Performance and Benchmarks
The UX51VZ is one of the most expensive notebooks we’ve tested in some time; a near-$2k MSRP is notable when the average selling price for a PC is well shy of half that. Nonetheless the UX51VZ includes various high-end components to help justify its price (I say help because there’s more to a notebook than just its technical specs).
The first notable component is the Intel Core i7 quad-core processor; the i7-3612QM variant in the UX51VZ is notable because it has a 35W TDP, or the same as the Intel Core i5/i7 dual-core processors (most i7 quad-cores are 45W and require more cooling). The i7-3612QM is one of the fastest mobile processors available today especially in a chassis this thin. Next are the dual 128GB SSDs; they’re configured in a RAID 0 array (slaved together) which has some performance advantages over using just a single 256GB SSD. Continuing there’s 8GB of RAM, which is slowly becoming the new norm; any less would be a disappointment at this price point.
For 3D gamers there’s a fairly powerful dedicated graphics card: an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 2GB of its own memory. The GT 650M is enough to play the latest games, though perhaps not all of them at the UX51VZ’s lofty 1920×1080 display resolution if you plan to use the highest detail settings and still want the fastest frame rates. Speaking of the display, the IPS panel is another notable spec and beautiful to look at and work on. The display is not touch enabled though, a definitive downside when buying a Windows 8 notebook. One point I will complain about is the scanty one-year warranty; a notebook at this price range should come with a two-year warranty at the absolute minimum (preferably a three-year).
Our ASUS ZenBook UX51VZ-DH71 review unit has the following specifications:
- 15.6-inch display (1920×1080 resolution, IPS panel, anti-glare surface)
- Windows 8 64-bit
- Intel Core i7-3612QM quad-core processor (2.1GHz, up to 3.1GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB cache, 35W TDP)
- Nvidia GeForce GT 650M dedicated graphics card w/ 2GB memory
- 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM (1x 4GB onboard, 1x 4GB removable; 12GB max. supported)
- 256GB SSD (2x 128GB SSD in RAID 0)
- Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 wireless LAN
- Integrated Bluetooth 4.0
- Integrated HD webcam
- No internal optical drive
- 1-year limited warranty
- Dimensions: 15 x 10 x 1~1.2 inches
- Weight: 4.6 lbs.
- Price: $1,949.99
Overall the UX51VZ has a high-end spec appropriate but not exceeding expectations at this price point.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark that measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures overall graphics card performance in games using DirectX 11 (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
There are two fans positioned out the back of the notebook; they always seem to be on and have a slight whine. It’s not necessarily distracting but is noticeable. The UX51VZ’s chassis stays room temperature while running basic tasks but under full load it can get warm both top and bottom; this is especially true when playing games. The fan noise increases accordingly and is noticeable from just about anywhere in a full room under load; it doesn’t actually get that loud so I’ll refrain from bashing it too much. Something that’s become a trend with notebook cooling systems that I don’t like is having the fans pointed out the back at the display hinge; it’s not as efficient as directly exhausting the air out the chassis sides.
The UX51VZ turned in a very respectable three hours and 42 minutes in our Powermark battery test; this beats out many of the smaller 14-inch and 13.3-inch Ultrabooks we’ve reviewed. This time translates to about seven hours of web browsing. We run Powermark while balanced battery life mode; it runs a variety of tasks including web browsing, watching video and playing games. This is a more realistic way of measuring battery life as opposed to having the notebook sit idle.
Powermark battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):