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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  • Rasti1964 - Wednesday, June 06, 2012 - link

    The lack of a gigabit LAN port is a killer for me too. A gigabit to USB 3.0 adapter would be the solution but: Where to find such thing?

    I´ve searched the web for some hours now without success.

    Could you please tell us how to get this adapter?
    Reply
  • Saareem - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    "Just like last time, the UX21A comes with a sleeve case, VGA dongle and USB to 10/100 Ethernet adapter."

    I'm quite surprised how many actually fails to read that sentence. There is usb-to-ethernet connecter available for the Zenbook Prime and not-Prime in Zenbook accessories buy a small price and it come's with those ultrabooks for free. Perhaps you could find a usb-to-gigabit ethernet adapter somewhere, but routers having a gigabit-ethernet are still a little bit uncommon, so I don't see much point there.

    Definately not a killer, at least.
    Reply
  • Finraziel - Friday, May 25, 2012 - link

    Ehm, I don't know if maybe you're in a different part of the world where gigabit routers are uncommon, but I've had gigabit routers for years and actually only bought one myself when they got cheap. Friends of mine had gigabit routers for years before that already. I'd think someone with the money to buy a zenbook prime can afford the 15 euro or so that I see gigabit routers for.
    Looking in our local pricewatch though (which is very complete usually), I find one usb 2.0 to gigabit connector, no usb 3.0 yet, and it's 30 euros.

    I had to transfer quite a bit of media for a friend who went to work abroad for a few months and would have very limited internet access last weekend, so I put a lot of movies and stuff on his laptop, but hadn't realised in time that it didn't have a gigabit port. Unfortunately that meant I couldn't put all that much on it in the time we had... when you're used to gigabit, not having it is severely limiting. I expect this would also be something that would annoy me, even if it would probably be one of the only things that would annoy me on this great machine.
    Reply
  • Freddo - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I wish ASUS released an Intel Atom Zenbook. High quality form factor with an energy efficient CPU that allow for a 100% fanless computer. I don't really need that much performance from a portable computer anyway. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    There's no ION chipsets for Atom anymore, and the IGP in Atom sucks balls worse than even SNB IGPs, so there's no way it would push a 1920x1080 display with any smoothness.

    Atom is dead, and should be buried.
    Reply
  • jpk - Saturday, May 26, 2012 - link

    Amen to that. Reply
  • Freddo - Sunday, May 27, 2012 - link

    The Cedarview Atoms are perfectly capable of 1080p video playback, which is probably the most advanced thing I would use them for anyway. I'm not exactly looking into playing Crysis here, it's a small portable chat/surf computer, nothing more. Reply
  • vegemeister - Friday, June 08, 2012 - link

    The Atom GPU is a PowerVR thing with really crappy proprietary drivers. Do not want. Reply
  • mooninite - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I wish the Zenbook came with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. 4GB is actually limiting these days. I need to be able to run a Virtual Machine (VirtualBox) on my laptop at times. Plus games will demand more than 4GB.

    ASUS, people do more than web surf and face book on their laptops. RAM is cheap enough that it should barely creep into your bottom line if you offered a Zenbook with more RAM.
    Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    The UX32 has a SO-DIMM slot and supports 6 GB of RAM (2GB onboard + 4 GB DIMM). And it has a discrete GPU to boot. :) Reply

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