Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A

Having lived with this laptop for about three months now, I can safely say it is without question the best PC laptop I’ve ever owned. Every review out there just raves about this machine. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Retina-esque 1920×1080 resolution in an amazingly high quality 13.3″ IPS display
  • Intel’s latest 17 watt Ivy Bridge processor with (finally!) decent integrated graphics
  • 128 GB SSD with fast 6Gbps interface
  • Just under 3 pounds
  • Decent 5 to 6 hour runtime
  • Classy brushed metal case and cover

Pros:

  • The best ultrabook currently out there, it seems Asus just keeps stepping it up, if you are looking for a thin powerful Windows laptop then this is it.
  • 4.5 to 5.5 hours battery life with full media use
  • Amazing Screen, Very Bright and clear Details
  • Light Up Keyboard, and a very nice feel to it
  • The SSD & Processor are insanely fast, about a 17 second boot time from scratch and 5 seconds from sleep. These are numbers we wouldn’t even dream of before.
  • I love the aluminum clean cut finish of the Zenbook, surprisingly it doesn’t get too hot
  • it has just enough ports to make it useful
  • With the USB 3.0 I managed transfers of 100 to 130 MB/s from my External Seagate HD
  • The best thing is the price as well, its an amazing machine for $1299 and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an ultrabook

Cons:

  • The only downfall is the annoying sensitivity of the touch pad
  • Windows 7 that came wwith the ASUS was the home version and had bloatware, so I decided to do a clean install which worked perfectly, and it booted even faster, it is up and running within 12 to 17 seconds, nice and smooth.

Specifications:

  • Intel Core i7 -3517U 2.4GHz
  • Widows 7 64bit Unlimited (I reinstalled it because of the bloatware)
  • 4GB Ram
  • 128 GB SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics

Simple Conclusion:

I love this laptop and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a thin and powerful windows laptop. I started using it everywhere, I take it everywhere with me and it has taken a few odd drops with no issues at all. Its fast, lightening fast and it boots up within seconds, I can’t recommend it enough, and the price honestly is very reasonable.

Tech Round Up – Nexus 7, Dropbox, Zenbook

Google Nexus 7

I got a notification that my Google Nexus 7 has been shipped as off the 13th of July which was pretty exciting since it was around 3:53 am and I don’t know why I was up at that time. I heard some people got notifications and some didn’t get it yet, but I got mine I stopped worrying, I thought they might pull an Apple and just cancel you for random reasons as usual. Now I can’t wait to get my hands on it, I got the 16GB version and with the hardware its packing, its going to be good.

Dropbox Expansion

I think I use Dropbox for almost everything, I store everything electronically that I can that is usefull like airline mileage cards, a copy of IDs, bookings in PDF, not including music, videos, and tv shows, and any other form of media that can be stored. A long time ago I go the Dropbox Pro plan which gave me 50 GB and then with the HTC One X they give you the an extra 24 GB, so I had a total of 74 GB. Then recently I got an update from Dropbox a few days ago that I got an upgrade to the account and its not 126 GB which is a pretty nice thing to see since its been a while since they updated their packages.

Then I setup a friend’s Samsung Galaxy SIII and I knew they had a package for Dropbox too and since he wasn’t using it I signed up through it and got a nice 48 GB bump to 174.75 GB. I do love Dropbox and now more space to abuse.

Asus Zenbook

I made the jump, it was out of stock for a while on Amazon and the other day it said In Stock so I hit the Add To Cart & then the Checkout button right away. It seems that the Zenbook has been an Amazon Exclusive because I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I specifically wanted these specifications. The only thing I’m going to do is do a clean install of Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate which I have without all the random junk installed for it to be even faster.

Specifications

  • Intel Core i7-3517UM 1.7 GHz
  • 4 GB SO-DIMM, 128 GB Solid-State Drive
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • 13.3-Inch IPS Full-HD LED Screen, Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

I will probably get my hands on it next week when both the Zenbook and Nexus 7 hit my mailbox.

Google Nexus 7

I have always loved my Kindle Fire, the content was perfect, lots of access made it perfect but the only real issue is that it was lacking in firepower. So here comes Google with help of Asus announcing the new Google Nexus 7, throwing its punches all around. Powered by Android 4.1 (jellybean), this less-than-a-pound tablet features a 7-inch 1280×800 HD display, front-facing camera, the Tegra-3 chipset with a quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU, and comes in 8GB and 16GB flavors. It packs in all of the standard Google apps and works seamlessly with all of the Google Play content. And it is said to get over 8 hours of HD video playback, 10 hours of web browsing, or 10 hours of e-reading. The only difference is that it won’t have the automated platform that Amazon has but at the same time I just want a powerful compact pad to carry my magazines and reading content with me, and streaming if needed, for now this will do wonders.

Price ($200 for 8GB, $250 for 16GB)

So now will Apple make an iPad mini.

(Ordered Mine, and so did Qortuba, couldn’t help it!)

