Asus ZenBook UX310UA - Performance, battery life, conclusion

Score

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Asus ZenBook UX310UA – Performance

Performance will vary depending on which version of the UX310UA you buy. The entry-level i3-6100U with 4GB of RAM will be good enough for office work, web browsing and video streaming. But if you need to do more demanding photo and video editing – or even light gaming – the higher end, 2.5-3.1GHz dual-core (with Hyper-Threading) Intel Core i7-6500U model with 8GB of RAM will be better suited.
Windows 10 feels fast and responsive thanks to the SSD, included in all versions of the UX310UA. You can opt for a larger SSD with an additional hard disk drive in higher-spec models, but the inclusion of a 128GB SSD in the entry-level £550 model is great to see and makes a huge difference in real-world performance.

In the AS SSD benchmark, the 256GB M.2 SSD scored a read speed of 491MB/s and a write speed of 312MB/s. The write speed is slightly faster than the SSD in the Lenovo IdeaPad 710S, but the read speed is substantially slower than Lenovo’s 1,290MB/s. Read speed is crucial to the system feeling sprightly to use, and while I had no issues with the Asus’ performance, the Lenovo is undeniably faster.

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On my top-spec review model, editing a 1080p video in Adobe Premiere Pro and touching up photos in Adobe Lightroom was smooth and showed no sign of slowdown or stutter. Render times will be longer than with proper quad-core processors, but you’ll be paying a lot more for that performance.  Gaming is a mixed bag – make no mistake that Ultrabooks, including the UX310UA, aren’t meant for anything more than light gaming.

Related: Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 explained

The integrated Intel HD 520 graphics chip, which features in the i3, i5 and i7 processors, is powerful enough to run older games – such as Source engine-powered games such as Left for Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2. But modern games were barely playable, even at very low settings. For example, Fallout 4 – even at the lowest settings and 720p resolution – struggled to achieve 30 frames per second.
Less demanding games such as Minecraft, or even DOTA at lower settings, will be more than playable though. Just make sure you drop the resolution to 1,280 x 720 to significantly improve the frame rate in games.

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Asus ZenBook UX310UA – Battery Life

Battery life is decidedly average on the UX310UA. After watching a two-hour Netflix movie, with power-saving mode enabled and brightness set to 50%, the UX310UA was left with just 55% battery. So you’d be lucky to get more than four hours of video playback.

With general use I found I got about six hours of battery from the UX310UA, which is actually spot on with Asus’ quoted battery life from the three-cell 48Wh battery. You should be able to get through a full working day if you lower the brightness a touch, but it certainly isn’t a match for the XPS 13 or MacBook Pro.

However, this is my experience with the QHD+ resolution model of the U310UA. I haven’t tested the Full HD version, but I’d expect battery life to be better.

This is one key area where the Lenovo IdeaPad 710S beats the Asus; in that review we found we could just about get through a working day, and is worth bearing in mind.

Asus ZenBook UX310UA – Audio

The UX310UA’s speakers have been designed in collaboration with Harmon Kardon and use Asus’ own SonicMaster technology.
In reality, the speakers are decent – but nothing to write home about. For the odd YouTube video they’re definitely good enough, but for anything else the lack of bass will be apparent (par for the course with Ultrabooks). However, since the speakers are positioned on the bottom of the laptop facing downwards, they’ll resonate off a hard surface and improve the bass. Still, a good pair of headphones is definitely your best bet.
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Should I buy the Asus ZenBook UX310UA?

Asus has priced the UX310UA very competitively, which makes this Ultrabook easy to recommend. Starting from just £550 you get a super-thin and light laptop with a bright screen, solid keyboard and a good range of ports. There’s nothing else that comes close to offering a premium Ultrabook experience in this price range.
The Dell XPS 13 is more attractive, offers better battery life and the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors, but the equivalent model is £300 more expensive than the top-spec UX310UA so many people will be priced out of the market.

I’d recommend the Intel Core i5/8GB/Full HD model of the UX310UA to get the best bang for buck, but even the entry-level Core i3 will be capable enough for most users.

The aforementioned Lenovo IdeaPad 710S is a great alternative, especially if you’re going to be doing graphics or video work; the better integrated Intel Iris Graphics will be a big help in those cases, as will its slightly longer battery life.

Related: Best laptops to buy

Verdict

It isn’t perfect, but the ZenBook UX310UA is a great-value choice for those looking for a portable and stylish laptop. Although there isn’t a whole lot new compared to its predecessor, little touches provide a more refined and premium experience.

Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Keyboard 8
  • Design 8
  • Screen Quality 7
  • Build Quality 8
  • Touchpad 8
  • Battery Life 6