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Asus Zenbook UX305

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Low price for a stylish and classy notebook with plenty of ports despite slim design. Ample RAM and storage. Nice matte IPS display.

What's Not: No touch screen, keyboard isn't backlit, Intel Core M is slower than Core i series.


Reviewed March 19, 2015 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)


We need more machines like the Asus Zenbook UX305: stylish, highly portable, quite capable and priced at just $699. We were already impressed with Asus' $899 Zenbook UX303 that was recently refreshed with Intel Core i5 Broadwell CPUs. The UX305 is the more affordable version of the UX303 (higher numbers don't always mean better in Asus' world). But the key point here is that Asus cut very few corners to create the $200 less expensive UX305. You do give up the touch screen, which is the biggest drawback given Windows 8.1's push to use touch, but since it's a pure laptop form factor with no convertible-tablet feature, we'll forgive it. Instead of the Intel Core i5 used in the UX303, the UX305 has the lower power and slower Intel Core M CPU, and the UX305 loses the backlit keyboard. But there's plenty of goodness left: an all metal casing with Asus' signature swirled aluminum lid, plenty of ports, a striking and slim design, and a full HD 1080 matte IPS display (QHD 3800 x 1800 will be available in April 2015 for $999).

Design and Ergonomics

The Asus Zenbook UX305 is a traditional laptop that looks quite similar to previous Zenbook models, from the swirled aluminum lid to the tapered side view. The UX305 particularly reminds us of the 13" MacBook Air with a similar lid and hinge design, a large metal bezel and a keyboard that's a lot like the Air's (that's not a bad thing even though we wish Asus would stop placing the power button where the delete key should be, as does Apple). The entire external casing is made of metal, including the bottom panel that's affixed with several torx T5 screws and two Phillips head screws hidden under the back rubber feet. The metallic plum color is a mix of blue and purple, which isn't my favorite look, but color preference is personal. We've seen Asus use silver, gunmetal, champagne and black on other Zenbook models; clearly they're not afraid of playing with hues. The machine is rigid and we couldn't twist or torque it. If you press really hard on the keyboard deck, it will flex, but it's hard to imagine anyone would apply that much pressure when typing.

Asus Zenbook UX305

Despite its impressive slimness, the Zenbook UX305 has a healthy selection of ports for a 13.3" Ultrabook: 3 USB 3.0 ports, micro HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio, an SD card slot and Gigabit Ethernet via the included USB 3.0 to Ethernet dongle. We'd give Asus a hard time about micro HDMI but there really isn't room for a full size HDMI port and compared to the single port 12" MacBook with which it competes on some fronts, it's doing just fine. Asus includes their usual square charger with a relatively short and thin cord. The UX305 is an attractive looking laptop for the price, though it doesn't hit quite the high note that some more expensive Zenbook models do, since there's less attention to esthetic detail like the flat-cut stainless steel look on the sides of the UX303 or the glass lid of the UX301. But for $699, it's wildly good looking and it keeps up nicely with machines priced considerably higher.

The Intel Core M doesn't require a fan, so the UX305 doesn't have one. That means the laptop is always dead silent, and happily we didn't see significant thermal throttling when the Zenbook worked on heavy loads like Benchmarks and gaming with Skyrim for 30 minutes. The bottom doesn't get hot, but the strip just above the keyboard does get warm to hot--fortunately that's not a place most of us touch often.

Trackpad and Keyboard

The good news first: the keyboard is very good and not noticeably different from the UX301 and UX303, both of which had keyboards we thoroughly enjoyed. Asus might not employ ergonomically shaped keys like Lenovo with their ThinkPads and Dell in the XPS line, but I typed well with the Zenbook UX305. It has 1.2mm key travel, which is a little lower than the 1.5mm travel of larger and thicker laptops, but par for the course with a slim 13" Ultrabook. Unlike most Zenbooks, the keyboard isn't backlit; something had to go to meet the low price point. Happily the black keys and white masking are easy to see even in dim rooms.

