed, especially the boot and wake up times, until I came across an article (link below) that explained that the software behind the ssd caching and and InstantOn isn't actually enabled by default (for some stupid reason). This was simple to rectify and the boot times are now as quick as they should be.

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on 2 June 2013
I am not going to write a full descriptive review but just comment on couple of aspects regarding this computer.

- Classy, light and good keyboard backlit
- Quiet most of the time if it is just browsing (even when unplugged)
- Fast response now and quick (The set up and installation of the computer was a nightmare though and the computer was utterly slow and crashy but now it is stable). I can run Diablo 3 with good graphism paramater without problem.

BAD POINTS (which bring the computer down to 2 stars (and still I was thinking giving 1 star)
- the WIFI is an absolute nightmare for receiving network ! My dell latitude D630 6 years old receives Wifi much better than the Asus at equal distance. From my room It can be absolute no way to receive and start a firefox session even with 2 bars, even when my Dell is OK to navigate. I have put a USB WIFI extender but hasn't even fixed the problem....This point does really my headache and makes really want me to change. Maybe it just this Asus I don't know but I would appreciate some feedback like to this.
- At the other side, the fan can be really noisy and the computer can be really warm if you play computer games
- The touchpad which starts from a really good idea with your fingers associated or not and works quite as described but meanwhile can be an absolute pain in the .... if you are in a rush !!

I am afraid that the bad points are by far driving the experience of this pc down to 0.
First attempt to buy asus and probably the last one....
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on 30 November 2013
I have owned both the Asus Zenbook Prime and the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga and so I thought I'd compare the two. I hope this can also be useful as an individual review of either.

- Has keyboard back lighting
- I can't recall it ever making any kind of fan noise, the most silent laptop I have ever had
- Because it is ASUS there is absolutely no crap like s***ty antiviruses or search engines pre-installed, Cleanest initial installation I have seen
- Comes with sleeve to carry laptop in. Sleeve looks like a file folder and laptop is so thin that the whole thing actually looks a bunch of documents which might deter potential thieves
- Product key for windows OS of laptop is stuck on the power cable adaptor. I found this amazing! Because I lost my laptop but still had my power cable I could install windows legitimately on a different computer for free. Obviously if you lose the power cable this could be a disadvantage so I suggest taking a picture early on
- Mini-hdmi to hdmi and usb to lan cable adaptors are included
- Screen resolution is extremely high, and picture looks super pretty.

- Touchpad stops working after every few days without restarting the laptop.

- Has volume button on side of laptop
- Top row of keyboard is amazing: The f1, f2, f3 buttons etc. are finally the secondary buttons (meaning you have to hold function to activate them) leaving more useful buttons such as volume controls, refresh, close window, brightness buttons, change window and print screen as the primary buttons
- Touch pad works flawlessly
- Brightness can actually be dropped to zero, meaning when you connect it to a tv screen or you just wanna play music in the dark or something your laptop screen will not distract
- You can flip the screen to turn it into a tablet

- Bit of power cable that goes from plug to power adaptor is very loose and often falls out
- No keyboard backlighting
- Comes with McAfee trail version
- Product key for windows os was nowhere to be seen, not on the laptop, the accessories or anywhere on the box. But this could have something to do with the fact that its windows 8
- If I remember correctly, a usb to lan cable adaptor was not included, but im not 100% sure of this.

I bought the zenbook on windows 7 and the ideapad on windows 8, I don't think this influenced my perception but just in case it did I thought you ought to know.
Overall, I much preferred the style of the zenbook. But I did not include this as a pro because style is subjective and both laptops are exactly as they appear on the advertised pictures so you can decide for yourself which style you prefer before you buy it.
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on 15 October 2012
I spent almost a month extensively researching laptops before deciding to buy the UX32A. There are many superficial reviews out there (techradar, expertreviews and whatnot). Then there are a couple of superb, detailed review sites from which you will really learn what makes a good laptop: notebookcheck and anandtech. I would suggest to anyone looking at buying this (or any) laptop to read the reviews on these two sites.

Now to my own experience from having bought this machine 3 weeks ago:

It is light, fast, has a lovely backlit keyboard, a very robust sleep/hibernate function and power options that ensure battery is well conserved. The best part (and unlike the macbook air and many many other ultrabooks out there) the RAM can be upgraded (from the current 4GB upto a maximum of 10GB) and the hard disk can be upgraded (from the 500GB 'traditional' hard disk to a fast SSD of upto 500GB and probably 1TB in the future). Unlike many people (esp on amazon.com) who have immediately upgraded I haven't, because I find this machine is fast enough as it is. I am a light user doing browsing, word processing, playing music and movies, and after my 5 yo netbook this thing is super quick.
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on 22 November 2013
This review is for the W7 model of the UX32A. I have used Asus 13.3" machines for some years as my travelling machine. The hinge on my Asus UL30A failed after 3 years of daily use and I had to replace it. I managed to find a W7 model of the UX32A. This is a smart and angular ultrabook, a very technical looking competitor to a MacBook Pro, with all the features you expect (including a backlit keyboard). There are some functional flaws which happily you can fix.


