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Zenbook and ASUS RMA Blues

Some of you may recall that I purchased an ASUS Zenbook UX21E 11″ Ultrabook back in late 2011. The Zenbook UX21E was the first generation Zenbook and was the UltraBook showcase for Intel. It was hoped to be the PC alternative to MacBook Air. As I was primarily a Windows user and was looking for a lightweight, yet powerful laptop, the Zenbook UX21E seemed to be a proper choice.

When I purchased it, it ran great at the time, albeit some minor issues. However, over time, significant issues developed with the Zenbook, as power and battery issues became more apparent. The Zenbook began to shut off randomly while running off the battery. It degraded to a point in which it would shut off only a few minutes running on the battery.

Another issue was that the Zenbook would power off immediately when the AC adapter was unplugged. Because of this, there have been countless times where I lost my work due to the AC adapter being unplugged by accident. I did find somewhat of a workaround, as I found out that the shut off issue doesn’t occur as long as my Zenbook is in “Battery Performance” mode when the AC adapter is unplugged. Due to these issues, I wasn’t able to use my Zenbook as intended and pretty much became as useful as a paperweight.

Doing research online, these issues seem to be very common to the Zenbook UX21/31 line, with the cause likely due to hardware flaws. Fortunately, ASUS offers a standard two-year warranty with all of their Zenbook models, so I finally sent it in for an RMA last month. The RMA process was quick, as they responded promptly and set up the RMA case within a few hours. After getting the RMA information, I shipped the Zenbook (along with the AC adapter) to ASUS RMA. ASUS had my Zenbook for two weeks.

When I got it back, ASUS RMA stated that the motherboard was swapped out. I also received a new AC adapter. I found that the SSD was wiped and had the default ASUS Windows 7 Home Premium image installed, but fortunately, I made a image backup of my Windows 8 partition prior to shipping the Zenbook back to ASUS.

For a few days, the Zenbook UX21E seemed to be working fine without issue. I even installed the new Ubuntu 13.04 on it, alongside my Windows 8 Pro installation. However, the same battery and power issues returned, and I am now in the process of returning my Zenbook a second time. This is very disappointing, as I expected better QA from ASUS, as one of the top tier PC manufacturers.

I am hoping that the issues will be resolved after the second RMA, but I am already on the look for a new laptop; one that’s reliable, has great battery life, and well suited for mobile development. Because of my experience with the first generation Zenbook, I would suggest avoiding the first generation Zenbook altogether, and personally will the second and third generation Zenbooks altogether.

It’s sad, because the Zenbook could have easily been a great Windows alternative to the MacBook Air. However, the QA issues and the other minor flaws with the keyboard and Wi-Fi performance totally keeps it from being a viable choice.

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