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Asus Zenbook UX305 review

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  • Recommended by TR

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Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305
  • Asus Zenbook UX305

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Incredibly thin and light
  • Phenomenal battery life
  • Good 1080p screen
  • Exceptional value
  • Beautifully made

Cons

  • Performance is compromised
  • Trackpad isn't the best
  • No keyboard backlighting

Key Features

  • 1.2kg weight
  • 12.6mm thick
  • Aluminium construction
  • 13.3-inch 1080p IPS LCD screen
  • Intel Core M-5Y10 CPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • 45Wh battery
  • 11+ hours battery life
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £649.00

UPDATE: Since we reviewed the UX305, Asus has also launched the UX305CA, which makes a few major changes to the formula described below, but not all the changes are positive. Overall, we reckon the UX305 reviewed here is a better bet, but the differences between the two are worth discussing. First of all, the UX305CA uses a significantly higher-resolution screen ditching the Full HD panel on the UX305 and replacing it with a 3,200x1,800 screen. There are some issues with this; the experience with a high-resolution screen is inconsistent in Windows 10 and the screen is too small to really be useful.

This also appeared to affect battery life; we saw four hours less stamina on the high-end screen version. Performance has stepped up by around a quarter, which is impressive and could be a deal-clincher for some. The laptop also has the same drawbacks as the significantly cheaper model on test here, so the higher price doesn't quite match the build quality. Below is our original review of the Asus UX305.

Buy Now: Asus Zenbook UX305 at Amazon.co.uk (£564) | Amazon.com ($689)

What is the Asus ZenBook UX305?

The Asus UX305 is quite simply one of the most exciting laptops we’ve seen in years. It continues Asus’ long line of Zenbook ultrabooks, but really sets itself apart by bringing the same level of build quality and design we’ve come to expect, at a price many more people can afford.

Starting at £649, the UX305 undercuts the majority of ultrabooks by some £350, while it’s £200 cheaper than the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Air. There are a few areas where compromises have been made, but for the most part this is a phenomenal machine.

Watch – Trusted Explains: Laptops vs Tablets, which is best for you?

Asus Zenbook UX305 – Design

Asus has long been the nearest competitor to Apple when it comes to ultrabook design. Right from when it launched its first model, the UX31E, it absolutely nailed the premium metal look and feel, and it’s steadily refined it since.

SEE ALSO: Best Windows 8 Laptops

Asus Zenbook UX305

The UX305 actually takes a slightly different tack to those earliest efforts, largely eschewing the shinier brushed metal look for a more matte-looking etched finish. All, that is, except for the lid which retains the brand’s signature concentric circle pattern. It’s not quite as angular, either, with the corners rounded off like on the MacBook Air.

Regardless, the overall effect is stunning. In some ways the dark mauve colour takes away a little of the immediate ‘premium metal’ vibe when viewed from a distance but up close it’s a marvel, though it does pick up fingerprints easily, so you may want to keep a cleaning cloth to hand.

What’s most striking is its slimness. Thanks to the use of Intel’s latest ultra-low-power Broadwell chips, this laptop is passively cooled, eliminating the need to fit in a fan. This allows the base of this laptop to be just over 7mm thick while the whole thing is only 12.3mm at its thickest.

What’s more it weighs just 1.2kg. This compares to 1.36kg for the 13-inch MacBook Air, while that model is also a fair bit thicker at 17mm.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops, Ultrabooks and Hybrids

Asus Zenbook UX305

Asus Zenbook UX305 – Features

What makes this thin and lightness doubly impressive is that Asus hasn’t skimped on connectivity, indeed it’s better than many ultrabooks.

Whereas many ultrabooks have only two USB ports, the UX305 has three, and they’re all USB 3.0. There’s also a full-size SD card reader, a microHDMI and of course a headphone jack. A couple of pin-prick lights on the right edge indicate that the laptop is charging and if it’s on.

You don’t get a wired network connection, but Asus includes a USB Ethernet adapter and there’s inbuilt 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.

Asus Zenbook UX305

You also get a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS screen above which sits a 720p webcam. A QHD (3200 x 1800 pixels) option, which we previewed here, was set to arrive too, but it looks like nowhere is going to stock that model any time soon.

The headline feature here, though, is the Intel Core M-5Y10c processor. This is a fully-fledged Broadwell part in terms of its power saving features, so it positively sips power, but performance wise it is a far cry from Core i5 or i7 branded models.

The most obvious limitation is clock speed, which is restricted to just 998MHz. It can boost up to a maximum of 1.9Ghz but this is can only achieved temporarily in some single-threaded applications.

