With the ZenBook series, Asus has long been a good competitor to Apple when it comes to Ultrabook. Since the release of the first model, ZenBook series totally redefined the Ultrabook with its premium metal look and feel, and our review model ASUS ZenBook UX305 is not an exception.
To be honest, The Asus UX305 is quite simply one of the most exciting Ultrabook I have seen this year. Basically, it is a 13.3 inch MacBook Air styled laptop with Windows operating system, Incredible build quality and surprisingly affordable price. If you look at the specs, except for the processor, it’s not bad either. This ZenBook sport a relatively weak Core M series processor, but where else are you going to find a super slim-elegant aluminum covered Ultrabook with 8 GB memory, 256GB of solid state storage and a 1080p IPS screen just for $699? Moreover, if you are a student, you can get a $60 student discount from the Microsoft, and get the laptop for only $639!
Incredibly thin and light
Great aluminum build
Bright matte screen
Noise free Fanless design
Long battery life
Decent keyboard and touchpad
Good price/performance ratio
No keyboard backlit
Poor quality webcam
Model: ZenBook UX305
Processor: 0.80 GHz Intel Core M 5Y10
Graphics: Intel HD 5300 Graphics
Memory: 8 GB DDR3 1600 MHz
SSD: 256 GB
Optical Drive: none
Display Type: IPS matte screen
Screen Size: 13.3 inch
Screen Resolution: Full HD (1920×1080)
Audio: Conexant SmartAudio HD stereo speakers
Keyboard: Chiclet style keyboard
Navigation: 4.1 x 2.9 inches touchpad
Camera: 720p webcam
Video Ports: Micro HDMI port
Audio Ports: Combo headphone jack
Total USB Ports: 3
USB 2.0 Ports: 0
USB 3.0 Ports: 3
Media Ports: SD reader
Wi-Fi: Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265
Battery: 45 Wh Battery
Battery Life: 11 hours
Width: 12.75 inches / 32.4 cm
Depth: 8.89 inches / 22.6 cm
Height: 0.48 inches / 1.2 cm
Weight: 2.6 pounds / 1.2 kg
Operating System: 64 bit Windows 8.1
Warranty: 12 months Limited
Base Price: $699 ($639 with student discount)
Build and Design
Basically, the ZenBook UX305 is a thinner MacBook Air with a much better screen and aluminum body. The aluminum chassis feels solid and durable. The lid is decorated with a subtle laser-cut circle pattern that radiates outward from the center with the silver Asus logo in the middle. Now, if you open the lid, there is an aluminum deck complemented by a black Chiclet style keyboard and spacious touchpad.
Asus has paid a lot of attention to detail on some aspects of the UX305. The hinge can be an example of that, which will allow you to open it with just one finger despite the device’s low mass. The display will open to 128°, which is a reasonable amount for a traditional notebook computer.
Anyway, with a half inch thickness and 2.6 pound weight, he UX305 is even thinner than the Dell XPS 13 and previous MacBook Air. Though personally I wouldn’t compare it with premium Ultrabooks like a MacBook Air or Dell XPS, but it’s all surprisingly good considering the price.
With grippy Chiclet style keys and plenty of space, the keyboard is quite comfortable. With a good spacious layout and nice key action. I had no problem getting up to full typing speed in good lighting conditions and was able to type consistently and quickly whether on move or sitting on a chair. The only downside is a lack of backlighting, making typing in the dark a possible pain. Though I didn’t expect it on a laptop at this price, but I still miss it.
The touchpad of the UX305 is fairly large as well (almost similar to the MacBook Air 13″). However, it is not really that great. It is reliable and don’t have any big problem, but it sometimes misses touches, two finger gestures and often makes a click sound.
Considering the size and thickness, the UX305 sports a decent number of ports.
There are two USB 3.0 ports on the left along with an SD card reader, while on the other hand the right side has another USB 3.0 port, the power connector, headset jack, and micro-HDMI port.
Sadly, there was no room for an Ethernet port on a device this slim.
To me, the screen of the UX305 is the best part. A 1080p IPS display on such an affordable laptop is quite something.
With sRGB color gamut of 85.2%, 1368:1 contrast ratio, This 13.3 inch screen has a pleasing quality to the and fine details. It has a 271cd/m2 backlight and easily visible even in brightly lit conditions, but this comes at the cost of a little fidelity; there’s a slightly messy grain over the screen coating that is sometimes noticeable when looking at light grays and whites.
The one area where the UX305 performed poorly was color accuracy. And considering all other aspects, personally I am totally pleased with the screen.
To be honest, audio quality of the UX305 is fairly average overall. The speakers positioned underneath the laptop base doesn’t cause a big issue with sound projection though, as I was expecting. The volume is sufficient, it’s just not nearly as loud or quite as punchy as our MacBook Air. Turn things up a little too loud and the Asus struggles to keep the quality too. It’s not bad audio by any means, just not as great as they advertised.
The performance of the UX305 isn’t that incredible, but it’s more than a match for your spreadsheets, documents, family photos and favorite websites.
The UX305 sports a Core M-5Y10 processor. It is a dual-core, quad-thread CPU with an 800 MHz base frequency, and 2 GHz boost frequency. The Core M processor has the added benefit of allowing Asus to create a completely Fanless system, so even under heavy load, this laptop will not make even a tiny bit of noise!
In terms of graphics horsepower, the UX305 has an Intel HD Graphics 5300. This is about as far from a gaming laptop as you can get. When I played skyrim, it was hard to get more than 30 fps, even at medium settings. Clearly, it’s not at all suited to extreme gaming. However, you probably will be able to play some light games on it.
On the other hand, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM is quite sufficient. The only problem is you won’t be able to upgrade your memory in the future. Also 256 GB of solid state storage is enough, considering, everyone nowadays has portable HDDs and often uses cloud storages.
Heat and Noise
Things couldn’t be simpler when it comes to Fanless laptops. They are always silent, no matter how hot they get. In case of UX305, the lid has a slight overhang on the back, to help keep the system cool.
As for just how hot it gets, the actual processor stays surprisingly cool, hitting just 60 C. However, the outer aluminum body does get warm when under load. And though it is nowhere near enough to be a concern, at least in most conditions, if it’s a hot day and you’re wearing shorts you may want to be careful about putting this laptop on your lap.
When it comes to customization, you don’t really have much choice. So far, there are only 2 versions available. The one I tested, sports a 13-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel matte display, an Intel Core M 5Y10 CPU, 8GB of RAM a 256GB SSD, and has a price tag of $699.
There is a QHD+ model featuring a glossy 3200 x 1800p touch screen for $999. The rest of the specs are same for both models.
The Asus UX305 is one of the best economic Ultrabook, if not the best. Its stylish, well built, thin, light, awesome screen and battery life will attract any Ultrabook lover. It’s cheaper than the current MacBook Air, has more RAM, thinner design, and has a higher resolution screen, what could you expect more? If you don’t mind the Core M processor, and can live with it, the UX305 is literally the best ultraportable laptop you can get under $700!