Asus is working on a major ultrabook refresh to coincide with availability of Intel's new Ivy Bridge CPU and we've managed to get our hands on the full spec sheets. The Zenbook UX31A and UX21A are direct replacements for the UX31 and UX21, respectively, though don't be fooled by their similar product names, these are serious upgrades we're talking about.
Matte screen options will be available on both new models, with the highest spec offering 1920 x 1080 resolution on an IPS display — that's for both the 13.3-inch UX31A and 11.6-inch UX21A. You'll get 350 nits of brightness if you opt for the upgraded IPS display or 300 if you go with a more conventional LCD, in which case resolutions drop to 1600 x 900 on the UX31A and 1366 x 768 on the UX21A.
The Ivy Bridge processors inside will all come from Intel's low-voltage (17W TDP) range and will span the full breadth of options, from Core i3 up to Core i7:
- Core i7-3517U, dual-core, four threads, 4MB L3, cache, 3GHz max Turbo Boost speed
- Core i5-3317U, dual-core, four threads, 3MB L3 cache, 2.6GHz max Turbo Boost speed
- Core i3-3217U, dual-core, four threads, 3MB L3 cache, 1.8GHz (no Turbo Boost)
A choice of 2GB or 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM (operating at 1.35V instead of 1.5V) will be available, though there won't be any way to manually upgrade after purchase. Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000 will take care of visuals and a SATA III SSD, maxing out at 256GB, will be in charge of storage. We're hearing a 512GB variant is also being tested.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the new Zenbooks join Lenovo's IdeaPad U300s and Toshiba's Portege Z835 in offering Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) media streaming technology built in, alongside 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0. Physical ports include an SDXC card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, and a Micro HDMI output. The keyboard is backlit and described as having a "seamless chiclet" design, offering greater solidity and deeper key travel. Battery life is expected to be between six and seven hours on the larger model and around five hours on the smaller UX21A.
Externally, neither the UX31A nor UX21A should look terribly different from its predecessor, both are maintaing the same thickness and weight as previously (18.3mm and 1.3kg for the 13-inch model, and 17mm and 1.1kg for the 11-incher). Prices should begin around $1,050 for the UX21A and $1,100 for the UX31A. Asus hasn't yet settled on a release date, but we should expect to see these on sale around the same time as all other laptop vendors make the move to Ivy Bridge.