Thin & Powerful Laptops

AsusZenbook

Asus ZenBook

  • Extremely Thin with High Specs
  • Screen Sizes 11 & 13 inches
  • Core i5 & i7
  • 4 GB Ram
  • USB 3.0
  • SSD
  • Extremely Reasonable Priced For The Power Your Getting

SonyVaioZ21

Sony VAIO Z

  • Power Machine On Steroids
  • 13inch Screen
  • Win 7 64 Bit Premium to Ultimate
  • Core i7
  • USB 3.0
  • SSD
  • 4-8 GB Ram
  • AMD Radeon HD 6650M (1GB) Graphics Card
  • Very Nice Expansion Dock
  • Most Expensize

DellLatitudeE6320

Dell Latitude

  • The Work Horse, Perfect For Business But Not That Powerful
  • E6320
  • HD not SSD
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Core i7
  • 4 GB Ram
  • Mid Price Range

The Round Up:

There are a lot of great laptops that have come out over the last few months, some more interesting then the rest. If you are looking for a Windows laptop then this is a very good selection, there are other laptops to choose from but I went for more mobile and powerful. If you are looking for a good robust midrange workhorse then the Dell Latitude is the best option, if you are looking for the most powerful the Sony VAIO Z is top dog at the moment, and if you are looking for high specs but extremely mobile and light then the Asus Zenbook is the best option. From reading all the details regarding the laptops I would have definitely go with the Zenbook, the Sony VAIO is a great option if price is no issue.

New Netbooks

Asus1201

PC speciifcations keep upgrading every few months, with new machines, better specs and cheaper prices. Asus & MSI nearly cornered the market for netbooks but a few notables came along from HP and Asus with some interesting features.

Simple requirements for a netbook:

  • Plays HD Videos perfectly
  • Light Weight
  • Exterior Doesn’t Overheat
  • 4+ hours of battery life
  • 10 to 12 Inch Screen

HP311

Asus 1201N

  • Nvidia Ion Graphics
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB hard disk
  • HDMI out
  • December realease @ $500

HP Mini 311

  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom Processor N270
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB 5400rpm Hard Drive
  • NVIDIA ION for Windows 7 (895MB)
  • 11.6″ Widescreen Display
  • HDMI Port
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
  • 6-Cell Battery
  • 3.3 lbs
  • $499

Server Build – HAZRACK

I have had this server case sitting on my floor for months on end now and not really getting around to it except a couple of days ago. 4U Rackmount case, the plan was to install two drives, and have a simple setup to use it as a fileserver for all the downloads, sort of a distribution center and on top of that I didn’t mind putting the machine together.

I took the graphics card, one Seagate 750GB HD, one Seagate 1TB HD, a CD-Rom Drive, and two 2GB DDR2 sticks from my old Bunker Server. There are only two new items which I had to purchase:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 Quad-Core Processor, 2.66 GHz, 12M L2 Cache
  • ASUS P5Q WS (Same Motherboard as my main WHS Server, HAZMAT)
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Putting it together didn’t take too long, but I just found out that my rack is a little smaller then expected. I knew it was network rack because I managed to get a cheap one but instead of being 800mm deep it turned out to be 600mm, that was my mistake but the server is still rack mountable since its really short but the rack kit for it won’t really fit so its just going to sit on of the rack mounted UPS.

We put it together and installed the OS, didn’t take too long but the configuration was going to take some time since I had to download all the different software and make sure it all works together. Then I faced a problem of the machine not starting up, I tried everything but it would only power on and not show anything on the screen, I check the error code on the board which said FF and that means the motherboard is fried. I was stumped, I couldn’t figure out what happened, next day K took a look and saw a loose screw which was touching the board and the PSU so it was shorting it out and when that was removed it booted normally which was fantastic. So its now mounted to the rack, ready to go for all my needs, nothing better then building a new machine.

Continue reading…

Server Rebuilds

I think I have a love of building PCs and seeing these creations come to life, such simple steps to building great machines. I’m going to dismantle and pretty much cannibalize the first Windows Home Server and use it as parts for the current WHS Server. I’m also building a rackmounted server as test bed and I managed to find another Asus P5Q WS motherboard, I have to say that it is probably one the best motherboards I have used and its a real work horse.

I have about 8 TB in the new Hazmat Server, and that has been the capacity since day one. Now that I’m going to use the parts from the other server I’m planning to expand that to about 18 TB or more. WHS safeguards your data by spreading it across multiple drives and switching on the “Duplication” feature which basically keeps a copy of it, meaning I would need about 16TB to duplicate all the data I have, which I don’t have at this point. I have to commend Microsoft, for once, on a great product such as WHS, I think they need to dedicate more support and development for it since it can really make having a server at home a very simple task. The hardware setup is fun for someone such as myself, and the software setup is a breeze so I don’t mind that I keep reinstalling or reconfiguring. Then there are the new WD 2TB drives, I already ordered a couple of those and I am waiting to see their performance and durability, I’m hoping they drop in price quickly because right now they were a little too pricey. I’m planning to use the Kandalf case from the gutted WHS Server and use it as a power house machine, I have had the skultrail motherboard laying around for a little while now and its a powerhouse of a mother board, but its so damn big that it doesn’t fit in any normal case, it needs a special case and this beautiful silver case will do the job wonderfully. I also have this sudden urge to build some Lego Technic machines, those were the days I loved putting those machines together.

The Boards Have Arrived

After a lot of tinkering and figuring things out with the Windows Home Server, I’m planning on building a new server and performing a data and hardware transplant. Two boards have arrived:

The Asus board will be used for the server and it will be the work horse to make sure that it takes care of everything. Suprisingly I’m running the current WHS on a weak motherboard but its handling it, but its reaching its limit and I have almost filled up 11 TB worth of data with duplication. Expansion is at hand but with the right planning, in regards to the Skulltrail I am going to build a 64 bit Vista machine to handle all the tasks, and I’m planning on upgrading my KVM to a dual dvi output KVM and at last one has been made by Linkskey.

I would want to build the machines now but I have to wait on the rest of the parts which are slowly trickling in. I bought one case online against my better judgement because of the shipping cost and the other one will be from Kuwait, so I have to see what is available.