SEE ALSO: Windows 10 is coming, here are our thoughts so far

Asus Zenbook UX305

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It also only features Intel HD 5300 graphics, which is much slower than the HD 5500 or HD 6000 used in the higher power chips.

The upshot is that performance is down compared to the likes of the MacBook Air 13-inch and other more premium and thicker notebooks.

Conversely, because the chip is so frugal it has a TDP of just 4.5W compared to the 15W of a Core i5/i7 product. Not only does this mean Asus can get massive battery life from a smaller battery, but it also allows the laptop to be passively cooled so its thinner and has no fan noise.

John

March 6, 2015, 8:53 am

Nice machine - battery life is indeed exceptional. Just a shame that Broadwell seems to be a backwards step in terms of performance.

Ed

March 6, 2015, 10:10 am

Apologies if it's unclear but this isn't a 'typical' Broadwell part. This is one of the ultra-low voltage parts with a TDP of 4.5W. More mainstream variations are the same 15W TDP as Haswell. In other words, any laptop that simply has an upgrade from Haswell to Broadwell will have more performance and consume less power. The UX305, though, is a brand new model built with this very low TDP in mind.

John

March 6, 2015, 8:10 pm

Okay, thanks. I find the performance of these new Intel chips rather confusing, especially these low power chips. If it chugs just browsing media intensive web pages that's pretty worrying! I do wish Intel could just name their chips 100, 200, 300 etc. Would be a lot easier for consumers to follow.

Canol Gökel

March 7, 2015, 9:51 am

This ultrabook uses a new processor series from Intel called Core M. What you are used to see from previous years is Core i series like i3, i5 or i7. And Intel introduces Broadwell generation of i3, i5 and i7 series as well. An example of an ultrabook using these series of processors is the new Dell XPS 13 (2015 edition).

For a quick reference, performance goes like this on Broadwell generation:

Core i7 > i5 > i3 > Core M

The confusion is probably caused because Core M based ultrabooks were the first ones released from the new Broadwell generation of Intel processors. Everybody thought the overall processor performances are decreased which is not the case. For example, Broadwell generation of i5 is faster than Haswell i5.

Jedibeeftrix

March 7, 2015, 10:40 am

an ultrabook for the mases.

if i wasn't typing this on a samsung series 9 i'd buy one in a shot.

John

March 7, 2015, 11:48 pm

Thanks for the explanation Canol. A lot easier to understand than Anandtech!

John

March 7, 2015, 11:53 pm

Just found quite a good article on the Broadwell chips:

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets...

jzlondon

March 9, 2015, 2:37 pm

The GPU temperature will be the same as the CPU temperature. It's an integrated part.

tipoo2

March 15, 2015, 6:35 pm

It can be a few degrees hotter or cooler. If I run a game on my 15" Haswell MBP, the Iris Pro 5200 will report 99C, while the CPU cores each report a few degrees cooler. On the other hand if I have a CPU-heavy thing that doens't touch the GPU much, like compiling code, the CPU temperatures will run hotter while the GPU one increases only a bit. It's not perfectly consistent across the chip.

tipoo2

March 15, 2015, 6:36 pm

I'm trying to find out how much better Core M would be than an old 2010 era Core 2 Duo. Say, the P8600 and Geforce 320M in the mid 2010 unibody white Macbook. Insubstantial upgrade, or decent? Tried looking at Notebookchecks mobile graphics and processors comparisons, and they seem awfully close.

TimC

March 18, 2015, 6:33 am

I've had this laptop for about 4 weeks and the review is spot on.
Excellent 'everyday' machine with outstanding portability - copes with Office software, Evernote, TheBrain (Java application - so no problems with this) and, surprisingly, no difficulties with Silverlight (no over heating or stuttering issues).
Very solid construction, quick boot times etc. Trackpad is certainly usable and I have not experienced any intractable issues (experienced a 'freeze' issue which was solved simply by reinstalling the driver).
I have experienced occasional video driver crashes, but these were instantaneously, and automatically, resolved - not sure what's causing this.
The screen is one of the best I've ever experienced - although inevitably set to low levels to conserve battery power, it is crystal clear and has excellent colour representation.
Speakers - rubbish. What would you expect?!
Only one thing I miss - backlighting of the keyboard. However, at £649 I'm happy to go without this.
Used to have a MacBook pro. I don't consider this in any way inferior when considered in terms of everyday use. In fact, it's better - lighter, no noise and a superior screen due to the non-reflective coating. Keyboard is perfectly acceptable (but the location of the 'on'off' switch, right next to the Delete key, is dumb - changed the action to sleep just to be safe!).
All things considered, this laptop is as close to a perfect combination of form and function that I have experienced in a computer - yup, the new MacBook may well improve on this, but at a much higher price. It is as thin as possible whilst still fitting in usb ports - just not possible to go any thinner (unless you use micro ports which would be a pain).
Highly recommended, although I am still trying to find where I can get a second power adapter!!.

