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Home > Ultrabook Reviews & Notebook Reviews > Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (UX31A-BHI5T11)


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch

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What's Hot: As ever, a stunning design, elegant metal casing, full HD IPS touch screen, slim.

What's Not: Fingerprint magnet, micro ports mean carrying dongle adapters.


Reviewed April 11, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Asus Zenbook Prime line of Ultrabooks have been top sellers and top picks since the Zenbook Prime UX31E came out in the fall of 2011. With each generation, Asus perfects the Zenbook and the new Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch is their crowning achievement. This is an all black version of the Zenbook Prime UX31A we know and love with a full HD IPS 13.3" touch screen. To really enjoy Windows 8, a touch screen is a must and we're thrilled that the new touch model sells for roughly the same price as the non-touch version. Asus doesn't do a great job with model naming, so if you want the touch model, be sure to look for the Zenbook Touch UX31A-BHI5T11. In the US, Best Buy seems to have the exclusive for now, and happily they've had it on sale since launch for $1,099.

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch

With each iteration Asus has diligently and swiftly worked out the kinks and responded to customer feedback, from the UX31E's bleh keyboard to the UX31A's iffy trackpad and light bleed issues-- they've been addressed here. The Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch has a very good backlit keyboard, a much improved oversized trackpad and our unit has less light bleed, though it still has more than competitors' IPS displays. WiFi is solid and Asus has made SSD drive performance more consistent (they still use more than one brand, but benchmarks between brands are now fairly close). The rest is Zenbook excellence, from the super-rigid all metal casing to the laptop's perfect fit and finish with no rough edges or ugly seams. It's a stunning looking machine and we like the black aluminum casing, even though it adores fingerprints. It's clearly the touch Ultrabook to beat and competes nicely with the 13" MacBook Air in the quality and luxury segment.

Design and Ergonomics

Little has changed here from the mid-2012 UX31A non-touch model, so we won't go into excruciating detail. The only significant difference is the casing color. The UX31A-BHI5T11 is an all black model, except the keyboard surround that's contrasting silver. It looks really cool and folks have asked us where we got a black MacBook Air (really). The finish is glossy through not super shiny and it has the same swirled aluminum lid as prior Zenbook Prime laptops. It attracts and holds onto fingerprint grime like mad, so be prepared to clean it often. The wrist rest area and keyboard deck have a matte finish with aluminum striation lines, and it too loves the goo. The black keyboard keys with white backlighting are easy to see in any lighting, unlike the low contrast silver keys on the Samsung Series 7 Ultra, and backlighting works reliably via the ambient light sensor.

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch

The Zenbook Prime tapered look with defined edges and compound lid curves are all here, and though Asus lists the laptop as measuring 3mm (front) to 9mm (back), they're cheating a bit since they are measuring the side edge and not height/thickness including the rubber feet or the thicker part of the casing (it bulges at the middle and tapers at the sides). In reality, the machine stands just about as high as the 0.74" thick at the back Samsung Series 7 Ultra, though the Asus is considerably thinner along the front thanks to the taper.

That skinniness means micro ports and dongle adapters since the sides aren't thick enough to accommodate full size ports. The machine has 2 full size USB 3.0 ports (one charging), micro HDMI, micro VGA with a dongle adapter that converts it to full size VGA, a full size SD card slot and 3.5mm audio. Asus includes the usual Zenbook Prime bundle: a 10/100 USB Ethernet adapter and VGA adapter in a small pouch, a brown ballistic nylon slip case and a USB to micro USB short cable for your smartphone or other micro USB-based accessory. The Touch model is almost a half pound heavier than the non-touch due to the increased weight of the touch panel and associated hardware.

