Asus ZenBook 13 UX331 packs a GeForce MX150 in a half-inch

Early last month during CES, Asus released a few new machines of note. The ZenBook Flip 14 was among the most interesting—a machine the company said was the world's thinnest 2-in-1 laptop with discrete graphics. If you think that's peachy-keen but you're not really a 2-in-1 kind of person, have a look at the ZenBook 13 UX331. The Asus-described "world's thinnest discrete graphics laptop" isn't completely new, but it's just now hitting US shores.

The base hardware options for the new ZenBook are much the same as you'll find on the Flip 14. The CPU options comprise a selection of four-core, eight-thread parts from Intel's Kaby Lake-R series, and the RAM allotment is likewise the same at up to 16 GB of LPDDR3 memory. You still get M.2 SSDs up to 512 GB in capacity for storage purpose. Most notably, though, the ZenBook 13 UX331 packs a GeForce MX150 discrete GPU.

The MX150 may not set gerbil hearts alight, but it's a pretty darn fast chip to be included in a laptop that's only a half-inch (13.9 mm) thick. That slimness contributes to its light weight, too; the ZenBook 13 UX331 tips the scales at 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg). Its 13.3" screen is what Asus calls a NanoEdge slim-bezel display, and it's a capacitive touchscreen in 1920×1080 resolution. Asus doesn't say what kind of panel it uses beyond a vague "wide-view" descriptor, but does say that it can reproduce 100% of the sRGB colorspace, so we're guessing it's of the IPS kind.

Despite the svelte dimensions of the ZenBook 13 UX331, Asus gave it a decent selection of ports. You get two USB 3.0 Type-A connectors, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and an HDMI 1.4 output. A microSD reader serves as a sort of modern-day floppy drive. It doesn't look like the top-spec version of the UX331 has made it over here yet, but Newegg has a listing for this machine with a Core i5-8250U processor, 8 GB of memory, and a 256 GB SSD for just shy of a thousand bucks. That variant will arrive on February 19.

Comments closed
    • End User
    • 2 years ago

    I am desperately waiting for a MX150 equipped T480 to appear on the Lenovo Canada site.

      • Kretschmer
      • 2 years ago

      That’s a pretty interesting proposition; I look forward to the reviews.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      I hope I can line up dates for that. New parent company gives the t470s to everyone regardless of role, while my role is entirely CPU bound. ULV dual core will hurt, ULV quad may be ok.

    • Kretschmer
    • 2 years ago

    Edit: Be aware that this laptop has a downclocked MX150 and severe throttling issues, per the reviews I skimmed. Battery life is also so-so.

    • Kretschmer
    • 2 years ago

    So give me exactly this, with:
    -No crapware
    -25% extra thickness of pure battery/cooling goodness
    -Actual hardware buttons for the trackpad
    -Enough cooling to run both the CPU and GPU at load without throttling

    And I will stuff my money down your throat. Why?
    -Enough GPU to play esports titles at respectable settings (e.g. DOTA2, LOL)
    -Portable enough to take anywhere
    -REAL PORTS
    -No GAMERZ school of industrial design
    -No 3K/4K on a tiny screen to kill battery life and usability

    In summary: so close and yet so far.

      • TheRazorsEdge
      • 2 years ago

      You realize you’re asking for an entirely different class of product, right? You are asking for a much larger device, presumably heavier as well.

      25mm = 2.5 cm ~= 1 inch

      You are suggesting that they triple the thickness. While I am not a fan of the “thin-and-light at all costs” design, adding that extra inch moves it out of the category entirely.

      Pretty much everyone—including Asus—offers a laptop in a higher size category that is closer to what you want. E.g., I know Dell offers XPS 15 laptops with 1080p displays and real GTX 1050 graphics.

      Edit: And then there’s the Gigabyte Aero, at 14 inches with GTX 1060 and 1440p screens.

        • Kretschmer
        • 2 years ago

        Sorry, I meant “25%” extra thickness. Edited.

        I know that more premium options exist, but this laptop could be an incredible budget device with sufficient cooling and a few low-cost tweaks.

    • Wilko
    • 2 years ago

    Is there going to be a GeForce MX440 in the future? Just for silly overlapping name shenanigans.

    I used a GeForce4 MX440 back in the day. That’s around the point in my life where I started craving computer hardware upgrades.

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    Respectable little chip. Makes me wonder about Iris only systems in the same weight if not heavier, particularly wondering about the future of the 13″ rMBP. The Iris isn’t really set up for particular gains in the 8th gen and the MX150 in a similar package beats it by quite a margin.

      • DancinJack
      • 2 years ago

      You’re forgetting about Kaby Lake G (KL-R+Vega).

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Not forgetting it; I’m rather expecting that for the 15″, unless they skip to Cannon Lake. They have SKUs with the right wattages for the 15″, but not the 13″, and not yet considering board area vs the current single chip.

          • DancinJack
          • 2 years ago

          I still think there is a good possibility they’ll put it in there, even if they have to TDP it down a bit. Man I hope so. I like the 13″ rMBP way better than the 15″.

      • Spunjji
      • 2 years ago

      I’m thinking Mobile Vega might actually fulfil a similar role to the MX150 for the 13″ rMBP. Be interesting to see what shakes out of Cupertino.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        I hope so, the combination of the ULV quad and a Radeon for a GPU boost would put me over the top on the 13″.

      • Airmantharp
      • 2 years ago

      This is Macbook Air territory; Kaby G is likely what’s going into the next 13″ rMBP.

      And I can’t say that I’m that excited about this style of ultrabook with a dGPU. Compromises had to be made, and include potentially a smaller battery, lower burst clocks for the CPU, more heat, and more noise.

      All so that you can game slightly better on a tiny laptop.

        • DancinJack
        • 2 years ago

        Definitely debatable. Since Sandy Bridge they’ve been using the IGP in the Air, and with the advances to the IGP in recent years I don’t really see that changing.

        Before that though, we had the 9400M and the 320M which were somewhere in the 10-20W range depending on implementation and use case. MX150 can go up to 25W so it’d have to be clocked pretty low to fit into an Air type machine.

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          iirc a lot of them have it tdp-downed to 15W, which isn’t incomparable to what an Iris Plus would be pulling anyways. More a matter of board and heatsink size.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        I’d love Kaby Lake G in the 13″ if it was possible, but the 13″ has been on IGP-only for years. The base 13″ even uses a 15W processor now. We will see.

        • DavidC1
        • 2 years ago

        Kabylake-G is more 15 inch Macbook Pro.

        Even cTDPdown as with Dell its at 45W. Regular TDP is at 65W.

      • DavidC1
      • 2 years ago

      Iris and the HD Graphics in general hasn’t advanced at all since late 2015 with Skylake. CFL 4+3e U advances by having 2 more cores on the CPU. I guess I forgot the re, rebrand of the Iris 540 graphics to Iris 640, then what, Iris UHD 640?

      The 10nm troubles really hurt them here.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Seems they’re content to leave it alone for now, with these G packages to tide them over until the Intel dGPU architecture.

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