ASUS just announced its first line of Ultrabook PCs under the new Zenbook brand at a press event in NYC. There are a total of five models in the Zenbook lineup ranging in price from $999 to $1499 and available in both 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch display configurations. Based on specs alone, the Zenbook lineup is very similar to Apple's 2011 MacBook Air. Dimensions are almost identical, although ASUS' 11 is a little heavier than Apple's while its 13 is a little lighter. The entire Zenbook lineup ships with 4GB of DDR3 memory and all of the systems use the same ULV Sandy Bridge parts that Apple uses in the MacBook Air. Battery capacities are identical to the Air models at 35Whr and 50Whr depending on the chassis size. ASUS does claim lower standby numbers than Apple (up to 10 days vs. up to 30 for the MBA), but that's likely an OS limitation. The Zenbooks typically give you a larger SSD than Apple (and 6Gbps on top of that) as well as a single USB 3.0 port to complement its USB 2.0 port. ASUS claims a 2 second resume time for all of the Zenbook models, presumably from a suspend-to-RAM state.

ASUS Zenbook Lineup
  UX21E-DH52 UX21E-DH71 UX31E-DH52 UX31E-DH53 UX31E-DH72
CPU i5-2467M i7-2677M i5-2557M i5-2557M i7-2677M
OS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 13.3-inch 1600 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 6Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery 35Whr (5+ Hours)
up to 7 day standby
50Whr (7+ Hours)
up to 10 day standby
Camera 0.3MP
Audio Bang and Olufsen ICEpower & ASUS SonicMaster Tech
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1x audio/mic, 1x microHDMI, 1x miniVGA 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.86 lbs
USA MSRP $999 $1199 $1099 $1349 $1499

The first Zenbooks will be available for order in the US starting October 12th. I've included some head to head comparisons between the various Zenbook models and their MacBook Air counterparts below. For the most part the specs aren't all that different. I don't expect that there are a ton of users who cross-shop similarly priced Macs and PCs, the Zenbook simply looks like a good option for those users who want a MacBook Air but prefer Windows 7.

ASUS' 13-inch offerings do have a higher resolution display than their Apple counterparts (1600 x 900 vs 1440 x 900). We're still waiting to hear back on the panel technology used in the Zenbooks, but I would be surprised if it was anything more than plain-old-TN like the Macs. Compared to the upgraded MBAs however, ASUS' Zenbooks do offer higher clocked CPUs at the same price point.

ASUS Zenbook U31E vs. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air
  UX31E-DH52 UX31E-DH53 Base 13-inch MBA
CPU i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB
Display 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1440 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 6Gbps SSD 128GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 50 Whr 50 Whr 50 Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.86 lbs 2.86 lbs 2.96 lbs
MSRP $1099 $1349 $1299

 

ASUS Zenbook U31E vs. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air
  UX31E-DH72 Upgraded 13-inch MBA
CPU i7-2667M 1.8GHz/2C/4MB i5-2557M 1.7GHz/2C/3MB
Display 13.3-inch 1600 x 900 13.3-inch 1440 x 900
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 256GB 6Gbps SSD 256GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 50 Whr 50 Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA, 1 x SD Card reader 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SD Card reader
Dimensions 12.8 x 8.8 x 0.11-0.71" 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.86 lbs 2.96 lbs
MSRP $1499 $1599

 

ASUS Zenbook U21E vs. Apple 11-inch MacBook Air
  UX21E-DH52 Base 11-inch MBA
CPU i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
Memory 4GB DDR3 2GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 64GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 35 Whr 35Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.38 lbs
MSRP $999 $999

 

ASUS Zenbook U21E vs. Apple 11-inch MacBook Air
  EX21E-DH71 Upgraded 11-inch MBA
CPU i7-2667M 1.8GHz/2C/4MB i5-2467M 1.6GHz/2C/3MB
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Storage 128GB 6Gbps SSD 128GB 3Gbps SSD
Wireless Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
Battery 35 Whr 35Whr
Camera 0.3MP 0.3MP
I/O 1 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x microHDMI, 1 x miniVGA 2 x USB 2, 1 x audio/mic, 1 x Thunderbolt
Dimensions 11.7 x 7.7 x 0.11-0.67" 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68"
Weight 2.43 lbs 2.38 lbs
MSRP $1199 $1199

 

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  • ricardodawkins - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Are you trying to slant these comparison tables ?

    All 13in Asus ultrabooks are 0.10 lbs lighter than the Mac but look at the comparo for the 11in devices.

    Are you telling us that 0.05 lbs in weight difference is better than 0.10 in favor of the Asus ?
    And the 13in Asus devices are cheaper, too.
    Reply
  • Kougar - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    So many charts! Under the first chart, I assume "1 x USB 1," was meant to be a 2!

    Ultrabooks like the UX31E-DH52 are very tempting, will make it hard to wait for Ivy Bridge.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    So now Acer and ASUS have both shown their hands, and they are generally maintaining a $200 differential between comparably-equipped Ultrabooks and MacBook Airs. The 6Gbps SATA in the ASUS is a nice touch, too, and likely is another $50-100 of advantage, though it would not surprise me at all to see a quiet update to a 6Gbps SSD sometime before the 2012 revision to the MacBook Air.

    These should sell well. Acer and ASUS have done a nice job.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    That's too bad. That would be a really nice combination for $1449.

    BTW, Anand, your price on the 11" MBA with i7 is incorrect. It should be $1349.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    That looks like a winner in my book. :D Reply
  • shabby - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    When is apple going to sue intel for copying their air notebook design? These sure fit the criteria, thin, rectangular and so and so. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Given the MBA's are based on an older Sony design, Apple don't have much of a leg to stand on.

    John
    Reply
  • lemonadesoda - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Where is that SD card slot? If you can't get it on the side due to thickness, then put it in the back. Somewhere. Anywhere. Even make the whole shell 2mm deeper. I dont want a dongle. Reply
  • QChronoD - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Do you guys know if you're going to be getting one in for testing soon?
    I'm mostly concerned with the performance of the screen.

    Any system with a i5 1.6+GHz should be plenty fast for anything I expect to be throwing at it. The only thing I'd be using it for that would stress it would be trying to play Minecraft with x128 textures and the water and/or GLSL shaders (that only gets ~30fps on a i7-920 w/ a GTX260).
    Reply
  • KaarlisK - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Is there a second RAM slot? I want it to last... and I want dual channel Reply

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