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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  • haukionkannel - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    It is very nice to see much better panels in these new laptops! And when you think how much power good display eats it is guite nice to see that powr usage has remained the same! We will get more clarity to this matter when ux32 will be released. It seems to have that normal pitifull low res TN panel like in most old laptops...
    We need more laptops like these! I would not mind to see a little bit bigger case with these panels at a little bit lover price!
    Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    The high-end version of the UX32, with the discrete GPU, has the same 1920x1080 IPS panel. But the battery is slightly smaller (48 Whr vs 50 Whr). Reply
  • Conficio - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    I'd go for the UX32 if there would an option with a good screen that is not combined with a useless (to me) gamers GPU.

    Although I don't understand the pricing $200 buy me just a faster CPU? Really, that has to be a really big jump for that kind of premium

    Then the next $300 buy me a decent display (it's still 16:9 and should be 16:10 for people that actually work on their computers, as opposed to entertainment) and a GPU?

    Why can't we have a reasonable upgrade (<$75) for the display with the lower end CPUs. I'd think the $1,000 price point should actually include the nicer display.
    Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    So nice to see a GOOD 1080p IPS display on this. And the rest of the package looks great too, might actually get one of these but would have liked atleast 6GB. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Does that lift before the shipping date? If so, when? Odd that they would be hush hush about that, maybe they are having thermal issues since apparently IB runs hotter than SB. Reply
  • Evil_Sheep - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Oh wow this model is a dream come true. It's been years but has a PC vendor finally got what it takes to go head to head with Apple? Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    Nobody uses that port, and while it comes with a dongle you could have used mini displayport or thunderbolt and achieve the same vga effect with mini displayport to vga dongle.

    That said this is a beauty of a laptop.
    Reply
  • fic2 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I don't know, but I would assume they included it for projector systems. I think most of the conference rooms in the building I work in only have vga to the table. Reply
  • fic2 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    My fail - didn't read the rest of your post about DP->vga dongle. Reply
  • ananduser - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    My dear Anand, you're so pretentious with displays in general but when it comes to gaming fluency you go below standard. 20fps is NOT playable and a subpar experience. I'd wish you'd be as pretentious with GPU performance as you are with hardware specs. Reply

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