When Steve Jobs first introduced the MacBook Air at a Macworld conference in 2008, the world went wild for the “world’s thinnest notebook”.
As usual, Apple won a huge following for its latest creation. And no one could have dared dream that the world’s thinnest notebook would ever be outdone.
But it was.
Enter the Asus ZenBook UX305.
When Asus launched the ZenBook UX305 in 2015, feathers were ruffled, especially in Apple’s camp.
This was not just because the ZenBook UX305 looked a lot like the MacBook Air, but because it promised users more than what the MacBook was offering.
But does the ZenBook really qualify to even dare take on the mighty MacBook?
For a lot of consumers, the good news is that the answer is “yes”.
Asus brought a lot of laptop users a lot of power and performance in a thin profile when they launched the Asus ZenBook UX305 – all that at more affordable prices starting from as low as $870.54.
But is all the hype over the Asus ZenBook UX305 worth you even considering purchasing one?
Let’s find out shall, we?
The Asus ZenBook UX305 – Power, Performance, and the Perfect Price
One of the Asus ZenBook’s superpowers is its ultra-portability (but don’t mistake that for flimsy).
Measuring just 0.48 inches thin with a 12.8 x 8.9-inch footprint, this is one of the thinnest notebooks you’ll find on the market.
What about its main rival, the MacBook? The MacBook Air was at one time the standard for ultra-thin notebooks with its 11 x 7.73 x 0.52-inch dimensions. It certainly isn’t fat, but the Asus ZenBook UX305 trumps it in that it packs in more ports and has a better keyboard in its tight cover.
Even though the Asus Zenbook UX305 takes the cup in thinness department, its 2.6-pound weight still makes it slightly heavier than the MacBook Air’s 2.03-pounds.
But then I’m getting ahead of myself (and you).
In order to start appreciating what the Asus ZenBook UX305 has to offer, a brief look at its spec sheet is the first place you need to visit. So let’s start there.
Asus ZenBook UX305 Specs
- CPU: 900MHz Intel Core M3-6Y30 (dual-core, 4MB cache, 2.2GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
- RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,866 MHz SDRAM)
- Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display
- Storage: 256GB SSD (M.2 2280)
- Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, SD card reader, micro HDMI, headset jack
- Connectivity: Integrated 802.11ac
- Camera: 2MP HD webcam
- Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Size: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.48 inches
Just a casual glance at the spec sheet above shows the power this little laptop packs and the performance it promises.
Let’s take a closer look and see exactly what all those figures and acronyms mean for you as a user.
The design team at Asus pulled off the unimaginable when they designed the Asus ZenBook UX305.
How they achieved such a feat as squeezing in all these specs into such a small chassis managed manages to squeeze plentiful specs into a compact chassis at a compelling price point is one thing, is nothing short of miraculous.
But part of the magic in the ultra-slim design is the fact that Asus used Intel’s Broadwell chips. These are low power chips that allow the ultrabook to passively cool, thus eliminating the need for cooling fans.
Donning a beautiful aluminum shell with Asus’ signature radial lid, this is one ultrabook you’ll proudly take out of your bag. Even if you are in a sea of high-end MacBooks and Surface Books, you won’t look out of place with Asus’ beautiful design.
On lifting the lid, the Asus ZenBook UX305 will greet you with a gorgeous deck made of one solid piece of metal that has an anodized and fine grit finish. If you spend prolonged periods of time typing, you’ll really appreciate this as the deck provides a nice soothing texture for your wrists.
To add to its sophisticated flair, Asus gave the lid a brushed aluminum finish, which, however, has a captivating radial design as opposed to the traditional straight lines found on most laptops. The best part about this design is that the Asus logo sits right in the center of these concentric lines, giving it an ethereal look.
Despite its small size, the Asus ZenBook UX305 has a very spacious Chiclet-style keyboard that features full length “Enter” and “Backspace” keys. The keys themselves are very responsive, immediately springing back from their shallower than normal travel distance.
Unfortunately, the Asus ZenBook UX305 doesn’t have a backlit keyboard, but you’ll certainly overlook that flaw for the convenience, power, and performance it offers you.
The ZenBook UX305 also has a surprisingly spacious trackpad (it actually extends to about 3 thirds of the laptop’s width). Although this gives it a bit of a quirky appearance, the extra space and the frictionless surface make it more functional than other trackpads in its category. The pad itself and the keys are very tactile, providing just the right amount of feedback to keep track of what you are doing.
For most people, one of the greatest marvels of the Asus ZenBook UX305 is the way it manages to carry a lot of ports in such a thin profile. Packing 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, a headphone jack, and a micro HDMI port, the Asus ZenBook offers you connectivity even premium laptops like the Surface Book and the MacBook Pro can’t even match.
