Asus Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 review

The Asus Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is a great power AiO desktop. The problem is that it's actually a laptop.
Photo of Asus Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71

The Asus Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is a power user system with a screen resolution rivaling the Retina Displays. Its higher than 1080p HD resolution means you’ll be able to show a lot more of your work on screen simultaneously, and the fourth-generation Intel Core i7 processor makes short work of whatever project you need to do next. It’s essentially an power user all-in-one desktop in a laptop’s body. You can carry the Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 easily under an arm, but it’s not really all that portable, and we’ll tell you why.

Design and Features
The Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is a fairly large laptop. It’s measures approximately 0.78 by 15 by 10 inches (HWD) and weighs in at 4.56 pounds. It has a brushed aluminum finish all around, with a dark grey lid. The brighter silver keyboard deck contrasts nicely with the dark grey keyboard. The system is large enough to support a full numeric keypad to the right of the QWERTY keyboard, though the number keys are roughly 2/3 of full size compared with the rest of the keyboard. Key feel on the backlit keyboard is spot on, with a good feel and no keyboard flex. The one-piece multi-touch trackpad is responsive, which is a good thing.

The 15.6-inch LED backlit IPS screen has a 2,880-by-1,620 resolution, which is much higher than the 1,920 by 1,080 that has become standard on high-end ultrabooks and laptops. For example, our high-end ultrabook Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 has a 1080p screen. 2,880 by 1,620 is a relatively new screen resolution, since previous higher than 1080p HD resolution laptops had different resolution specs. For example, the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Retina Display) and its successor has a 2,880 by 1,800 resolution, and the Google Chromebook Pixel has a 2,560 by 1,700 resolution. The 13.3-inch Toshiba KiraBook has a 2,560-by-1,440 resolution screen. Other announced laptops will likely feature a 2,880-by-1,620-resolution display, so it remains to be seen if this will become a standard.

One possibly deal-breaking drawback on the new Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is its lack of touch capability. Sure, you can use the multi-touch trackpad to navigate Windows 8 and the pending Windows 8.1 update, but we’ve seen time and time again that not having a touch screen is a detriment to anyone trying to use Windows 8 on a large screen. The fact that the Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is over $2,000 adds to that stinging sensation you’ll feel in your fingertip when you try to navigate the Start screen and all that happens is that you smudge the display.

The system comes with a third-generation Intel Core i7-3632QM processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics, 8GB of memory, and two 256GB SSDs linked together in a RAID 0 array to give you 512GB total drive space. The RAID 0 array is split into a C: drive (183GB) and a D: drive (254GB). The system has three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, SD card reader, and a min-VGA port for connectivity beyond the 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. The system is free from third party apps, but there are a few Asus utilities and Microsoft apps (a few Xbox Live games, Office trial, Fresh Paint, Skype) on the Start page. One big nit we have is that the Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce graphics are technically last-year’s model (the 4th-generation Intel Core i7 and Nvidia GeForce GT 7xx graphics are more current). Performance, and particularly battery life would likely be better with the updated components. The system comes with a one-year warranty.

Performance

The Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is meant to be a power user’s system, and it better be if you’re spending just south of $2,500. The quad-core i7-3632QM processor, SSD RAID, and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics combine to give the system benchmark numbers that are close to, but not necessarily the tops scores for all performance benchmarks. For example, the Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 scored higher than most high-end laptops on PCMark 7, but the Razer Blade (2013) edged it out for the top spot. Likewise, the Razer Blade was faster on the 3D gaming tests including 3DMark11, Aliens vs. Predator, and Heaven.

The Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 was also near the top for the multimedia benchmark tests like Handbrake (where running the encoder test only takes 39 seconds) and the Photoshop CS6 test (3:57). The performance has a downside, however. The Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 can only manage a middling three hours and ten minutes on our battery rundown test. This is disappointing, since the Razer Blade and Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Retina Display) both managed about seven hours of battery life. Essentially, if you want a power system that will remain plugged in, then the Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is a good choice with an expansive screen to display all your ongoing projects.

Essentially, the Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 would have been a very good to excellent Windows 7 all-in-one desktop, but it leaves something to be desired as a Windows 8 laptop. Short battery life and a lack of a touch screen are major drawbacks to this power user system. If you need a higher than 1080p resolution portable PC, then systems like the Toshiba KiraBook and Editors’ Choice Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Retina Display) are better choices, since both have comparable performance, plus hours more battery life.

Specifications
Touchscreen No
Processor Name Intel Core i7-3632QM
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8
Weight 4.56 lb
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce GT 650M
Screen Type Widescreen
Type Desktop Replacement
RAM 8 GB
Networking Options 802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)
2nd Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4000
Processor Speed 2.2 GHz
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 512 GB
Storage Type SSD

Verdict
The Asus Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 is a power user system with a higher than 1080p HD resolution display, but a lack of touch support and lackluster battery life means that this laptop is more of a semi-portable all-in-one desktop.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc