It was way back in 2011 that ASUS launched the Zenbook series. The original UX21E and UX31E were the first of the thin and light Ultrabooks from ASUS to bear the Zenbook brand, and featured an all-aluminum chassis. ASUS has kept the styling consistent over the years, and refined their Zenbook with each new model. The new UX305 is their thinnest and lightest incarnation to date and keeps the Zenbook aluminum frame, with the distinctive concentric-circle finish on the lid, and squeezes the laptop down to an incredible 12.3 mm thickness.

Part of that story is what is powering the UX305. Intel’s Core M processor is a 4.5 watt chip which has compressed the entire system on a chip into a much smaller package than the traditional Core processors that have powered the other Zenbooks. ASUS has created a system board with a ten-layer high-density PCB which is only 0.83 mm thick, and roughly the size of a six-inch smartphone. Core M, with its low Thermal Design Power (TDP), also enables fanless devices, and ASUS has done this to provide a laptop computing system with no moving parts at all, and therefore it is virtually silent.

The most amazing thing about the ASUS UX305 though is that the company has crafted an all-aluminum, thin, light, and capable Ultrabook for only $699. With this kind of price point, one would expect sacrifices to be made in the specifications, but that is not really the case at all. For the base starting price, the UX305 comes with the Core M-5Y10 processor which has a base clock of 800 Mhz and boost to 2 GHz, along with 8 GB of LPDDR3-1600, and a 256 GB Solid State Drive. The display is a 13.3 inch 1080p IPS panel, and in April a 3200x1800 model will be available which includes multi-touch.

ASUS Zenbook Ultrabook
  UX305FA- As Tested, Core M-5Y10, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 1920x1080 IPS display, 802.11n Wi-FI
Processor Intel Core M-5Y10 (2C/4T, 0.8-2.0GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 4.5w)
Intel Core M-5Y71 (2C/4T, 1.2-2.9GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 4.5w)
Memory 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3-1600Mhz
8GB Standard in NA
Graphics Intel HD 5300 (24 EU, 100-800 MHz on 5Y10, 300-900 Mhz on 5Y71)
Display 13.3" 1920x1080 IPS matte
AUO212D

Optional 3200x1800 PLS
Optional Mult-touch
Storage 128GB or 256GB SSD
Sandisk model
256 GB standard in NA
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265 (802.11n, 2x2:2, 300Mpbs Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)
Optional
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (802.11ac, 2x2:2, 866 Mbps Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)
Audio Conexant SmartAudio HD
Stereo Speakers (downfiring)
Battery 45 Wh Battery
45 Watt charger
Right Side Power Input
USB 3.0 Port
micro-HDMI Port
Headset Jack
Left Side 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
SD Card Reader
Dimensions 324 x 226 x 12.3mm (12.75 x 8.9 x 0.48 inches)
Weight 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)
Extras 720p Webcam
Colors Obsidian Stone, Ceramic Alloy
Pricing $699-$999 USD

For the US market, the $699 5Y10, 8GB, 256 GB 1080p model will be the base, however they will offer other configurations in other markets. As far as specifications, there is very little to complain about. ASUS has still managed to fit a 45 Wh battery onboard, and it has all of the ports one would expect of a modern Ultrabook, with three USB 3.0 ports including one port with sleep charging, a micro-HDMI port, a headset jack, and a micro SD card slot. They have even fitted a 720p webcam. Really the only spec that that might be considered cutting corners is the 802.11n wireless, but some models will come with 802.11ac as well. ASUS has packed all of this into just 1.2 kg, so the UX305 is very light too.

One look at the UX305 and you can instantly tell that ASUS is going for those who are after a premium Ultrabook, but with a budget price. However that budget does not mean that it skimps on the necessities like storage or RAM. At CES, I was hopeful that the push to lower cost devices with solid state storage would be right around the corner, and clearly that is the case. Many of us who follow technology get asked for recommendations on devices to purchase, and it was difficult to find a quality device for a reasonable price that included solid state storage. ASUS has shattered that barrier with a 256 GB SSD at this price point.

They have also changed the perception about design and feel of a mid-priced notebook.

Design and Chassis
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  • thesavvymage - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    im just an intern, but for my use case and everyone who works with me, this machine is NOT adequate for professional excel use. itd fall on its face trying to do pivots/charts with any substantial amount of rows Reply
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Watch, all these "premium feel", self centered, glory money show off, "elite items" freaks who want more than anything to feel rich inside when using their computer prods, will all have early onset alzheimer's, from picking and licking with their "super premium expensive feel" bragging egotist aluminum puters.
    I can hardly wait, though in that soon to engulf future condition they probably won't be able to understand why it happened to them.... just keeping rubbing those super elite aluminum bodies you constantly pine for...
    Reply
  • kyuu - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    While I actually prefer the design of, for example, the Yoga over aluminum designs like this or MacBooks, your spiel is rather psychopathic. Reply
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Thanks for reading the vent, though don't say you weren't warned. Hands all over brushed aluminum all day long is the recipe for alzheimer's. Reply
  • Dorek - Thursday, March 26, 2015 - link

    Uh, that's not proven at all. There are at least as many studies questioning environmental factors as there are attesting that they are a major cause of Alzheimer's. Reply
  • djvita - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    A small correction 10dB means its ten times louder. Wikipedia on decibel- "A change in power by a factor of 10 corresponds to a 10 dB change in level. A change in power by a factor of two approximately corresponds to a 3 dB change. "

    back on the review, if my laptop were to die, this would be the laptop to get. I have an Asus b43j, with 6GB ram (bought 4) and saving for an mx200 ssd (has a 5400rpm 320gb drive). bought it 4 years ago. still good as new. the aluminum is nice. I expect that the quality is still the same in Asus products.
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    10 dB is ten times the power of the sound wave, but roughly twice the perceived loudness. Reply
  • Conficio - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    "The speakers are downward firing through two grilles on the bottom of the device." Would that be an explanation for the raising hinge design? Lifting the bottom of the laptop to give the soung waves a bit more room to escape? Reply
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Unfortunately no the speakers are at the front of the device. Reply
  • Mobile-Dom - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    do we know the SSD type on here? i havent seen it be noted anywere? is it MSATA? M.2 SATA, M.2 PCIe? i just have no clue Reply

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