This is why this ultrabook is an engineering marvel, especially since it offers you all this real estate and superior performance at such a low price point.
Speaking of performance, let’s see what this little piece of dynamite can do. We’ll start with the display.
The Asus ZenBook UX305 features an impressive 13.3-inch 1080p IPS screen that is a pleasure to look at whether you are working on an assignment or simply watching a movie.
Sporting a matte screen, the Asus ZenBook UX305 went against the normal display trend of most modern laptops. Although it gives less color, the gambit pays off as you get a brighter display that affords you wider viewing angles – close to 180-degrees. This screen also gives you better visibility outdoors and is gentler on the eyes, allowing you more screen time for those times you need to do a lot of word processing or spreadsheets.
When tested for brightness, the ZenBook UX305 registered 281 nits, a good score seeing that the mainstream average for ultrabooks is 247 nits.
As of color reproduction, the Asus ZenBook UX305’s display managed to reproduce 93.9 percent of the sRGB spectrum, again, a pretty good figure for an ultrabook that doesn’t burn a big hole in your pocket.
The display is evidence enough that Asus didn’t skimp much on the design of the Asus ZenBook UX305. You really get more value than you pay for.
Above the screen, you’ll find a 720p webcam that is as clear enough to give you good picture quality and records videos at 30 frames per second. Although it’s not the best webcam you can find on an ultrabook, it certainly is one of the best you can find for a $870.54.
Looking at the spec sheet, it may be a bit alarming seeing that the ZenBook’s processing speed is south of 1GHz. Don’t let that fool you as the Asus ZenBook UX305 can easily compete with ultrabooks fitted with an i3 processor.
The Asus ZenBook UX305 features an Intel Core M-5Y10 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. The Core-M (Broadwell) processors are famous for their low power usage and allow the ZenBook UX305 to run a fanless cooling system.
Despite the seemingly small processor, the Zenbook doesn’t struggle with everyday tasks and is, in fact, capable of handling 10 open tabs and streaming a movie without any lag.
When it comes to file transfer speeds, the Asus ZenBook UX305 is bound to impress. It only takes it 33 seconds to transfer 5GB of mixed media files, giving it a transfer rate of 154.2 MBps. That is way above the mainstream average of 106 MBps and puts it ahead of the more expensive Dell XPS 13’s 87.7. Sadly, it is still slower than its competitor, the MacBook Air (Haswell processor) that has a transfer speed of 242 MBps.
The Asus ZenBook UX305 didn’t do so well in the spreadsheet test as it took 6 minutes 50 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses. That’s 2 minutes slower than the Dell XPS 13. Again, the Asus ZenBook barely managed to keep up with the MacBook Air’s 5 minutes and 36 seconds in this test.
Overall, the Asus ZenBook UX305 is a pretty good performer when it comes to day to day tasks (and streaming), especially factoring in its small processor.
Graphics and Gaming
As with all ultrabooks, the Asus ZenBook UX305 is not built for heavy gaming. But if you have a gaming itch that needs to be scratched, the ZenBook’s Intel HD5300 graphics card is capable of affording you an average gaming experience.
If you are looking for a laptop capable of handling more intense games, you’ll just have to look for a more powerful laptop as all ultrabooks won’t be able to quench your thirst for adventure.
Battery Life, Heat, and Noise
One of the features ultrabooks are known (and sought) for is the remarkable battery life they afford.
And the Asus ZenBook UX305 doesn’t disappoint in this aspect, living up to Asus’ claims of a good 10 hours of continuous use.
That’s a pretty impressive runtime, especially since it is nearly 3 hours more than the average runtime of 7 hours 27 minutes.
As for overheating, that’s a word you’ll have to cut out of your dictionary as long as you are using the Asus ZenBook UX305. Because of its Broadwell processor, the ZenBook is more power efficient, leading it to run cooler. Asus also went a step further in ensuring a cool running system by designing the lid to lift the laptop 4mm above the ground when open, allowing for better airflow to cool the system.
And because the Asus ZenBook is passively cooled, there are no fans to create annoying sounds when the system starts running loud. This is a big deal considering that the Asus doesn’t come with the loudest speakers on the block.
That being said, the Asus ZenBook UX305 comes with a very efficient system that you’ll definitely find hard to find in a laptop priced at $870.54.
If you are looking for a laptop that will give you the best value for money, pound for pound, the Asus ZenBook UX305 offers you just that.
It’s difficult matching a 13-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel matte display, an Intel Core M 5Y10 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD with the same price tag the Asus ZenBook UX305 comes with.
This one is actually a no-brainer. If your budget is in the same ballpark as the price range of the Asus ZenBook UX305, then you’ve just found your perfect laptop.