Back in November 2011, we did a comparison between the Asus Zenbook UX21 and the 2011 Macbook Air 11.6″. This quarter, with the introduction of the 2012 Macbook Air 11.6″ and the Asus Zenbook Prime UX21A, we’re again faced with the question on which ultrabook to get.
As a backgrounder, I already own and use both the Zenbook UX21 and the 2011 Macbook Air 11.6″. This year, I am planning to upgrade either one of them, or both of them (probably just one).
Compared to the Zenbook UX21, the UX21A got some physical improvements on top of the hardware upgrades. These includes a better keyboard with backlit feature, an improved trackpad, use of 2 USB 3.0 ports instead of just one, and the biggest improvement is the use of an IPS LCD screen with full 1080p resolution.
Asus Zenbook UX21A
Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz, up to 2.60 GHz on Turbo Boost
Intel Core i7-3517U 1.9GHz, up to 3.00 GHz on Turbo Boost
11.6″ IPS LCD, 1080p, 1920×1080 pixels, 189ppi
4GB DDR3 RAM
128GB and 256GB SATA SSD
Intel HD Graphics 4000
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band 2.GHz & 5GHz
1 x micro-HDMI port
1 x mini-VGA port
Windows 7 Home Premium
A screen pixel density of 189ppi for the UX21A actually qualifies it in the Retina Display category. You also get the USB Charger+ which allows your USB to charge your devices really fast and also charges it even on sleep mode.
The Asus Zenbook also includes an adapter for the mini-VGA port and the USB-Ethernet port out-of-the-box.
On the other hand, the Macbook Air 2012 only got a hardware upgrade and no modifications on the design or exterior of the device. What was added is the two USB 3.0 ports and the 720p Facetime camera. The backlit keyboard and the Thunderbolt port are already there since 2011.
What the new Macbook Air offers better is the customization of the upgrades you want in it. You can get either 4GB or 8GB of RAM as well as 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of SSD.
2012 Macbook Air 11.6″
Intel Core i5 3317U 1.7GHz dual-core (up to 2.6GHz)
Intel Core i7 3667U 2.0GHz dual-core (up to 3.2GHz)
11.6″ LCD, 1366×768 pixels, 135ppi
Intel HD 4000 Graphics
4GB or 8GB DDR3 RAM
512GB SATA SSD
2 x USB 3.0 ports
720p Facetime camera
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Mac OS X Lion
Based on the Apple Online Store, here are the actual retail prices of the new Macbook Air 11.6″:
â— 11.6â€³ 64GB â€“ Php47,990
â— 11.6â€³ 128GB â€“ Php52,990
â— 11.6â€³ (maxed out) 512GB SSD, 2.0GHz Core i7, 8GB RAM â€“ Php105,490
On the other hand, the Asus UX21A is not available in the Philippines (just the UX31A). However, last year’s UX21 retailed for Php52,990 which is now the same price as the 128GB Macbook Air 11.6″.
If, and this is a big IF, the Zenbook Prime will also be priced at Php52,900, we have a great match here (same 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel Core i5 processor). To give us a better perspective, the Zenbook Prime UX31A retails for Php69,995 while a similarly spec’ed Macbook Air 13 retails for Php77,990 (Core i7, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD).
The biggest advantage the Zenbook Prime has over the Macbook Air is actually the Retina Display (i.e. 1080p full HD display) and since this feature is the crowing glory of the new Macbook Pro w/ Retina Display, we’re inclined to give a split decision in favor of the Zenbook Prime.