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch


Deals and Shopping:


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch Video Review


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A vs. Samsung Series 7 Ultra Comparison

Keyboard and Trackpad

The days of miserable Asus Ultrabook trackpads is behind us: the Asus-branded trackpad works predictably with no cursor jumps, and the two mouse buttons feel just right. There's a basic control panel for multi-touch settings and we found that two finger gestures like pinch zoom worked fine. The trackpad is overly sensitive to edge swipes, and all too often we triggered a left edge swipe that sent us back to our last used app. Maddening, but the Zenbook isn't the only Windows 8 laptop with this problem.

The keyboard has good tactile feel, laudable key travel by Ultrabook standards and a nice damped feel. It's a pleasure to type on at length.

1080p Display with Touch

The Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch has an excellent IPS display with 5 points of multi-touch and 1920 x 1080 resolution. Sharpness and clarity are excellent and the display almost completely covers the Adobe sRGB spectrum for much better than average color gamut. Contrast isn't as high compared to its non-touch cousin the UX31A, though contrast levels are still good at over 500:1, and are a wee bit higher than the Samsung Series 7 Ultra with touch screen. This is a glossy display (like all touch screens these days), so graphics professionals may favor the non-touch version. But non-graphics pros will likely adore this bright, colorful and sharp 13.3" touchscreen, as will pros who've learned to make peace with glare.

Despite the glare and gloss, it has less glare than the competing Samsung Series 7 Ultra with 1080p touch screen: in our comparison video, you'll note the Samsung looks a little washed out vs. the Asus and that's because the Series 7 Ultra glared like a monster at our video camera, and it really isn't washed out. The Asus 350 nit display is more than adequate to fight glare in well lit settings and at 50%, it's almost too bright for in-home use under incandescent lighting. I've yet to find a setting where I really want to use 100% brightness.

Light bleed is Asus' middle name, and though our Touch model has less than our UX31A non-touch and Asus Transformer Android tablets, there is still some light bleed here. The bottom edge and right lower side do indeed glow faint white when displaying a black background. It's not terribly noticeable unless backlight is set near max and the room is dark, so I'm not deducting points from our final score.

The touchscreen is responsive, and the display hinge is still up to the 90 degree mark. Push it back beyond 90 degrees and it has a slight tendency to flop back too easily.

Horsepower and Performance

The 3 lb. 5.5 ounce laptop runs on a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U ULV CPU with Intel HD 4000 graphics, 4 gigs of DDR3 dual channel RAM (not upgradable) and a 128 gig fast mSATA SSD drive (Adata v3 with a Sandforce controller in our unit). We hear that some customers are getting units with Sandisk SSDs as well, but Sandisk has improved their SSD performance so we don't expect the large performance divide we saw with older Zenbook Prime models.

Interestingly, Asus chose not to take advantage of the newer and slightly faster 1.8GHz Core i5-3337U for this updated touch UX31A model and they're going with the same CPU used on the mid-2012 UX31A non-touch. Asus does good performance tuning, and the UX31A Touch manages respectable numbers among Intel Core i5 ULV notebooks.

As with other Zenbook Prime 13.3" models, the machine has an mSATA SSD, but it's a proprietary gum stick shaped model, so you won't find aftermarket alternatives should you wish to replace or upgrade in the future. And once again, RAM is soldered onto the motherboard and there are no RAM slots, so 4 gigs RAM is max. This is a typical, non-upgradable Ultrabook. If you want an upgradable model, consider the Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD or the Samsung Series 7 Ultra.

The laptop gets warm on the bottom but not hot, even when playing BioShock Infinite (on the lowest settings and 1366 x 768 resolution) for 30 minutes. The fan is silent to almost silent during productivity use and is quite audible but not annoying when 3D gaming.


