ASUS Zenbook SSD Review – Not Necessarily SandForce Driven Hits A Speed Bump


Let’s start this off by saying we are thrilled by the fact that ASUS was the first to manufacturer a retail SATA 3 ultrabook and it is great to see incredible speed in such a small form factor.  In fact, if they would have elected to just supply us with the Sandisk SSD in the Zenbook, all would have been fine and there would have been a ton of people ecstatic to have a SATA 3 ultrabook spitting out 6Gbps transfer speeds.

ASUS went one further though and, I am going to believe, tried to do just a bit better for the consumer by adapting the AData XM11 ‘SandForce Driven’ SATA 3 SSD.  The XM11 contains the revered LSI Sandforce SF-2281 processor, capable of read and write performance in excess of 500MB/s and a total IOPS score somewhere above 80,000 which, sadly, makes the Sandisk U100 SATA 3 SSD just look bad.

The difficulty comes in their decision not to place the product stickers on the outside of the box as many others do, but rather, it can only be found once the product is purchased and opened.  Let’s face it, we are not comparing apples to oranges here, but rather, Ferrari’s to Ford Fusion’s.  If we believe the most important visible upgrade we can see in a computer today is the SSD, then why wouldn’t we announce it’s manufacturer and type in our specifications just as we would the CPU? At very least, we could correctly identify the capacity of the SSD on the exterior of the package (120GB and not 128GB for the AData).


The performance of the Zenbook, at this time, is untouchable but we knew that from the start.  It’s the performance of the AData XM11 ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD, in comparison to the Sandisk U100, that we are focusing on closely here.  Both are SATA 3, and if capacity were a factor, the U100 was actually the only 256GB release in this form factor until our review Samsung PM830 mSATA review just yesterday.  Our concern stems from the fact that the results we attained from the U100 are amongst the lowest we had ever received from a solid state drive when looking at all benchmarks as a whole.

Our Vantage tests were a great depiction of both SSD’s ability when it comes to ‘true to life’ scenarios and the XM11 trumped the U100 in Total Points with 43524 points compared to the U100’s score of 12154.  Again, that is the lowest result (12154) that I think I have ever seen from an SSD.  The XM11 displayed an incredible high transfer speeds of 352MB/s , while testing in Media Center, while the U100 couldn’t even reach SATA 3 speeds. The XM11 is just that good.


I am going to guess that there are a significant number of readers that arrived here in search of confirmation that the ASUS Zenbook is, in fact, the ultrabook for them and we couldn’t agree more.  It is a gorgeous system which is very solid and well built and, well lets face it, SATA 3 ultrabooks are not so easy to find.  An educated buyer is a happy buyer, however, and I don’t believe many stores would stop you from exchanging your new Zenbook purchase if you decided that the ‘SandForce Driven’ Zenbook was the one for you. It is a bit like an Easter egg hunt isn’t it?

All in all, good luck in your search and, if I may pass a word to ASUS, think CUSTOMER FIRST and get the SSD identification where it should be.  As for me, I can’t decide which system I prefer, the 11.6″ UX21 or the 13.3″ UX31.  Oh ya, the smaller is ‘SandForce Driven’ in this case which makes that an easy decision.

Regarding any concerns that ASUS or Sandisk may have with respect to the report, Test Regimen or results attained, both are invited to contact us should they feel that our results are substantially different to their own.  We would be happy to conduct a follow up review of a Zenbook of equal configuration and to amend our results accordingly, if need be.

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