MacBook Air (13" Mid 2011 MC965LL/A) vs. Asus Zenbook (UX31E-ESL8)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Yebubbleman, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #1
    I'm going to buy a non-retina 15" MacBook Pro which will become my main system. To supplement that, sort of as a lightweight machine that will probably be carried around more frequently, I was considering buying an ultrabook. My 15" MBP will single-handedly have all of my OS X needs covered; the PC tower I have in my signature has my Windows heavy-lifting (read: gaming) needs covered, so I was thinking a secondary laptop of extremely light weight running Windows 7 could be cool. Toward that end, I'd like to not spend more than $800 before tax. I don't need anything with Ivy Bridge in it, though I'd rather something newer than the ULV Penryn. I figured something with Sandy Bridge would be perfect. Again, this machine would solely be running Windows; I have no need for a second laptop running OS X. That said, I'm torn between the following two machines:

    MacBook Air (13" Mid 2011 MC965LL/A), the lower-end 13" model from the most recently discontinued rev. 1.7GHz Sandy Bridge Core i5; 4GB of RAM; 128GB SSD, two USB 2.0 ports, one Thunderbolt port, SD card slot.

    Asus Zenbook UX31E-ESL8, 1.6GHz Sandy Bridge Core i5; 4GB of RAM; 128GB SSD, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, mini HDMI, mini VGA, SD card slot.


    The former retails refurbished on the Apple Online Store's "Refurbished Mac" section for $919.00 and is sold on eBay used for anywhere from $750 to $900. The latter retails new from the Microsoft (online) Store for $800, and $800 to $900 on eBay. Specs-wise, the 100MHz disparity between the Sandy Bridge Core i5 on those models is negligible to me. Same with my video output options. Thunderbolt would be nice, but seeing as the machine would solely be a Windows machine, I have a feeling that the USB 3 port on the Zenbook would be proven much more useful.

    A guaranteed lack of bloatware on the MacBook Air (as it would simply have a fresh install of Windows 7 or 8 and the machine-specific Boot Camp support software) would be nice; having my copy of Windows come with the machine is also nice, though I imagine that if I wanted to later do a clean install of Windows 8; that task would be much easier to deal with on the MacBook Air given how easy it is to acquire Windows drivers for Apple machines via the Boot Camp assistant versus having to navigate Asus's website and hope that they issue Windows 8 drivers. I work at an Apple Authorized Service Provider and thusly have access to whatever replacement parts I would ever need and could perform my own repairs. But buying the Zenbook from the Microsoft Store, I could be given their retail equivalent of the Genius Bar experience (namely, you hand it in and they deal with the repair without you having to contact the manufacturer directly). There's also the issue of price; the Zenbook appears cheaper in cost than the MacBook Air, and seems more or less similarly designed (so I can't chalk up the extra cost as much to Apple simply making a better constructed product).

    So I can make an educated decision based purely on best use of my dollar toward whatever Sandy Bridge i5 4GB of RAM 128GB SSD ultrabook I end up getting, which one is better and why? Please spare me whatever anti-Windows and/or anti-Asus sentiments that you may have; even if I go with the MacBook Air, it will SOLELY be used to run Windows (read: No OS X partition on that SSD drive). I'm really just looking to see what my best option for the dollar is for the hardware.
     
  2. plucky duck macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    #2
    How's Windows battery life under the Air, compared to the Asus? What is acceptable to you? 3hrs, 4hrs, 5hrs? How long will you be away from the plug at a time? Have you had the chance to play with both? What is your impression of how each one feels in your hands?
     
  3. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #3
    The Asus is rated at 6.5 hours versus the Air's 7 hours in OS X. The Air might have the same rating in Windows, I don't know. Really, 6.5 hours is plenty for me; definitely worth the reduction in price. They both feel great in my hands. The Asus is a little thicker than the Air, but both are way thinner than most ultrabooks and their respective weights are perfect. The trackpad on the Asus doesn't feel as solid as the Air's but the difference is minor and not deal-breakingly so. Really, I am more impressed with the Air, but I'd much rather stick as close as I can to the best deal I can get for $800 than I would stick to something made by Apple as the differences between the two machines otherwise are negligible to me.
     
  4. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    #4
    I saw the Asus in Best Buy and it's IPS screen has much richer color than the Mac Air, also the trackpad is close to Mac quality. Don't know about the build quality, but I will consider the UX-31a next year when I update my 2010 MBA.
     
  5. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #5
    If either of you were curious, it seems as though the 2011 13" MacBook Air has roughly five and a half hours of battery (while using WiFi) when running Windows 7, and that number is apparently a sizable, but not overly substantial decrease from its rated battery life running OS X. Given that this is five and a half of real hours, I'd rate that as probably more or less in line with the six and a half of marketed battery life on the Asus, making both machines more or less equivalent as far as Windows 7 battery life performance is concerned. So far, I'm leaning more towards the Asus. I'm not locked in yet; I'm giving myself a week to make the call.
     
  6. halledise macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Location:
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    #6
    simple choice really - OS X or Windows.
    if you like to or need to run Windows, then buy an Asarse - if not, buy an Air
     
  7. AbyssImpact macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2010
    #7
    Then might as well buy the Air then because you can run two operating systems...
     
  8. plucky duck macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    #8
    Aside from the better trackpad, the ability to dual boot, and the fact that I prefer Apple's perceived better customer service and accessibility lead to the Air.
     
  9. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #9
    It doesn't matter which of these two I get, they'd solely be running Windows. I'll already have a 15" non-retina MacBook Pro for all of my portable OS X needs and will not need a second OS X laptop.

    Again, I wouldn't run OS X anyway; that's what my 15" non-retina MacBook Pro will be for. I don't need two laptops running OS X. This debate is on which would be the better machine for running Windows given features, support options, and cost.

    The trackpad doesn't seem THAT much better; better it does seem, but not $110 better. Dual-booting would be useless to me as this would solely exist to run Windows. The customer service element would be something, though I imagine that if I'm able to link it with the Microsoft Store via Microsoft's Assure (which is basically the Microsoft Store's AppleCare but with accidental damage coverage), then my options are no worse with the Asus. In fact, I think they'd be better.

    Really, this isn't meant as a primary machine at all. This isn't even meant to be an OS X running machine; it's solely meant to be a thin, light Windows Ultrabook. Whether it's a MacBook Air running Windows or an Asus Zenbook is the real debate.
     
  10. 007bond macrumors 6502a

    007bond

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    #10
    If you're not going to be using Mac OS X, get the Zenbook. It'll run windows better than the Air(Bootcamp drivers suck, IMO).
     
  11. intervenient macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #11
    There's no real question here then. Get the Asus.
     
  12. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #12
    Going with the Asus. The extra 100MHz and backlit keyboard aren't worth the price difference, especially given that this machine is solely going to be used for Windows whether the hardware is made by by Apple or not.
     
  13. twintin macrumors 6502

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    Aug 10, 2012
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    Sweden

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