PCMark 7: 4670

Windows Experience Index:
Processor: 6.9
RAM: 5.9
Graphics (desktop): 5.5
Gaming Graphics: 6.4
HDD: 8.1

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (Core i5) 4670
Sony Vaio Pro 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4549
Asus Transformer Book TX300 4495
Samsung Series 7 Ultra 4469/4690
Samsung Series 9 (FHD) 4448
Dell XPS 13 (FHD, 1.7GHz Core i5) 4517
Dell XPS 12 (Core i5) 4678
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i5, 11.6") 4728
Sony Vaio Duo 11 (Core i5) 4772
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Core i5) 4427
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (Core i5, SSD) 4324
Asus Taichi 21 (Core i7) 4952
Microsoft Surface Pro 4657

CrystalDiskMark SSD Scores

crystaldiskmark results

Wireless and Audio

The UX31A Touch has dual band Intel WiFi 802.11/b/g/n 6235N with Intel WiDi wireless display and Bluetooth 4.0. There's no NFC or 3G. Despite the all-metal casing, WiFi reception was good even at a 30 foot distance from our 802.11n router. We did change the default wireless card power settings in power management. Asus' Power4Gear power settings drop WiFi card power down quite low when unplugged, and that can reduce performance. We set it to medium power savings and all was well.

The Asus Zenbook UX31A Touch has stereo speakers (underneath along the side edges) with the usual Bang and Olufsen ICEPower branding. Despite the B&O badge, the Zenbook Prime UX31A sounds like a 13" Ultrabook: thin and not wildly loud. It's less hissy and tinny sounding than the UX31E and some other Ultrabooks, but the Samsung Series 7 Ultra's dual 2 watt JBL speakers blow it out of the water. Sound out via wired headphones and Bluetooth is good, as is HDMI audio out to AV gear.

Battery Life

Battery life has been a pleasant surprise given how poorly many touch screen Windows 8 laptops fare, and the beefy 50Whr Lithium Ion Polymer has averaged 6 hours of use in mixed productivity and entertainment scenarios with brightness set to 50% and WiFi and Bluetooth on. It ships with the same compact square adapter we've seen with previous Zenbooks.


The Asus Zenbook Prime was and is the definition of a high end Ultrabook. It's still the poster child for what Intel imagined when they coined the Ultrabook term: thin, light, extremely stylish and quick. Among Windows machines, it's still hard to beat it for seriously high end styling, fit and finish, features and value. Yes, $1,100 isn't cheap, but when compared to Samsung's top of the line Series 9 with a 1080p non-touch display, it's the more affordable choice. The new $999 Samsung Series 7 Ultra gives the Zenbook UX31A Touch a run for your money, and may even win depending on your criteria, but few other Ultrabooks come close in this size, weight and price class. The display is stunning and bright, the black metal casing with swirled lid and taped sides are gorgeous, though largely unchanged (other than color) from the 2011 model. The keyboard is very good, wireless performance is likewise good and performance is strong. Our only complaints are backlight bleed, though it's now at tolerable levels on the touch model, and the micro ports and associated dongles that are easily forgotten or lost.

Price: $1,099




Sony Vaio Pro 13

Asus Transformer Book TX300 Review

Samsung Series 7 Ultra Review

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (non-touch) Review

Asus Taichi 21 Review

Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD Review

Samsung Series 9 Review (1080p model)

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 13 Review


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch


Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch

The Samsung Series 7 Ultra and the Asus Zenbook UX31A Touch.

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Display: 13.3", 1920 x 1080 LED backlit IPS glossy touch screen. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Micro HDMI and VGA ports (VGA via included adapter).

Battery: 50 watt/hour, 4 cell Lithium Ion polymer rechargeable, sealed inside. Compact square wall wart charger.

Performance: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 3317U Processor. Intel HM76 Express chipset. 4 gigs DDR3 1600MHz RAM soldered on motherboard (not upgradable) and 128 gig SATA III SSD (ADATA or Sandisk brand).

Size: 12.75 x 8.75 x 0.67 (at thickest point) inches. Weight:3.4 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio.

Networking: Integrated dual band Intel Advanced-N 6235 WiFi 802.11b/g/n with WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 8 Home Premium. Various Asus utilities, MS Office trial.

Expansion and Ports: 2 USB 3.0 ports (one charging), micro HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio, mini VGA with adapter, 10/100 Ethernet via included USB adapter. 1 SD card slot.



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