GPU Performance

Peak synthetic GPU performance sees a sizeable boost compared to the previous generation Zenbook. 3DMark 11 requires DX11 hardware and thus the original Zenbook won't run on it, but the rest of the 3DMark tests give us some perspective.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Vantage shows us a 63% improvement over the HD 3000 based Zenbook UX21.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Here we see just how much better Intel's graphics cores have gotten over the years. The Inspiron 11z could barely run the entry level 3DMark Vantage suite, whereas the Zenbook Prime delivers nearly an order of magnitude higher score here.

Futuremark 3DMark06

Gaming Performance

We can say that the silicon in the Zenbook Prime's CPU features Intel's HD 4000, the upgraded 16 EU Ivy Bridge GPU. The result should be much improved gaming performance. Once again we are thermally limited so there are some cases where you won't see tremendous increases in performance.

At a high level, for any modern game, you shouldn't count on being able to run it at the Prime's native 1080p resolution. You need a discrete GPU (or Haswell) to pull that off. The former is a tall order for a machine that's already mostly battery. The good news is that 1366 x 768 is playable in many games.

Batman: Arkham City - Value

Not all games will see huge performance gains, but the latest Batman title runs 30% quicker on the new Prime.

Civilization V - Value

DiRT 3 - Value

More CPU constrained and thermally bound environments won't show any improvement over the Sandy Bridge based Zenbook UX21.

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Value

The 61% increase in performance over the original Zenbook takes the Prime into the realm of playability at these settings.

Portal 2 - Value

Portal 2 is an interesting case as we are significanty CPU and thermal bound here. The Prime can reach frame rates as high as 39 fps, but after a couple of runs you see degradation into the 32 - 37 fps range. On average, there's no improvement in performance compared to its predecessor - there's no beating the laws of physics.

Total War: Shogun 2 - Value

Diablo III

Last week Intel proudly showed me a demonstration of Diablo III running on Ivy Bridge's processor graphics, from a standard notebook all the way down to an Ultrabook. Eager to repeat the experiment myself, I fired up Diablo III on the Zenbook Prime.

Default settings at 1920 x 1080 were understandably unplayable. Dropping the resolution down to 1366 x 768 and clutter density down to medium however gave me an average of around 17 fps outdoors and 20 fps in early crypts. Given that Diablo isn't a twitch shooter, these frame rates were actually playable - all I needed was an external mouse.

As a primary gaming system, any Ultrabook this size is going to fall short. However, if you need to get your Diablo fix in while on the road, the Zenbook Prime will deliver in a pinch.

General Performance Battery Life, Configurable TDP, Thermals & Noise
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  • joe898 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    I guess you don't care about the annoyingly large bezel. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    You're looking at the 11inch model and so the bezel seems amplified. A larger screen size makes that bezel seem more appropiate.

    That withstanding, the machine still looks phenomenal bezel and all.
    Reply
  • joe898 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, I'm specifically looking for an 11.6" ultrabook. I'd actually sacrifice thinness to get the bezel and hence, the foot print smaller. The bezel on the 11.6" Asus makes the notebook look very cheap too. Reply
  • Bolas - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    So when and where can I buy one of these? Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Agreed. If I could pre-order, I would. Reply
  • cwcwfpfp - Friday, May 25, 2012 - link

    No official release date yet. A reasonable guess is that it will be available shortly after Computex though, which takes place June 5-9. Reply
  • DaveStall - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    I am a little bit curious about this comment in the review in resepect to noise:" I suspect much of this boils down to how aggressive Apple is about keeping fan speed/noise down". My wife has a current model 13" MBA and that thing sounds like a cross between a hair dryer and a leaf blower if she is doing anything remotely intense (which for her tends be be playing Flash based Facebook games). We are honestly ready to sell the MBA because of noise issues. If the Zenbook is louder than the MBA then the noise must be almost unbearable. That's too bad beuase I was hoping this would be something I could replace her MBA with. Reply
  • Malih - Saturday, May 26, 2012 - link

    wondering how does Apple go from high-priced laptop to providing better value,
    but with good display, SSD, and Thunderbolt they have a competitive advantage compared to UX32A-DB51,
    or is there a catch with Apple?
    Reply
  • Enigmat - Saturday, May 26, 2012 - link

    Is the HDD changeable? like changeable to a 7mm ssd ?? Reply
  • Mhefnawy - Sunday, May 27, 2012 - link

    can we Connect External Monitor to Asus Ultrabook and turn it's own off to check battery life with external screen while the internal is almost off to remove internal display backlight power from battery to identify how longer it will stay with its internal screen compare to external display then we do the same with the previouse model to check the value added by ivy bridge in battery life terms??? Reply

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