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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  • djvita - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    This is why I love anandtech

    You explained the differences in performance in core M very well (thermal throtlling basically) and the heating across the Yoga 3 and UX.

    theverge reviewed the T300 recently (hope you guys do too!) and just compare the difference:

    "The Core M processor in my review unit is clocked at 1.2GHz and combined with the 8GB of RAM on tap, has no trouble handling most basic computing tasks. It surely won't play any modern 3D games, but working in Chrome, Word, and other Windows 8.1 apps is no issue. I'm able to have as many tabs open in Chrome as I need without the system grinding to a halt, and switching between apps is quick and painless. I often forgot that I was using a computer that was more tablet than laptop, though the heat from the back of the T300 was enough to remind me that this is a full-blown Windows 8.1 machine and not a crippled charlatan faking the role."

    As an engineer i prefer graphs and empirical evidence to support claims, specially in a tech product. "The screen is nice", how nice? is it well calibrated? This is why i cant take some websites reviews seriously.
    Reply
  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Verge was left-leaning with Topolsky and went full bananas when he left. Race this, opression that on what seemed to be a tech site.

    Oh, and Apple can do no wrong, of course.
    Reply
  • Laxaa - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Performance seem to be around Surface Pro 3 levels, so perhaps we will see the Pro 4 with a Core M CPU. Perhaps even the same CPU as the new MacBook?

    The Surface Pro 3 is termal restricted after all, so maybe the move to a fanless design will help overcome that issue.
    Reply
  • digiguy - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Core M does make sense to replace the i3 (which I own and which is virtually fanless anyway), probably with the superior 5y10 but 5y70/1 is half way between i3 and i5, not to mention i7. It will be interesting to see what MS will decide to do with the i5 (which is what most people have bought with SP3), keep it (just moving to Broadwell) or change to Core M 5y71... Reply
  • Speedfriend - Thursday, March 26, 2015 - link

    " so perhaps we will see the Pro 4 with a Core M CPU. "

    I am hearing a smaller screen version with the new Intel Atom and the Surface 4 with Core M. Though If I was MS I would keep a version with the new i5 and i7 for power users. It is a amzing that they sold over 1m Surface 3 last quarter, which is probalby about the same as Apple sells of MacBook Pros
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Wow, it's like a MacBook except with connectivity options. 3 USB 3.0 ports, instead of just one?! That's madness. A dedicated display out? Whaaat?! And cheaper?

    ... I just can't see a reason, any reason, for anyone to get that new MacBook. There are better low TDP, long battery life, ultra portable options out there. I think this is one of them.
    Reply
  • FwFred - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    I'd still consider the Macbook for the touchpad. My Yoga 2 Pro is OK and my work Thinkpad T440 is awful. I even use a mouse at work my writs trigger the stupid touchpad and randomly highlight/erase things. My Macbook Air (Sandy) is still top notch with the touchpad. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    That is something the MacBook (and really any Apple laptop) has going for it. In general, superior tracking on the touchpad. But does that really outweigh every other drawback of the new MacBook for you? I've already seen several MacBook Air owners (tech journalists) who've sworn off the new design for the lack of connectivity alone. Reply
  • OrphanageExplosion - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Just bought a Broadwell rMBP13 with the new trackpad. The trackpad truly is a revelation. People seem to get rather obsessed with processing specs and completely overlook the quality of the interface with the machine. Reply
  • wintermute000 - Saturday, March 28, 2015 - link

    Agree with the t440 comment. Great machine except for the stupid bleedin' trackpad..... how many times have we said that about a windows laptop, how hard can it be (obviously not as easy as it may appear on the surface lol) Reply

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