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Our Verdict

A pleasant Ultrabook that makes minor advancements on the previous model, and undercuts the opposition.

For

  • Solid aluminium build
  • Rich, vivid and colorful display
  • Powerful for an Ultrabook

Against

  • Annoying ambient light sensor
  • Unambitious design
  • Relatively thick chassis

It can be hard to keep up with the obscure naming conventions of laptops and Asus is certainly guilty of causing confusion with its range of Ultrabooks. The Zenbook series has more abstruse conventions than most, covering a multitude of models that vary in both mild and huge ways beneath their similar shells and identikit names, and the UX models are even more bewildering.

So the UX305 prefix seems to mean that the Ultrabook has a matte non-touch display, a few mini-ports, less thickness, less weight, and a better battery life than the UX303 range. Though that sounds like a lot of difference, it doesn't look that much in the flesh – or rather the aluminium. Differentiating the UX303s further, some of them come with touchscreens (UX303LA), though this test model (UX303UA) doesn't.

What this model has over the UX305, which techradar's Kevin Lee loved in his recent review, is that it comes with a newer Skylake processor and packs a little more oomph. This machine comes in several configurations, depending on how much you want to save or splash out.

Asus UX303UA

You have three choices of processors, ranging from an i3-6100U through to an i5-6200U up to an i7-6500U. Also, you have three choices of screen resolution, ranging from 768p through 1080p to 1800p (3200 x 1800), and storage options include a 128GB or 256GB SSD, a 500GB or 1TB HDD, or a 500GB hybrid with 8GB SSD cache.

The model we're testing here is towards the top end of all that – it runs with an i7-6500U, alongside a 1080p screen and a 256GB SSD – albeit without the very top, delicious 3200 x 1800 screen.

Asus UX303 review

Design

The look is still that same MacBook Air-inspired slimline affair, though even slimmer, tapering to just 3mm at the front. The clean lines, the curved edges, the gentle toned silver and circular surface engraving all combine to make for a pleasant appearing, if not particularly original Ultrabook.

Its all-metal casing is made out of pure aluminium, both for the look and the lightness. The aluminium also provides the laptop with a good core strength – it doesn't bend easily at all, though I wouldn't be comfortable picking it up by the screen or bezel.

Asus UX303UA

It also comes in three colours which are pleasant enough to look at, as far as pastel metallic shades go – they are smoky brown, icicle gold and rose gold. I didn't imagine icicles as gold, but someone at Asus can obviously afford gold icicles. I don't even know what you'd do with a gold icicle.

As for the ports and features, they're all placed quite sensibly. The speakers are neatly tucked away under the chassis and produce a reliable, if tinny sound. On the left side you've got two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader, while the third USB 3.0 port is tucked between the mini-DisplayPort and the HDMI port. Two adaptors come in the box which provide Ethernet access or convert the mini-Display Port to a VGA out, which is handy if you're still hooking your laptop up to projectors.

The keyboard has a nice resistance to it, though it's not backlit as on other UX303 models, and it allows reliable typing with its wide square keys. The touchpad is without buttons and rather large, but it at least detects your clicks reliably - unlike older models.