Saturday, July 23, 2011


The U31SD's specifications are rank-and-file; given the product's intended use is casual computing, they are more than up to the task, however. The second-generation Intel Core i3 processor is fast in its own right. Paired with the dedicated Nvidia graphics card, this machine is even capable of some light gaming. Of special note is the two-year limited warranty, which includes a year of accidental damage coverage. This is not something competitors have matched - and ASUS has been offering such warranty coverage for several years now. The MSRP of $799 is slightly on the high side though the warranty makes up for some of the difference.

Our ASUS U31SD-A1 review unit is configured as follows:
  • 13.3-inch glossy 720p display (1366x768 resolution)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core i3-2310M dual-core processor (2.1GHz, 3MB cache, 35W TDP)
  • Intel HM65 chipset
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 520 w/ 1GB DDR3 dedicated video memory
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM (1x 4GB; supports up to 8GB - 2x 2GB)
  • 640GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD6400BPVT)
  • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 100 wireless network adapter
  • No internal Bluetooth
  • Integrated webcam
  • No internal optical drive
  • 2-year global limited warranty w/ 1 year accidental damage coverage
  • 8-cell Li-ion battery (14.4V, 5800mAh, 83Wh)
  • Weight: 4 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 12.9 x 9.2 x 1 inches
  • MSRP: $799
Build and Design
ASUS continues to use a now-familiar two-tone silver and black exterior. The U31SD is made of plastic with the exception of the lid backing, which is aluminum. The plastics are of average quality, not thin enough to qualify as cheap but not the opposite either. The chassis lacks internal strength; it twists easily when flexed by the corners. This flexing puts the circuit boards at risk for stress cracks over time, which in the U31SD's case is magnified since the notebook will likely be carried around extensively.

The aluminum display back provides decent protection from pressure; pushing in on the back of the display lid does not yield any significant ripples on the screen. The aluminum is a nice touch; it would have been nice of the palm rest were covered as well; alas, it is only a plastic imitation. Overall the build quality could use revision in the next iteration of this notebook. As it stands, the quality is passable but only barely.

Do-it-yourselfers wanting to upgrade the U31SD will find it relatively simple to do; there is a single large access panel on the bottom of the notebook held on by a single screw. Under the cover are two RAM slots, the hard drive, and the wireless card. Only one of the RAM slots is occupied.

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