Performance and Benchmarks
System performance was quick once the notebook was cleared of all bloatware, but not before giving us one of the longest initial boot sequences we have ever seen. It took almost 15 minutes to go from out of the box pressing the power button, to finally at the desktop. This process was filled with initial configuration processes and many waiting screens. Once the system was ready, the first thing we did was remove the included system security software. After a few power cycles the OS stopped activity pinging the hard drive, and it became a rather speedy CULV notebook. Boot and shutdown times felt quick, and the rather snappy Seagate 5400.6 hard drive kept access times to a minimum without sacrificing battery life. The system had no problem handling 720P or 1080P HD video, showing a good amount of leftover overhead for other applications while the movies were playing. 3D gaming was out of the question unless the settings were heavily tweaked, or if the games were many generations old. For normal everyday uses, like typing documents, browsing the web, or watching streaming HD video the system performed beautifully.
wPrime Processor Performance Benchmark (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 Overall Performance Benchmark (higher scores mean better performance):
Synthetic Gaming Performance using 3DMark06 (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
Under a light to moderate load the ASUS UL30A-A1 stayed quiet with only a few hot spots forming. Fan noise was minimal, with it defaulting off under most conditions. When the fan was on, your ear had to be next to the case to hear it. With the system on for the entire morning, the case warmed up about 10-15 degrees over room temperature, with all the keyboard and palmrest staying the coolest.
One of the most important features of this notebook is its 12-hour battery life claim. Packing a CULV processor, LED-backlit screen, and gigantic 84Wh battery, ASUS has the right stuff inside the notebook for extended battery life, but just how well does it perform? In our tests with the screen brightness set to 70%, Vista in the balanced profile, and wireless active the UL30A-A1 stayed running for 9 hours and 43 minutes before it went into sleep mode with 2% remaining. While it is less than the claimed 12 hours, if the wireless was disabled or the screen brightness was reduced further, it should come close.
Generally we only talk about the AC adapters on notebooks when something strikes us as impressive or odd. The ASUS UL30A includes a 40W AC adapter, which felt undersized and stressed during our review. With the computer running in high performance mode there was little overhead left for charging the battery, which extended the charging times. Another issue was it would get very hot, upwards of 130F. While a small power brick is nice to travel with, a 65W one wouldn’t be too much larger, but wouldn’t be as stressed.
The ASUS UL30A-A1 is a very nice 13″ ultraportable notebook. The design is attractive and the construction of the body is great; with high quality materials used throughout. The keyboard is comfortable to type on, with excellent support to resist any flexing. Our battery test fell 2 hours short of the 12-hour claim, but it was still impressive at right under 10 hours. With a starting price of $799 it is priced above the Acer Timeline, but offers a faster processor and better battery life. Overall if you are looking for a super slim and lightweight 13.3″ notebook with great battery life, the ASUS UL30A is well worth checking out.
- Excellent battery life
- Solid build and good looking design
- Great keyboard
- Display has limited viewing angles
- Small AC adapter gets hot under stress