The trackpad is fairly large (almost as big as the MacBook Air 13"), and we have the Microsoft Signature Edition that avoids Asus' sometimes tepid drivers. Still, the trackpad was passable but nothing more. It was reliable and didn't skip or falter, but it sometimes missed touches when we tapped, didn't always register two-finger scrolls and the click is loud.... loud enough that my colleague turned to stare at me (granted that's happened with some ThinkPads too). It's not a horrid trackpad, but it's not among the best.

Asus Zenbook UX305


Our $699 model has a 1920 x 1080 IPS matte display. I love matte displays--the much reduced glare doesn't induce eyestrain, and you can set the brightness lower since there's no need to combat reflections. The bad news is that there's no touch screen option, so those of you who actually enjoy using touch in Windows 8.1 are out of luck. Since this is a traditional laptop that doesn't convert into a tablet, it's not an outright necessity, and it did allow Asus to price the UX305 lower. Asus will offer a $999 version with a QHD 3200 x 1800 display in the future, and we'll be interested to see how much it taxes the Core M CPU and Intel HD 5300 graphics.

Like most things in this world, IPS displays come in different qualities, and this isn't the lovely matte non-touch display of the $1,800 MSI Ghost Pro full HD or even that of the UX303. It has noticeable light bleed when displaying dark backgrounds and when booting up. We could see bleed all along the bottom edge and the lower sides that extended about 1.5" toward the center of the display. For those who aren't familiar with the term, light bleed is when the white backlight bleeds out around the edges of the screen, resulting in lighter areas that you'll notice when watching a letterboxed movie. It's not bad enough to affect colorful desktop wallpapers, photos or full screen video playback that has no letterboxing. Again, for the price, we're not going to complain too much, especially when we've seen more expensive Asus models with backlight bleed at the same level a few years back.

Asus Zenbook UX305

The display is fairly bright at 294 nits, and contrast is decent at 500:1 but not stellar (gloss panels tend to deliver higher perceived contrast). Color gamut falls just a few points below the $900 Ultrabook pack at 92% of sRGB, which is still quite good overall and great for a laptop at this price point with a host of good specs. Color calibration from the factory was wildly off, making the panel look cool with excessive contrast (colors were a little blown out). We've seen Asus put out panels with quite good calibration (the UX303), and when they don't, they tend to be hiding panel deficiencies (they're not the only manufacturer to do this). When we calibrated the panel using our Spyder 4 Pro Colorimeter, brightness dropped 10 nits but colors looked more natural and that slight solar flare look was gone.


Deals and Shopping:


Asus Zenbook UX305 Video Review


Performance and Horsepower

Here's the section many of you were waiting for. The Zenbook UX305 runs on the 5th generation Intel Broadwell Core M CPU rather than the more common Core i5 and i7 CPUs used in Ultrabooks. The Core M is the evolution of the Y series CPU in 4th gen generation Haswell, and it was intended for Windows tablets and 11" laptops. It's paired with Intel HD 5300 graphics rather than the HD 5500 used with the Core i3, i5 and i7 Broadwell CPUs. No, it's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but Asus is always good at performance tuning and that, coupled with 8 gigs of RAM and a quick SSD, mean that the Zenbook UX305 never felt balky or sluggish when doing everyday tasks like web browsing with 5-10 tabs open in IE, MS Office, email, social networking and streaming 1080p video. It feels quicker than the more expensive Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro that uses a slightly higher clocked version of the Core M, and we suspect this has much to do with drivers and good hardware tuning. The 800 MHz (no, that's not a typo, we're back in megahertz land here) has Turbo Boost to 2 GHz, and that helps it feel quick--the CPU can ramp up clock speeds for short bursts as needed to handle demand. Of course, this has its limits, and the UX305 isn't our pick for those who need to accomplish more challenging work like frequent 1080p video editing and encoding, compiling tens of thousands of lines of code for software development, or juggling a few concurrent VMs. It's an everyday productivity machine, not a powerhouse. It's also not a great pick for those of you who want to run recent 3D games in the desktop environment (Metro Live Tile games are fine, though touch-oriented ones won't be a joy here). We tested a few games and we demo Skyrim in our video review. It managed only 22 fps at 1366 x 768 with all settings at low except textures which was set to medium (AA was off). When we dropped textures to low the game was a more playable 30 fps, though it didn't look great at that low a resolution and quality setting combo. If you need more horsepower, Asus is hoping you'll consider the $899 Zenbook UX305 instead (of course Dell would like you to think of the XPS 13).

