Since it is a new product line for ASUS we were eager to get a look inside the 11-inch Zenbook as we progressed through our review process. Similar to taking apart a MacBook Air, there are 10 torx screws around the perimeter of the bottom panel of the Zenbook. 

With the bottom panel off, the UX21 looks a lot like an 11-inch MacBook Air with some notable differences. The ultra slim cooling solution actually covers both the Intel Core i7-2677M and its accompanying QS67 chipset, whereas Apple only directly cools the CPU in the MBA. ASUS uses the same two-PCB approach that Apple does, using a slightly stiffer (and conveniently labeled) ribbon cable to connect the two boards.

ASUS uses a familiar stick form factor for its SSD. The 128GB UX21/31 models come with a SandForce SF-2281 based drive from ADATA while the 256GB models use a SanDisk U100 solution. The WiFi card in the UX21 is also a unique form factor:

Other interesting tidbits:

1) The ASUS power adapter is very MBA-inspired - I like it. Cable management is handled via a strip of velcro. ASUS also found a great place to put the Microsoft COA: on the power brick itself.

2) All Zenbooks ship with a USB Ethernet adapter, VGA adapter and two carrying sleeves: one for the adapters and one for the Zenbook itself. 

Check out more in the gallery below and expect our review in the coming days!

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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    I don't think sticking it on the power brick is a good idea. You're far more likely to lose that than the laptop at which point unless you're a packrat and wrote it down somewhere else (99% of users won't) if you need to reinstall windows you're SoL.

    For that matter, I thought MS licensing reqs required sticking it to the computers primary chassis; which the power brick is not.
    Reply
  • icrf - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    On the HP laptops I've dealt with at work, it's under the battery, which seems a perfectly secure and reasonable place. Reply
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - link

    Would probably be hard on these with no removable batteries, though. PSU is about the only place to put it and not ruin the look they're after. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - link

    Yeah, it is a little questionable, but considering OEM machines ship with restore partitions/DVDs that put an activated copy of windows on the hard drive, the COA is only there to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Even if you want to install a clean version of Windows 7, it's just as easy to use ABR to backup and restore the key on the machine. Reply
  • BaRReLL - Friday, October 21, 2011 - link

    ASUS notebook does not need Windows Product key for installations. The licence number is embedded in hardware itself and the product key is never typed during OS recovery.
    Losing the COA does not stop your from reinstalling OS at all.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, February 06, 2012 - link

    you need an Asus Windows 7 Disk for the no key rule to work (like dells Any dell XP, Vista or 7 disk will load on any dell pc) Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    I can't find the picture right now, but they talked about the heatsink in this and showed a comparison of the thermals in the "Fruit Brand" ultra-portable, had a good giggle at that. Reply
  • arnavvdesai - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    I wish they would include the 2.5" drives instead of these tiny things. I understand they want to make it as slim as possible but couldnt they have built this with a proper drive? Reply
  • r3loaded - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - link

    In a word: no. A 2.5 inch drive is about as thick as the whole laptop. The format they're using is mSATA - it's also used in the MacBook Air and a couple of other laptops. Reply
  • donline - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    I was really hoping to snag my 256SSD out of my HP Envy and drop it in this to UX21E to replace the 128GB. I have a core i7 in a nice small package but no flippin' hdd space. UGH

    Anyone know where I can get a 256GB SSD in the correct form factor? I can't seem to find those Sandisk U100 anywhere
    Reply

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