And for something different... yet somehow the same. The Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD is the Zenbook Prime UX31A's close cousin. Both are Ultrabooks, but while the UX31A sticks with Intel's definition down to the last bit (SSD drive, Intel integrated graphics), the UX32VD offers some of the creature comforts of standard size notebooks. Though just a hair thicker and a little bit heavier, the UX32VD has dedicated NVidia GeForce GT620M graphics with 1 gig VRAM, and a traditional SODIMM RAM slot and SATA hard drive connector and bay. If you're in the mood to remove approximately 11 Torx T5 screws from the bottom, upgrade heaven can be yours. Like other recent Ultrabooks, the UX32VD runs on Intel third generation Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 ULV (ultra low voltage) rather than mobile CPUs.
Unlike the Zenbook Prime UX31A, the UX32VD-71DB doesn't ship with an SSD, though Asus may make a version available with SSD. It has a 500 gig conventional 5400 RPM hard drive and a 32 gig iSSD soldered to the motherboard that's used as an Express Cache to speed up Windows and boot/resume times. You could install your own SSD into this $1,299 machine, but that adds up to a pretty pricey Ultrabook. The single RAM slot is yours for upgrades and the machine uses DDR3 1600MHz RAM.
If you're a serious gamer, don't get too excited by the entry level non-Kepler architecture GT620M. Yes, it's better than Intel HD 4000 graphics, with a 3Mark Vantage score of 4240 for the Core i7 UX32VD vs. 2801 for the Core i5 Intel HD 4000 equipped UX31A. That makes light gaming possible, but we found we had to drop down to 1366 x 768 resolution and turn most effects down (and AA off) in today's top titles like Skyrim and Battlefield 3. We'll have a separate gaming demo video so you can see it in action.
In terms of looks, the Zenbook Prime UX32VD is nearly identical to the UX31A and the Zenbook UX31E of last year. That's not a bad thing because this is a gorgeous machine sculpted out of aluminum. Fit, finish and materials are Museum of Modern Art gorgeous. The Zenbook Prime models have matte 1920 x 1080 IPS displays, which set them apart from all other Ultrabooks on the market. Only the Sony Vaio Z (technically not an Ultrabook at all given it's full mobile CPU) competes on resolution.
The Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD has a backlit keyboard, three USB 3.0 ports, a full size HDMI port, a mini VGA port (adapter included) and dual band Intel WiFi 802.11n with WiDi wireless display. Ethernet is courtesy of the same USB 10/100 Ethernet adapter included with the UX31E and UX31A. The machine has Bluetooth and a 720p webcam. It weighs 3.2 pounds and is 0.72". The machine is just now making its way into US retailer's storefronts.
Here's our Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD video review.