Asus Zenbook UX305


PCMark 7: 4198
PCMark 8 Home: 2252
Geekbench 3: 1749, multi-core 3015
wPrime: 29 sec.

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Asus Zenbook UX305 4198
Asus Zenbook UX303LA, Core i5 4879
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro 4673
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3rd Gen (core i5-5300U) 5157
Dell XPS 13 - 2015, 2.2 GHz Core i5-5200U 4952
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Core i5 5111
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 (HDD, factory spec/ SSD) 3733/ 4603
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (Core i5-4200U, 12.5") 4769
HP Spectre x360 (Core i7-5500U) 5304
Samusng ATIV Book 9 Plus 5050
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i7-4500U) 5075


Battery Life

Intel Core M is supposed to be all about better battery life since it's a 4.5 watt CPU vs 15 watts for U series Intel Core i3/i5/i7 U series CPUs. Broadwell itself focuses on battery life improvements, and while we've seen those materialize in the first Broadwell machines, we haven't seen Core M significantly beat the higher powered Core i5. So our expectations weren't very high for the UX305 and its 45 Wh battery, but we were pleasantly surprised by its 9 hour average battery life (that's actual use time, not sleep time). In our real life tests using the laptop for web browsing with 5-10 tabs open, working in MS Office, streaming an hour of House of Cards in 1080p via Netflix, watching several short YouTube videos and editing 10 RAW files in Photoshop CC, all with WiFi on and brightness set to 50%, our unit averaged 8-9 hours. That's a very respectable number for a 13" Windows laptop, and only the non-touch full HD Dell XPS 13 and the MacBook Air beat it among Intel-based portables.


Asus is that company that delivers a classy looking product for less money, and this time they've outdone themselves with a really sexy looking Ultrabook that's priced several hundred dollars below the competition. That is, as long as you like deep plum laptops. You get an aluminum casing, super slim design, a good keyboard and a good selection of ports for the price. The matte IPS display is bright and pleasing and the Intel 7265 WiFi 802.11ac card delivers good throughput and reception. If you can live without a touch screen and stick with typical productivity tasks and video streaming, performance is fine--heavy workloads will take longer though.

Price: $699 for 1080p model and $999 for QHD model


Related Reviews:

Asus Zenbook UX303UB Review (Skylake, late 2015)

Asus Zenbook UX303LA Review

Asus Zenbook UX301 Review

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 Review

12" MacBook (Retina) Review

Dell XPS 13 (2015) Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Review

13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display (early 2015) Review

13" MacBook Air Review


Asus Zenbook UX305


Asus Zenbook UX305


Asus Zenbook UX305


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Display: 13.3", 1920 x 1080 matte IPS display (non-touch). QHD 3200 x 1800 available in more expensive model. Intel HD 5300 integrated graphics. Micro HDMI port.

Battery: 42 Wh Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: 800 MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 dual core CPU with Turbo Boost to 2 GHz. 8 gigs LPDDR3 1600 MHz RAM (soldered on board) and 256 gig SSD (SATA interface, M.2 connector).

Size: 12.75 x 8.89 x .48 inches. Weight: 2.64 pounds (2.2 kg).

Camera: 720p webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Intel 7265 dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 8.1 64 bit.

Expansion and Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, micro HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio and SD card slot.



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