TimC

March 18, 2015, 6:40 am

Compared with??

TimC

March 18, 2015, 6:43 am

As stated above, I haven't experienced any major performance issues other than those an i7 desktop would face when served with ad saturated websites. Nothing AdBlock or Ghostery can't fix.

TimC

March 18, 2015, 6:50 am

Not a matter of better in terms of performance, it's better in terms of form ie lighter, more robust, easier to use, easier to carry, better screen, faster boot times, longer battery lifer (MUCH longer!) etc. Performance is, I believe, a 'pup' we were all sold several years ago - the performance is absolutely acceptable for 95% of standard computer use.

tipoo2

March 18, 2015, 8:38 pm

Funny thing is, for this particular model compared to what we're looking to replace, the battery life looks worse, heh. It's a family members mid 2010 unibody white Macbook, I think usually good for 7 hours off the charger. All the performance estimates look pretty close to the Core 2 Duo/320M, so lightness and the screen would be the primary upgrades, though that's already plenty light itself. The SSD for boot times could always be thrown in that laptop too...I guess I'll be seeing if she wants to keep it a bit longer then with a SSD, or look for something a bit more performant in the same price.

By the way, I too thought that Core 2 Duo performance was plenty good enough for basic things, and it is, but after using a Haswell system for a while going back reveals all the sluggishness.

TimC

March 19, 2015, 9:06 am

Horses for courses, as my Dad used to say! If the macbook is managing that, then no need to upgrade. I just needed a laptop and this one is working out well for me.
I can't get too fussed about slugishness these days - you want to do the same job and if it takes a few seconds longer than the latest and greatest, then that's OK.

The Pool Man

March 27, 2015, 1:36 am

This is FANTASTIC hardware. I know, I owned this thing for three weeks. This unit will become the new PC standard for affordable ultrabook.

One caveat: Windows 8.1. It simply blows when compared to OS X. I couldn't even live with it. One quirk after another. Driver this, BIOS that. A complete rubbish OS.

I was going to simply install a solid Linux... but Linux ain't ready for such a High DPI 13 inch screen. Once it is I'll reconsider purchase.

Aravind kumar

July 13, 2015, 12:21 pm

I was about to buy Lenovo U41 I5-5200 U Processor, 4GB memory, SSHD 1TB 7MM 5400RPM but I disappointed just because of its TN display and very poor screen quality:-(

I am really impressed by the Asus UX350 spec, but following are my major doubts blocking me to buy this,

1.I am a software developer,
Will be using ORACLE & Eclipse & Web design & Music running simultaneously.

Will Asus UX350 can handle it without crashing and more heat?

2.Core M5Y10 or Core™ I5-5200 U Processor ??
Which is better?

3.fan less processor will be good even after one year???, how it cools up the ultrabook?

4.Any other laptop with Core M5Y10 - fan less ??

Vlad Mihai

August 5, 2015, 10:07 am

Will this ultrabook run Hearthstone smoothly? It's the only game I will be playing since I will mainly use it for taking notes at Uni.

Agnes

September 28, 2015, 8:45 am

I've had this laptop for a few weeks now and I'm very happy with it. I do not play games or do any video editing so I don't need a more powerful laptop.
The ambient light sensor was a nuisance at first, but it can be turned off in 'Power and sleep' options. Just turn off the 'Adjust my screen brightness automatically' option. Haven't had any problems since.
The heat is not an issue, the laptop only gets a bit warm while under load, but not in an uncomfortable way. The only time it gets hot is when I recharge the battery.
There was only one thing I did not like immediately in this laptop - the lack of a backlight keyboard, but it was sacrifice I do not regret.
I was a bit concerned about the trackpad, but it turns out I really like it. It is smooth so the finger slides very nicely. To be fair, it is very clicky, but I mostly use soft touch and only actually click the buttons when dragging something very accurately. So to me the trackpad worked out great.
Ps. Sorry for typos or weird language - English is not my first language.

Melonie

March 1, 2016, 11:05 pm

Asus Zenbook is now on sale only on BestTopRatedLaptops:com

Raisa

March 24, 2016, 7:28 pm

Asus Laptops are now available for a discount only at LaptopDealFinder:com

Jackie M

May 31, 2016, 10:45 pm

I have bought one from Curry. The trackpad for double finger scroll is so bad that it jumps on all video website. The computer could not handle even with 2 windows open. Extremely disappointed at Asus has not have an update that fix the problem.

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