This is certainly a very smart ultrabook - perhaps a bit too smart. The circular brushing on the lid is trying just a bit too hard for me, I would have preferred a simpler finish. I also don't like the square corners - I prefer the rounder corners and understatement of the Samsung Series 5 530U3C-A04, but the non-backlit keyboard counts against it.


The trackpad - no-one has trackpads as good as Apple. From time to time - not often, but often enough for it to annoy you - you will accidentally brush against it whilst typing and end up typing in the wrong place.

Some people have complained that the edge of the computer cuts into their hands whilst typing. I haven't found this, but it depends on your natural hand position when typing. If you have long hands and like to rest your palms on the computer, this may be a problem for you.


Many people have found that the laptop switched off unexpectedly, but only if you switch from battery to plugged-in. This is a fault in the BIOS caused by the computer having different safe CPU temperatures for the two modes. Update the BIOS and this problem goes away. This problem was fixed in Bios version 206; mine came with the previous, original version (203).

Updating the BIOS is a serious business! The safest way is also the easiest: use a function built into the BIOS called EZ FLASH. Download the latest bios from the Asus website (currently it's version 214 and the file is UX32AAS214.zip). Unzip it. (I then got a file called UX32AAS.214). To install it, download it to a non-partitioned, FAT formatted (i.e. normal), preferably blank USB stick. To perform the update:
1/ With the computer turned off, insert the USB stick - otherwise the BIOS won't detect it.
2/ When the computer switches on, quickly hit <Alt-F2> (or <DEL>) repeatedly and you'll enter the Bios setup.
3/ Under Tools, select "ASUS EZ Flash" to update the Bios.
4/ Select the BIOS file (e.g. UX32AAS.214) and press <Enter> to start flashing. The update proceeds in the following stages: Erasing - Flashing (writing) - Verification. The computer will then automatically restart.

That's it!


The screen is clear with good contrast but it's a little dark thanks to the anti-reflective coating - notebookcheck measure an average 250nit, compared to say 300nit on the Samsung U3C. Worse however is the WANDERING DISPLAY BRIGHTNESS. Even with the ambient light sensor disabled (Fn+A), the display brightness will vary. This is because of settings in the display adapter. Go to Intel Graphics Power Plan (via Control Panel, or right click the desktop and select Graphics Properties). Select "Advanced" and look at the power settings under "plugged in" and "battery". Set "plugged in" to "Maximum Performance" and for "battery", disable both 'auto-dimming' and 'Display Power Saving Technology', which changes the brightness of the backlight according to the displayed image.

Whilst in the Intel Graphics and Media Control Panel, it's also a good idea to disable the Hotkeys (under Options) which for instance starts rotating the display under various combinations of <Ctrl><Alt>.


All ultrabooks I am aware of seem to use the Intel Centrino 6235 chip for the wireless functionality, because this chip also offers both Bluetooth & WiDi - Wireless Display, which lets you stream your display wirelessly to a compatible device. However, there is a design problem with this chip - look at the long thread on the Intel forums (#31090). Numerous driver updates have not fixed the problem, so it's probably a hardware issue. You probably won't experience any wireless problems - I didn't - but if you do, ask yourself, is the WiDi functionality important to you? If it isn't, just uninstall the Intel driver for the wireless chip. When you reboot, Windows will install the default driver and everything will work fine.


Not quite a MacBook killer, but amazing value for money, if you can live with the slightly dim display and possibly the lack of WiDi.
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on 5 February 2013
This computer is a thing of beauty. Great looking, slim, light with a sensual display which is just about the right size to be able to use for work whilst still being very portable for my travels. This computer is a Usain Bolt in comparison to my old one which was more of a snail without a pretty shell.
I ordered the version with Windows 7 and was dismayed to receive the computer with Windows 8. However, being a relative novice in the art of using a computer, I got used to Windows 8 very quickly and it is nowhere near as complicated for normal use and simple functions as many of the reviews make out.
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on 6 August 2013
I have been using this laptop with regular work since september 2012, it was perfect for travel, great battery life, I upgraded drivers regularly and never witnessed a fan/wifi problem to be honest.

However, last week the flash drive went kaput, the system crashed a few times prior to that for no reason and then just failed, restoration etc. simply failed to resolve the situation, I finally used gpart which gave me the I/O Error on the issd flash drive, John Lewis UK have given about 4-6 weeks of turnaround time, let us see what they come back with.

Pros -

- Lightweight, fast, works perfectly when in normal use.
- Killer looks, perfectly normal keyboard.
- people have complained of fan noise, well upgrade the firmware and if you don't like HDD noise too then buy and SSD version, but why blame the machines because its doing absolutely what is is supposed to do when its hot.
- Overall its wrong to expect much more at this price point, people can go for VD model double the price.

Cons -

The issd failed after 10 months, I would have expected it to be more reliable, now what worries me is if it will fail again in another 10 months it will render laptop useless or I will simply have to replace the hdd with SDD,which is expensive.

Overall, the HW realiability has surely scope for loads of improvement inside the system, outside, its un-compromised beauty.
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